Open letter to Gideon Levy from A.B.Yehoshua

Yesterday Gideon Levy had a piece in Ha’aretz titled The IDF has no mercy for the children in Gaza (reproduced in full for the UCU Activists list in the style of the SWP with the subject line “The blood of Gaza’s children is on our hands”). A.B. Yehoshua responds today in an open letter:

“The doleful thought sometimes crosses my mind that it is not the children of Gaza or of Israel that you are pining for, but only for your own private conscience. Because if you are truly concerned about the death of our children and theirs, you would understand the present war – not in order to uproot Hamas from Gaza but to induce its followers to understand, and regrettably in the only way they understand in the meantime, that they must stop the firing unilaterally, stop hoarding missiles for a bitter and hopeless war to destroy Israel, and above all for the sake of their children in the future, so they will not die in another pointless adventure.

After all, now, for the first time in Palestinian history, after the Ottoman, British, Egyptian, Jordanian and Israeli conquests, part of the Palestinians has gained a first and I hope not a last piece of land on which they are to maintain a full and independent government. And if they start building, developing and pursuing social endeavors, even according to Islamic religious law, they will prove to the whole world, and especially to us, that the moment we terminate the occupation they will be ready to live in peace with their surroundings, free to do as they wish, but also responsible for their deeds.

There is something absurd in the comparison you draw about the number of those killed. When you ask how it can be that they killed three of our children and we cause the killing of a hundred and fifty, the inference one can draw is that if they were to kill a hundred of our children (for example, by the Qassam rockets that struck schools and kindergartens in Israel that happened to be empty), we would be justified in also killing a hundred of their children.

In other words, it is not the killing itself that troubles you but the number. On the face of it, one could answer you cynically by saying that when there will be two hundred million Jews in the Middle East it will be permissible to think in moral terms about comparing the number of victims on each side. But that is, of course, a debased argument. After all, you, Gideon, who live among the people, know very well that we are not bent on killing Palestinian children to avenge the killing of our children. All we are trying to do is get their leaders to stop this senseless and wicked aggression, and it is only because of the tragic and deliberate mingling between Hamas fighters and the civilian population that children, too, are unfortunately being killed. The fact is that since the disengagement, Hamas has fired only at civilians. Even in this war, to my astonishment, I see that they are not aiming at the army concentrations along the border but time and again at civilian communities.”

It’s worth reading in full.

3 Responses to “Open letter to Gideon Levy from A.B.Yehoshua”

  1. David Herman Says:

    In my reading of Levy’s article Both the killing of children itself and the number of children being killed is troublesome, surely this is so. I absolutely believe that Israel is not bent on killing children as revenge, nevertheless hundreds of children have died and this is a dreadful thing.

    Of course Hamas are aiming to kill civilians whether Israeli or Palestinian. Hamas are Jihadists, they are followers of a death cult that feeds on the blood of both their enemies and their own people -so called martyrs. Israel should seek to act in a very different way, they should uphold rule of law, show compassion to the children of their enemies and refuse to use the tactics of air strikes and artillery bombardments where civilian casualties are a possibility.

  2. Adam Says:

    One UK commentator here states that Yehoshua (who lives in the “ethnically cleansed city of Haifa”) harbours a “Holocaust denier mentality” as embodied in this letter:

    http://barbaricdocument.blogspot.com/2009/01/holocaust-denier-mentality-of-b.html

  3. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Adam, the whole tone of the report is dubious from the very beginning. Why should _anything_ the writer says be taken seriously? The opening assertion concerning Haifa is not only morally dubious in its use of language, it is also factually incorrect: see the appropriate pages in Morris “1948: The First Arab-Islaeli War”, (2008).

    Anyone who takes that attitude towards Yehoshua either doesn’t know his writing or is interpreting it through a prism that admits only _their_ own ideology. The author’s intent, own views, relationships and all, are irrelevant to the “New Barbarian” (barbarian, indeed), because they are determined to misinterpret Yehoshua for their own ends.

    That wouldn’t be your own personal approach to Israel, Gaza and Yehoshua, would it, Adam?


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