Sir, - The purpose of the IDF and Border Police is to defend Israel from its enemies, protecting its citizens - not attack them. Only totalitarian regimes use military and paramilitary force to suppress their citizens like what is planned and has happened in the past ("IDF expects resistance to demolitions 'like at Amona,' January 4).
It is time to prevent Israel from reacting to external interference to please the international community; the latter cannot even control their own economies and so divert public attention to external matters such as the Middle East. It is time to tell Obama, Blair and the EU that we are a Jewish state in our ancient homeland, not another people's homeland.
When the government acts like a totalitarian regime, our leaders show that their own self-interest is more important than that of the country. Once again we appear to have a phalanx of defeatists at the helm - Heaven help us.
COLIN L. LECI
Sir, - Erez Halfon, Ariel Sharon's former political adviser, is quoted as saying that he "did not know how Sharon would feel if he saw the result" of the pullout from Gaza, since "it was still too early to judge the move" ("Former PM spokesman: Netanyahu is following in Sharon's footsteps," January 4).
With a 500-percent increase in rocket attacks following the 2005 withdrawal and Gush Katif families still living in limbo more than five years later, how can Halfon possibly say that "it is still too early" to assess the pullout's results? And did Halfon already forget that Israel was forced into a war in Gaza as a direct result of Sharon's nearsighted plan?
... and Netanyahu's tactics
Sir, - Max Singer makes a very valid point for the building moratorium in Judea and Samaria ("Understanding the settlement moratorium,"January 3).
When President Barack Obama entered office, he rode on a wave of unprecedented popularity, thus allowing him to pressure Netanyahu into a reckless and misguided settlement freeze. Obama's popularity has largely eroded due to the fact that reality has set in. The huge increase in the federal debt and 10% unemployment are negatives that even Obama cannot overcome. In addition, with the almost successful attack on a Delta airliner and a very unpopular civil trial in New York against the plotters of the 9/11 attack due to take place this year, Obama has been forced to shift to the right.
All of the above will enable the Netanyahu government to make a better case for ending the settlement moratorium by next October.
Not a 'survivor'
Sir, - I am a Holocaust survivor and the only surviving member of a large family hailing from Prague. Hedy Epstein's arguments are typical of a self-hating Jew ("Hedy Epstein's media appeal in Europe: As an anti-Zionist Holocaust survivor, she eases its guilt," January 3). Throughout our history, unfortunately, we have had many like her.
Ms. Epstein left Germany in 1939. I was not so lucky. I spent three years in a Nazi concentration camp and survived by sheer miracle. Obviously the lady does not have the slightest idea what unfolded in the camps. The fact that she spent the war years far away from any danger disqualifies her from calling herself a survivor of the Nazi terror.
Jordan and Israel - no love lost
Sir - I read Herb Keinon's pessimistic commentary on his experiences in Jordan with a sense of deja vu ("Feeling the love (not)," January 3). Last year, as a then-American Jew, I studied advanced Arabic at a language center in Amman for six months. I lived in a state of perpetual fear and paranoia, encountering overt anti-Semitism on a daily basis among the citizenry and in the media. Nearly all of these expressions made no distinction between Zionism and Judaism or Israelis and Jews.
Understandably I was very cautious about revealing my religion, and would get asked frequently. The few Jordanians I did trust and feel comfortable telling my religion explicitly warned me not to tell anyone else. I even went to a conference for young NGO leaders in the Arab world, advertised as an opportunity to demonstrate the tolerance and vibrancy of Arab civil society to the global community. Upon stating my ethnic-religious background to my Semitic peers, I was received with either cold shoulders or fiery tirades about Israeli conspiracies against the Arab world and Islam.
Kudos to Mr. Keinon for telling an uncomfortable truth about our regional neighbors. He is fortunate that he only spent a few days (or hours) in Jordan; the longer you spend, the uglier the reality you discover there.
Sir, - In the article on Jordan's claims that the Dead Sea Scrolls were taken by Israel illegally, I was disappointed to read the response of the Israeli Foreign Office and the Israeli Antiquities Authority and the way they tried to justify Israel's right to the scrolls ("Canada refuses Jordanian request to seize Dead Sea Scrolls on display," January 4). Their argument is based on the fact that the contents relate to Israel and the Jews, and therefore we have the right to posses them. Furthermore, they bring an argument about Jordan's claim to the West Bank, reminding us that Jordan relinquished all its claims to the West Bank back in the 1980s.
These arguments are futile and unnecessary. Israel purchased the scrolls and paid full market price for them in 1967. The story of the search for the scrolls and their purchase is told in detail by Rafi Siton, whose book reveals some of his adventures as a member of the IDF Military Intelligence Corps.
Israel has rightful possession of the scrolls, and does not need any of the flawed claims the Foreign Office and the Antiquities Authority put forward.
Redemption and unity
Sir, - It is obvious that we are not yet worthy of redemption and the coming of the Messiah ("Hesder leaders and the beginning of redemption," January 4). The state of disunity in Israel between Left and Right, religious and secular, haredi and religious Zionist, etc., ad nauseum, is the bane of our existence. Perhaps we should only concentrate keeping the Jewish State of Israel strong, sovereign and democratic, and an earthly haven for all sorts of Jews everywhere and let Providence provide spiritual redemption when He sees fit to do so.
HAIM M. LERNER
People of the book
Sir, - David Newman's inspiring article ("The jewel in European Jewry's crown," December 29) which highlights the thirst for knowledge exemplified by English Jewry attending "Limmud," an annual week of learning and study, brings to my mind Limmud Oz in Australia, which functions along similar lines. The picture that emerges is that the Jewish nation, whether in Israel or the Diaspora, lives up to its sublime image of being "the People of the Book."
DR. RACHEL BIRATI