Israel’s Moral and Political Dilemmas

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  • The Frankfurt Book Fair’s Cancellation of a Palestinian Author
  • Regulating Airlines
  • Count Presidential Ballot Separately

Credit…Pool photo by Miriam Alster, via Reuters

To the Editor:

Re “Israel Is About to Make a Terrible Mistake,” by Thomas L. Friedman (column, Oct. 22):

Mr. Friedman’s arguments might be valid if dealing with a sane adversary. But nowhere does he mention the deep visceral hatred of Hamas and associated groups toward Israel. He does not acknowledge the euphoria of the Hamas leaders and their supporters after the attack on Israel, and the hysterical vengeance sought by the millions of pro-Palestinians.

I am left-wing, and I certainly do not share any ideology with the right-wing settlers. But I do totally empathize with the rage currently felt here in Israel. It is time to “take the gloves off.”

We do not intend to be the victims of the destruction of Israel (Hamas’s goal), and the subjects of Mr. Friedman’s future tearful obituary that he would write “the day after.”

E. Winer
Tel Aviv

To the Editor:

Thomas L. Friedman underestimates the barbarism (his word) of Hamas. He claims that a two-state solution needs to be part of Israel’s retaliation. It was always apparent that not long after the Oct. 7 massacre Israel would lose the public relations war. The horror would be news for only a few days. Social and mainstream media would move to the next series of headlines, the unfortunate and horrific consequences for the average Palestinian in the subsequent war.

While Gaza and the West Bank are inextricably linked, contending that the response to the barbarism must be accompanied by a solution to a problem that has been unresolved for ages is impractical and unrealistic.

Hamas has no interest in a peaceful solution. Its antisemitic barbarism reaffirmed that it wants no state of Israel in any form.

Alan Metz
Chapel Hill, N.C.

To the Editor:

Re “Do We Treat Palestinians as Lesser Victims?,” by Nicholas Kristof (column, Oct. 22):

Mr. Kristof does not mention that Hamas hides in and underneath crowded civilian settings, including mosques, hospitals and schools. Israel does not deliberately target civilians. Hamas, on the other hand, purposefully targets Israeli civilians (and holds hostage Israeli babies, the elderly and everyone in between), and uses Gazan men, women and children as tactical pawns and human shields.

In such a case, civilian casualties are tragically unavoidable. Mr. Kristof, I appreciate your reminder of the sanctity of human life, but how would you suggest Israel proceed when its enemy does not consider this a value? Indeed, it is Hamas who is putting Gazan civilians at risk.

Bina Westrich
Teaneck, N.J.

To the Editor:

In urging readers to reject the “hierarchy of human life” purportedly embedded in support for Israeli military action, Nicholas Kristof attacks a straw man. No serious defender of Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 massacres argues that the lives of Israeli children are worth more than those of Gazan children. To the contrary, they argue that a failure to destroy Hamas now — leaving it capable of and eager to repeat similar atrocities — would result in far more death, destruction and human misery (for both Israelis and Gazans) than the admittedly terrible civilian costs of a full-scale Israeli incursion.

And if we are calculating human costs, we had best consider the consequences of Mr. Kristof’s proposed policy: If democratic nations adopt a policy that terrorists who butcher innocents render themselves invulnerable by shielding behind a civilian population, it is not just Israeli or Gazan children who will suffer. It is everyone’s children.

Yishai Schwartz

To the Editor:

Re “Hamas Bears the Blame for Every Death in This War,” by Bret Stephens (column, Oct. 17):

Imagine if Hamas, since winning control of Gaza, had put its resources into building up the community with schools, hospitals and other institutions that uplifted the Palestinian people! Hamas would be considered “heroes” in the eyes of most of the world and its leadership would have attained political legitimacy.

But, no, instead it is intent on depravity and destruction to the bitter end.

Marc Bloom
Princeton, N.J.

The Frankfurt Book Fair’s Cancellation of a Palestinian Author

Adania ShibliCredit…Franziska Rothenbühler

To the Editor:

Re “A Chill Has Been Cast Over the Book World,” by Pamela Paul (column, Oct. 19):

Reading Ms. Paul’s forceful condemnation of the Frankfurt Book Fair’s decision to cancel a celebration recognizing a Palestinian author, I waited in vain for her to address one indispensable fact: Frankfurt is in Germany, a country that, for obvious reasons, has assumed a special role in defending Israel and protecting Jews around the world.

For example, the German penal code prohibits public denial of the Holocaust and its Nationality Act mandates restoration of citizenship for any Jew whose forebears lost their citizenship during the Nazi regime.

Contrary to Ms. Paul’s claim that it is a “false notion that there is a wrong time for certain authors or novels and that now is not the time for Palestinian literature,” the days following a Palestinian terrorist attack that resulted in the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust are precisely the wrong time for a German book fair to celebrate a novel excoriating Israel.

Adania Shibli’s views are important and should be heard in Germany and elsewhere — just not in Frankfurt right now. Ms. Paul does a grave disservice to German Jews living and dead by not acknowledging the tragic history underlying the Frankfurt Book Fair’s decision.

Andrew D. Herman
Chevy Chase, Md.

Regulating Airlines

Credit…Carter Johnston for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Frayed System, and 131 Lives Put in Jeopardy” (front page, Oct. 15):

The article states, “The safety net that underpins air travel in America is fraying, exposing passengers to potential tragedies.”

The blame seems to be focused on government air traffic controllers. They share some of it, but they are only part of a much larger system including aircraft technology, airport design, aircrew and airspace management.

But there is another problem rarely talked about: competition. Since airlines were deregulated in 1978, the industry has seen bankruptcies, deterioration of comfort and service, delays and congestion, complexity in pricing and fares, and stagnation in aviation systems planning and investment.

A strong argument could be made that airline competition has not worked as expected, and even worked counterproductively. A new airline regulatory program may be called for — one that combines the public and private sectors in a jointly managed and financed national aviation system with strong oversight in safety standards, infrastructure investment and passenger consumer benefits that are missing under the current deregulation.

Matthew G. Andersson
The writer was the founder and C.E.O. of Indigo Airlines and is a former aviation consultant.

Count Presidential Ballot Separately

Credit…Lukas Verstraete

To the Editor:

Re “Counting Ballots by Hand Ensures Only Chaos,” by Jessica Huseman (Opinion guest essay, Oct. 20):

Ms. Huseman is absolutely right that counting lengthy ballots by hand would be a nightmare. But we could reduce the growing suspicion that computers can’t count our votes properly if our presidential elections were administered separately from all the other races on Election Day.

If there were paper ballots just for the presidency, they could be counted in one long night, as is done in many European parliamentary elections, in which voters only cast one vote for a party.

Mark Weston
Sarasota, Fla.
The writer is the author of “The Runner-Up Presidency: The Elections That Defied America’s Popular Will.”

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