Why should they?

Sir, – On Friday, September 28, you printed a JTA report headlined “US senators ask Cuba to release Gross.” It was referring to Alan Gross, a Jewish- American contractor incarcerated there for alleged anti-Cuban activities.

The request appears to have been on humanitarian grounds, as Gross’s health is deteriorating and two family members are either sick or dying. This is similar to the request made by family and friends of Jonathan Pollard to US President Barack Obama.

Simply and bluntly put, why should the Cubans release a prisoner when the US will not?

A. GOLDBERG
Hatzor Haglilit

Not pragmatic

Sir, – I have read Martin Sherman’s columns (Into the Fray) on his solution to the Israel- Palestine problem with interest.

He rests his argument on three points, each of which has, to my mind, an inherent weakness.

The first – and most important, in Sherman’s view – is UNRWA, the United Nations Relief Works Agency. UNRWA was formed as a temporary solution to the refugee problem arising out of our War of Independence.

As every home owner who has done renovations knows, there is nothing so permanent as a temporary measure.

Apart from this whimsy, UNRWA has grown so large and unwieldy that only a (biblical) flood can get rid of it.

The second point deals with the willingness of the outside world to accept the influx of millions of migrants. Europe, as a whole, has grown sick of the mass influx of Muslims and would probably put obstacles in the way of even those who are financially independent. As far as Muslim states are concerned, I do not believe that after so many years of rejection they could be persuaded to accept this influx.

Third, Sherman’s series of columns focused on individuals as being the way to circumvent Palestinian intransigence. I fear it would take the murder of only one departing family by a fanatic for the whole scheme to founder.

I regret that I can see no way to overcome these objections to what is a most ingenious piece of reasoning.

DAVID MEYER
Haifa

Sir, – Martin Sherman’s plan to entice Arabs living in Judea and Samaria to sell their property to Israel and emigrate depends on overcoming two major obstacles: raising enormous funds and finding willing participants.

His plan would require approval by the Israeli government and the High Court, and endorsement by the international community – zero possibility.

It’s doubtful that the Arabs would agree, even if some might be interested.

Sherman’s fallback position would be forcible removal – also highly problematic and unlikely.

There is a simple and inexpensive alternative:

1. Adopt the Levy Commission report, legalize and expand hilltop/ outposts and make land in Judea and Samaria available to Jewish settlement.

2. Annex Area C and state land in Area B, and declare sovereignty over the entire area.

3. Establish a governmentbacked fund to purchase property at fair market value.

In addition, Sherman could establish a private non-profit corporation to gather funds and purchase property.

I wish him success. Meanwhile, we need practical and immediate solutions.

MOSHE DANN
Jerusalem

It’s personal

Sir, – I had to read the piece by Ben Caspit (“Panic as diplomacy,” Observations, September 28) twice to understand how any Israeli journalist could form an opinion such as his regarding the Iranian threat to Israel.

His playing down of the clear existential threat is not based on acceptable intelligence or other informed reports. Rather, he uses the occasion to reflect his intense dislike for Prime Minister Netanyahu, blaming him for the soured relations with US President Barack Obama without even considering, as do so many Israelis, that Obama’s relationship with Israel reflects his dislike for our country.

I, like many others, sense a lack of honest support from the American president and would praise our prime minister for the clear and realistic warning he provides to the nations of the world.

MONTY M. ZION
Tel Mond

Sir, – Ben Caspit derides Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for sowing panic among Israelis.

Frankly, I see little evidence of this. Schools are open. Consumers throng the malls. They also buy cars and apartments.

And the unemployment rate is very low compared to other countries. In addition, Israel’s financial rating is tip-top.

If Bibi hadn’t been warning people about Iran’s drive toward regional hegemony for more than a decade, does Caspit think the world would be as concentrated on stopping it now? Would he like to out-source our security to President Obama? If Iran achieves nuclear weapons despite Obama’s insistence that he would prevent it, would his second-term assurances be worth anything? America is our best and greatest ally. But Israel mustn’t hand off its security to another nation. The one and only Jewish state needs a forceful leader like Bibi to galvanize Israel and, hopefully, the West to recognize the dangers we all face from militant Islam.

STEVE KRAMER
Alfei Menashe

Sir, – Ben Caspit writes as do many columnists – they shoot their arrow and then draw the bull’s eye around it. His arrow is aimed at Prime Minister Netanyahu, who never finds favor in his eyes.

The bull’s eye he paints – that Iran is certainly not an existential threat to Israel – is hardly convincing.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is continuing his mad rush to develop a nuclear capability as he repeats ad nauseam his desire to wipe out Israel. What else does Caspit need to convince him that a real existential threat exists? One or two nuclear bombs could accomplish Iran’s wish.

This is not a fabrication or Netanyahu’s panic-stricken imagination.

AVIGDOR BONCHEK
Jerusalem

See the light

Sir, – I find it incredible that I am the only person among the seven million living in Israel who hates daylight saving time.

The media, in whatever form, are doing a splendid job of brainwashing the public about the wonders of saving an extra hour during the day. Every news commentator starts his program with a snide remark about Israel going back to winter time in the middle of the summer.

For those of us who get up early in the morning, let me tell you a secret: It is pitch dark at a quarter to six in the morning in September and unfortunately we have to switch on the light. Our great desire to emulate Europe overlooks the fact that it is farther north and has broad daylight at 9:30 at night and light again at 4:00 in the morning.

Do we save electricity in Israel? Hardly. We just use our air conditioners for longer hours. The savings in energy are small. A one-day strike by the railways or ports causes far more damage to the economy than the savings over an entire summer period of Daylight Saving Time.

As for the health benefits, one only has to Google “health issues and daylight saving” and discover that contrary to all propaganda, daylight saving has a negative influence on sleep patterns, depression, heart disease and car accidents. In fact, some countries are considering scrapping it.

The arguments for and against Daylight Saving Time, as most other issues in Israel, are political.

If you want an extra hour of light you are modern; if you don’t you are either a haredi wheeler-dealer or a member of Shas. I am neither, but I do like to look the truth in the face and also like getting up when there’s daylight.

TOVA GERTA TEITELBAUM
Haifa

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