Thank you for your coverage of the rally for Palestinian rights, “Portland protesters denounce Israel” (July 26). However, a few errors need to be corrected in that coverage as well as in the letter by Steve Brinn and Emily Chaleff of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, published the same day (“Israel deserves support as Hamas continues attacks”).

The rally was not intended to denounce Israel, but rather the massacre of Palestinian citizens in Gaza by the Israeli government and military. Many Israelis are outraged by these acts (see Gideon Levy’s Haaretz columns).

The letter argues that such brutality is necessary to defend Israel against the rockets of Hamas, without giving any context.

The Israeli government knew very early on there was no proof that the Hamas government was responsible for the murder of the three Israeli young men, but it continued to condemn Hamas, arrest their officials, kill people in the West Bank and demolish their homes. This collective punishment led to the new spate of rocket attacks.

The letter demonizes Hamas rather than acknowledging that the recent unity government forged between Hamas and Fatah was an opportunity for progress. The claim that Israel has the right to defend itself is empty rhetoric appropriate only for two equal states; Israel has the duty to protect those in Gaza and the West Bank, since they are under occupation, as the U.N. recognizes.

Israel controls the sea, land, airspace and borders of Gaza. The people are packed into the area, and they cannot leave. They are subject to a harsh economic blockade; only a few goods can enter.

Only in the U.S. and Israel is such a military assault on trapped civilians considered acceptable; everyone else in the world recognizes that it is a crime against humanity.

Cristina Malcolmson
Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights, Peace Action Maine

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