Letters to the Editor
Readers write in about Palestinian resistance, Battlefield robots, and Haiti.
Ben White's piece, "Peaceful Palestinian resistance is paying off", was a dishonest presentation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For instance, Mr. White denied that the conflict has anything to do with Israel's security. This denial ignores the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Palestinian and other Arab groups have been trying to destroy Israel since the moment Israel was created in 1948. Whether it was the Arab armies of 1948 or the terrorists of today, Israel has been fighting a constant battle to maintain its very existence.
We can also look to history to see what Israel ultimately wants from the Palestinians. When Israel signed a peace agreement with Egypt in the 1970s to end Israeli conflict with Egypt, Egypt's part of the agreement was to be peaceful toward Israel and thereby provide a secure border with Egypt. Years later, Israel made a similar peace deal for a secure border with Jordan. Just as security was the main goal for Israel in its previous conflicts and peace negotiations, security is still the main goal of Israel today.
I was delighted to see the headline "Peaceful Palestinian resistance is paying off." Peaceful Palestinian resistance is an often-overlooked everyday reality. One could do a whole series on the topic. It is certainly a subject worth pursuing and a positive philosophy worth respecting for Palestine's sake.
Your story about battlefield robots ("New role for robot warriors,") acting as ethical advisers to soldiers or observers compels the question: Whose ethics might be programmed into the software? I suppose it will once again be under the purview of the same type of people who supported the firebombing of entire civilian populations. Our soldiers and their designated overseers long ago abandoned the requirements of proportional response and the prohibition on noncombatant deaths associated with classical just war theory.
Regarding John Hughes's column, "Haiti-type disasters require a UN rapid-response unit" : I do so agree with his plea for a United Nations rapid-response unit to be set up with all speed, so that whenever and wherever an emergency arises, appropriate help is in position within hours.
I'm sure that there is widespread support for this compassionate suggestion and feel that this would be the right moment – the world's having witnessed Haiti's plight – for the initiative to be seized.