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The lopsided military conflict in Gaza [Letter]

How nice to learn that thanks to its "Iron Dome" air defense system, Israel has been spared civilian deaths and all but "minimal damage" by Hamas rockets ("'Iron Dome' worth the aid," July 22).

Also heartwarming is the information that since 2011, with both American parties rallying around Israel, our Congress has approved $700 million to bolster that nation's defense shield.

The icing on the cake, as commentator Robert Pines points out, is that our investment has paid off in another way: Much of the U.S. money going toward Israel's defense will now come back to this country because Israel has agreed to let American firms manufacture the Israeli Dome.

We scratch Israel's back, it scratches ours.

However, Mr. Pines is wearing blinders about the conflict in Gaza. Although he admits that polls show most Israelis want peace with the Palestinians, his essay reveals not the least feeling for — or interest in — the suffering in Gaza.

The reason is plain enough: Israelis, except for the inconvenience and anguish of taking refuge when the sirens sound, have largely escaped serious injury or death.

Now look at Gaza. What is happening there makes a travesty of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's earlier stated aim of keeping civilian casualties to a minimum. As of Thursday, nearly 800 Palestinian had been killed, the great majority civilians, whereas Israel suffered the deaths of 32 soldiers and just two civilians.

Several Palestinians were reported killed in a school serving as a shelter. Boys on a beach were cut down and entire families in apartments have been wiped out. The slaughter looks indiscriminate.

Anyone following Israeli-Palestinian relations over the last 50 years knows that the playing field has never been level. Israel, with U.S. help, has always had a huge advantage militarily and economically. It has kept the Palestinians on a tight leash, cutting off their resources, limiting their entry and exit, bulldozing their homes and settling in their territory.

Moreover, when Israel goes on the attack it overreacts, taking a multiple of Palestinian lives for each Israeli life lost. As Sun letter writer Lena Khalaf Tuffaha recently wrote: "Palestinians have names, mothers and fathers and loved ones. They bleed red like the rest of us."

When the bloodshed ends — and it will — the U.S. needs a serious congressional discussion about halving aid to Israel. Instead of another shortening of the leash on Palestine, Israel needs a paradigm shift toward creation of a viable Palestinian state.

Meanwhile the press needs to focus on the lives and aspirations of Palestinians and how both Israel and Palestine must listen to the peacemakers if they are to thrive.

Bruce Knauff, Towson

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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