Why not sanctions?

April 26, 1996
Time Magazine Letters
Time & Life Bldg. Rockefeller Centre
New York, N. Y. 10020

Dear Sirs:

The Qana massacre (TIME April 29, 1996) was certainly a "grave error" politically but it was not the accident you would have readers believe.

Israeli Defence Force artillery is equipped with the most sophisticated counter-mortar radar that US taxpayers' money can buy. The system analyzes the trajectory of incoming shells, accurately determines the point of origin, then automatically aims and fires in response. Counter-mortar radar would be useless if it permitted errors of 400 metres.

A more plausible explanation for the massacre is that the Israeli personnel involved, whoever they might be, saw the opportunity to commit mayhem among their enemies and, following their instincts, if not their instructions, simply fired away.

The "instructions" can be found in the official Israeli Soldiers Handbook which contains the following quotation from the Chief Rabbi of the Armed Forces: "In war, when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed and even enjoined to kill even good civilians".

Sanctions were imposed on Iraq for doing no more than briefly occupying a neighbor's territory. Logically, we must now place them on Israel-a far worse offender. Among politicians unfortunately, in the case of Israel, logic and statesmanship are often subordinated to other considerations.


Ian Macdonald