How many Australians regards Israel as a problem child?

The following letters appear in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Amin Saikal is wrong to call the hit on Mahmoud al-Mabhouh terrorism (”It is time for Israel’s friends to condemn its acts of terrorism”, March 1). This man was an armed combatant, whose chief aim was to destroy Israel and kill as many Israelis as possible. He was neither an innocent nor a civilian and it is the height of hypocrisy for Israel bashers to insist Israel does nothing while its enemies go out of their way to destroy it. If you fire rockets and missiles at someone with the intention of killing, you cannot complain if someone fires back.

Ian Fraser Cherrybrook

Amin Saikal can see no difference between the ”state terrorism” of Israel and that of its enemies. What is undeniably different is that the Israelis at least target the people they are trying to kill. They have not started randomly slaughtering anyone who happens to be around when a bomb goes off. From Beirut to Bali, Islamic terrorists routinely murder thousands of innocents, indifferent to the suffering and misery they create.

The Israelis may be guilty of skulduggery and murder, but it cannot be compared with what terrorists are doing on a daily basis across half the world. We do not have to go through tiresome procedures at airports because of Israeli government practices.

The equivalence Professor Saikal sees between the activities of Israel and Islamic terrorism is a delusion.

Tony Letford Ashfield

Amin Saikal argues that all extra-judicial killings made by agents of a state are a form of state-sponsored terrorism. Under this logic, the policeman shooting the fleeing criminal is guilty of terrorism, as is the soldier in the field when he kills an enemy combatant, as neither has received judicial sanction for their actions.

The argument to be had is one of justification – was the state justified in killing the person in question? In this case the undisputed evidence is that Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was in Dubai seeking to buy weapons for use against Israel. Under international law Israel is justified in defending itself from this threat.

Saikal fails to recognise that in this century the concept of an enemy as a soldier in uniform is increasingly being blurred by those who would fight from beneath the cover of civilian clothes. It is folly to suggest a state has no right to defend itself against an enemy clad in a plaid shirt and jeans, just as it is folly to suggest it cannot defend itself against a man in combat fatigues.

Jack Pinczewski Ainslie (ACT)

If an Israeli agent found himself in the same room as Osama bin Laden and asked his superior for permission to shoot him, I can fully imagine him being told, ”Better not, we don’t want any angry letters to the editor.”

Daniel Lewis Rushcutters Bay

David Ashton (Letters, March 1) asks what is to be done when ”fighting enemies that operate covertly and without rules”. I had to read his letter twice before deciding to which side he was referring.

Mary Purnell Revesby

Can someone please check whether ASIO’s spies travel using false passports? If not, we need an urgent inquiry.

David Ziegler Dover Heights

You quote the Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, as saying: ”The Australian government always considers UN resolutions on a case-by-case basis and on their merits” (”Australia abandons Israel in UN vote”, March 1).

It would be fascinating to hear the Foreign Affairs Department’s reason for Australia’s voting against a UN resolution in July 2004, which called on Israel to comply with an International Court of Justice advisory opinion relating to aspects of the West Bank separation barrier that the court considered illegal.

The resolution was carried by 150 to six. The six against were Israel, the US, Australia and three US client states (Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau). The only Western country to abstain was Canada. Given that Australia purports to support human rights and the rule of law, I wonder what particular problems we perceived with this resolution.

Roger Mayhew Surfside

And letters in the Melbourne Age:

IMAGINE the outcry if, in a clandestine operation, Australian agents using forged passports of another country murdered Osama bin Laden.Add New Post ”¹ Antony Loewenstein — WordPress

Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

IN THE fight against international terrorism it appears the rules only allow the terrorists to travel the world with false passports.

Michael Burd, Toorak

PERHAPS the time has come to do away with dual-nationality passports.

Brian Haill, Frankston

And a letter in the Australian:

WHETHER or not Israel played any part in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh may never really be known.

What is known is that this individual was responsible for the murders of hundreds of Israelis on behalf of Hamas. Why is it then that the Australian media persists in referring to him as a “militant”? I do not recall the same term used for those individuals who murdered so many Australians in the Bali bombings. They were correctly referred to as terrorists.

The term “militant” implies a moral justification for the individual’s actions. Why is the killing of innocent Israeli civilians morally justifiable whereas the killing of innocent Australians is not? Let’s call a spade a spade and call al-Mabhouh and others like him “terrorists”.

N. Balkin, Rose Bay, NSW

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