Talking with Hamas
Sir, – Israel’s decision not to eliminate Hamas once and for
all at the end of Operation Cast Lead has come back to haunt us.
feeling at the time was that Israel must have figured it’s better to deal with
the devil you know than with an unknown foe.
Under the circumstances,
Gershon Baskin, in “Let’s talk to Hamas now” (Encountering Peace, August 23),
may be correct in that if Israel is truly interested in a permanent ceasefire,
we have no other choice than to open negotiations with the group.
situation on the ground today is totally unacceptable. If Israel does not want
to enter Gaza with military force again, the political echelon must find the
courage to sit down with Hamas and hammer out a ceasefire, even though doing so
would run against the principle of not negotiating with a terrorist
organization.P. YONAH Shoham
Sir, – According to Gershon Baskin, our
only option with Hamas is to talk. One wonders what there is to talk
Baskin never asks the pertinent questions. Why is Hamas smuggling
weapons into Gaza instead of caring for its people? Why doesn’t Hamas gain the
release of Gilad Schalit? MATTIAS ROTENBERG
Petah Tikva No pussyfooting
In “What has happened to Israel?” (Comment & Features, August 23), George
Rooks says almost all of what needs to be acknowledged. I would add only that we
are damned if we do and damned if we don’t, so we had better do what is
necessary and stop pussyfooting and delaying more of what is sure to come!
Michmoret Pollard abandoned
Sir, – Jonathan Pollard’s case casts
a horrible blight on American jurisprudence and the much touted American sense of
fair play (“‘J’accuse on Pollard,’” Comment & Features, August 23). But what
is far more distressing is his abandonment by Israel in the early years of his
incarceration, and by both American and Israeli intellectuals to this
Perhaps Pollard does not project the image of a Jew that some people
would like to present, but the fact that a Jew is suffering as a Jew at the
hands of a purported friend of the Jews should be enough to stir a deafening
outcry by every self-respecting Jew living in freedom and security.HAIM
Sir, – You might be interested in the following excerpt
from the Journal of the American Bar Association (December, 1993, pp. 23- 24) on
the Pollard case: “Since the sentencing, Pollard has made a series of
unsuccessful attempts to have his guilty plea withdrawn or his sentence reduced.
In March 1992, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
rejected his claims. The court, in a ruling by Judge Laurence Silberman, joined
by now Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg, called the government’s dealings
with Pollard ‘hard-nosed.’ ‘But we think that Pollard’s claims of government
breaches of the plea agreement, which appear to us to be very much the product
of revisionist thinking on the part of Pollard and his new counsel, are brought
far too late in this collateral proceeding to enable Pollard to prevail,’ the
court said. Judge Stephen Williams, in dissent, however, said the government had
breached its plea agreement, and that Pollard’s sentence should be vacated. The
Supreme Court, in October 1992, refused to hear the case.”
I would like
to point out that two Jewish judges were responsible for the continuation of
Pollard’s imprisonment, based not on the merits of the case but on the
technicality that his appeal was filed too late. The single gentile judge on the
panel was later quoted by Irwin Cotler as saying the case was a “complete and
gross miscarriage of justice” (“US justice on trial,” Opinion & Features,
December 14, 1998).
Ironically, in “Ginsburg: Justice key in Jewish
tradition” (October 20, 2004, Judge Ginsburg is cited as describing works of art
in her Supreme Court chambers that are inscribed with the verse from
Deuteronomy: Justice, justice shall you pursue. Her decision regarding Pollard
might have been legal according to American law, but I wouldn’t exactly call it
Ma’aleh Adumim ‘Derech eretz’
Sir, – In response to
“Jews have human rights, too” (Comment & Features, August 23), we blame the
PA, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iran, England, Norway and America. But we have to look
at ourselves. Why should anyone respect us if we don’t respect ourselves? I
don’t think we’ll have peace until we all start behaving with derech eretz
(literally the “way of the land,” and generally understood to mean
Until we start believing in ourselves.
Until we realize
that all Jews are responsible for one another. Nothing will change until the
Jewish people in the Land of Israel realize that we are supposed to be setting
the example, not copying the rest of the world.
How about smiling at a
stranger today? How about offering your colleague a cup of tea when you go to
the kitchen? How about making that phone call? Writing that email? Visiting that
friend in the hospital? Letting that car enter the lane ahead of you? How about
some derech eretz for a change? FREYDA ABRAMS
Ra’anana Sweat required
Regarding “Rabbi Rafael Halperin, of Optica Halperin, who went from wrestling to
Bnei Brak, dies at 87” (August 22), there is a major lesson to be learned: Every
religious Jewish man should have a profession, trade, occupation, business or
other means of making a livelihood to support his family, in addition to
Only in Israel is the state expected to support the
religious Jew who devotes his life to Torah.
Yet it is unlikely that the
state can economically sustain itself in the long run if it is to support a
large and growing segment of the population that is not contributing to its
Rabbi Akiva had a trade. So has it been for thousands
of years, and there is absolutely no logical reason why it should not be so in
Israel. Even the Torah expects us to earn our living by the sweat of our brow! DAVID GOSHEN
Kiryat OnoUNRWA on op-ed
Sir, – Anav Silverman (“Do UNRWA schools
encourage terror against Israel?,” Comment & Features, August 22) recycles
old and false allegations against UNRWA (to which I will not give currency by
gracing them with a detailed reply). This has been done numerous times,
particularly to our donors.
Our agency applies the highest standards of
neutrality to its staff, beneficiaries, suppliers and installations.
report on this regularly to our donors to their satisfaction; this is a matter
of public record. A US State Department investigation found that the textbooks
we use are free of incitement, and that the curriculum is “peaceful” and one in
which “religious and political tolerance was emphasized.”
article also recycles the tired old claim that UNRWA perpetuates the refugee
problem, and the suggestion that if the refugees were handed over to UNHCR they
would be resettled.
All internationally accepted paradigms for resolving
the refugee problem envisage this being achieved in the context of a just and
durable solution to the conflict by the parties and in consultation with the
refugees, based on international law and UN resolutions.
also take note that the preferred durable solution of UNHCR is that refugees
should return to their homes, and that any resolution of their plight should be
Jerusalem The writer is a spokesman for UNRWA.