To the editor: Yossi Klein Halevi’s cynical solution to Israel’s perceived image problem requires three basic presumptions: The Palestinians are naturally deceptive and unable to negotiate in good faith; they are led by a cabal of merciless Islamists (Hamas) and irredeemable toadies (the Palestinian Authority); and the rest of the world — particularly the Islamic world — are antisemites waiting for the chance to encircle and destroy Israel.
Such reductionist myths illuminate what undergirds much of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. But while they may help assuage collective guilt and responsibility, they cannot alter basic reality.
Pushing settlement expansion for the last 40-plus years has pushed Israel into a corner. It has a choice: Either accept the Palestinians as human beings worthy of equal dignity, justice and citizenship, or completely unmoor modern Zionism from its historical liberationist aspirations and fully tether it to racist settler-colonialism.
Charles Kohorst, Glendora
To the editor: Halevi wonders why Israel is losing the battle for public opinion. That’s easy — amnesia.
In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza. At the time, Israeli citizens lived and worked in Gaza, but the Israeli government forcibly evicted those Israelis from their homes in a futile attempt to offer the Palestinians a fresh start and an olive branch.
Many Israelis thought exchanging land for peace might stimulate trade and binational ventures between the two groups. Instead, Israel received a barrage of rockets aimed directly into the heart of the country, and Hamas started digging those tunnels under Israel from Gaza for the purpose of launching surprise attacks.
It takes an evil genius to plan attacks from underground. If only that genius had been applied to constructive endeavors, the Palestinian people could be well on their way toward developing a functioning government and a thriving economy.
Ellen Switkes, Sherman Oaks
To the editor: Halevi misleads the casual reader. He puts all blame on Hamas for the recent fighting, saying Hamas fired first and aims at civilians.
It’s true Hamas fired rockets before Israeli airstrikes, but Halevi completely ignores Israeli provocations of excessively violent police attacks on protests against ethnic cleansing in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem and Israeli forces invading the Al Aqsa mosque during Ramadan.
Halevi claims that Israel “minimizes civilian deaths” with pinpoint aiming in its airstrikes. But that seems to be wishful thinking because Israeli airstrikes kill hundreds of civilians and destroy Gaza’s habitability.
Halevi correctly says that Israel must end its occupation and work toward peace to win international public support, actions that would also remove any excuse for Hamas to fire rockets. Israel should follow Halevi’s advice and immediately stop illegal settlement expansion and control settler gangs that attack Palestinians.
Jeff Warner, Los Angeles
To the editor: Thank you for publishing the wise words of Yossi Klein Halevi. No nation should be condemned for being strong enough to protect its residents against terrorist attacks, but Israel can be stronger in pushing for peace.
I’ve criticized The Times over what seems to be its one-sided news coverage and photos about Israel’s defense in the face of Hamas launching thousands of rockets. So I appreciate an op-ed article that shows both sides.
Shelley Rivlin, Encino
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.