Sir, - In "What, exactly, is the prime minister's condition?" (February 12) Amir Mizroch wrote: I do not know how a patient can be in serious, stable and critical condition all at once." I think Mr. Mizroch must be a young person who has not spent much time around elderly and dying people in hospitals. If he is lucky enough to live long, he will.
It is easy to understand Ariel Sharon's condition. He is an old man with many infirmities. At any hour he could succumb to known or unknown problems. But at the time his condition was announced, he was not about to die. He might even improve a bit.
Sometimes the process of dying seems very much like being born. There is a pattern to it. Hospital staff know when a patient is dying, and pretty much what will happen. When you receive a call from a friend or relative saying if you want to see your aunt, come right now, you are hearing from someone who has recognized the pattern. Oddly, it has not been well portrayed in literature or on film. But after a few bedside experiences during someone's final days and moments one comes to know it.
Sharon's condition is serious - he has real and continuing infirmities; stable - his condition is not becoming worse; and critical - he is suffering from conditions that could kill him. Other than more labeling, that is all medical science can tell you.
ROBERT J. BALLANTYNE
Bowen Island, British Columbia
Sir, - It is obvious Amir Mizroch is not a health reporter. So why add his two cents to the cloudy reporting surrounding the PM's medical condition - why not just consult one of the hundreds of general/trauma surgeons working in Israel? The resources are available. Israel is in the forefront of medical care and research.
It is a tribute to Sharon's surgeons that the problem was identified and acted upon so rapidly. What more do you expect them to tell you? They don't have a crystal ball.
JERRY HAMM M.D.
Amir Mizroch responds: The point of my article was that almost none of the reporters on the scene was in any way qualified to probe the prime minister's condition.
Love these, lock those up
Sir, - What made Amona different from Gush Katif? The answer lies in three different groups of settlers:
The rationals - who have either found themselves on the wrong side of the fence and want to move back to Israel, or are willing to leave if asked by the state. They deserve gratitude and compensation for their homes.
The emotionals - who do not wish to leave their homes but respect the state enough to allow themselves to be forced out (for example, the settlers who cried with IDF soldiers on their way out of Gaza.) They deserve our love.
The radicals - and the hilltop youth, who value the Land of Israel more than the state or relations with fellow Jews. They should be told: "Don't do unto Jews what Hamas would." They are dividing our nation and are therefore Hamas's best friend. They deserve to be locked up.
So what was the difference between Gush Katif and Amona? All three types of settlers were present at both sites; however, since the former evacuations were scattered and the latter all at one spot, the radicals could concentrate themselves there. Perhaps the government can take that into account for the next round.
Sir, - Yosef Goell's "The full pioneering spirit" (February 6) reminded me of a conversation I had over 30 years ago. I had visited Yehoshua Dayan - a distant relative and son of Eliyahu Dayan, one of the founders of Nahalal - at Kibbutz Ein Hashofet and he was driving me back to my sister-in-law's kibbutz, Sarid. He pointed to the fields on our way and said, "We have conquered these lands." I did not quite understand, so he explained how he and his cohorts had come to the land, worked on it and made it bloom.
Ein Hashofet is, as you know, associated with the left-wing Hashomer Hatza'ir.
IDA SELAVAN SCHWARCZ
Sir, - "Hamas has arrived at the doors of power through legitimate elections," says Vladimir Putin ("Turkey follows Putin Hamas lead," February 12). Putin should be reminded that in 1933 Hitler also "arrived at the doors of power through legitimate elections." The decision by the nations of the world to engage in diplomacy with him, despite his declared intentions, led to World War II, one of the greatest disasters in human history.
Hamas has likewise not concealed its terrorist ideals and plans, and yet Putin would have us repeat the dreadful mistakes of the 1930s. Let us hope the rest of the civilized world has learned the bitter lesson of history and will not follow his example.
Sir, - It's heartening to see an ex-KGB figure defending the principles of democracy. Perhaps someone in Russia might remind Vladimir Putin that around 20 million USSR citizens died during World War II as a result of Germany's democratic elections in 1933.
Sir, - I have no problem with the leaders of Hamas travelling to Russia. In fact, I would encourage them to do so, if the Israeli government barred their return.
Dream of independence
Sir, - How I wish the Zionist dream would come true - to be rid of the "old Jew," the whining, cringing figure who asked permission for everything from leaving his village to burying his dead.
Despite the image of powerful arrogance that plagues the IDF throughout the world, our country sadly lacks courage. Would Russia sit by as another country invited Samil Basayev, the Chechen leader responsible for the massacre of children at the school in Beslan, to hold talks; or the US countenance a government inviting Osama bin Laden or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to its capital for talks? I would love to see Israel announcing to the world that not only will it not talk to Hamas, it will cut off relations with countries that engage the terrorist organization diplomatically, election results notwithstanding.
Imagine Israel acting like any other country, not needing anyone's permission to exist. Wouldn't that be a sight? ("Russia's policies are anti-US, not anti-Israel," February 12.)
Sir, - When we define matters clearly, we can deal with them. It's time to divide Muslims into three groups:
â€¢ Islamists who want to rule the world on behalf of Islam;
â€¢ moderate Islamists, who are unconcerned about whether democracy and freedom or Islamism prevails; and
â€¢ moderate Muslims, who object to Islamism and stand up for the rights of their own and others' religions.
In addition, apolo-Islamists should be the appelation for those who continually apologize for the Islamists.
Sir, - Dan Pattir and The Jerusalem Post are to be commended for their bravery in reproducing a collection of anti-Semitic cartoons ("Graphic anti-Semitism," February 12).
Silence is golden...
Sir, - Many years ago, in a small city in Ohio called Painesville, the Klu Klux Klan was going to march down the city streets. In the US the KKK has the right to march peacefully, no matter how distasteful it is to the rest of us. The mayor, however, asked protesters to stay home, the media not to cover the event, and the rest of the population to ignore this group. Everybody complied and the KKK got no publicity, no free forum to spread their message. They never went back to Painesville.
Many people are ranting and raving about some stupid anti-Islamic cartoons I would never have heard of if it hadn't been for the news coverage they are generating. Some protesters have died. Another individual is planning to insult the Jewish community with a "Holocaust cartoon contest."
Rather than start another round of printing and reprinting hateful material, why not follow the mayor of Painesville's example and ask the world to ignore it? ("Denmark urges its citizens to leave Indonesia, citing threats over cartoons," February 12).
...sadly, not always
Sir, - Currently ministering in the Church of England, we write to express our dismay and great sadness at the General Synod's divestment vote on February 6. We certainly align ourselves with Lord Carey's comment: "ashamed to be an Anglican."
We deplore the fact that a counter-motion offered by Anglicans for Israel was not able to be presented; also that there was no compassionate consideration of the sufferings of Israeli citizens due to terrorist action. We shall continue to support and pray for Israel.
CANON ANDY & MRS. JILL EDWARDS
Loss of a love
Sir, - Re Yehuda Avner's "A jilted love affair in Africa" (February 9): Africa certainly has felt the loss of a love by neglecting Israel. The Palestinians did a good job of wooing Africa, but all we have to show for it is empty stomachs and run-down economies. Now we are experiencing food shortages even in countries where there are plenty of water sources for irrigation, and we are reduced to begging for food aid.
The world would have been a better place if it had embraced Israel. As it is written "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you."
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania