December 6: Fire in the North

We, the nation of Israel, have always known how join together in times of national tragedy. Blame will have its day.

December 6, 2010 01:51

letters 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Fire in the North

Sir, – We, the nation of Israel, have always known how join together in times of national tragedy. Blame will have its day.

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Accusations will have their day as well. And we will learn from our errors for sure.

But now is the time for mourning and for appreciating all who gave of themselves to protect the people of Israel and their land.

Kfar Saba

Sir, – Northern Israel has been incinerating at a shocking rate.

Over 40 dead; 17,000 people forced to flee their homes; more than 50,000 dunams of parched, drought-stricken land destroyed; more than five million trees devoured by unquenchable, voracious flames.

We in Canberra know first-hand the physical, financial and emotional effects of bush fires. Many donated so much to us in our times of need. Let’s all help those who in other times helped us.

Please donate generously to your charity of choice, or to Israeli Forest Fire Disaster Relief.

May the only fires remaining be those on the Hanukka menoras that light our homes and hearts at this time of year.

O’Connor, Australia

Sir, – In this era of man-made human tragedies, when nature takes a hand, the news of such events somehow carries more impact. The Carmel fire tragedy is such a case. Having visited Haifa and the Carmel on several occasions and been inspired by their beauty makes the event personal.

Through your newspaper, I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of the souls who perished, and my heart-felt sympathy for the thousands affected.

However, out of this horror comes even more impact – for the hands that are reaching out to Israel with help and assistance, from people who have put aside international and religious animosities in the name of simple human empathy.

Is there a message here... for us all?


South Molton, Devon, UK

Sir, – Our hearts are broken as all of Israel feels as one with the people of the North. This catastrophe has affected all of us as we realize how vulnerable we are to tragedy. It is time to understand that we all need each other more than ever.

Our firefighting equipment has not been as modern as it should be and this is a wake-up call for all of us to realize what can happen if we are not prepared for any and every contingency. We have to forge ahead for the future and make our priorities for the safety and security of each person in this country, and not be subject to political pressures.

May God help us choose correctly.



Sir, – Kudos to Herb Keinon and Asher Meir for their respective coverage and analysis of the WikiLeaks phenomenon (“The WikiLeaks torrent” and “WikiLeaks suffers from lack of accountability,” Frontlines, December 3). At the same time, I respectfully disagree with Meir’s conclusion that calls into question WikiLeaks’s ability to have any significant impact due to its lack of full disclosure.

Ever since the beginning of the printed news media, publishers and editors have consistently and conveniently shaped stories in accordance with their own personal biases. More often than not, even the most respected journalists have felt compelled to resort to such reporting tactics as “sources say” or “according to sources at...” rather than stating actual origins.

In contrast to the world’s leading newspapers and their own respective websites, WikiLeaks, as its very name implies, should be perceived by any intelligent reader as an appealing venue for further research and investigation, and nothing more.

To conjecture as to who exactly lies behind the release of these so-called cables only enhances the appeal of such “leaks” As anyone involved in public relations can tell you, there is no such thing as bad PR.

Along those same lines may I add my hope that WikiLeaks – with its deliberate use of “highlyclassified cables” – has succeeded in bringing critical global topics to the forefront of news hitherto deemed irrelevant by a very massive audience. This ability to reach, and possibly persuade, a significant critical mass is what renders WikiLeaks a legitimate contributor, rather than detractor, of global news.


Sir, – Reading and hearing about the leaks, I wonder how the world does not treat WikiLeaks CEO Julian Assange as a pariah and traitor of the highest caliber.

Jonathan Pollard has been incarcerated for over 25 years for selling who knows what to whom, yet Assange is reaping millions for betraying country after country.

And based on what? Documents or cables that were discussed in private conversations between diplomats, hopefully to save the world from the powers that wish to annihilate us?



Very familiar sound

Sir, – Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil said on a visit to Syria that India recognizes that country’s “legitimate right” to the Golan (“India’s president calls for ‘quick and full return’ of Golan Heights to Syria,” November 28). His host, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who inherited the regime from his father, went on to bemoan the sufferings of the Palestinian people, blockaded by an apartheid wall.

Assad failed to mention, of course, that India has built a several thousand-kilometer apartheid wall to keep out Pakistani militants from the world’s largest democracy, India. More than 80 percent of this security barrier has been constructed in disputed territory that Pakistan demands.

Does the vocabulary sound familiar? It is obviously time for Israel to follow India's example and express itself in equally forthright terms: Demand an end to the Indian occupation of Kashmir, the tearing down of the Indian apartheid wall and the return of occupied Kashmir to its rightful owners, Islamist Pakistan. After all, friends can be equally forthright with one another, surely?


Gothenburg, Sweden

No Jewish conspiracy

Sir, – Your report on anti-Semitism in Britain (“Widespread use of anti-Semitic themes found in mainstream British circles,” November 12) quoted from an article I wrote in The Independent in November 2009 about the appointment of Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman to the Iraq inquiry committee.

At the time you reported my comments accurately. The Jewish Chronicle, however, published a letter from me on December 4 in which I said that its report had insinuated that I was anti- Semitic; I suggested that it might have quoted two more sentences from my article: All five members have outstanding reputations and records, but it is a pity that, if and when the inquiry is accused of a whitewash, such handy ammunition will be available. Membership should not only be balanced; it should be seen to be balanced.

I added that “I knew that I was likely to be attacked for what I wrote, and chose my words carefully. It is sad that one cannot speak the truth on this subject, however carefully one chooses one’s words, without provoking criticism based on the assumption that one speaks from a habit or feeling of hostility to Jews, which in my case is not so.”

I was again saddened, therefore, to see that your correspondent now writes that my comments assumed a Jewish conspiracy charge to be valid. They did no such thing.

Oxford, England

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