His own boss

Sir, – It’s a sham (“DC sources: Obama to ask A-G to mull Pollard release,” June 26).

First of all, if US President Barack Obama wants to pardon a federal prisoner or commute a sentence, he does not have to ask the attorney-general or anyone else. As president he has the right to make the decision.

Attorney-General Eric Holder is 100 percent Obama’s man and will say what the president wants him to say.

I have little hope that this will bring Jonathan Pollard home to us. I think it is all a political gimmick so Obama can say he tried.

KURT SIMON
Jerusalem

The hunger-strikers


Sir, – With regard to “Palestinian prisoners agree to end hunger strike after two months” (June 26), the Israel Prisons Service should be ashamed of itself. It has no right to refuse Arab prisoners’ demands to refuse to eat.

As long as food is available, the authorities should stand back and allow prisoners their basic human right to self-determination.

SAMUEL ROSENBLUM
Beit Shemesh

Terrorists’ rights

Sir, – The Western world is confronted by a religious war with all of Islam, not just its terrorist arms.

That the West does not admit this doesn’t mean the problem exists any less. That it is not immediate and near does not mean it is not an uncertain block of time and easily covered distance away.

Israel, confronted by this same war and for far longer, does not have the margin of safety in time or distance, and cannot afford games of self-deception.

When terrorists are captured after acts of violence or before, they are often defended by those who cite their civil rights. If we frame all this not as separate acts of violence but as instances in one ideologically based war, we will not so easily listen to civil rights arguments but realize that those who commit or plan violence against their neighbors lose their civil rights.

PAUL RABOFF
Jerusalem

Sir, – Terrorists who were freed in the Schalit deal and are now being put back in prison should receive true punishment. May I suggest that they be isolated from other prisoners and that even the guards be forbidden from speaking with them. I am sure that our three missing boys, Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel, are being kept in isolation from us and from each other.

MURRAY S. GREENFIELD
Tel Aviv

Sir, – I strongly urge that legislation be passed empowering the death sentence for duly tried and convicted murderers, both Jew and Arab alike, in such heinous cases as the terrorist murder of the Fogel family and the father slaughtering his own children.

The death sentence is carried out in the US, China and other countries, and while not an absolute deterrent it protects society morally by contributing to order and human dignity.

In addition, surely now is the time and opportunity for our esteemed ultra-Orthodox rabbis (who see the dedicated effort by all of our soldiers, both secular and religious, to locate our boys and those responsible for their abduction) to encourage military service by their yeshiva scholars.

The able-bodied can serve in combat units while others do national service in police emergency call-centers, hospitals, oldage homes, etc.

SAMMY BERGER
Kiryat Ono

The search...

Sir, – The recent actions of the IDF are making it clear to the Palestinians that kidnapping Israelis does not pay. And that is the correct path. But we also need to make it clear that releasing the boys unharmed will be far better for the Palestinians than, God forbid, any other outcome.

The Israeli government is taking actions that are to the future benefit of all Israelis, and the families of the kidnapped boys are not putting any pressure on it to make their sons’ safety its first priority.

The prime minister is using this predicament to help Israel politically – but this must not turn into the single or even main focus.

Show the kidnappers that their position will be much better if the boys come home unscathed.

SHARON LINDENBAUM
Rehovot

...and its implications


Sir, – After two weeks of military searches, hundreds of arrests and several Palestinians shot dead, we seem no nearer to finding the kidnapped boys.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is trying to convince the world that Hamas is responsible, but when asked to supply the evidence he has refused, saying only that he will soon. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded the return of the boys, in Arabic, when speaking publicly in Saudi Arabia.

Netanyahu knows full well that one of the consequences of this military action will be to undermine Abbas in the eyes of his own people as the latter continues to cooperate with our security forces.

One must wonder whether our prime minister’s main motivation is to bring down Abbas and strengthen Hamas so he can then tell us we truly have no partner for peace.

ARTHUR GREMSON
Netanya

Like the Christians

Sir, – I support the results of the survey featured in “Poll finds majority of Israelis want equal status for all religious streams” (June 25). However, the Reform and Conservative (Masorti) movements significantly differ from the rest of us Jews who call ourselves religious on many points of religious doctrine and practice.

Therefore, the only way this can be implemented is for them to set themselves up as separate, self-governing religious groups similar to the various Christian denominations, which all function independently.

To force the current (Orthodox) community to accept those movements’ “rabbis” would be equivalent to forcing the Roman Catholic Church to accept Unitarian clergy as having the same status as its ordained priests.

It is absurd and counterproductive for any secular state to interfere in the internal religious affairs of any religious community, and Israel should not be any different in this respect.

MARTIN D. STERN
Salford, UK

Already guilty

Sir, – The op-ed “Does the president of the State of Israel really care about Jewish unity?” (Comment & Features, June 25) “convicts” our president-elect even before he has a “trial.”

Many politicians, after election to a prestigious position, have expressed views that are different from those held long before the election. The writer should have the decency to wait until after Reuven Rivlin takes office, and then make sure to ascertain the president’s current views on different streams of Judaism.

By the way, I am a secular Jew.

MYRA ZION
Tel Mond

Mondial mouthful


Sir, – I really don’t know what all the fuss is about concerning Uruguay striker Luis Suarez (“Uruguay shows teeth, advances to the round of 16,” Sports, June 25). He is merely a committed soccer player who likes to get his teeth into the game! DAVID S. ADDLEMAN Mevaseret Zion Regulate biking Sir, – Having grown up in Switzerland, where bicycles were always a normal means of transport, I think the sudden popularity of bikes among Israelis is a very positive development.

In Switzerland and other European countries, however, bicycle riders have to follow the same traffic laws as any other vehicle. Here it is a free-for-all, no rules whatsoever, no laws regarding standard equipment on bicycles such as reflectors or warning bells, and absolutely no supervision by traffic police.

Bicycle lanes are fine, but they are not everywhere. The situation has became even more dangerous with the introduction of electric bikes.

Time to wake up! RUTH SCHUELER
Jerusalem

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