letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - For the second time in a week, The Jerusalem Post followed a description of Human Rights Watch's findings about Israeli conduct in Lebanon with an apparently obligatory reference to Gerald Steinberg and his NGO Monitor ("ACRI asks Winograd panel to probe operations against Lebanese civilians," October 4; "Human rights report: 4 Israeli firms in top 100 arms manufacturers," October 8).
The first cited Steinberg's hyperbolic "blood libel" charge and his claim that Human Rights Watch's research methodology was "improper." The second quoted him calling the research "unreliable," "not verifiable" and "disinformation."
Yet unlike Human Rights Watch's researchers, Steinberg hasn't even visited the sites of these attacks, and has no personal knowledge about the accuracy of HRW's findings.
For example, the October 8 article described a July 23 IAF attack on the car of Zein Zabad when it was just 40 meters from the Najem Hospital in Tyre. The attack wounded all nine civilians inside, yet there was no Hizbullah military activity in the vicinity of the hospital at the time of the attack. Before going public, Human Rights Watch, as usual, carefully investigated this attack. Our researchers visited the scene of the incident and spoke to eyewitnesses and survivors.
The attack took place in broad daylight, with dozens of people watching, including members of the hospital staff. The incident was reported not only by Human Rights Watch, but also independently from the scene by respected journalists from The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and London's Daily Telegraph. Like Human Rights Watch, none of these journalists reported any evidence of a Hizbullah presence at the time of the attack.
Yet inexplicably the Post turns to Steinberg for his prepackaged rejection of this evidence. Worse, it cites his claim of "clear evidence of a heavy Hizbullah presence" - a claim based on nothing but his imagination.
Post readers are certainly entitled to varying views on difficult issues, but I would have hoped that the Post would present views based on facts.
Steinberg, however, whose organization has never deemed any criticism of Israel valid, offers nothing but recycled opinions and facts he makes up. Don't Post readers deserve better than that?
Human Rights Watch
In defense of intermarriage
Sir, - Binyamin Netanyahu is wrong to equate assimilation and intermarriage ("Netanyahu: No future for Jews in the Diaspora," October 6).
It is correct to say that many Jews have been lost in the Diaspora because of assimilation, which means giving up participation and engagement in Jewish life. But many intermarried families in North America are not assimilated, they are actively participating and engaging in Jewish life and enriching the Jewish community.
It is very important that Jewish leaders not demean intermarriage. In San Francisco's latest demographic study, more interfaith families were found to raise their children as Jews than nationally; the author of the study concluded that it was because of welcoming outreach attitudes and programs. I expect that the results of Boston's demographic study, coming soon, will show the same.
But intermarried families will not willingly enter the Jewish community if they hear intermarriage disparaged as a negative loss by leaders like Netanyahu.
President and publisher, InterfaithFamily.com
Sir, - Larry Derfner's persuasive and distressing analysis of workplace irresponsibility ("Israelis at work," October 9) touches on a more general problem of Israeli society as a whole, one which is perhaps most manifest on the nation's highways - failing to recognize and consider the needs and directions of others, and in fact the whole surrounding situation and environment.
My sense is that Israeli educators need to begin placing emphasis on derech eretz, on the real consideration for others, outside oneself and one's own small circle.
Were that the case, perhaps in the years ahead not only will our streets be less littered and our neighbors more friendly, our emergency rooms will be less filled by those injured through negligence and carelessness.
Sir, - Any change in the electoral system that does not include a change from proportional representation in electing the Knesset to direct constituency elections is doomed to continue the present situation ("PM, Lieberman to push for electoral change," October 8).
The country should be divided into 120 electoral districts by population (roughly 50,000 electors per district) with the election of one representative from each district. In this manner, each MK is responsible to the voters who elected him/her in his/her district and not to the party head.
MATTHEW M ZUCKERMAN
If only it were true
Sir, - M.J. Rosenberg writes that "today the Palestinians and the Arab world in general have largely come around to acceptance of Israel's right to security within the pre-'67 borders" ("In Washington: Take any opportunity to talk," October 5).
If only it were true. But only last week, Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority and head of Fatah, said: "It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front to recognize Israel" (Al-Arabiya, October 3). We must also remember that Hamas, leaders of the PA, openly calls for Israel's destruction, as does Fatah's Charter. Both the Saudi Arabian initiative and the Abbas-backed "Prisoners Documentâ€š" call for the "right of return," which is clearly incompatible with Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
This is also consistent with Palestinian views. A September poll, carried out by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, found that 57 percent of Palestinians support terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians within Israel's pre-June 1967 borders. Another poll the same month conducted by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University found that 61.3% of Palestinians support terrorist attacks upon Israelis inside Israel.
On top of all this, not a single map in the PA or in any Arab country displays a country called Israel, only "Palestine."
MORTON A. KLEIN
Zionist Organization of America
Consider the lesson
Sir, - Caroline Glick claims that "in the summer of 1973, the Soviets also encouraged Syria to join Egypt in invading Israel" ("As the storm of war approaches," October 6). She pours scorn on Syrian President Bashar Assad's "protestations of willingness to conduct negotiations with Israel."
If Glick seeks to draw analogies with the Yom Kippur War, she would be wise to consider the following: The Soviets were very much opposed to Anwar Sadat launching his surprise attack (together with the Syrians) on Israel in 1973.
Moreover, it is now an accepted consensus that Sadat attacked Israel because of Golda Meir's stubborn refusal to negotiate over the Sinai captured by Israel in 1967. Refusing out of hand at least to try to reach negotiated solutions leads invariably to war and the death - this is the lesson of 1973 and of Lebanon 2006.
Consider the lesson before you commit soldiers to the front with the might of your pen.
Sir, - Caroline Glick calling Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni a phony was most unfortunate ("Tzipi Livni and us," October 3). She essentially told nations to ignore Livni and by doing so took Israel's chief diplomat out of the picture, at a minimum weakening Israel's voice in diplomatic circles.
Why such a personal and vindictive attack on an important Israeli representative to world bodies?
ALBERT G. SILVERTON
Sir, - It isn't "South Tel Aviv's shame: Foreign workers' kids languish in pirate preschools" (October 1). It isn't even our elected officials shame. They've been so selfish, so corrupt for so long that they no longer know how to feel shame.
Nor does the shame belong to the handful of families who control this country's economy through their lackeys in the Knesset, for their own selfish needs.
This shame, in fact, is ours. None of us seems capable of looking beyond his own needs. It is we who are keeping these children in such inhumane conditions. Just as it is we who allow the sale of thousands of women into sexual slavery. Just as it is we who allow tens of thousands of children to go to bed hungry every night.
We permit these unconscionable acts to occur by electing ill-suited, self-serving officials, officials who believe they are beyond the bounds of probity or morality. And we elect the same ones over and over and over again! The shame is not on them; it's on us!
Sir, - Arcadia - the South African Jewish Orphanage - is celebrating its centenary and over its 100 years of existence has taken care of more than 3,000 children in residence in Arcadia and has helped an even greater number who were never in residence.
It is estimated that up to 5 percent of the South African Jewish population would have a direct connection with Arcadia and they or their parents or grandparents would have lived in or received help from Arcadia. Also it is estimated that in earlier days, 50 percent of South African Jewish families would have been financial members of Arcadia.
Arcadia still exists in Johannesburg, taking care of Jewish children in need and is still in need of our financial support.
More than 120 "children" (including many now living in Israel) have recorded their memories of Arcadia in a book 100 Years of ARC Memories and have raised funds to print 4,000 copies, which are on sale in the UK, US, Canada, Israel, Australia and South Africa to raise funds for Arcadia. All proceeds on sale of the book go direct to Arcadia.
For more information on Arcadia, on the book and how your readers can obtain a copy, please visit our Web site, www.arcadia.ca.com.au http://www.arcadia.ca.com.au.
Wanneroo, Western Australia
Editor's note: The writer was in the care of Arcadia from age three to 17, from 1956 to 1969.