Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Open Letter to Thomas Quasthoff

Dear Mr. Quasthoff:

We are writing in response to the letter you received from BRICUP urging you to cancel your upcoming concerts in Israel. As to why that letter was dishonest, and why your performing in Israel will strengthen the forces of co-existence, we hope you will hear us out.

In the most revealing part of the letter, the writers feign concern for Israeli suffering, by insisting they are “not denying that Israeli children have been killed and maimed, mainly by suicide bombings by Palestinian militants. We do not condone these actions.”

What the writers omit is telling. More than suicide bombings, the scourge afflicting Israeli children today are rocket attacks. These rockets, for the past decade, have been fired into Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, a radical Islamist regime that has made clear its intention of destroying Israel through violent jihad.

Since Hamas took control there four years ago, Israel has had to partially blockade Gaza. Only partially, since Israel daily transfers tons of food, fuel and other essentials into the Strip, but bans materials that have been used by Hamas to make rockets and other arms. It’s an unprecedented situation in which a country provides food, electricity, fuel and other goods to a people violently attacking it. Also unprecedented was Israel’s attempt to minimize civilian deaths resulting from its operation two years ago. Israel’s goal was to destroy Hamas rocket launchers and terrorists who hid among Gaza’s citizens – in schools, mosques and apartment buildings.

Israel also maintains a corridor for the transfer of medical patients out of Gaza, and facing daily security threats, has actually increased the number of Gazans traveling to Israel to receive medical treatment. The system experiences obvious delays due to the abuse by Hamas of medical passes and crossing points. Militants play the part of patients or their family members and use the system to infiltrate into Israel to perpetrate an attack, or transfer materials to militants in the West Bank. The case of a two-year old girl in Gaza dying from leukemia is horrible, but it should be blamed not on Israel, but on Hamas which has forced Israel to tighten its borders.

It is important to set the record straight, and address each of the accusations in the letter.

The accusation that Gaza’s hospitals are prevented from importing radiation machines is simply not true.

Also false is the charge that Israel is responsible for contaminated Gaza water. Years before Hamas took control, Gaza health officials were warning that Palestinian sand thieves were endangering the sewage system and risking a crisis. Numerous Palestinian health officials have also issued public condemnations of the Palestinian Authority for failing to address water and sewage issues.

Aside from shooting rockets into Israel, Hamas and other militants in Gaza also try to infiltrate Israel. They do this by either digging tunnels near the border fence, or simply by cutting holes in the fence, hoping the Israeli army doesn’t notice. These militants, often teenagers, account for the “16 children” the letter writers say were “deliberately shot” by the Israeli army.

The letter refers to an Israeli mother of a suicide bomb victim and how she “has turned her grief into determined activism against the Israeli occupation”. While the mother’s grief is no doubt real, her agenda is influenced by her politics, which are very much outside the Israeli mainstream. Most Israelis react to Palestinian attacks against them in a different way – seeing them motivated not by “the occupation,” but by an ideology that advocates for dominance over Jews, and anyone who is different – who isn’t Arab-Muslim. It is this ideology – taught in Palestinian schools, mosques and through the media – that increases militancy in the West Bank and Gaza and prevents Israel from withdrawing its forces from territory; prevents Israel from having a Palestinian partner that truly wants to end the conflict.

The letter writers subscribe to the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel. This movement does not seek any sort of peace accord with Israel. They seek Israel’s demise; to replace Israel with one state that will be dominated by Palestinians. They hope to do this by turning world opinion against Israel. Please do not be their pawn.


  1. Superb letter! Succinct, sincere and so true! Thanks...

  2. I couldn't have said it better myself. Well done!