Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Notable Comment on the Gaza War by Bill Moyers, responding to a column by Wm. Kristol

Letter - Israel and the Use of Force, as Bill Moyers Sees It -

I take strong exception to William Kristol’s characterization [The column.] of what I said about Israel’s action in Gaza and my position on violence in the Middle East. According to him, I “lambasted Israel” for what I “called its ‘state terrorism.’ ”

Here is the exact transcript of what I said:

“Every nation has the right to defend its people. Israel is no exception, all the more so because Hamas would like to see every Jew in Israel dead. But brute force can turn self-defense into state terrorism. It’s what the U.S. did in Vietnam, with B-52s and napalm, and again in Iraq, with shock and awe. By killing indiscriminately the elderly, kids, entire families, by destroying schools and hospitals, Israel did exactly what terrorists do and exactly what Hamas wanted. It spilled the blood that turns the wheel of retribution.”

Furthermore, I do believe that the violence in the Middle East has roots deep in history, and in the competition of the three monotheistic faiths, each of which claims divine title to much of the same land. But from my days in the Johnson White House, I have defended Israel’s right to defend itself, and still do.

When I was the publisher of Newsday, I instructed our newsroom to cover atrocities in Vietnam. I believed (and still do) that it is important to know what our military was doing in our name.

Killing civilians is wrong, whether done by Hamas, Israel or the United States. To be indifferent to that suffering is, sadly, to be as blind as Samson in Gaza.

Bill Moyers
New York, Jan. 20, 2009

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