A word of praise for The Economist's coverage of the fighting in Gaza in the current issue. It is the magazine at its brilliant best: editorial opinion that is wise, well-informed and dispassionate, supported with excellent reporting. After reading masses of tendentious axe-grinding blather in the previous few days, how welcome this was. I would feel the same way even if I disagreed with the magazine's line, but it doubtless helps that I think it is right.

Taking Hamas down a peg is one thing. But even in the event of Israel "winning" in Gaza, a hundred years of war suggest that the Palestinians cannot be silenced by brute force. Hamas will survive, and with it that strain in Arab thinking which says that a Jewish state does not belong in the Middle East. To counter that view, Israel must show not only that it is too strong to be swept away but also that it is willing to give up the land--the West Bank, not just Gaza--where the promised Palestinian state must stand. Unless it starts doing that convincingly, at a minimum by freezing new settlement, it is Palestine's zealots who will flourish and its peacemakers who will fall back into silence. All of Israel's friends, including Barack Obama, should be telling it this.

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