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Sticky situation

Carrie Filipetti's column "The Israel story" (Oct. 5), would have been far more effective if it acknowledged the truth behind repeated worldwide condemnations of Israel's behavior. Atrocities are atrocities, regardless of who causes them, and if Israel is to be a beacon of progress in the future, its supporters cannot handwave its government's flagrant abuses just because the violations of its neighbors go unacknowledged.

A few examples: Israel is one of the only democracies in its region, but its blockade of Gaza, which has in the past banned the import of construction supplies, newspapers and musical instruments to Palestinians, makes it resemble an apartheid state. One need look no further than extremist settlers or state-sanctioned veneration of the former terror outfit Irgun to see Israel's neighbors do not hold a monopoly on theocracy and xenophobia. Use of white phosphorous in civilian areas during the Gaza conflict last year was acknowledged by numerous human rights organizations and rightly denounced as criminal.

Most recently, the appalling attack on international anti-blockade protesters this May was found by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to have resulted in six "extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions," violating the Geneva Convention. One of these victims was a 19-year-old American citizen.

Israel's only ally, the United States, is also a nation of great possibility and hope, but its human rights record, too, is in ruins. Citizens of both nations must be intellectually honest and hold their leaders accountable to the high standards of a peaceful democracy.

Sam Carrigan\nCLAS II

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