The real stench

Sir, – On the front page of your May 4 issue you had an article about a mysterious odor that covered the Tel Aviv region. It was headlined “What’s that foul smell?” The answer was on Page 4: “Yigal Amir’s brother and coconspirator Hagai Amir to be released today.”

Watching Amir’s family welcome home its hero on the evening news made me even sicker than did the foul smell.

LAURIE BENTNER
Tel Aviv

Heads first

Sir, – Regarding “IDF removes key W. Bank roadblocks” (May 4), does the army really believe that the so-called cooperation it has with the Palestinian Authority to curb Hamas terrorism is in any way related to the Palestinians’ intention to live with us in peace?

The insanity goes on, with Israel continuing to allow Palestinian battalions to train in Jordan when eight, including 4,000 American-trained soldiers who are conveniently called “policemen,” are already deployed in the West Bank. I seem to recall that the Oslo Accords called for 400 to 600, but who’s counting?

There should be no doubt that these highly trained men will eventually turn their weapons on us and we will have been the author of our own misfortune.

While we are spending billions on fortifications to prepare for the war we know is coming, it never occurs to those who should know better to actually destroy the enemy rather than wait for it to make war. We refuse to acknowledge facts on the ground and, like the ostrich, prefer to bury our heads in the sand. Our bodies will follow in due course.

YENTEL JACOBS
Netanya

Tough like Maggie

Sir, – The Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails who started the hunger strike are the ones who need to stop it, not the Israeli government (“High Court drama as MK Tibi treats fainting Palestinian prisoner,” May 4).

Looking back to 1981, IRA terrorists in British jails did the same but finally stopped after 10 of their number died. The British press hailed this as a triumph for then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher. It prompted Sinn Féin to move toward electoral politics and eventual peace negotiations.

Our government needs to take the same position as Thatcher. Once you start paying a blackmailer it never stops. This now goes for the hunger strikers.

MURRAY JOSEPH
Kiryat Motzkin

Election lotto

Sir, – I am stunned at the very real possibility that the government will vote to hold early elections (“Election fever,” Editorial, May 4), especially considering that this is the most stable government the country has had in years.

Where is the responsibility to citizens who will have to foot the enormous expense of pre and post-election juggling? Even taking into consideration new parties (Atid) and new party leaders (Shaul Mofaz), the Likud will get the most seats and Yisrael Beytenu will still join the coalition, as will the religious parties.

Who knows how much fatter a new government, and the resulting expense, will be? Does anyone really believe that anything will change? Why does it seem like people view elections as a kind of lottery game, constantly turning to statistics to predict seats? What is the matter with this country?

LINDA DAYAN
Ashkelon

We must show them

Sir, – Uri Savir (“The ‘Hasbara’ Syndrome,” Savir’s Corner, May 4) asserts that “No country in the world, except for us, has an explanation policy,” and concludes naively, “Good policy sells itself.”

Even the most moral policy can be of limited value if it is not adequately publicized and explained. Consider the minimal benefit in world opinion from the Lebanon pullout and Gaza disengagement.

The activities of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Public Affairs are just one example of the importance that Western democracies place on spreading their message globally. The bureau spends millions each year to advance America’s values and policies through a wide range of educational, cultural and traditional press events.

For too many years, Israel labored under the misguided assumption that the rest of the world would recognize the morality of its actions. By remaining silent, it gave free rein to its enemies to define the issues and convince anyone who would listen that their narrative was the only truth.

Certainly, good policies are essential. But robust proactive public diplomacy – hasbara – is a vital weapon in the battle against those who would deny Israel’s very right to exist as a Jewish state. As with any other democracy, Israel must not only do good, it must be seen to be doing good.

EFRAIM A. COHEN
Zichron Ya’acov

The writer served as cultural attaché at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Bad cop

Sir, – Very many years ago, when I was a prosecutor in traffic court, many an accused would ask, “Why did the cop stop and ticket me when there were others committing the same offense and they were overlooked?” If a cop was selecting certain motorists and ignoring others his conduct would not be acceptable because he was not being honest. This, plain and simple, was discrimination.

South African Bishop Desmond Tutu may be critical of Israel’s failings, but his judgment is suspect when he ignores despotic countries where crimes against humanity are so painfully patent and unquestionable (“Desmond Tutu urges divestment of United Methodist Church from Israel,” May 2). Tutu is a bad cop.

HERTZEL KATZ
Herzliya

Raison d’etre

Sir, – Regarding “Volatile migration” (Editorial, April 30), in the past two years Israel has been flooded with thousands of hearty and good-willed citizens of Sudan. They are Africans abused by oil-rich African Arabs.

Before returning them, Israel could train a select group as a defense corps and provide them with weapons to fight off hostile Sudanese aircraft and mobile terrorists back home. The rest could be taught advanced agriculture.

Early on, Israel made a name for itself by exporting seeds of the highest quality. Israel also developed the drip-method of irrigation and found water under the desert. Six months of training would provide these migrants with all they require for a new life in Sudan.

This is what Judaism was intended to do. This is our raison d’etre.

CHAYIM SEIDEN
Jerusalem

In their shoes

Sir, – Two recent editorials said Israel “would like nothing more than to live in peace” (“Right to remember,” April 23) and that the Palestinians are more “impediments to peace than settlements” (“Power of truth,” April 20). But it seems Israel likes the settlements even more than it does peace or its own security.

You say the Palestinians are difficult negotiators. But would you negotiate easily if you were in their shoes, if you lived on the last 19 percent of your foreparents’ land and the Palestinians had spent decades gobbling up even this with half a million settlers? The Israeli government pretends that its brief halt to gobbling up Palestinian land was an act of sublime ethical nobility.

This is also the Kipling-Smuts and Orwell-Kafka doublethink of your columnists Caroline B. Glick, Sarah Honig and Martin Sherman.

Thank heavens, though, that the Post also has voices of ethics, justice, human decency and conscience – Gershon Baskin, Ray Hanania and others – who oppose the relentless gobbling up of land and support the possibility of human dignity, peace and security for all.

JAMES ADLER
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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