Some comments for those who write to me about the brutality of Israel's attack on Gaza.
Think of persistent rocket and mortar attacks, aimed at Israeli civilians, from 2001.
Recognize the intensity of anti-Jewish, anti-Western religious fanaticism expressed by Hamas, Hizbollah, and their patrons in Iran.
Think about the Holocaust. What Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaims is an epilog to Mein Kampf.
Iran and its allies say that Israel has no right to exist. They arm themselves as if they intend to implement their threats.
Remember the denials, passivity, and higher priorities of western democracies in the 1930s and 1940s.
What we are seeing in Gaza is Israel's effort to destroy the will not only of Hamas, but also of Hizbollah and Iran, to focus their religious extremism, hatred and weapons on this country.
The descendents of the worthies who exhibited denial, passivity, and other priorities in the 1930s and 1940s urge Israel to show restraint. Many of them are condemning Israel for its forceful defense despite more than seven years of attacks on civilians.
Some are accusing Israel of conquest, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.
Some of those who condemn, and some of those who simply criticize Israel for excesses, are stumbling over themselves to formulate a statement to end the carnage.
The IDF may have done enough to convince Hamas, Hizbollah, and Iran that it is dangerous to attack Israel.
On the other hand, the intensity of religious fanaticism should make us wary about assuming rationality on their part.
Some of what we are hearing is too similar to what has not worked in the past.
Should we rely on Egypt to monitor its border with Gaza for the smuggling of weapons when its has failed to observe similar commitments?
Should we accept the offers of Turkey to monitor the border, when in recent days its prime minister has accused Israel of committing "inhuman" acts in Gaza, and met with ranking officials of Iran and Syria, but not Israel?
Should we accept a proposal to cease fire immediately, and use the period to work out a permanent cease fire and other issues, when Hamas insists on open borders that will allow it to rearm, and has consistently ignored the most basic of international norms by denying access of humanitarian organizations to its Israeli prisoner?
Should we accept European offers to send experts and technology to monitor the border with Egypt? "Monitoring" in diplomatic parlance does include acting to stop infringements. European monitors had been at the Rafah crossing, but left in frustration at their inability to stop Palestinian flaunting of agreements, and on account of Palestinian threats.
Should we expect the disinterested mediation of the United Nations when the Secretary General has slipped from the platitudes of condemning both Israel and Hamas to a one-sided condemnation of Israel for its "unacceptable" activity, and demands that it stop immediately.
Should we trust anyone, after an agreement to prevent the rearmament of Hizbollah has demonstrated, once again, the impotence of international monitors?
Israel in 2009 is stronger and more self-confident than the Jews of 1940. What we are seeing at present is the expression of that strength, and a residual distrust of others to stop those who say they are committed to destroy us.
I welcome comments sent to my e-mail address, below.
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Dept of Political Science
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem