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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

September 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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McKenna's letter: Is Israel acting in self-defense?

Posted by Letters editor

Times columnist is the one who ignores broader issues

Editor, The Times:

Bruce Ramsey has it exactly backward in his column ["McKenna's Middle East adventure," Opinion, Sept. 2] when he wrote, "AG Rob McKenna's letter about Israel's response to Gaza ignores broader issues."

In fact, the letter McKenna signed was quite narrow in scope, responding only to Israel's right to defend itself from thousands of rockets deliberately launched into its civilian population from Gaza, under Hamas leadership.

It is Ramsey who ignores the broader issues by avoiding any meaningful context that would shed light on Israel's actions.

Ramsey trots out the tired trope of disproportionality, displaying an ignorance of the rules of engagement in war. Legitimate self-defense is enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Furthermore, attacks are only prohibited if they cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects that is excessive in relation to the anticipated concrete military advantage of the attack.

Ramsey's statement that "rocket fire had killed no one" is factually incorrect and morally repugnant, even if it were true. Thousands of rockets fired at civilians is not only a war crime but a weapon of terror that has traumatized thousands of Israeli children and adults, incidentally killing more than a dozen people and wounding scores more.

As to the so-called blockade, Israel's partial siege of Gaza following Hamas' putsch in June of 2007 still allows literally tons of food, fuel and medical supplies into Gaza through daily border crossings.

Finally, it is scandalous to suggest that "the Gaza incursion was part of an election campaign." In fact, Hamas miscalculated, assuming Israel would not respond to increased rocket attacks precisely because of the status of a lame-duck government.
In this they were proven disastrously wrong at a tragic cost to their own people.

-- David Brumer, Seattle

McKenna knows Israel is right to defend itself

Attorney General Rob McKenna deserves our thanks, not Bruce Ramsey's scorn, for taking a moral stand regarding Israel's right to self-defense. While the loss of innocent Palestinian life is tragic, one must ask why Hamas terrorists have fired more than 6,000 rockets at Israeli population centers after Israel removed every last Jew -- including those buried there -- from Gaza in 2005.

The conflict is one of stark moral asymmetry. Hamas wins jihadist points when it kills or terrorizes Israeli civilians, and bizarrely, it wins world sympathy when its own population suffers. Or to state it another way, Israel weeps when its people are killed, and it weeps when it kills the innocent Palestinians who are trapped under a terrorist government.

But Israel absolutely has to defend the lives of its citizens. Ramsey, by focusing only on how many casualties are inflicted in each side, is completely blind to that very important distinction.

In issuing an opinion on this matter, McKenna is taking not just a legal, but a moral stand on behalf of Israel's right to defend itself.

-- Randy Kessler, Bellevue

McKenna's nose where it doesn't belong

I commend Bruce Ramsey for his thoughtful and well-informed column concerning the letter signed by Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna and other attorneys general supporting the Israeli attack on Gaza last winter.

There was no reason for McKenna to have signed this letter on material not relevant to his office. One can only assume he had political motives for doing so.

It is difficult to believe anyone who watched even a little of the television coverage of that horrific attack could have supported it. One must also assume McKenna has not taken the trouble to learn anything about Israel's 40-year brutal occupation of Gaza.

But I have been there; I have seen it.

I wrote to McKenna when I first read his statement, received a brief and noncommital e-mail reply. I would like to think he has taken the trouble to inform himself more on the subject, especially if, as Ramsey suggests, he is interested in further political office.

-- Bernice Youtz, Tacoma

A truce takes two to make peace

I want to thank Bruce Ramsey for his column about Rob McKenna's letter supporting Israel. Having traveled to the West Bank last summer and having experienced what a Palestinian lives with daily, I believe peace will come when justice and security is available to Palestinians as well as Israelis.

Truces must be honored by both sides. During the truce in the months before the invasion, Palestine had said they would fire no rockets. Israel's truce agreement was to allow food at previous year's levels into Gaza. However, Israel allowed only 20 percent of food and supplies to enter Gaza. In September and October 2008 there was one rocket each month fired from Gaza.

I ask: If America were occupied, what would we do if we could only get 20 percent of our food? I believe Palestine needs justice.

-- Kay Ellison, Vancouver

McKenna caves to petty politics

Congratulations are in order for having a real journalist like Bruce Ramsey, who is not afraid to write for truth and justice, despite of many detractors.

I used to respect Attorney General Rob McKenna because I believed he would stand above petty politics, but obviously, I was seriously in error. McKenna's gutless pandering is evident in his statement: "We're elected officials, all the attorneys general have constituencies for which Israel is important" and to hell with truth or justice.

In his unholy haste to sign a letter that would please a constituency, McKenna gave strength to falsehoods under his signature by stating that Palestinian rocket fire "killed and wounded 730 Israelis since 2005." According to actual June 2004 to Jan. 17, 2009, statistics from B'Tselem, an Israeli human-rights organization, 19 Israeli civilians and two Israeli soldiers were killed by Gazan rocket fire.

It would appear our attorney general can neither add or seek justice while he is busy currying political favors, which raises an even bigger question: Can we trust McKenna for equal protection under the Constitution?

Hats off to Ramsey for his courage in putting words to print on a most unpopular topic; justice for Palestinians.

-- Jafar Siddiqui, American Muslims of Puget Sound member, Lynnwood

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