Ethical and Strategic Issues Facing Israel

To the Editor:

Re “Behind Curtains, Tense Diplomacy to Curtail Siege” (front page, Oct. 16):

As a Jew and lifelong supporter of Israel, I am disappointed but not surprised at its plan to mount a major ground offensive in Gaza.

Israel has every right to forcefully respond to Hamas’s brutal, unconscionable and inhumane attacks. But Israel may be engaging in its own form of barbarity.

Stopping the supply of water, food and fuel, forcing Palestinians from their homes and starting a huge ground invasion are also profoundly wrong. Killing Palestinian civilians, including children, while hundreds or thousands of Israeli soldiers are also killed, solves nothing.

Israel will lose international support. It will create another generation of terrorists. The war may expand to the West Bank and Lebanon. What will Israel have accomplished? A greater likelihood of peace? Far from it.

Eric Beldoch

To the Editor:

It’s unfortunate, but completely expected, that international voices are now calling for “restraint.” Why is Israel the only country in the world that gets invaded and needs to defend itself for defending itself?

Mark Silverberg
Santa Barbara, Calif.

To the Editor:

Here are the steps that Israel must take to ensure a positive outcome from a necessary invasion that will come at a huge humanitarian cost:

1. Acknowledge the human costs of the invasion, as with war in general.

2. Clearly establish its goal as limited to removing Hamas from power and invite the U.N. to send in a peacekeeping force at the earliest possible date.

3. U.N. forces will facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, to which Israel will commit a large sum. The U.S. and other nations should make similar commitments.

4. Acknowledging that Gaza will have no governing body, ask the U.N. to sponsor elections for all Palestinians for the formation of a new government.

5. Agree that, if the new Palestinian government acknowledges the right of Israel to exist, Israel will enter immediate negotiations toward the realization of the two-state solution.

Daniel Coleman
Melbourne, Australia
The writer is a member of the leadership team of the Jewish Greens Working Group and helps advise the Australian Greens on matters related to Israel and Palestine.

To the Editor:

Re “Israel Can Defend Itself and Still Uphold Its Values” (editorial, Oct. 16):

Although I read the editorial carefully, I must admit that it left me confused as to what precisely The Times is asking Israel to do. Does the editorial board concede that, after sustaining such unimaginable losses, Israel has the right to root out the Hamas leadership in Gaza completely?

If so, does it believe that the Israeli Army, or any army for that matter, can undertake that task without the unfortunate loss of civilian lives, particularly if the adversary in question deliberately uses its own citizens as human shields?

Israel’s former policy of limited retaliation in response to frequent Hamas bombardments and terror attacks is no longer feasible after the massacre of Oct. 7. Israel will continue to “uphold its values,” but like any normal country, it must prioritize the lives of its own citizens over those of the enemy it is facing. To deny Israel that right is to be guilty of a double standard too often applied exclusively to the Jewish state.

Robert Wexler
Los Angeles
The writer is president emeritus of American Jewish University.

To the Editor:

You have done such a service with this editorial, holding Israel accountable for humanitarian aid and safe passage for unarmed Gazans. It doesn’t matter where we are on the political spectrum at this time; the human world can sustain itself only if we agree that what we share is the right to protect the lives of all other human beings.

Now the work ahead involves filling the needs of all for secure food, shelter and respect, which includes living without being occupied.

Barbara Regenspan
(Rabbi) David Regenspan
Ithaca, N.Y.

To the Editor:

The Times editorial board urges Israel to do exactly what to distinguish vulnerable civilians from terrorists and soldiers during the impending invasion of Gaza — something that the terrorists during their unspeakable raid on Oct. 7 most assuredly did not do? Telling civilians to evacuate strikes me as a sincere humanitarian effort.

Not surprisingly, none of the surrounding Arab countries have opened their arms and borders to receive the refugees while Gaza is under siege.

Suzanne Schechter
Oxnard, Calif.

To the Editor:

Several of the writers in the Sunday Opinion section went to great pains to condemn the Hamas atrocities but also to remind Israel of all the moral constraints it should impose on itself in countering Hamas or removing it from Gaza. I doubt that Israelis need to be told this.

What I would like to hear from all these admonishers is what exactly they would propose that Israel do in response, and if their first best option didn’t work, what next? It’s awfully easy to tell Israelis what not to do, a bit tougher to tell them what to do.

Andrew Gold
New York

To the Editor:

Re “Young Jews in the U.S. Feel an Isolating Grief” (news article, Oct. 15):

On Friday, the parking lot of my daughter’s Jewish day school was blocked by a police tactical unit. On Saturday, the entrance to our synagogue was guarded by officers in combat gear.

For American Jews, the current war is not only about events some 6,000 miles or more away.

Daniel Wolf
Teaneck, N.J.

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