Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

ISRAEL: No side has a moral right to violence

Letter by Eli Berniker, Puyallup on Aug. 4, 2010 at 5:33 pm with 6 Comments »
August 9, 2010 9:21 am

Both letters on Israel and Palestine oversimplify their arguments (TNT, 8-4).

One writer, who holds Israel to “higher standards,” violates a fundamental principle of human society: reciprocity. When Hamas or Hezbollah chooses to rocket Israeli civilians, reciprocity justifies violence against their citizens. When Israel applies violence to Palestinian citizens, it has justified violence against its own.

No side has a moral right to violence without entailing an equal right to respond with violence. “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

Each side writes compelling narratives to justify their violence. Before 1967, Jordan and Egypt occupied the West Bank and Gaza for 18 years. Palestinians who called for a state were imprisoned. Israeli was not the obstacle. The Palestinian state should have been founded before 1967.
If peace is the goal, both sides have adopted hopeless positions. Hamas and Hezbollah have huge numbers of missiles whose only purpose is to kill Israeli civilians. Israeli settlers explicitly occupy what must be Palestinian land and commit violence against Palestinians and their property. The extremes dominate.

Except for Egypt and Jordan, all Arab states remain at war with Israel. Occupation can only end as a product of peace and an end to war. The conditions for peace are two states, Israel and Palestine, side by side. There will be no Palestine without Israel, and Israel will not have peace without Palestine.

Boycotts unilaterally supporting one extreme only exacerbate hopelessness.

(Berniker lived in Israel for 11 years and served in the Israeli army.)

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. One of the more sane and balanced takes on the conflict I have seen.

  2. I agree……….

  3. larsman says:

    Go to the map and outline for the rest of the class, exactly where the new borders of Israel and “Palestina” would be? anyone?
    Bboy?
    erk?
    The assumptive language cites a “two state” solution but what I see and hear is a “three state” menagerie. Go ahead…walk to the map and explain…waiting…

  4. larsman says:

    Jerusalem is the capitol if Israel.

  5. 2. Israel is committing crimes against humanity in its ongoing, illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and perpetuation of an apartheid system. Massive Israeli violence against civilians has only increased in recent years. International pressure has proven insufficient to change Israeli policies.
    3. Boycott is a moral, nonviolent strategy for change. It is a campaign in which ordinary citizens throughout the world can make their voices heard.
    4. It is not effective to boycott only Israeli products from the illegal settlements in Palestinian territories, as the Israeli and settlement economies are completely integrated, and crimes against Palestinians occur within Israel as well as within the occupied territories.
    5. Boycott is not a form of punishment of the Israeli Jewish population; rather, it is consumers’ organized refusal to support the Israeli economy as long as Palestinians, both in Israel and the Occupied Territories, are subject to an all-encompassing system of discrimination.
    6. Include parts of your testimony from the 8/12 forum at the Olympia Center.
    7. If you are Jewish it is especially important to challenge the assumption of Tacoma News Tribune and The Olympian that certain groups speaks for the South Sound Jewish Community. It’s actually very diverse and does not hold a monolithic view on Palestine and Israel or the boycott.
    8. Make a reference to the resources on the Olympia BDS site, such as the video statement by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb in support of the boycott, and the letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Reference Phan Nguyen’s oped in The News Tribune.
    9. From Rochelle Gause’s email prior to the Olympia Center event:
    “The co-op has a specific boycott policy that we have been following to the tee for 2 years, a policy designed to help the co-op remain true to its mission statement of encouraging economic and social justice. Human rights abuses are happening daily, there are no words for the reality on the ground and we truly are responsible with our tax dollars, at the price tag of $940,000 from Olympia alone to Israel each year… The boards decision has not prevented any discussion, in fact, I believe it has started a much needed dialogue in our community.
    “Boycott has proven successful in so many situations in the past, from the Montgomery Bus boycott for civil rights, to the Grape boycott for farmworkers rights. And recently a South African delegation traveled to Palestine and returned calling for boycott of Israel saying some of the conditions they saw were worse than under South African apartheid. It is time to act!”

    Additional information

    * The Olympia BDS website
    * Why Boycott? From the Co-op website.
    * Steve Niva’s article about the co-op boycott.
    * Linda Frank’s letter to the editor in support of the boycott.
    * More letters on the subject
    * FAQ about boycott from IMEU, The Institute for Middle East Understanding
    * 2-page Olympia BDS flyer about boycott
    * And the Palestine Solidarity Seattle website page on boycott

    Additional Reminders in Regards to Letters to the Editor

    * Please write even if you only have time for a brief note. Numbers count. If you are not published, you will be helping someone with a similar viewpoint get into print.
    * The word limit for letters that are intended for publication is 250. Shorter letters are generally easier for papers to publish.
    * Begin your letter with a reference to the title and date of the article or opinion piece to which you are responding. Example: “Re: Olympia co-op boycott debate cordial, passionate”
    * Personal experiences and/or qualifications, when relevant, can be helpful in establishing your authority. However, you can also establish your authority by writing factual, logical, respectful letters. When possible, include a reference to your source, such as, “according to the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem,…”
    * Don’t try to respond to every problem with the piece in question. Just pick one or two points to concentrate on.
    * Don’t forget to include your full name, street address and contact phone numbers. The paper needs these to verify that you are actually the author. Only your name and city will appear in print.
    * Please be courteous.

    Thanks for all your support, and thanks for listening!

    Olympia BDS
    http://www.olympiabds.org
    contact@olympiabds.org

  6. Ali Abunimah on… “Boycott: A Nonviolent Technology for Peace and Justice in Palestine/Israel”

    Tuesday, August 31, 7-9 pm, The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia NW

    For all the dialogues, discussions, and debates around the Olympia Food Co-op’s recent boycott of Israeli goods, one party’s voice has been shamefully excluded — that of Palestinians. Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, is one of the most prominent Palestinian-American commentators on the Israel/Palestine conflict. He is coming to Olympia to explain why boycott is an important component for peace and justice for Palestine and Israel.Ali Abunimah has published articles in the newspapers such as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times, and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Democracy Now!, and other news programs. Abunimah was born to a refugee mother from the eradicated Palestinian village of Lifta and a father from Battir in the currently occupied West Bank. “My parents taught me the importance of standing up for your rights but doing so in a way that is not tribal,” says Abunimah. “The Palestinian issue is about universal rights and about equality for everyone.”
    “But it’s precisely because of this sort of ignorance that BDS efforts are needed: to educate the public that the situation in Palestine/Israel is not about “Arab or Muslim vs. Jew” nor even about “Palestinians vs. Israelis.” It is a struggle against a system of oppression and apartheid that privileges Israeli Jews at the expense of Palestinians, violating Palestinians’ most fundamental rights. The premise of the BDS movement is that the key to ending the conflict is for Israel to respect the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and comply with international law. BDS is a tactic, not an end in itself. The goal is to get to justice, human rights, and equality for all.

    Indeed, the Palestinian civil society’s BDS call makes clear this is a universalist movement that sees anyone who supports universal human rights as a potential ally. Thus it explicitly invites “conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.” And some courageous Israelis, have already done so, launching Boycott From Within.” Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, is one of the most prominent Palestinian-American commentators on the Israel/Palestine conflict. He is coming to Olympia to explain why boycott is an important component for peace and justice for Palestine and Israel. Ali Abunimah has published articles in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times, and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera and other television news programs. Abunimah was born to a refugee mother from the eradicated Palestinian village of Lifta and a father from Battir in the currently occupied West Bank.

    SPECIAL NOTE: For those of you who have attempted to derail previous BDS-related events, please don’t try to get this event canceled through threats and intimidation. The plane ticket has already been bought. We work really hard on this stuff, and it’s not nice of you to try to ruin it. We don’t try to cancel your events.

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