Unpublished letter to The New York Times, May 20, 2004 (Please scroll down for a letter to The Hartford Courant)
You accuse Israel of planning "to unilaterally destroy the Palestinian territory" and of engaging in "heavy-handed...collective punishment." Nowhere in your editorial, however, do you mention the arms-smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Sinai border OR the slaughter of Israeli civilians.
After years of trying other means, Israel has no other way than to demolish structures to get rid of the tunnels and the snipers' posts. Israel must halt the flow of deadly, Iranian and Hezbollah-supplied weapons. Prime Minister Sharon has an obligation to prevent atrocities like the cold-blooded murder of a pregnant mother and her four, young daughters (to which The Times devoted less space). He must protect Israeli soldiers from sophisticated roadside bombs and from having having the body-parts of the fallen snatched for ransom and desecrated.
By their refusal to halt terrorism and to negotiate in good faith, Yassir Arafat, Hamas, and other terrorists have sacrificed their credibility to "determine the means of withdrawal" and of future plans.
(Rabbi) Jay S. Lapidus
Letter to The Hartford Courant:
"Israel should get out of Gaza"? [Hartford Courant editorial, May 21, 2004] Can I expect to read a Courant editorial entitled, "Hezbollah and Iran should cease smuggling powerful weapons to Gaza"? Are you not aware of the extensive network of arms-smuggling tunnels between the Sinai and Gaza? The Israel Defense Forces have tried for years to shut down those tunnels by less drastic means, without success.
You want to "give Gazans the opportunity to work out their own affairs"? Gazans had that chance. They had the chance to destroy the tunnels. Yasir Arafat's 15,000-man force in Gaza had the chance to subdue 1,000 Hamas members, but were unwilling to do so. Gazans had the chance to prevent the recent homicide bombings in Ashdod and the cold-blooded murder of a pregnant mother and her four, young daughters.
Israel has apologized for and is continuing to investigate the killing of civilians at that demonstration in Gaza. Who has apologized for the deliberate slaughter of Israeli civilians?
The Courant talks of the "cycle of vioence." In fact, the number of terrorist homicide bombings has dropped considerably, thanks to the necessary, defensive measures by the Israeli government, but no thanks to The Courant, which has consistently condemned every one of them (and you accuse others of "knee-jerk" reactions!).
Israel does not wish to "subjugate its neighbors." Most Israelis favor withdrawing from Gaza and from most of the West Bank, but not unless the arms-smuggling, homicide bombimgs, and shootings cease, and not until Arafat makes a genuine effort to combat terrorism and to negotiate in good faith.
(Rabbi) Jay S. Lapidus, May 21, 2004