Sir, - Yeh right, only the Palestinian Authority could say it is going to disarm radical groups by bringing them into their security forces, where they will be given modern weapons and better training ("PA says it plans to disarm Aksa Martyrs Brigades," October 24). What those groups will become is a future army against Israel. Of course the gullible US and UN will back Mahmoud Abbas on this ludicrous proposal.
CHARLES FLOTO SR.
Sir, - I was sitting in my succa, enjoying my breakfast, when I read "Israel won't keep Hamas out of elections" on the front page of your October 23 edition. The decision was attributed to a senior government source. I suddenly lost my appetite.
Folly of cutting Israel in two
Sir, - Why is the international community so anxious to allow roads from Gaza to the West Bank that will cut Israel in two? One has to wonder whether it's to make Israel weaker. And why does Israel have to put itself at risk, giving up security for the sake of Palestinian contiguity? ("Tunnels, overpasses and myopia," Evelyn Gordon, October 20.)
Israel must declare that the creation of a Palestinian state does not mean the halving of Israel. Gaza and the West Bank were never connected, so why is it up to Israel to link them?
Sir, - Do Gaza and the West Bank really require a land link? Singapore is an example of a city state existing in isolation next to a larger neighbor, Malaysia. Alaska is physically separated from the US. Would Canada allow a sovereign linkage of the US and Alaska through its territory? Never. All land traffic to Alaska through Canada is subject to Canadian customs and control. And, despite NAFTA, would the US allow Canada and Mexico a land route through the US independent of US control? After 9/11, definitely not.
Gaza can exist as an independent city state with or without the West Bank. It could be linked to Jericho via a sea route through the Suez Canal and Akaba, and that route could be shortened if Egypt gave the Palestinians a land route through Sinai. But cutting Israel in half? That's an act of Israeli shortsightedness, and politically and militarily indefensible.
Prior claim vs power
Sir, - James Adler unknowingly wields a double-edged sword when he argues that it was the Zionists who invaded the land of Palestine and disturbed the equanimity of the Palestinians ("It's Zionism, stupid," Letters, October 24). It was the Arabs who conquered the whole of the Middle East, including Palestine, and massacred all the Jews they could find there, making it more or less Judenrein. That occurred in the 700s, quite a long time ago, but the principle seems to hold.
Take the US: Many native tribes lived in perfect equanimity in places like Massachusetts until the British and others came along and declared them better off dead. Maybe Mr. Adler's forebears were responsible for some of their suffering. Certainly the US stands on the delegitimization and massacre of its native inhabitants. Canada, too, conquered the "first peoples," while Australia did the same to the Aborigines, New Zealand to the Maoris, etc. Does your correspondent think the history of conquest in these countries should be reversed to obtain the "peaceable enjoying of their land" by the original inhabitants?
But there is one major difference between the Jews in "Palestine" and the Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. We have a legitimate prior claim to the land, while all they had was power.
Room for the Jews' return
Sir, - Anti-Semitism is escalating globally and world leaders seem unable to eradicate it from the face of the earth. Yet the approximately 13 million Jews worldwide need not be harassed any longer. The gates of their land are open for them to go back home, to live and prosper in dignity and freedom. And, indeed, more of world Jewry is opting to do just that.
Israel's leaders must remind the world community and its leaders - often and in public - of the need to retain sufficient land to settle those Jews. And world leaders who offer plans and advice should keep this reality in their minds if they seek a fair and lasting peace.
Enough is enough
Sir, - Please. I beg all Jewish people. Please stop dragging out the Holocaust and shoving it in our faces. OK, we know how you suffered. We know the horror that was committed by Hitler. And we know a thing like this should never happen to anyone in the future. But enough is enough. We have become numb.
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Murder for free
Sir, - In "Agency donates NIS 100,000 to Shfaram victims" (October 23) your reporter writes: "Four residents of Shfaram were killed and 12 others were wounded in the shooting attack by [Eden Natan] Zada before he was overpowered and killed by an angry mob."
Zada was not "overpowered." He was murdered by thugs while in the presence of Israeli policemen ("Special police team probing Zada lynching," August 8). Referring to the compensation the mayor of Shfaram said: "We need as many such moves as possible in order to thwart those who seek to dance on the blood of those who were killed."
It is because of the cowardice of our justice system that Zada's murderers have not been apprehended. In a country with a rule of law a murderer is entitled to a trial. Even the murderers of an alleged murderer would be arrested, tried in court and sentenced. Zada's murderers are still at large, and laughing.
Conversion that wasn't 'kosher'
Sir, - From reading Geoffrey Alderman's "'Unconverting' Mrs. Sagal and Mrs. Lightman" (October 19) it seems that not much has changed at London's Beit Dinâ€¦ nor in Tel Aviv's.
Nearly 30 years ago my brother, who lives in London, adopted a baby boy shortly after birth. He was converted at the Tel Aviv Rabbinate by the late chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, who was known to be particularly strict about conversion. Well, where better to be converted to Judaism than in the Jewish state? The boy grew up in a traditional, if not strictly Orthodox, Jewish home knowing nothing other than that he was Jewish; that is, until shortly before his bar mitzva, when some public-spirited citizen whispered in the local rabbi's ear that the boy was adopted; and that he had been converted - horrors! - in Tel Aviv. The conversion was not recognized by the London Beit Din and the bar mitzva was called off.
I was already living in Israel at the time of my nephew's conversion and was witness to the proceedings. Told about London's refusal to accept an Israeli conversion I went to the Tel Aviv Rabbinate to see what could be done. I met with the rabbi who, at the time of the conversion, was secretary to the Beit Din. He was suitably enraged. "Tell them," he said, "that if they don't recognize our conversions we won't recognize any of their court's rulings." However, my request to put that in writing was met with silence.
I'm not sure which I find more infuriating: London's refusal to recognize Israeli conversions, or the Israeli Rabbinate's refusal to enforce them.
Las Vegas economy
Sir, - The plight of the Ethiopian workers waiting for justice, as described in Larry Derfner's "The black market" (UpFront, October 14), illustrates the Las Vegas-style economy that prevails in Israel and leaves all salaried employees in a vulnerable position. Here, when an employer lays off workers, it is only the lucky ones who "win" the severance pay (pitzuim) legally due to them. The employers of the unlucky are easily able to avoid severance pay by threatening to withhold letters of dismissal from those workers who demand it - and letters of recommendation as well.
Those employers often also withhold vacation pay, overtime pay and other social benefits since the labor court does not award punitive damages when an employee finally dares to fight for them.
The chicken & the wrestler
Sir, - Reading through your October 23 issue I was confronted on page five by a gruesome photo depicting the strangling of a chicken. Then, on the very next page, I was subjected to the sight of an obese Sumo wrestler displaying his naked belly in New York's Carnegie Deli, while on the table in front of him sat a plate piled high with what looked like raw meat.
The motto "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" should, perhaps, also apply to choosing photos. To wit, "If you can't show anything nice, don't show anything at all." Let the words speak for themselves.
MIRIAM VAN BERS
And the rain shall fall
Sir, - With reference to "Wondrous rain" (Letters, October 23), I feel exactly the same as N. Levy of Jerusalem. The reason may be that we have so many months without rain, and endless blue skies and sunshine. After the first rain I went out just to smell the freshly washed trees, and breathe deeply of the dust-less air.
In the UK rain is much less of a blessing than here; one of the reasons being that we urgently need the water to fill the Kinneret. It is a real pleasure to be able to enjoy something so down to earth.
Sir, - The essence of Peter Shmuel Levitt's letter of October 14 letter deserves repeating: Smile, and you'll be surprised by how many people, young and old, will respond. I've found it a magic formula - sure to leave you with a good feeling inside!