Dear Editor: In his recent op/ed, Rabbi Jonathan Biatch asserts  that condemnation of Israel’s shooting of “March of Return” demonstrators is rash. He bases this on the fact that on May 14, 50 of 62 deaths were from Hamas, which “understands well how using civilians as human shields … can be concealed in international media, especially those predisposed to be anti-Israel.”

That seems less like an opinion based on "objective fact" than predisposition, since the casualty ratio appears to show Hamas assuming the role of human shields, not of exploitative bullies. Objective fact also reveals the demonstrators as largely peaceful, albeit panicked, as they were shot by Israeli forces from the safety of remote bunkers, resulting in over 120 dead and 13,000 wounded to date and not as “rioters (who) advanced toward the border, (as) Israel fought back against them, yielding dozens of deaths and more than 1,000 casualties.”

He suggests that, after the dust clears, “Israel will undergo a period of study, angst, and self-investigation,” and “could further help itself in the court of world opinion by insisting … the United States, remain neutral.” What I’d suggest is that the world might appreciate, more than empty promises, that the U.S. and Israel not hold themselves above the law but instead join the World Court.

That’s as unlikely, however, as Rabbi Biatch’s suggestions for Israeli occupation initiatives leading to peace: loosen the blockade of Gaza (but keep it), freeze settlement expansion (but keep them), pay Palestinians for land Israel has taken from them because they can’t have it back and since Jerusalem is now officially the capital of Israel, recognize another city as Palestine’s capital and call it Jerusalem in Arabic.

Rabbi Biatch says we should “strive toward a solution that will bring a true, warm, and authentic peace." What he doesn’t say speaks volumes.

John Costello

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