Sinai steps

Sir, – Your lead story on August 12, “Palestinian Authority urges Egypt to destroy Gaza tunnels,” states: “‘The Palestinian presidency renews its rejection and condemnation of the criminal act carried out by murderous fundamentalists in Sinai last week and affirms its full solidarity with Egypt’ said Tayeb Abdel Raheem, a top aide to Mahmoud Abbas.”

With such a bold front page headline, are we to assume some special political importance from this, such as terrorist- in-a-suit Mahmoud Abbas actually taking a stand against terrorism? Perhaps the next headline will read that Jerusalem is so impressed that they will feel the need to reward him yet again. I hope not, as I would expect it to be obvious the only reason Abbas has come out in favor of Egypt’s stand against Hamas, is, as always, the PA’s self interest.

One will never hear from either Egypt or Abbas sorrow over any murdered Israeli, no matter how many dangerous concessions we make.

We have taken a big step backward allowing Egypt full military access to the Sinai, and they will certainly not want to leave. We have allowed the PA to build up from just 600 policemen, to what is now a well-equipped and trained army of some 6,000 men. I just hope that we are not setting ourselves up for avoidable major problems.

EDITH OGNALL
Netanya

Whose best interest?

Sir, – I have not read the American study upon which the editorial is based which suggests that raising taxes for businesses runs the danger of removing employment for middle and lower class workers of those businesses (“Corporate Taxes,” August 12).

But the question which begs asking is this: Where exactly in today’s worldwide economic recession are those investors going to take their money? After all, in today’s economy with zero interest rates and both the US and Europe in crisis, easy investments simply do not exist. A reasonable objective would be to increase the tax on those businesses without deflating them to a degree that they are no longer significantly lucrative for the investors.

During last year’s cottage cheese crisis, it was found that certain Israeli items were being exported to the US and sold at prices far lower than the Israeli sales price. That means that even with the shipping costs and the lower prices, the profits from those items were considered by the investor as being worth the effort. So while cost regulation is not the same as taxing, the premise that businesses will suffer and look elsewhere for investment opportunities is apparently a false one.

The study may have merit but may also have an agenda to influence economic policy in the US. In Israel, it is well known that a small group of financial tycoons control a great deal including the press.

Netanyahu has not succeeded in proving that he has the best interests of the masses in his uppermost consideration and not the interests of a small powerful group.

SHARON LINDENBAUM
Rehovot

Not prepared

Sir, – I had to shake my head in disbelief when I read Yaakov Katz’s “Keeping an eye on Sinai” (Security and Defense, Frontlines, August 10) which partly discussed the events at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

The suggestion that Maj.- Gen. Tal Russo “made the right decision when he ordered the evacuation of watchtowers manned by IDF soldiers... out of fear that they would come under missile fire” is astonishing – especially considering that none of the watchtowers was hit by a missile.

Katz goes on to say that “had soldiers been inside, who knows what could have happened.”

For one thing, such soldiers might have been able to stop the truck before it detonated at the fence. For another, if properly armed, they might have been able to stop the armored car from driving through the hole and proceeding to drive 2.5 km. down a civilian road into Israel followed by a small force of ineffective IDF vehicles.

It is indeed “lucky” that the terrorists, who were apparently wearing explosive vests, did not make it into the Kerem Shalom community or some other community nearby. I’m glad that Russo could heave “a sigh of relief” that there were no casualties in Israel, but that is of little comfort to us here in southern Israel.

Tal Russo’s “surprise” and the lack of IDF preparedness both at the Kerem Shalom Crossing and in the Road 12 attack last August have become the trademark of a passive IDF that never seems to anticipate or be able to deal with the continuous mortar and rocket attacks emanating from Gaza. It is long past time for Russo, Gantz, and Barak to be replaced by men who know what they are doing.

GEORGE ROOKS
Ashdod

Differing dreams

Sir, – I know, I suspect you know and Martin Sherman certainly knows, that the ultimate dream of Palestinian leaders, “moderate” and extremist alike, is an Israel-free Middle East (“The alchemy of Palestinian nationhood,” Into the Fray, Observations, August 10). As he points out, there is no secret about it. In paying lip-service to the two-state solution, and even perhaps working towards it, any Palestinian leader would still have his eye on the eventual goal.

But then, as Sherman does not point out, much of the liberal Western world believes that many Israeli politicians, and perhaps up to 50 percent of the Israeli public, dream of a Greater Israel which incorporates the whole of Judea and Samaria – and perhaps large parts of Lebanon and Jordan, to boot – within its boundaries.

Sherman asks why Israel’s leadership has been unable to expose the two-state solution as a flimsy falsehood. He does not ask why the members of the Quartet (the US, the UN, the EU and Russia), both individually and collectively, endorse it, nor why much of the rest of the Western world goes along with it as well. The fact of the matter is that, no matter how deviously attained, the case for a sovereign Palestinian state has been made, as far as the majority of liberal opinion is concerned.

Politics is a hand-to-mouth kind of business. Ultimate objectives are rarely attainable, let alone attained. Whatever the differing dreams of the principals in peace negotiations might be, the achievement of an agreement would create such a totally new situation that all bets about the possible future would be off. Provided sufficient safeguards were built into the terms of the accord, a two-state solution might indeed provide Israelis and Palestinians with the peace, and the chance to live normal lives, that both sides in the dispute crave.

NEVILLE TELLER
Beit Shemesh

Covering up

Sir, – Your article, “Romanian Jews irate over Holocaust-denying minister” (August 8) is very misleading. According to a recent book I read written by a survivor from Transnistria, the true number of Jews murdered in Romania was close to 400,000, because Romania during the war included the areas Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania.

From November 1941 until early 1944 Jews from these areas were deported in the most brutal manner to Transnistria by both windowless cattle trains and death marches.

Temperatures during February 1942 were around -40 Celcius in Transnistria. People who survived the death marches died of cold, therefore, there were few survivors.

These areas were part of Romania and under the leadership of Marshal Ion Antonescu, who was happy to get into Hitler’s good books. In early 1944, when Antonescu saw that Hitler was losing the war, he stopped the killing and invited the Jews who had managed to escape to come back to these areas, thus trying to cover his crimes. In fact the Russians who captured the area tried and executed him for war crimes.

Today the Romanians are trying to reinstate his name by naming streets after him.

JOYCE KAHN
Petah Tikva

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