All we know is...
Sir, - As the French say: It's the tone that makes the music. As important as the words that Gilad Schalit spoke, was the way he said them ("'I yearn for the day when I will see you again,'" October 4). To me, he sounded stiff and slow, probably very scared, if not heavily drugged.
He didn't say anything of his own - he read it all from a script, and we don't know who wrote it. We don't know if he had any say in the wording.
Thank God, we now know he is alive - but that is about all we know.
M.M. VAN ZUIDEN
...this would stain us
Sir, - To release 1,000 Palestinian criminals in exchange for Gilad Schalit would be an ineradicable stain on the name and honor of Israel, as well as a grotesque insult to the thousands of direct and indirect victims of Palestinian jihadist terror.
Instead, the prime minister should invite the ambassadors of the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany to enlist their countries' support for issuing an unequivocal warning to Hamas that unless Schalit is released within two weeks, Israel will tighten its restrictions vigorously on the Gaza Strip and on the Palestinian prisoners, and Hamas will be answerable to the Gazans for their suffering.
Such an action would serve as a general warning to terrorists that kidnapping and hostage-taking will be punished severely. It is, moreover, high time that the corrupt, decadent and impotent United Nations - supposedly responsible for preserving liberty and freedom - be side-stepped.
Despite the over 8,000 rockets and mortars fired on civilian targets in Israel, there was not a single UN denunciation of these savage acts of international criminality. It behooves Israel, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, to galvanize a united stand against international terrorism.
It is not too late to make a supreme effort to release Schalit by putting the screws on Hamas and denying the Palestinian gangsters a tremendous moral victory ("Signs of life," Editorial, October 2).
High stakes & word games
Sir, - In "The 'half-full' aspects of Obama's speech" (Analysis, September 24), Herb Keinon read too much into President Obama's comments at the UN. He took comfort in the fact that "the president did not call - as some in Israel had worried about - for two states along the 1967 lines." But he ignored the president's reference to "a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory."
The president failed to explain how these two states "living side by side in peace and security" could each have contiguous territory. As long as the future Palestinian state is comprised of both Gaza and the West Bank, contiguous territory for it would mean splitting Israel in two. Surely there is no justification for dividing an existing country in order to create a new, two-part nation with contiguous borders?
The president did call for "a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world," but also said "we continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements" - as though a moral equivalency exists between the murder of Israeli civilians and the construction of buildings, legal or otherwise, on disputed land.
I'm afraid that Keinon's conclusion was wishful thinking. To assume from Obama's words that he was telling the Palestinians it was time for the them "to stop saying one thing in private, and another in public, but to act publicly on what they say privately" is reading a great deal more into the speech than Obama ever intended. The president did what he is best at: leaving plenty of room for multiple interpretations.
On one thing, however, Obama was very clear: "The time has come to relaunch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues." The point was immediately accepted by Prime Minister Netanyahu and rejected by Mahmoud Abbas, who maintained that peace talks would not be resumed without preconditions. And so, in the end, little was achieved by Obama's articulate but ambiguous address.
If the president is intent on leading peace negotiations, he has the opportunity to bring the world back from the brink of war. But he needs to be both strong and consistent. The price of waffling on the issues related to peace is dear and the stakes far too high for word games.
Obama: 'The Jew among presidents'
Sir, - Douglas Bloomfield's "The 'aginners' and the politics of hate" (September 24) rightly praised his Likud father's sadness at haters who "accuse Obama of being a Jew-hating, closet Muslim out to destroy Israel"- a country which especially appreciates the distinction between legitimate criticism and blind hateful rhetoric.
But when Caroline Glick says that "the weaker Obama becomes, the less capable he will be of carrying through on his bullying threats against Israel and against fellow democracies around the world" ("An enfeebled Obama," September 25), she uses the same blind hateful rhetoric as anti-Israel extremists do.
While most democracies are relieved at Obama's presidency, criticism of Obama can be legitimate - Herb Keinon, Barry Rubin, David Horovitz and Saul Singer do it. But in Glick's writing, one senses hatred.
Obama defended the Gaza operation, demanded Arabs cease violence and recognize Jewish Israel, refused to meet Ahmadinejad and condemned the Goldstone report. For this we praise everyone but Obama, a victim of exactly what Israel opposes: double standards.
The Second Lebanon War, Hamastan and Ahmadinejad's nuclear advances occurred during George Bush's - undemonized - presidency. Obama inherited Bush's - and 50 years of - failures.
He is not all-powerful. No more than "the Jews" of anti-Semitic fantasies can he do, or undo, everything. If Alan Dershowitz rightly calls Israel "the Jew among nations," this black named Hussein is singled out as "the Jew among presidents."
We know that civility and decency safeguards Western civilization. Why don't we practice it?
Killed for equality?
Sir, - It seems that during the Gaza war serious mistakes were made. But one mistake should also be mentioned - the hutzpa of building shelters and warning systems on the Israeli side.
Without them, probably a few dozen Israeli children would have been killed, and today no one would talk about the International Court ("Palestinians fume over PA's decision to delay UN vote on endorsement of Goldstone findings," October 4).
The insiders' club
Sir, - After working with the CEOs, CFOs and presidents of hi-tech companies, I have to say that Keren Chehanovich hit the nail on the head with her guide to the Israeli business maize ("Job hunting in Israel: adapting to the local wisdom," October 4).
She mentions "the significant advantage" for people who did their military service together. I saw that when a post became vacant, it was filled post-haste by another member of such a group.
I watched the personnel director check the e-mails requesting positions: With the fax machine also in front of him and the garbage bin on his right, he could scan 40-50 CVs in less than five minutes.
My advice for new olim is to go through an agency and tell the person representing them that they will only go on a specific interview if the company knows beforehand what assets and qualifications they can offer; also to mention their age.
Why waste their precious time on a wild goose chase, only to be told later that the job is "lo actuali"?
Sir, - To claim that the " influx of non-Jewish partners has the potential qualitatively to enrich Jewish life" is quite preposterous ("What Israelis need to know about intermarriage in North America," September 4).
Edmund Case states that 25 percent of the member families in Reform synagogues are intermarried, and yet calls Rabbi Norman Lamm "hateful" for stating that Reform has grown "by add[ing] goyim to Jews." I searched in vain for evidence of attempted conversion to Judaism of non-Jewish spouses.
Has Mr. Case considered whether of the 60% of interfaith couples in the Boston study who raise their children as Jews, any grandchildren will be Jewish?
Intermarriage is one of the tragedies of Jewish life. Let's not glorify it.
Sir, - Presenting a few emotionally charged examples showing that intermarriage can actually be a positive thing for the Jewish people is as about as ludicrous as trying to prove smoking is good for you by citing examples of 90-year-olds who are still happily smoking like chimneys!
Horovitz on Cohen
Sir, - Wow! is all I can say to David Horovitz's "A blessing welcomed, a blessing spurned" (October 2). I was there and agree with every word he wrote - also his comments on the naysayers. What an experience! The timing was perfect, too.
Sadly, many in our small Anglo circle have tunnel vision. The Arabs, on the other hand, are incapable of lateral thinking.
Sir, - Since the recent visit of Leonard Cohen to our shores, the Post has provided constant, in my opinion excessive, coverage. While Mr. Horovitz's observation of the Palestinians' intolerance is right on, is this anything new?
Sir, - Congratulations to David Horovitz for his beautiful column on Leonard Cohen's performance in Ramat Gan. I didn't attend, but through Horovitz's words, I could feel the special atmosphere which prevailed on that wonderful evening.
Thank you for some great writing!