Having recently returned from a solidarity mission to Israel I must take exception to Mr. Hess’ op ed, “Rocket science and disillusion,” (Nov. 30). I was privileged to meet and talk to many brave and courageous soldiers and officers at the Gaza front, all of whom were anxious to finish the job they were trained to do without regard for their own safety and were in fact frustrated at the announcement of the cease-fire. Likewise the people living down south in Sderot and surrounding communities were very upset at the political rather than military resolution. Amazingly, we were thanked by the people we met for coming from the States to give our support, whereas we kept telling them that we were there to thank them for what they were doing. What they don’t need is Americans pontificating in New Jersey about what Israel should be doing. We also visited soldiers in the hospital who were wounded, some seriously and the decision to send these boys (that’s right, boys) into harm’s way should not be taken lightly.
The complexities of Middle Eastern politics are beyond the scope of this letter. Suffice it to say that Hamas militarily is not a problem for the IDF, but an invasion would have jeopardized the influence the U.S. has with the only two countries in the region that Israel has a treaty with, Egypt and Jordan. The major military threat facing Israel today is from Iran and its partner, Hezbollah. In a future confrontation Israel may need U.S. backing and so they may have acquiesced to U.S. pressure but probably for its own future benefit.
It asks in Ethics of our Fathers, who is a strong person? One who conquers his own inclinations. The knee-jerk response was to go into Gaza and clean it up. But at what price and how many Israeli soldiers killed or wounded?
I asked a colonel in the IDF involved in the last Gaza war what he thought about the cease-fire, expecting him to say the invasion should have happened. His response was that a Jewish leader of a Jewish state made the decision about a Jewish army, and right or wrong that was good enough for him. It should certainly be good enough for us sitting in New Jersey. To me it shows Israel’s strength, not weakness.