A Clash of Views Over the Israel-Hamas War

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  • Security Guards in an Insecure Nation

Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Israel and Hamas Battle in Gaza as Netanyahu Warns of a Long War” (news article, Oct. 9):

Hundreds of Israelis — men, women, children, infants and the elderly — were dragged from their homes by Hamas operatives, and Israeli citizens were murdered in cold blood. Entire families were taken hostage.

Palestinians in Gaza gathered to celebrate the attacks. In the West Bank, residents danced and sang in the streets. In Beirut, children handed out candy to passing motorists and residents set off fireworks.

Whatever one’s opinion about Israel’s policies, those facts and what they say about the country’s enemies should be greatly enlightening.

(Rabbi) Avi Shafran
New York
The writer is the director of public affairs at Agudath Israel of America.

To the Editor:

As an American Jew I am horrified by this weekend’s events in Israel. But as a Jew who only wants Israel to thrive, I have for decades been distraught over Israeli government policies that both diverge from Jewish ethics and also create the misery and despair that inevitably produce Palestinian violence.

The Israeli government, quite reasonably frightened by Arab rhetoric and actions, has enforced conditions in Gaza as bad as any ghetto our people endured. This new horror is the entirely predictable result, and surely demonstrates that “security” that is enforced by an iron fist is not security.

It takes two to tango. Can both Israeli and Palestinian leaders now finally listen to those of their two peoples who even now seek peace and reconciliation, and get past their mutually well-founded fear and anger to reach for something better? However hard that is to imagine, it is the only way forward out of this dire swamp.

Louise R. Quigley
Braintree, Mass.

To the Editor:

The Hamas members who stormed into Israel, shot men and women where they stood, then kidnapped grandmothers and young girls are not “militants,” as The Times refers to them. They are terrorists.

It is baffling why The Times will not refer to them as terrorists. They have murdered civilians in their homes, terrorized a nation with indiscriminate rockets and taken hostages all to further a political goal.

That is the very definition of a terrorist. If they are not terrorists, then no one is a terrorist.

Richard Schlussel
Englewood, N.J.

To the Editor:

Re “The Yom Kippur War Led to Peace. This One Can, Too,” by Bret Stephens (column, Oct. 9):

The 1973 Yom Kippur War led to peace because the parties involved recognized and accepted a new status quo in the Middle East. In 1967, Israel upended the status quo with a stunning military victory, including the seizure of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.

The 1973 war showed that Egypt, Israel’s most powerful neighbor, was never going to accept that outcome. Ultimately, the 1978 Camp David accords traded land (Sinai) for peace.

What’s different this time is that the rejectionist power is Iran, and its goals extend well beyond any notion of “land for peace.” Indeed, its support for Palestinian terror movements such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad — and for the Palestinian cause itself — are mere proxies for its broader designs to become the region’s economic, military and territorial hegemon.

Years of diplomatic engagement with the Iranian regime, including offering multiple financial rewards and incentives, have failed to stem its militant ideology and goals — quite the contrary. In fact, the Gaza attack can be traced to Tehran’s panic over progress made between Israel and Saudi Arabia on a “normalization” agreement.

Any efforts to restore calm to Israel’s borders, or to restart land-for-peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, must begin with equal efforts to confront and diminish the power of Iran. Anything less will invite more victories for the forces of chaos, as just witnessed over the weekend.

Stuart Gottlieb
New York
The writer teaches American foreign policy and international security at Columbia University.

Our Covid Catch-22

Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “New Covid Shot Rollout Causing Confusion as It Is Slowed by Insurance and Supply Snags” (news article, Sept. 23):

As emergency physicians, my husband and I were determined to protect ourselves, our teenagers and society at large with the latest monovalent Covid vaccine. We did not expect to pay a whopping $191 per shot, despite having insurance.

In my family’s case, our pharmacy benefits plan was not covering the vaccine, but our medical plan was. After calling our pediatrician, primary care doctor, private and community clinics, urgent care and pharmacy-based clinics, I realized that no sources in the medical plan were offering the Covid shot in our area.

We were facing a Catch-22: My family was covered for the Covid vaccine at any in-network medical clinic, but not a single one offered it. We were not covered at any pharmacy, but only pharmacies had the shot. In the end, we bit the bullet and paid out of pocket.

Those of us who assume our health insurance will take care of the cost of the Covid vaccine may face enormous out-of-pocket expenses, as we try to comply with public health recommendations.

Michelle Finkel
Palos Verdes, Calif.

Treating Drug Addiction

Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “No Clear Plan to Fight or Fix Fentanyl Crisis” (front page, Sept. 24):

Like the residents and community leaders cited in your story, many of us wonder what can be done to address the growing incidence and tragic consequences of substance use disorders in our communities.

Efforts tend toward either increasing arrests of users and dealers or decriminalization. Unfortunately, neither more handcuffs nor sympathy will make a difference.

As with most people, my recovery from IV drug addiction and homelessness wasn’t precipitated by threats. Does anyone need more evidence that people like me will, and often do, lose everything rather than change? But neither would I have made it if I were aided in self-destructive habits.

Like me, most individuals suffering with addiction are convinced they can’t live with or without drugs, but don’t see a way out. After about a month in which I worked with skilled clinicians in a safe inpatient facility, and another 90 days in a halfway house with even more intensive support for living, space between me and my addiction began to emerge, and I chose to recover.

We should provide better access to effective treatment, not punishment or capitulation, to address this public health crisis.

Judith Grisel
Lewisburg, Pa.
The writer is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Bucknell University and the author of “Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction.”

Security Guards in an Insecure Nation

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “With Police Scarce, Security Guards Carry Burden” (front page, Oct. 1):

Your story about Michael Bock, a private security guard who patrols downtown Portland, Ore., dealing with emergencies and other problems, was compelling. And also heartbreaking.

As America grapples with a growing population of mentally ill and houseless people, I fear that things will not change until we do as a nation. Until more people care enough to demand that this becomes the priority, above sports and entertainment, above retail trends and fashion, and above partisan politics.

Only then will this complicated yet growing trend, which troubles everyone, be addressed with the proper resources. When will that be?

David Comden
Ventura, Calif.

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