Friday, March 7, 2008

No symmetry in conflict between Arabs and Israelis

[This was published as a letter to the editor in the Waterbury Republican-American on Friday, March 7, 2008.]

No symmetry in conflict between Arabs and Israelis

Someone reading Friday's article "Violence escalates in Mideast" might get the impression there is symmetry in the actions taken by the Arabs and Israelis. This is untrue.

In 2005, Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Any pretext for attacks on Israel from Gaza was completely removed.

Since then, Palestinian Arabs in Gaza have targeted Israel with more than 3,000 Kassam missiles, including more than 800 since Hamas took over last June.

Most of these have been launched at Sderot, a Israeli town about the size of Watertown.

Besides launching several dozen Kassams at Sderot, Hamas and other terrorist groups Saturday launched at least a dozen Katyusha rockets at Ashkelon, an industrial city about the size of Waterbury.

To make matters more difficult for Israel, the Arab terrorists operate from residential areas. While Hamas has no qualms about harming civilians, Israel does; that's why Hamas use civilians as shields.

Imagine what our response would be if 800 missiles had been launched at Watertown in the last nine months, or if a dozen rockets had targeted Waterbury one day last weekend.

Obviously, Israel cannot let the current situation continue. There is no symmetry between an Israel that wants peace and a de facto Palestinian Arab terrorist ministate bent on destroying its neighbor. Israel has to defend its people. When it does, everyone should realize that, unlike the Arabs who have deliberately chosen deadly conflict, Israel had no choice.

Alan H. Stein

The writer is president of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting).

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