I have personal knowledge of war. From 1967 to 1969 when I was in my 20s, I lived in a small town in Vietnam while working as a volunteer for a nongovernmental development organization. Also, by the way, I once visited Israel to attend an academic conference.
So I was interested in David Siegel’s commentary (Aug. 7), in which he states that in the context of the current situation in Gaza, some persons are in denial about the meaning of the word “war.” And regardless: In spite of the brutality of Hamas, he says, Israel has dealt more humanely with its enemy than any other country in similar circumstances in human history. I wonder if the noncombatant citizens of Gaza share this perspective.
And Siegel’s commentary reminds me that throughout history, partisans have sought to excuse the killing of civilians by their own side by blaming the deaths on enemy actions, such as use of civilians as shields or storage of weapons in civilian buildings. Sometimes, it is good to recall who is pulling the trigger.
I also want to respond to Siegel’s claim that some (a few? all?) of those who oppose Israel’s military actions in Gaza are suffering from a brain disorder, i.e., mental illness. Unlike him, I am not a medical doctor, and I have no training in the mental health sciences. But I do question the sanity of anyone who believes that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza will in the long run weaken Hamas politically or lessen the threat to the people of Israel.