Personal visit to Gaza is important

By David J. Dionisi | December 13, 2009

I attended the presentation announced in last Sunday's Davis Enterprise as 'Speaker tells about life in Gaza.' I attended because I find it important to talk with people who have first-hand experiences about Palestine. The treatment of the Palestinian people was noted on Pages 51 and 191 of The 9/11 Commission Report as a central reason for the attacks on the United States.

Henry Michalski, a Napa resident, shared his first-hand experiences of discussions with the Israeli Defense Forces. I am glad I went to meet Henry and others who want peace. While it is important that we listen to all perspectives, I was disappointed that Henry never went to Gaza.

As a former Army officer and person who has made the effort to talk to both IDF soldiers and people in Gaza still suffering from the war, I can tell you there is a big difference from being on a military base and being in Gaza. Perhaps this is why Henry teaches that IDF military action was 'clean' and I know violence is never 'clean.'

To begin to approach the truth, I recommend reading Lawrence Wright's Nov. 9 article in The New Yorker and the Goldstone report. During the December and January Gaza war, not a single Israeli child was killed by a Palestinian rocket and more than 300 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli rockets, bombs or bullets. In fact, the IDF killed more Israelis in friendly-fire mistakes than the Palestinians killed with rockets.

Granted, this is just looking at the most recent war, but according to the IDF, some 12,000 Palestinian rockets have been fired in this decade, killing fewer than 30 people. I wish the number killed was zero. I wish the Palestinians returned IDF soldier Gilad Shalit just like I wish the Israelis would end the Gaza siege and return all the Palestinian women and children (more than 8,000 Palestinians are in Israel's jails, including people as innocent as Gilad).

Anyone who wants a perspective from a person who loves the Jewish and Palestinian people equally is encouraged to speak with me at