Sir, - Larry Derfner totally misunderstands Hamas and how it relates to Israel ("Panicking over Palestine," February 9). He implores us to keep the Palestinians from a "humanitarian disaster" by not withholding the tax money collected for them by Israel.
Hamas is an organization totally dedicated to the destruction of Israel. It wants nothing from us. It will not lack for funds as oil-wealthy terror-supporting Saudi Arabia and Iran will more than make up for any funds Israel denies.
Instead of worrying about the well-being of Hamas-ruled Palestinians, Mr. Derfner would do better to worry about something far more problematic: the survival of a Jewish state in an area increasingly fanatic and hostile.
Left for Hebron
Sir, - What a pleasure it was to read "Left comes to Hebron," (February 9). It's about time that people stop making up their minds about an issue based only on what the media feeds them; rather, they should go there and meet people face to face.
Sir, - Excellent piece on the Left in Hebron. It's really too bad that such positive news was of no interest to Israel's Hebrew media. I'm sure that if there was violence or hate from one of the sides it would have made the front pages, but when it's optimistic and positive only The Jerusalem Post has any interest in it.
Beyond heaven's help
Sir, - Progress in the Oslo peace process was never measured by the cessation of killing but only by the handing over of land and other "confidence building" measures. So of course Sharon's Gaza disengagement was a great success - land was ceded and the killing has continued. Mission accomplished.
Meanwhile, the people who endured the pain of the requisite "painful concessions for peace" got no peace, no enhancement of security (on the contrary), and the typical bureaucratic botch job regarding their resettlement.
Now the Post, which was in favor of disengagement, calls for reengaging the evacuees ("Reengage the disengaged," February 9) with the nation that arranged their head beatings at Amona.
At this point I would say something like "Israel, I pray for you." But the inertia of Israel's suicidal self-destructiveness is beyond heaven's help.
Israel's 'Kent State'
Sir, - Parents, educators and rabbis have the moral obligation to teach the important values on which Jewish civilization is based. Among these is knowing right from wrong and obeying the law. But there is also an obligation to confront and even disobey the law when it is clearly immoral. When many stand against an order because it is immoral, and of questionable legal status - since it was pronounced by an acting prime minister who was not elected, and without Knesset approval - then civil, non-violent protest is mandated.
There were over a thousand Jewish youngsters at the Amona protest. Granted some of them had their own violent agendas, and the guilty should be tried and punished. But the vast majority represent the finest of Jewish youth, well-disciplined, faithful to Jewish values and democracy. They were beaten indiscriminately.
Even if it were only a handful of police who were violent such "protectors of the law" should never have been in the position in which they were.
Thankfully no one was killed at Amona, but it was Israel's "Kent State." Respect for law will never be the same unless we learn to talk to one another and recognize the rights of all citizens.
RABBI MACY GORDON
Legal, yes, but legitimate?
Sir, - I quite agree with the comments made by Yisrael Woolf ("Tattered democracy, Letters, February 6). We are being governed by a party which did not exist at the last election, with a policy which was rejected by the electorate at that time.
When Prime Minister Sharon found he did not have a majority for his policies within his own party he should have resigned, and either called new elections or let Binyamin Netanyahu try to form a government. That would have been democratic.
What Sharon did was the beginning of dictatorship. Unfortunately neither of the bodyguards of freedom - the press and our lily-livered lawmakers - saw this. The latter were too busy saving their seats. The present government may be legal but is certainly not legitimate.
What's in a name?
Sir, - So Shlomo Benizri is discriminated against ("'If my name was Benizrovith this wouldn't have happened,'" February 8)? By whom? Attorney-General "Menislav Mazuzov," or Police chief of investigations "Yozef Mizrahovski"?
Kidding aside, it is high time to stop using this Ashkenazi-Sephardi excuse. Shas leaders should be ashamed of this cheap demagoguery.
Sir, - Thanks to Michael Freund for giving voice to the subject of disputes ("Orthodoxy against itself," February 8). I live in the midst of a diverse Jewish community in Los Angeles which suffers from divisiveness. It's crazy. My kids attend a centrist Jewish day school and are attacked by their various "black-hatted" counterparts.
Smart reaction to cartoons
Sir, - Has it occurred to anyone that it might actually be a good idea for the Danish newspaper to run the Iranian Holocaust cartoons ("Danish editor: I'd publish Iran's Holocaust cartoons," February 9)? If you allow the Iranian cartoons to be published, and there turns out to be little reaction around the world (and it would certainly be smart that this be the reaction), wouldn't that be a good way of shaming the Muslims rioters regarding their lack of civilized behavior?
Sir, - I strongly disagree with Rabbi Stav's idea that "Free speech doesn't include the right to hurt feelings" ("Interfaith group slams caricatures," February 7). That is exactly what free speech is. It is easy to defend speech that does not offend anyone.
Of course it is not OK to yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater, but anyone who believes in the principle of free speech must defend speech that he or she feels is offensive.
Sir, - Both the Danish newspaper and the Muslims are wrong. The Danish newspaper is wrong because treating other religions with respect is more important than freedom of speech. The Islamic world is wrong in thinking that legal protest is ineffective and only violence can achieve the desired ends. Through violence you only harden the positions of each side.
Muslims could have appealed to the European Court of Justice or the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Zeist, The Netherlands
Sir, - "The drawings - including one depicting the Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban - have touched a raw nerve, in part because Islam forbids any illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry." ("Muhammad cartoon clashes spread, turn deadly," February 7).
Come on! Are we to believe that someone is going to bow down and worship a cartoon of a prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban?
As a Christian, I can only imagine what would happen if every time Jesus was attacked, ridiculed, satirized or otherwise blasphemed by popular culture (which happens in almost every South Park episode, and you don't suffer one Hollywood movie without hearing His name used in vain), Christians around the world got angry and threw their TVs out the window. Not a bad idea actually, but my point is we shouldn't tolerate this Muslim reaction.
Agassiz, British Columbia
Sir, - I read with great interest the letter asking us to "Buy from Denmark" (Letters, February 9).
I am a manufacturer and export my products to many countries. The only one that insists that I do not put "Made in Israel" on the packaging is Denmark.
Sir, - Instead of people in the West apologizing to Muslims over the cartoon depictions of Muhammad, we should express our outrage that anyone would dare question or threaten our freedoms of expression and press. We should make it perfectly clear that we are very willing to defend our rights.
Muslims, on the other hand, need to realize that their religion is being destroyed by individuals who use any excuse to spread intolerance, hate and violence ("Muhammad cartoon clashes spread, turn deadly," February 7).
No religion can survive when it places more value on the depictions of its leaders than on its own principles and the love of mankind. Muslims should use this opportunity to show how Islam can help people live in harmony and how it can protect and encourage freedoms of the press and expression for everyone.
Efficient and kind
Sir, - I was recently in London when, in the late afternoon, my bag with all my personal ID and credit cards was stolen. I was scheduled to be on a flight back to Israel a few hours later. I called the Israeli embassy. A very kind lady answered and reassured me that she would wait for as long as it took for me to get there. She did. She stayed well after closing time and I caught my plane home. (I wrote her a thank you letter).
On the following Sunday, I went to the Interior Ministry in Beit Shemesh and got a replacement ID card in no more than four minutes. Then I applied for the replacement passport; another three minutes and it's now in the post. Replacing my driver's license in Jerusalem was even quicker - two minutes, max. And within three days my cancelled credit cards started arriving. I was helped by efficient, kind, caring people. I love Israel.