Letter to the Editor: Israelis instigated, Palestinians reacted

Two weeks ago, I wrote a commentary criticizing The New York Times’ editorial board for its appal-ling hypocrisy in condemning the Hamas violence while giving a green light to the far more massive violence of Israel’s military (“Hamas’ rise gave Times editorials bite,” Feb. 8).

Last week, Joe Tarkoff penned a rebuttal, trying to make his case for Israel and its military occupation over Palestinians (“Criticism of Hamas shouldn’t surprise,” Feb. 15). Unfortunately, Tarkoff eschews facts and evidence in favor of bizarre and emotionally-loaded assertions.

The most remarkable feature of Tarkoff’s response is he declares my statistics – showing 10 Palestinians killed for every Israeli in the first weeks of the second intifada – “misleading.” And yet, Tarkoff does not actually challenge these statistics.

Instead, he sets out on the heroic task of trying to prove that disproportionate casualties are meaningless, concocting misleading statistics of his own.

Tarkoff argues since Germany lost three million soldiers and the U.S. lost 300,000 soldiers in World War II, casualty numbers are not instructive in helping determine moral responsibility in a conflict. But WWII involved more than just soldiers in two countries; the Nazi regime incinerated six million Jews, Romas, and gays, and killed about 20 million Russians. Does Tarkoff really consider this to be irrelevant?

After magically deciding that casualty figures “tell us nothing,” Tarkoff proceeds to justify Israel’s brutal military attacks against the Palestinians by citing a suicide bombing. Of course, I do not expect Tarkoff – who has already decided a 10:1 death ratio against Palestinians doesn’t matter – to know Israeli military bombings and other assaults precede any Palestinian bombings by about 50 years.

I can only suggest he read the works of recent Israeli historians, who, after consulting declassified state archives, have uncovered a vast record of Israeli state-terrorism and ethnic cleansing. As Israeli historian Tom Segev has written, “‘Disappear-ing’ the Arabs lay at the heart of the Zionist dream, and was also a necessary condition of its existence

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