Pondering the latest Mideast crises

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In his June 5 op-ed, "Why Turkey is outraged at Israel," Namik Tan, Turkish ambassador to the United States, said, "Among the ships' 600 activists were Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, European lawmakers, journalists, business leaders and an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor -- hardly targets who could pose a threat to Israel's well-trained commandos."

True, the lawmakers, the journalists and the 86-year-old were not a threat to the commandos, but neither were they the "targets" that Mr. Tan intimates. Mr. Tan hides the truth that many of the other activists threatened the lives of the commandos by attacking them with metal pipes and rods, as clearly shown in videos.

Further, Mr. Tan said, "Whatever the aid carriers may have chanted in opposition to Israel, this was a humanitarian initiative. In any democratic country, people have freedom of expression so long as they avoid violence." Thus, Mr. Tan indicates that he knew the activists had chanted something offensive. Instead of addressing the chants, he deflected the issue with a reference to freedom of expression that we in the West support.

But the chant explains the assault on the commandos. It was: "Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews. The army of Muhammad will return" -- a reference to the 7th century Muslim massacre of Jews at Khaibar. The chant refutes Mr. Tan's claim of a "humanitarian initiative." The ambassador should have written "Why Turkey betrayed Israel."

Edward Stern, Bethesda


The question that Charles Krauthammer ["Those troublesome Jews," op-ed, June 4] should address is not whether Israel has the right to enforce a blockade on Gaza -- clearly it does -- but whether the blockade makes Israel more secure. It does not.

For an answer, just look at the results of the blockade. Hamas remains in power, and its stature in Gaza and its weapons capabilities have increased over the past three years. Meanwhile, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Palestinian militants in 2006, remains in captivity; Gazan civilians continue to suffer; and Israel's international standing is rapidly deteriorating. Simply put, Israel is not served by the blockade -- Hamas is.

The Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla highlights not just why the United States needs a new approach to Gaza, but also why President Obama must act urgently to turn this crisis into an opportunity -- boldly leading the way to a two-state solution that protects Israel's future as a Jewish, democratic homeland and prevents further bloodshed.

Hadar Susskind, Washington

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