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To the editor: I appreciate Columbia University international relations professor Page Fortna's recognition that understanding the causes of terrorism is not the same as condoning or condemning the actions.
I do wish, however, that more experts would recognize the despotism that defines the U.S. and Western European role in the Middle East.
For a century-plus, these countries have radicalized people into militancy; armed all conflicts (sometimes on both sides); and gone to war for access to natural resources. Our colonies and mandates were built on inciting ethnic division.
Anyone accepting our military aid is, from the point of view of those left out of America's spoils system, poisoning their own cause.
It is not simply Israelis versus Palestinians in Gaza, or terrorists versus rightful heirs. It is Western imperial need and greed against the self-determination of an entire region.
Matthew Neel, Sherman Oaks
To the editor: Trying to follow the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip, I have been less than satisfied that the overwhelming number of articles and opinion pieces on the war have too often used words and phrases like "resistance to occupation" or "terrorism" to cast one side in a good light and the other as warmongers bereft of any saving graces.
As a proud Jewish American, I have always supported Israel as a bastion of democracy that has a right to defend itself. But I also believe, as Fortna writes, that while Israel has the responsibility to respond to the atrocities committed by Hamas, that responsibly does not justify the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Gaza.
We all know that Hamas is a terrorist group. But I hope that Israel, which has served as a beacon for human rights in an area of the world gripped by authoritarianism, adheres to the various Geneva Conventions as it wages a justifiable war against a group that makes no distinction between innocent civilians and members of the Israel Defense Forces.
Donald L. Singer, Cardiff, Calif.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.