Who is to blame for the crisis in the Middle East?

Israel must finish the job of crippling the terrorists and drive them out of Lebanon in order to regain some security on its borders and defeat Iran and Syria’s attempt to destroy it. Israel should use all the means necessary to assure the message is clear to Iran and Syria that their attempts to destroy their nation will be met with resolute force. Mr Pantelis Boukalas’s commentary «David and Israel» (July 18) is entirely narrow in its scope and portrayal of the conflict in which Israel finds itself. To criticize Israel is entirely absurd. The criticism should be directed against the terrorists, Syria and Iran. To proclaim that Israel has overreacted to the attacks and kidnappings of its soldiers by the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas is missing the full meaning and scope of the underlying facts. Israel has been attacked for months by these terrorist groups who are surrogates of Syria and Iran, the latter having announced to the world its thirst for nuclear weapons and the annihilation of Israel. The editorial fails to recognize that Israel unequivocally abided by all the peace accord conditions to recognize Palestine and to seek peaceful conditions for a lifetime. Hamas and Hezbollah’s goal is very clear. This is to destroy Israel and to assure destabilization of the region, which is Iran’s goal, and to further detract from Iran’s violation of the UN’s resolution on disarming itself from nuclear weapons. This is not a minor skirmish perpetrated by the terrorists, as Mr Boukalas would have you believe, but a well-coordinated attack on the state of Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah, surrogates of the dual axis of evil that is Syria and Iran. ANTONIS MARINATOS, Jacksonville, Florida. The letters you printed on July 17 show the power of the biased press. We, in the United States, are very strongly exposed to the plight of the Israelis. We are also conditioned to accept anything that is inflicted on the Palestinians, especially, and any other Arabs. Israel would be perfectly justified to attack military installations in Lebanon. But the wanton attacks on civilians and civilian facilities, in Lebanon, or the Gaza Strip, or anywhere else for that matter, is barbaric. Even Britain did not attack Ireland when the IRA was at its peak. And India is not leveling Pakistan in response to the latest train bombings. Mature countries do not throw temper tantrums. The gentleman who ponders what Greece would do if Turks kidnapped Greek soldiers must be assured that the last option would be the wanton bombardment of Istanbul or Izmir (under any name). ANASTASIOS MAVRELLIS, Berryville, Virginia. Nobody cares, as proven by the last meeting of the Security Council. The UN is powerless: It reflects the bad will of the whole world. The international community has abandoned Lebanon to its fate. It has allowed the protagonists to cultivate their demons at the expense of the civilians. The result of this chain of irresponsibilities: a confrontation and a battlefield in a country whose sole error is to share borders with Israel. All foreigners are running away from Lebanon and the unfortunate Lebanese civilians are once again living the upheavals of a war in which they are not merely spectators but victims. What interests can justify the extermination of the Lebanese people, the destruction of the country’s infrastructure once every decade? LINA MAVROUDI, via e-mail. Just a quick note to thank the Greek navy for allowing Australians in Beirut to be boarded on Greek navy ships and allowed to escape to Cyprus. We are lucky to have friends in the Mediterranean to assist us when our government has been ineffective in assisting our fellow citizens caught up in Lebanon. BRIAN SCHWARZE, Brisbane, Australia.