Why attack the settlers?
Sir, - I wish the media would strike the word "settler" from their vocabulary ("Settler leaders: We have to come out in force to break Netanyahu's 'White Paper,' December 6).
In what world are people who live in outlying areas of cities not considered citizens? We have allowed the world to castigate our citizens, who pay taxes, work and raise families, just because of where they live.
I live in Jerusalem, and I settled here from the US. So I guess I'm a settler.
Every citizen in Israel is at risk when we separate those who live in the cities from those who built communities at the behest of the government. Let's stand together for once. This isn't the Wild West, you know.
Sir, - This past Shabbat we read a series of passages that has great bearing on the settler movement today. In Parshat Vayishlah, Chapter 34 describes the rape of Jacob's daughter, Dina, by Shechem, the prince of the Hivites. The rapist's father then brazenly asks Jacob to allow his daughter to marry his son and thus ally their peoples.
Jacob replies that this can only occur if all the Hivite men are circumcised. After they comply, Jacob's sons Shimon and Levi kill them all, prompting Jacob to admonish them by saying, "The inhabitants of the land... will gather together... and destroy me and my house."
The Bible makes no mention of such an attack, and Jacob and his family settle in Beit El, where life goes on.
Every Israeli government since Oslo has taken this message to heart. They welcomed Arafat and the PLO from Tunis to Judea and Samaria, resulting in the deaths of over 3,000 Jews. They destroyed Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip, bringing thousands of rockets upon Jewish families. Now they forbid Jewish families to live normal lives anywhere across the Green Line.
In protest, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip foolishly meets in Ofra to plan actions that will rouse world opinion against this latest attack upon the Jewish people.
As usual, nothing will occur. Since the time of Jacob, no one really gets excited about the harming of Jews.
The exception seems to be the world's adulation for Israeli governments who happen to be the culprits.
Sir, - In the 1960s I visited the synagogue in Elkins Park, near Philadelphia, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I admired the beautiful building, and I was told that it required frequent, expensive maintenance because the roof leaked when it rained. I now read in The Jerusalem Post that the roof still leaks ("Iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-built synagogue opens its doors to the public," December 2). It has never been completely repaired.
I think that this is perhaps due to the fact that it was designed by an architect and not by an engineer. Of course, now, in the 21st century, architects and engineers work together.
DR. JOSEPH M. SCHWARCZ
...and watertight red lines
Sir, - The country waits nervously for some word about what our government is agreeing to give for Gilad Schalit ("Ben-Simon: Assessment of imminent Schalit deal didn't come from Netanyahu," December 6). Few believe that our side has any red lines in these negotiations. Hamas certainly has its red lines, on which it will not budge.
I would suggest that once we have made our best offer (which will include hundreds of Palestinian prisoners), if it is not accepted, we should tell the kidnappers that every day they put off releasing Gilad, one name will be removed from the list of prisoners Israel is willing to exchange.
A risk we can't afford
Sir, - In your editorial, you spoke correctly of the "risks" of "further kidnappings and killings" that arise if Israel frees hundreds of terrorists to obtain the freedom of Gilad Schalit ("Schalit: The details matter," December 3).
The Israeli public must bear in mind that freed terrorists have already murdered large numbers of Israelis. The Almagor Terrorist Victims Association (ATVA) disclosed in April 2007 that 177 Israelis killed in terror attacks in the previous five years had been killed by freed terrorists. An earlier ATVA report showed that 123 Israelis had been murdered by terrorists freed during 1993-99.
None of these freed terrorists were described at the time as having "blood on their hands," because they hadn't actually detonated the bomb, pulled the trigger or succeeded in killing someone.
Clearly, Israeli governments were fooling themselves if they thought that freeing murderers, attempted murderers and accessories to murder carried few risks. Any decision to free more terrorists must be seen in this light. The painful but inescapable conclusion is that Israel cannot afford to do this.
The appeals to put ourselves in the shoes of the families of the kidnapped are deeply moving and understandable, but cannot be the basis for our decisions. Would we allow relatives of people held up by bank robbers to decide whether or not the police accede to the demands of their captors? The duty of the state is to protect its citizens. It follows that the most important consideration must be preventing the loss of further lives to terror.
MORTON A. KLEIN
National president, Zionist Organization of America
New York, NY
Afghan withdrawal symptoms
Sir, - The present US policy in Afghanistan may have more subtle consequences than first appears ("Little resistance to US Afghan offensive," December 6).
America has given the Taliban (and the American people) a rough time-line for withdrawal. The Taliban can thus scale down their operations, regroup and wait. NATO, pointing to the much quieter situation, can claim success and start pulling out with some veneer of dignity.
With the departure of NATO, a strengthened Taliban could reenter Afghanistan and probably retake the country. This would not worry the Americans and Europeans, as "the boys" would be coming home.
Eventually, the Taliban could reach the borders of Iran and the former Soviet Union, the NATO buffer having disappeared. Hardly a situation to be relished by Teheran or Moscow.
Teachings of the mothers?
Sir, - You report on a pending bill that would extend maternity leave for up to six months ("Highly touted maternity-leave bill advances, but won't change much," December 3).
Let's look at a specific case. A teacher gives birth in October and takes a six-month maternity leave and comes back in March to finish the school year in June. This teacher teaches three to four months, while a substitute teacher is there for six months.
Now let us consider the pedagogical ramifications (academic and psychological) for the pupils. I hope the Education Ministry and the teachers' unions have had something to say.
Spread the health
Sir, - Melabev, the nonprofit leader in Alzheimer's care in Israel, operates a network of day centers in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, helping families who have patients suffering from dementia ("Walking for Alzheimer's," Photo, December 3). People in the rest of the country would also gain from having the use of their services.
How about starting up in the Sharon area next?