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Re: Comments by Ernest Cassara

Ernest, if it is you to whom I am sending the following . . .  At last, someone puts in print a sane question/policy about the UN and the US intending to punish a small nation whose only possible defense against the nation which announces a preemptive policy to be used against other nations, when the only possible way to make the US think twice would be a defensive weapon as a threat to cool it.  Yours, Ernest, is the only time (except for myself with a letter my newspaper would not print) I have seen the reminder that Israel has a nuclear weapon, and that Israel has already used force to destroy a bomb which, as with Iran, needs some way of threatening the US, or Israel itself, to stay cool.  I wish there were a way to get to the Security Council even if only to inquire how they can justify the position they have taken, --and ask or challenge the Security Council as a life-long supporter of the United Nations.

Ted Webb

Re: Israel & Hezbollah (8/28/06)

Thanks to the author for including two very interesting links to exponents of minority Lebanese opinion on the Israeli actions, even if these exponents are exceptionally blinkered in what information they wish to see and use (e.g. calling Hezbollah illegal but not mentioning the illegality of Israeli settlements or Israeli incorporation of Jerusalem into Israel).

The author asks what would have been a proportionate response -- I suggest four things as starters:  (a) Not to have destroyed purely civilian targets, such as water treatment plants and power stations and their fuel depots with the exceptionally cruel result of one of the worst oil slicks in history (on top of real suffering to the population);  (b) Not to destroy all the roads out of towns and then say that those who remain are legitimate targets because they didn't leave when told to; (c) Not to have waited 24 hours or more to attack rocket firing sites in civilian areas -- i.e., not to wait until the militia has left and then in many cases publish attack times  (allowing the militia to leave while civilians remain) removes the military element of the targets and does little to remove civilian casualties; (d) Not to have used cluster bombs in civilian areas -- this was apparently especially bad in the last 48 hours before the truce took effect.

Israel has never indicated its intention to withdraw from the West Bank!! Quite the contrary: it is building a wall which incorporates Palestinian land into its permanent control; it has established illegal settlements that in many cases will not be abandoned; it has offered the Palestinians a piece-meal and disjointed land area that would not be viable as a nation and would in any case claim the right to intervene as it now does whenever it decides it needs to.
Haaretz reported yesterday that the Knesset is considering a proposal which would remove their illegal settlements from military control and give these settlements rights of expansion.  What withdrawal from the West Bank is the author referring to?  Not one that would be recognised as such by any proportion of Palestinians.

Rev John Clifford
Caerphilly, Wales, UK

Re: From Liberty Street: Pessimism (8/28/06)

Dear John,

It's a relief to hear you tell the truth about our miserable condition.  To answer your question, twenty per cent is a piece of cake!  I've heard figures as low as ten per cent, but that means ten percent of our population hitting the streets, making demands, and interrupting commerce.  Unlikely, but not impossible.  I think it's going to take real crisis to shift things.  We're too comfortable and complacent for our own good.

Thanks for the great opinion!

Silver City, New Mexico

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Harvard Square Commentary, September 4, 2006