Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Open letter to S. Faramarzi / Associated Press

Dear Mrs. Faramarzi,

I'd like to express first that although a certain anti-Israeli bias is visible in your work, to my opinion it is still within the limits of what one can expect from a professional journalist. This gives me a glimmer of hope that you may find some value in my following comment.

You keep repeating the statement that Israel started the current fighting as a response to Hezbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, which is indeed the common opinion outside of Israel. This is a superficial and extremely misleading interpretation of the events.

If the public opinion outside Israel is shaped by such a totally wrong understanding, a peaceful solution to the current crisis, and indeed to the Middle East problem overall, will only move further out of reach. I believe that we both share the wish to avoid such a bleak future.

What is usually omitted from interpretations of Israel's motivation for the current fighting are the events since the withdrawal from Lebanon, and even more so since the withdrawal from Gaza.

In both cases the withdrawal to an internationally recognized border has not increased the security of Israel's citizens. In the North Hezbollah has pledged to "liberate" the so-called Sheba Farms, a meaningless shred of dirt, the future of which could easily have been settled in a wider regional peace agreement with Lebanon and Syria. However this provided the justification for a massive military build-up right at Israel's border fence, regular cross-border raids, and worst of all, occasional bombardment of Israeli townships and villages with Katjusha rockets, bluntly targeting the civilian population.

The same picture emerged after the withdrawal from Gaza. Instead of providing the critics in Israel with proof that the formula "Land for Peace" works, Hamas and other organizations proved to the Israeli public that loss of control means loss of security. In the months from the withdrawal and widely applauded razing of the Israeli settlements to the day the hostilities in the North broke out, Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip absorbed over 600 Qassam rocket attacks.

Hezbollah crossed the border to ambush an Israeli patrol, initially killing 3 soldiers and abducting 2 more. At the same time a barrage of mortars and Katjushas was fired into Israel, wounding several civilians. Those Katjushas, being numbers 601-751 of missiles fired at Israeli civilians recently, triggered the Israeli response.

What we are now witnessing is the final collapse of the ailing "Land for Peace" doctrine and the forced return to a doctrine of "Deterrence First". Misrepresenting the Israeli response as a maniac's head rush over two miserable soldiers could well be the last nail in the coffin of hope for peace.

(Formalities omitted from the original letter sent directly to AP)

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