letters to the editor 88.
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A question for Hamas
Sir, - Your editorial "Engagement folly" (March 5) was spot-on. I believe Hamas has missed a great opportunity to reach out to Israel and prove to the world that it has transformed itself into a pragmatic political party. By refusing to budge on the issue of recognizing Israel and negotiating a peace agreement Hamas let Israel off the hook and shot itself in the foot.
In political terms the high-profile visit to Moscow failed. Had Hamas made the necessary gestures it would have firmly placed the ball in Israel's court.
For many years Israel prevaricated. It refused to deal with Yasser Arafat, then dragged its feet and refused to implement the road map. To make things worse it ignored Mahmoud Abbas, the secular, moderate PA prime minister, and proceeded with unilateral steps on the ground, thus undermining Abbas and helping Hamas.
Hamas could have seized the opportunity to announce to the world that it is committed to a permanent and just peace in accordance with the relevant United Nations Resolutions, in particular 242 and 338.
Hamas ought to answer the following question: Is it acting in the best interests of the Palestinian people, or is it following Teheran's instructions?
Sir, - Judging by "Moscow goes overboard for Hamas" (March 5) and your editorial "Engagement folly," the Mashaal-Lavrov meeting of 2006 eerily resembled the Ribbentrop-Molotov meeting of 1939.
Sixty-seven years have passed, and it seems Russia has learned nothing. Will we have another June 22, 1941 - this time an al-Qaida attack on Russia - or, in today's parlance, 6/22?
Your life first
Sir, - How irresponsible can our military leaders be? ("IDF admits Kassam cells can easily escape artillery shelling of Gaza," March 1). "Before we fire rockets," a senior officer said, "we take great care to ensure that there are no innocent [Palestinian] civilians... in the targeted site."
Impotence and moral confusion blend to put us all in real danger. Our leaders seem content to endanger our innocent civilians with their inside-out, upside-down moral equivalency, while guarding the "innocent" Hamas voters.
Where did these guys study ethics? Rabbi Akiva would have taught them: "Your life comes first."
Sir, - Further to "Kadima slips in polls for 4th straight week" (March 3): Halachically, death occurs when the brain ceases to function, even if the heart is still going. Medical reports suggest that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is no longer alive, even if his heart still beats.
By now it should be obvious to objective observers that Sharon is being kept "alive" for cynical, political ends. Sharon supporters are being manipulated to believe that Sharon may still recover and return to office, and that a vote against Kadima will hurt Sharon personally.
If Sharon "dies" officially, before the election, Kadima could well lose half its support. An easy prediction to make is that Sharon will be allowed "to die" officially shortly after the election.
DAVID M. LEVIN
How could you, Sir?
Sir, - The Knesset established an investigative committee to examine the Amona evacuation, especially the role of the police. One would have expected a minister of the government, pledged to uphold the institution that gave him his authority, to act respectfully when called by a Knesset committee.
Gideon Ezra's arrogant refusal to allow police officers to appear and his contemptuous attitude toward the members of the committee were a outrage against democracy. His evasive replies made a mockery of the ideals of a form of government that demands openness and transparency ("Mofaz, Ezra defend Amona action in lively opening of inquiry," March 2).
Sir, - I was a police officer in Berkeley, California, 35 years ago when we had to contend with repeated riots that caused much destruction. We never beat or trampled upon the rioters. Our orders were to use as little physical force as possible. We knew that the rioters we arrested would return to cause more destruction after they had served their terms in jail.
In a democracy it is the courts who do the punishing. It is not the role of the police to "teach people a lesson." Eventually the riots came to an end.
Unfortunately, one of our rioters was unintentionally killed, but the city returned to being a peaceful place. There was no hatred, and no recriminations. Today in the US hatred is considered un-American.
Where kids are blessed, officially
Sir, - A hearty mazal tov to Shmuley Boteach on the birth of his son, and a gentle piece of unsolicited advice as well: If Boteach wants to stop feeling annoyed at a society that looks askance at his large family, let him consider making aliya to a country where such a family is officially known as bruchat yeladim - "blessed with children" - and where eight kids, in some circles, is considered a good start ("When babies aren't exactly a blessing," March 5).
JAY AND EMMY ZITTER
World to come
Sir, - When are we going to grow up? Why should we care if non-Jews think we need to accept their Jesus or Muhammad before we can go up Above? ("Hagee, Falwell deny endorsing 'dual covenant' theology," March 3.)
We have our beliefs, and they have theirs. We spend too much time worrying about what they think of us. We have a wonderfully rich religion, which goes back much further than either of theirs, despite those who would rewrite history. Unfortunately, most of us do not spend nearly enough time learning about it. If we did, we might discover that we are not the ones who should be worried about the world to come.
Healing via prayer
Sir, - In your February 24 story "US Orthodox Jews hail court's defense of Christian sect's God-connecting drug use" Rabbi Abba Cohen helps explain his group's agreement with a US Supreme Court decision. However, in doing so Rabbi Cohen regrettably repeats a common misconception about Christian Scientists: that they "withhold medical treatment" from their children.
While it's true that most Christian Scientist parents don't immediately call on the services of a doctor or hospital, they do immediately turn to God for help as a means they feel is just as effective and that they've seen work in own their life - spiritual healing through prayer. This has nothing to do with following religious dogma, but it has everything to do with choosing what is best for the health and well-being of the child.
And Christian Scientist parents, like other parents, are free to make whatever healthcare choice they feel will alleviate suffering and bring healing. In my family's case it was Christian Science prayer, and it was unfailingly effective.
On a personal note, I appreciate the open-mindedness of my father, a Russian Jew who immigrated to the US, that allowed my mother to raise me and my three sisters in the Christian Science faith. He witnessed countless proofs that our health and wellness were not jeopardized but benefited by this system of healing.
The Christian Science
Committee on Publication
Sir, - I worked in Britain's building industry for 30 years and not only never saw a crane disaster, I never heard of one, either. In the last year I have seen two in Israel - last week's ("Police probe negligence after 2 killed in crane collapse at TA building site," March 3), and approximately six months ago, when a crane fell across a Tel Aviv flyover. I was caught in the traffic jam it caused.
Do we have health and safety regulations here in Israel? If we do, somebody, somewhere isn't doing what he is being paid to do. If we don't, we should be ashamed of ourselves and returned to the list of third-world nations.
What to show Sharon Stone
Sir, - Sharon Stone is coming to Israel, and there will be the usual publicity. I would like to suggest that she and other celebrities be taken to hospital pediatric rehabilitation wards as well as to Yad Vashem. The sight of some of the terrorist victims, the burned, scarred, blind and limbless children, some of whom are orphans, may tell a more accurate story about who does what to whom in the name of "freedom, self-determination and casting off the occupation."
Maybe those children who are able should be there to greet Stone at the airport.
Ahead with jpost.com
Sir, - Re "Iraq gets assurances US will stay as long as needed - surge of attacks kill over 500 people" (March 5): The current turmoil in Iraq should come as no surprise to Jerusalem Post readers.
Soon after the US invasion, op-ed contributor Shlomo Avineri discussed the fractious situation in Iraq and its long history and dismissed as "mission impossible" the attempt to knit together a unified entity out of the pieces. Meanwhile, regional guru Barry Rubin predicted early on that ultimately some extremist group would inherit the infrastructure we are building there. As time passes and the chaos in Iraq grows, his dire prediction is looking ever more likely.
I'd like to thank jpost.com for keeping me in the know, and much farther ahead than I'd be if I just read the usual media fare.
Come tumbling down
Sir, - One feels like recommending a good psychiatrist for the Iranian leader, according to whom the US and Zionism will fall. He ought to be informed that he and his country are much more likely to be in for a very big fall ("From tolerance to bullying," February 23).