By Araceli Cruz
By Tessa Stuart
By Anna Merlan
By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
Shoot to Maim, a special report done under the auspices of the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism and featured on the Voice's February 27 cover, generated an unusual amount of reader response. The Voice received hundreds of letters in reaction to the article, some decrying the use of "excessive force" against Palestinian youths, others speaking out in support of Israel. The following is a representative selection of some of the mail received.
There is a great dearth of honest, informative, and unbiased press coverage of the situation in Palestine. Articles such as this one are greatly appreciated and extremely important to educate the American public.
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
San Francisco, California
I find it ironic that this article criticized Israel's choice of bullets while hardly mentioning the highly destructive weapons employed by Hamas and PLO operatives such as buses driven into crowds of people and bombs planted in civilian marketplaces. Can't the Voice even make an attempt at impartiality?
Jon Van Steenis
New Orleans, Louisiana
My wife and I, both of us Canadians, have been in Jerusalem for two and a half years. We regard Israel's actions during this time, and especially since late September, as indefensible.
At some point in the future, Israel will no longer be able to deny to others or to itself what it has been doing. There will most likely be much more suffering before the accounting process begins.
"Shoot to Maim" is a troubling example of the inaccurate anti-Israel bias prevalent in certain segments of the media. The skewed sense of mercy shown toward Arab terrorists should disturb the conscience of any honest person. Let it be known that these individuals are committed to the annihilation of every Jew living in Israel.
The classical rabbis of Jewish thought had a maxim which illustrates this point: One who shows mercy to the cruel will one day be cruel to the merciful. God bless the M16!
As a lifelong New Yorker currently living in the Middle East, it was a relief to find an article detailing Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians in a New York?based paper. I have been appalled by the biased and racist anti-Arab coverage of the Al Aqsa Intifada in contrast to the more objective and comprehensive coverage I have received in the region. However, by calling Ariel Sharon merely "a hard-liner," the Voice continues in the vein of the U.S. mainstream press.
While stories of injured Palestinians are indeed sad, the violence and subsequent harm could easily have been avoided. When you go on the offensive and challenge your enemy, you will undoubtedly be taken on. Injuries on the Israeli side, on the other hand, have been the result of Israelis going about day-to-day activities. The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly refused any attempt at reconciliation. Offering blood money for children injured or killed doesn't help promote an environment geared toward a peaceful solution. Peace will come to the region when the Palestinians love their children more than they hate the Israelis.
Ginot Shomron, Israel
I just returned from a trip to the West Bank and Gaza with the National Lawyers Guild. I saw hundreds of X rays in hospitals depicting the fragmenting nature of the M16 bullets and was horrified. I was beginning to think that the media in the U.S. was too afraid to tell the story of this atrocity.
THE WORM TURNS
This irresponsible article is more of the tiresome anti-Israel bashing so fashionable these days. It failed to mention how Yasir Arafat encourages Palestinian kids and their families with promises of compensation and dreams of martyrdom. You think the so-called Palestinians are angry now? Wait until they find out how they've all been duped and conned for years by the PLO just so that maggot Arafat and his ilk can sustain their bank accounts.
As painful as it is for an Israeli to read this article, both Israelis and American Jews have to face the fact that Israel's claim of restraint in dealing with the Al Aqsa Intifada is simply false. Facing reality, including our own violence against the Palestinian people, will serve the cause of a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more than the perpetuation of myths.
West Jerusalem, Israel
The Village Voice has failed to accurately report on the tragedies in Israel. Things are not always what they appear to be, especially in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Did it occur to the reporters that perhaps their sources see with tunnel vision and do not have a real grasp of what's happening on the ground?
The matter-of-fact statements by various health professionals and injured Palestinians show courage in the face of adversity: Their humanity shines in the presence of the all-powerful evils that control their existence. By adding a human dimension to very disturbing statistics, these reporters have exposed the wanton violence of Israeli military occupation. It is now up to us to ask members of Congress not to allow any more American financial and military aid to support a war against civilians.
For your information, Israel's favorite game is not crippling a generation of Palestinians. The Village Voice truly sounds like the Palestinian propaganda machine.
Thanks for the article on Israel's arbitrary and lethal use of force against Palestinians who are tired of living under occupation. There is no excuse for the IDF to employ ammunition that can permanently injure children and young adults. I think that I would feel safer protesting against the NYPD. The world remains appalled at what occurred in the concentration camps of WW II. Why isn't anyone appalled about what Palestinians have suffered since 1948?
I can't seem to grasp why the authors of this article are surprised that there are casualties in war. The actions of the Palestinians are not those of civil disobedience. The Palestinians rejected the most generous offerings for cohabitation in this region that have ever been proposed. Instead, they continue on their quest to eliminate the nation of Israel and its people. This is war, declared on Israel by the Arab nation-states, and the Palestinians are merely the vanguard and political shield. Given that context, the Israelis have shown remarkable restraint and discipline in this war.
In the 1980s I wrote about the West Bank and Israel for the Voice. I visited hospitals during the first intifada, where I saw the tragic consequences of Israeli fire and what is now called "excessive force." As reported by Lamis Andoni and Sandy Tolan, the terrible fact is that Israel continues the same practices today as when I was writing. It is critical to bring this to light.
As a longtime reader of the Voice, I was utterly appalled at the one-sided pro-Palestinian article. Andoni and Tolan list name after name of Palestinians who were injured, but fail to mention that no one is forcing Palestinian youths to go out and throw stones. It is a conscious decision that they have made. More attention should be payed to what these youths are being taught. They are being conditioned to hate and to express their rage in destructive and horrifying ways.
I would like to congratulate the Voice on it's wonderful article "Shoot to Maim." At a time when ethnic cleansing is being approved by the masses and the media as a trade-off to protect national, political, and financial interests, this was one truly iconoclastic and penetrating article.
Of the dozens of patients interviewed in this article, one was firing a gun, three others were throwing Molotov cocktails, and all but four said they were throwing stones. What did they expectthat their lawless and violent responses would be ignored? As for the global use of deadly bullets, what do you suggestpapier-mâché?
Do "safer" bullets really make a difference? A gun is meant to kill. Soldiers and police officers train to kill. There is no order to the fighting to begin with. To try to rationalize war with "safer" bullets is ridiculous. Ban weaponry. Ban war. Share the land. There are over 6 billion people here and it belongs to all of us. Stop making it so ugly and dirty. It makes me absolutely sick to think that humanity has created "acceptable casualties" and "friendly fire." Be nice. Love your neighbor, because he struggles as well.
In the rush to garner sympathy for wounded Palestinians, your reporters managed to skip over why it is mostly children and teenagers throwing rocks and harassing the Israeli soldiers.
The PLO whips them into a frenzy with religious rhetoric about sacrificing their lives in this world in exchange for greatness in the next one. And if offers parents a cash bounty for every maimed or deceased child. It's a shame these families don't ask why the PLO isn't out harvesting all this "glory" for themselves, instead of generously leaving it for children.
OUT OF SIGHT
The idea that any Palestinian killed or wounded by IDF soldiers in the previous weeks might have been innocent of any wrongdoing, or simply protesting peacefully, has been completely omitted from popular reports. It takes an article like "Shoot to Maim"and the knowledge that the 11,000 wounded Palestinians referred to therein are not raging terroriststo make one sadly realize that the IDF is targeting civilians in the occupied territories.
Andoni and Tolan's article mentions a boy who was shot from a distance of 15 meters. Fifteen meters is about 50 feet, or less than the distance from the pitcher's mound to home plate. A rock hurled from that distance can kill or cripple and must be considered a lethal weapon. That an Israeli soldier waited until an assailant got that close is an amazing display of restraint. As for Palestinian denials that they have placed armed men among the stone-throwers, of course they'd deny it. It disrupts their image as victims, of Arab David against Jewish Goliath. At the end of the article, a Palestinian is quoted as saying "We're not afraid of their bullets. . . ." If so, he shouldn't complain when hit by one.
The article "Shoot to Maim" reflects professional courage and integrity. Not always do we find such access to truth in a world governed by corrupt power and survival of the fittest. It gives me and many others hope that salvation is near.
Do you know what it is like to have 300 screaming, rock throwing, able-bodied men two blocks from your house ready and willing to kill you? Have you ever faced this crowd locked in a small Jeep knowing that you and your three army companions are the only thing stopping them from reaching your home? Do you know what it is like to live your life in fear that someone fighting for the so-called Palestinian cause will blow you up at work, or shopping, or on the bus going home, and truly believe they are going straight to heaven? It is very easy to sympathize with the Palestinians, but more difficult to be an Israeli.
BLAMING THE VICTIMS
For once, the truth isn't compromised by the media's incessant impulse to create a false sense of balance. This has never been a balanced conflict. The casualties are not evenly distributed over the two groups. One side throws stones, the other responds not just with unnecessary force, but with the cruelest form of ammunition. The question of accountability (who started it, Arafat or Sharon?) is meaningless, as is diplomacy, when you consider that a generation of Palestinian children are being crippled and maimed from shots to the head, neck, chest, and abdomen. Even if the peace process comes back someday, these kids will never be believers. It can't erase their hate. Can you blame them?
If Palestinians deny the historical fact of Jewish precedence at the Temple Mount, teach anti-Jewish propaganda worthy of Hitler in their children's textbooks, and encourage their children to be martyrs, then that's what they getmartyrs.
A TAX UPON YOU
I want to congratulate the Voiceon its excellent article about the current situation in the Middle East. It is only through courageous reports like this one that the true situation in the Middle East will become known to the majority of the U.S. populationnamely that our tax dollars are supporting the extremely powerful and modern Israeli army, which is using tanks, helicopters, and missiles to perpetrate all-out genocide against a Palestinian civilian population protesting many decades of illegal occupation and human rights violations.
SHOOTING FROM THE LIP
This article makes it sound like the Palestinians weren't doing anything, and they just got shot for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why doesn't the article talk about how all these kids are taught from when they are little to fight against the Israelis? The people interviewed were involved inand most likely instigatedthe violence that was inflicted upon them. And the Voice thinks we should feel sorry for these poor children? Forget that.
"Shoot to Maim" is an honest account of the gloomy situation endured by the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli military occupation. Statements by several health professionals and wounded Palestinians show the noble struggle for survival by Palestinians against the evil hatred and bigotry of the Israeli regime. Unfortunately Israeli actions are backed by U.S. taxpayers' money and U.S. arms. Every honest citizen of the free world should know how the Israeli regime is oppressing the Palestinian civilian population. Humans have struggled and suffered for thousands of years to achieve the minimum acceptable standard of basic human rights. We should not let Israel jeopardize this.
After reading "Shoot to Maim," I'd like to propose this nifty little experiment: Arm the staff of the Voice with rocks and Molotov cocktails and send them out to attack New York City police officers. Then we will do a study and write an article. How many will be maimed, how many killed, and how many taken out to a lunch of pizza and ice cream? I would bet my net worth that none of the participants would live to be interviewed.
It's great to know one newspaper still has the guts to print the truth. I was shocked when I read about the excessive Israeli force used against Palestiniansand they claim to be the chosen ones! I'm not saying all Israelis are killers, but this article sure showed me another side of the story that we never hear or see. Thousands of teens disabled . . . what kind of future do these kids have?
A DIFFERENT STORY
"Shoot to Maim" expresses such sympathy for Palestinian demonstrators (rioters would be a more accurate term), who were only throwing stones in the midst of others who were shooting guns, that I assume the Voiceis hard at work on an even more shocking story. Of course I am referring to the killing and wounding of dozens of Israeli civilians.
As I recall, U.S. troops responded to lightly armed Serbs in Kosovo with a massive display of air power, and in the process many innocent Kosovars died. The fact that not a single U.S. soldier was killed made the U.S. proud and was not the basis for widespread condemnation for the use of excessive force.
We are witnessing a holocaust repeat, with greater ferocity and deadlier weapons than the first one. Thanks to the reporters who wrote "Shoot to Maim," the world is finally getting a chance to know the truth. In the past, Israel has hidden behind a media blackout and political blackmail to carry out its atrocities. Finally, people of conscience seem to be saying they have had enough of these stomach-churning crimes.
The authors of this article seem to feel that the weight of suffering determines the rightness of the cause. Would a 50 percent rate of casualties among the Jewish population in Israel make them change sides? Remember, the Jewish people have only one real home. Many of the places they came from would only tolerate Jews if they were dhimmi, or a permanent underclass. If the Palestinians are jealous of Jewish success, let them do better. But if they insist on a Darwinian struggle, let them accept the consequences. They cannot claim ownership of land that will deprive Jews of their territory without knowing that they will be opposed. Let compromise become a realistic alternative for Palestinians; let them make lemonade out of lemons instead of squeezing the Jews.
THE MORAL IMPERATIVE
Sadly, most papers don't have the high moral standards to print what is really happening in the Mideast. It is as if the United States is unwilling to admit that it has been wrong about Israel, and is now embarrassed to tell the truth. It is a tragedy that our democracy is paying (with our tax dollars) for these blatant violations of human rights. I look forward to more articles on the Palestinian intifada.
Darcy Van Gelder
San Francisco, California
I must protest the Voice's February 27 cover story. Contrary to what the article infers, Israeli soldiers are instructed to exercise restraint wherever possible. The article also refers to Palestinian protesters as "civilian demonstrators." That term no longer applies when ammunition and violence are used. The demonstrations always involve rock throwing and are often backed up with Palestinian gunfire. It is also important to note that the majority of deaths on the Israeli side are a result of random violence by Palestinians against men, women, and children going about their daily business. That distinction should be remembered when reporting on these sensitive issues.
I would like to commend Andoni, Tolan, and the other journalists on their informative special report. It gives real facts about the ongoing Israeli atrocities and inhumane practices against the Palestinian people and stands in sharp contrast to the lack of balanced coverage on this topic in the general North American media.
What would the authors of "Shoot to Maim" say about the current feeling in Israel on how to solve this problem: A unilateral withdrawal from up to 80 percent of the disputed territories, the building of an international border, and a complete separation from the Palestinians? The result would be no more import or export between them, no more Palestinian workers allowed into Israel, and of course the Palestinian Authority would no longer be able to buy electricity, water, Internet access, or drugs from Israel. They would no longer have use of Israel's ports, airports, or medical hospitals.
Journalists would probably fault Israel for being inhumane towards these "poor" people. Well, how should Israel deal with people who rejected a more-than-fair deal offered by former Prime Minister Barak and instead began a war using teenagers and woman as shields to protect their soldiers as they fire at Israeli settlements and Israeli drivers? Until there is a solution that provides security for the Israelis, I suggest the Voiceconfine itself to worrying about crime in Central Park.
It's about time The Village Voice wrote an article shedding light on the blatant violence of the IDF and the suffering of the Palestinians. As if it's not bad enough that Palestinians only have stones to the IDF's live ammunition, the way New York politicians supported the Israelis during recent senatorial elections was a slap in the face not only to Palestinian voters, but all voters who oppose violent and aggressive actions. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Rick Lazio spoke on behalf of the Palestinians. Instead they both denied any past connection with Palestinian organizationsas if the P-word itself is taboo.
The Israelis are shooting in response to attacks by the Palestinians. If a group began an uprising in the U.S., it would be put down with as much force as is necessary. People die in war. If the Palestinians don't want to die they can return to the negotiating table and behave rationally.
It is very rare to read in an American paper such a fairly written article on what is actually happening in Palestine. It takes a lot of courage to write an article that will certainly receive a lot of criticism from Zionist zealots.
Ville d'Avray, France
Contrary to what "Shoot to Maim" insinuates, the IDF does not use excessive force. Our soldiers are in harm's way every single day and the threats to their lives are serious and real. They are stationed exactly in the places where they are supposed to be according to our agreements with the Palestinians. They are repeatedly surrounded at these isolated posts and confronted by mobs of people trying to kill them. It is easy to say that crowd dispersal methods used elsewhere in the world should be used in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but the fact is these methods are not applicable. In city riots elsewhere, both sides know that by the end of the day they will eventually return home. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Israel.
We Palestinians living under Israeli occupation simply shake our heads in disbelief at Israel's often successful attempts to paint itself as the victim in this conflict. The Israeli army claims that it has been forced to kill and maim us because of a "very organized and very planned" Palestinian policy of violence. Is Israel honestly suggesting that we Palestinians provoke our own murders in order to appear on the nightly news? Thank you for a story that finally reveals the lie behind Israel's claim of "self-defense" and "restraint" in the face of Palestinian demands for freedom. Until Israel learns to see the Palestinians as human beings equally deserving of the same rights Israel demands for its own citizens, both peoples will continue to suffer.
I found this article disgusting. We all know how the Palestinians send their unarmed young children to the frontlines so when the Israelis are shooting, the bullets will kill them. This obviously gets the attention of the world and especially the media. I believe the Arab population has several political representatives in the Israeli parliament. If the Arabs feel repressed, they can voice their thoughts in a civilized way.
I commend the Voice for its courageous willingness to publish an article about the atrocities being committed daily in areas that are illegally occupied by Israel. That the U.S. government has supported this violation of human rights as well as the Israelis' continued disregard for United Nations Resolution 242which calls for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territoriesshould shame all Americans.
THE JEWISH PERSPECTIVE
As far as I know, Arabs control 95 percent of the Middle East. The Jews defeated all of the Arab nations to win back their homeland. Let's not lose perspective: It's the Jews who are the minority, it's the Jews who are striving to keep their homeland, and it's the Jews who have been abused and suppressed for thousands of years.
We're a peaceful people, made up mostly of intellectuals. But "Never Again" and "Not an Inch" are lessons that Jews will not forget! Put yourself in the shoes of the Jews, who live with the fear that they'll be bombed or attacked with stones every day. What group of human beings could take such abuse without ever defending themselves?
STATE OF ANXIETY
The Voicereport on Israeli policy is more than important. For years the U.S. and American-organized Jews have closed their eyes so as not to see the atrocities committed in the occupied territories by my state. It becomes absurd when even the Israeli press, though in a very moderate language, starts to hint at what is really happening "over there," while the American media keep blaming the victims. It was a horrible thing to be a Jew in the first half of the 20th century. Yet it has been a long untold story of suffering to be an Arab in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, and many other places in the second half of that century. The new century doesn't promise any hope.
BY THE BOOK
As the good book says, "Anger resteth in the bosom of fools." When the Palestinian Authority understands that fact and ceases to incite hatred and violence, then the deaths and injuries will abate on both sides. If the Jews were trying as hard as the Arabs to inflict casualties, how many do you think there would be?
Pine Grove, Pennsylvania
DON'T GIVE A SADDAM
I appreciated reading "Shoot to Maim." As difficult as the reality is, it is important that the Palestinian side of the issue have some coverage. The United States is so concerned with enforcing UN resolutions against Iraq yet continues to financially support Israel in its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory . . . Where's the justice in that?
To expect the Israeli Defense Forces to control rioting, bombings, and murders with rubber bullets, water cannons, and plastic shields is totally unreasonable. Perhaps in Japan, where students and police have a long-established ritual behavior, this is possible. In Israel, however, there is a life-and-death struggle and the government needs to convince young Palestinian men being pushed toward martyrdom that this behavior is unproductive and ultimately fruitless. It's the only realistic way to end the conflict.
Thanks for the cover story on Israel's use of fragmenting bullets against Palestinians. The theory that the IDF uses restraint against demonstrators does not hold up when you consider that Israel has controlled Jewish demonstrators on many occasions without a single death or casualty. The carnage of the past few months has been a willful choice by the government of Israel. Revealing the truth is what good journalism is about.
Durham, North Carolina
This article was surely a piece of satire. No one could be so naive as to believe the whining of these so-called victims. Go to any police department in America (much less an Arab country) and throw rocks at the police. Trust me, there'll be shooting. If the Arabs don't want to be shot, why don't they demonstrate in a more civilized manner? If they want a war, then they should be prepared to face the consequences.
I commend you for publishing such a powerful article on the plight of the Palestinians. It is unthinkable that protesters are treated in this inhumane fashion. Could you imagine being shot at for protesting against the IMF, or even for rioting after a sports event? My only wish is that the international community rallies around those who are being subjected to this extraordinary punishment.
The Voice was my bible. Then I noticed that the most strident, malicious, and perverse criticism of the Jewish state comes from liberals and their compatriots on the left. I'd like to thank The Village Voice. I used to be a Jewish liberal, but now I'm just Jewish.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
I read last week's Voicecover story with great sadness. I appreciate the paper's effort and courage in publishing a report that uncovers the devastating effects of using live ammunition on unarmed civilians. The personal stories the article presented are a rarity in the mainstream media. Your reporters have done a great service to humanity at large and to your readers by exposing the horrific events taking place in the West Bank and Gaza. I just hope that your readers will be motivated to take action and do something that helps promote peace and justice in the Middle East. Enough death. Enough maiming of children and teenagers.