Letters to the editor | Edited November 18, 2023
Difficult choices on Gaza
The Economist he is not willing to face the truth. Your argument in “Why Israel must fight on” (November 4) is that an international coalition of Western and Arab countries is needed to govern Gaza. Western and Arab countries do not want to live in Gaza. You also want fair elections in the West Bank, hoping that “moderate” leaders with a “democratic mandate” will emerge. According to the best available polling data, Hamas won a fair election, a disastrous result. Finally, you believe that Israel should follow international law to maintain broad support over months of fighting. But no matter how Israel fights, it will not have widespread support.
Hamas is a political movement and cannot be destroyed by force alone. Either there will be a long, hard Israeli-led operation in Gaza or Islamist militants will return to power there. Neither option is remotely attractive. It would be better if it were The Economist he provided a sophisticated analysis of that more realistic position.
South Bend, Indiana
The polarized, indifferent way in which governments and the media on both sides portray this conflict is frustrating. The debate is increasingly monopolized by radicals; criticism on one side means defense on the other.
There should be no debate about the atrocities and acts of terrorism committed by Hamas on October 7th. They were heinous. Trying to justify these crimes by reference to the conflict in general is like justifying rape by pointing out what the victim was wearing. You don’t need to understand the wider context. Saying that the atrocities of Hamas were wrong does not make one anti-Palestinian. However, the way in which the Israeli government conducts war is also wrong, and says that this does not make one person against Israel. Of course Israel has the right to defend itself and take action, but this does not justify the massive loss of innocent civilian life.
Hamas has acted wonderfully and The Economist it is rightly called so. The Israeli government is also working hard, and this newspaper should have the courage to deny it and call for different tactics.
Gabriel Sanchez Garin
Far from trying to strengthen Hamas, as you claim, Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, hit Hamas hard in three major military operations in 2012, 2014 and 2021. In 2005 he warned that Gaza becomes “Hamastan”. In 2014 he said “Hamas ISIS“. After the October 7 massacre of more than 1,000 Israelis and more than 200 taken hostage, Mr. Netanyahu’s war cabinet ordered the Israeli army to destroy Hamas. Once Gaza is free from Hamas, there may be hope for peace.
Dr. Ophir Falk
Foreign policy advisor to the Israeli prime minister
If Hamas was hiding in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, would Israel bomb those Israeli cities to pieces to get at them? When Britain suffered from despondency IRA terrorism in the 1970s, the peace achieved by the British government reduces what is said IRA– supporting West Belfast to rubble?
You are referring to a social contract between the state of Israel and its people. You also advocate for the development of moderate leadership among the Palestinians. But capable moderate leaders in the past have been undermined by extremists on both sides. There is no evidence that either Israel or the Palestinians would have any confidence in the ability of a future moderate leader to resolve the issues. It is more likely that if Hamas is destroyed, it will eventually be replaced by another group.
It may be anathema to the Israelis, but the only alternative is to start talking to Hamas now. Yes, Hamas would claim victory, but does that matter when civilian lives on both sides are at stake? Only through negotiation can Israel secure its social contract with its citizens.
Mr. Netanyahu is completely dependent on Jewish attorney general, right wing, coalition partners to stay in power. The goal of these coalition partners is the full occupation of the Israeli military in Gaza, and then the re-establishment of all the settlements that were destroyed when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. With the option between doing what is good for the country or keeping. his coalition partners will be happy that Mr. Netanyahu always chooses the latter.
I look forward to the day when Israel is no longer ruled by him and his top supporters. Perhaps then, Israel will be able to engage with its partners and friends in the international community to rebuild Gaza free from the barbaric tyranny of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and thus allow Israelis to live in security within our borders.
Beit Shemesh, Israel
The public in many countries tends to support the little guy against the big guy, the weak against the strong, David against Goliath (“Culture war over the Gaza war”, November 4). In the early days tiny Israel was the David and the Goliath was the much larger Arab states that surrounded it. Now that has been reversed and Israel, with its powerful army hitting Gaza, continues to grow as the Goliath, fairly or unfairly.
Poll na Harris
You are right to argue that Israel must fight on while complying with international law. What Israel needs is any clear idea of the outcome it is really trying to achieve. Mr Netanyahu has avoided any serious effort to make progress towards a two-state solution. In fact he has tried to weaken the Palestinian central leadership and instead has strengthened Hamas in the hope that Israel could continue the expansion of West Bank settlements and keep a lid on attacks. from Gaza. The only outcome that will benefit Israel is a political agreement that ends Israeli occupation and enables Palestinian self-determination.
Embrace the work of a newspaper editor during a war in the Middle East. I thought your leader was exceptional in not shying away from the fact that sometimes war is necessary to make peace. The argument was bold, especially when set against the chorus of rather disturbing jihadi voices that have found purchase in our Western capitals.
I appreciated the article that questioned the feasibility of a two-state solution (“Still out of access”, Samhain 4th). I am waiting for other news media to take an honest look at the possibility of a Palestinian state: broken into pieces, lacking social cohesion and miserable. The demographics, geography and policies of Israel and its neighbors have all conspired to defeat the plan.
By continuing to hope that it will work, are we not really allowing Israel to avoid the most important and difficult issues? True friends are honest when mistakes are made. Who are Israel’s true friends today?
Li the innovator
Chaguan said Li Keqiang’s death symbolizes the end of an era in which the Chinese Communist Party “seeked legitimacy through technocratic achievement” (November 4). Even though the Chinese government is downplaying Li’s death, middle-aged and young Chinese continue to mourn him for his knowledge and emphasis on facts and figures, not ideology.
We also mourn Li for his emphasis on fostering a culture of innovation. He spared no effort to encourage young and old to encourage entrepreneurship and embrace the new. When WeChat first came out, the application suffered attacks from many Chinese, especially those who were traditional and suspicious of the positive effects that this platform brought about. Li, at the time, refused to impose dogmatic rules on WeChat, and instead gave it more freedom to develop on its own. Years later, when WeChat became viral, he said “if we used traditional methods to manage WeChat, it would not have been able to evolve to its current state.” He was patient and curious to to see how innovation changed the way of life of the Chinese.
A cultural argument
As a Hellenophile and feta aficionado (fetaficionado?) I was surprised by Bartleby’s disdain for the national cheese of Greece (October 28). Feta is far from bland and varies from mild to salty and smooth to crunchy depending on the terroir, fermentation process and combination of sheep’s or goat’s milk used. Some fetas are so tangy that they raise eyebrows. But Bartleby was probably referring to the fake feta produced outside of Greece which is often bland, innocent and contaminated with cow’s milk. In that case I would urge you to experience the stimulating properties of real feta although the slur will unfortunately still be fet’accompli.
Bern (canton), Switzerland