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Jewish Mainers in Strong Support of Israel

Recent writings on these pages vilify Israel’s actions in the face of repeated rocket attacks by Hamas from Gaza (Sternlieb, August 16/Hattie, August 21).  In particular, the writers focus on the number of deaths of Gazan civilians.  What is most disturbing in this discussion is the distortion and disinformation that influences public opinion and, potentially, public policy. 

In fact, media sources regularly base fatality statistics on reports that originate from Hamas, and these reports are highly suspect. Time and again, reports of civilian casualties have been repudiated. The majority of deaths reported in Gaza are among men between the ages of 20-40, and numerous analyses suggest therefore that most of the deaths are those of Hamas combatants, not civilians. (Caution Needed with Gaza Casualty Figures, BBC News, August 11, 2014). 

Some feel that the conflict would be more palatable if Israel took fewer measures to protect its citizens from attack (rather than place them directly in the line of fire as Hamas does).  Presumably, if more Israelis died, that would be a “fairer” outcome. 

As Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated, “Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty. Every single one. We do not target them. We do not seek them. The people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our enemy is Hamas. Our enem[ies] are the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people. And we've taken extraordinary circumstances and measures to avoid civilian casualties.” 

The Hamas charter, in no uncertain terms, calls for the absolute destruction of the state of Israel, (www.cfr.org, Laub, Z. August 1, 2014. Hamas. Retrieved August 21, 2014.) Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 with the hope that Palestinian leadership would develop a strong infrastructure there if Israel departed.  Instead, in 2007, Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority, killed hundreds of its own people, and has since used international humanitarian aid to build tunnels and other weapon depots to attack Israel. 

Gazans are victims of their own leadership.  The sooner Western nations come to terms with this reality, the sooner Palestinians can achieve the quality of life they deserve.  For a detailed list of Jewish Mainers who signed this article, please visit www.mainejewish.org.

-          Emily Chaleff is Executive Director of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine