Sir, - A fabulously wealthy American donates to and has dealings with diverse Israeli politicians Ehud Olmert and Shimon Peres. The actions are two years old. The investigations come to light a month before election day.
Sounds like politics as usual to me. Anyone smell a rat? ("Comptroller investigating sale of Olmert's house," February 22.)
Sir, - If the Comptroller's investigation of the sale of Ehud Olmert's house was leaked, the Comptroller should examine his own department - because this is scandalous and reprehensible. If it is standard policy to go to the press with investigations he is conducting the Comptroller should, in all conscience, provide a full list of all possible delinquents.
'Feel-good' can be bad
Sir, - The Hamas victory is full of danger. That is why Israel should avoid pronouncements which have little practical significance except the "feel-good" factor ("Peres on Hamas: 'What are people scared of?'" February 22.)
Let Hamas make mistakes. Let the world see what it really is. Don't help it with gratuitous declarations about future borders or withholding money. Hamas, and the Palestinians in general, are masters of using Israeli pronouncements against Israel.
Let Israel's leaders ponder before making statements which help its enemies.
West Palm Beach, Florida
Beware a repeat of this trickery
Sir, - So Hamas is talking about a 10-year hudna or cease-fire? ("Hamas working on 'new charter'... which will still call for end to Israel," February 17.) Very clever. Hamas wants to do just what Muhammad did.
He gave his enemy a peace treaty, so the enemy relaxed while Muhammad built up his forces. Ten years later he attacked his enemy and wiped it out. I hope the Israeli government will not fall for this trickery.
MORDECHAI BEN NATAN
What to lose
Sir, - Terrorist groups are now firing rockets from Gaza at Ashkelon, and at the same time saying the Palestinians have nothing to lose. For a start, they should lose northern Gaza ("Ya'alon: Send troops into Gaza to stop Kassams," February 22).
Sir, - "Congress moving toward ban on aid to Hamas-led PA" (February 16) mischaracterized Israel Policy Forum's position. The letter sent from leaders of IPF, including myself, to co-sponsors of this bill - HR 4681, the US House of Representatives resolution, also called the "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 - stated that the bill "must be improved significantly in order for it to be effective."
IPF proposed detailed suggestions for improving - not "softening" - this bill so it would "enable the United States to more effectively protect and advance American and Israeli interests."
This bill, we wrote, should: ensure that no American funds are used to advance the goals or methods of Hamas; reinforce the US-led Quartet's stated position that there be no engagement with Hamas until it recognizes Israel, stops violence and agrees to abide by existing agreements with Israel; retain the Presidential Waiver so that aid can be provided directly to the PA; provide opportunities and even incentives for those in the PA who are prepared to forsake violence and accept the State of Israel, including those in Hamas who are willing to change their positions; reinforce the role of the PA so that Hamas must work with Mahmoud Abbas, who is still Palestinian president; assure that assistance is maintained for those Palestinians who need it and that US aid funds are properly monitored; recognize the necessity of gradations and informal agreements, rather than require immediate comprehensive change; enable the US to continue serving as a valuable third-party broker; emphasize both actions and ideology, so that a decision by Hamas to abstain from terrorist attacks, even without a formal agreement, is not dismissed; support genuine reform and reinforce the value of democracy.
Our letter also stated: "Hamas, as presently constituted, is not an appropriate partner for peace, and Congressionally appropriated funds must not fall into the hands of terrorists."
SEYMOUR D. REICH
President, Israel Policy Forum
Debt to the Danes
Sir, - Jews owe a great debt to the Danish people, who saved all their Jews from Hitler by boating them to Sweden in the dark of night. Let us urge our friends to buy Danish goods and counteract what the Danes are losing through being boycotted by the Arabs over the issue of the Muhammad cartoons.
And that is not to say we disrespect Arab feelings.
MARTIN H. LAX
Iran's other WMD
Sir, - It is clear that Iran is interested in acquiring WMD under the cover of a "peaceful" nuclear program. But Iranian leaders are currently using WMD to advance their perverted political program. They know, as do most Arab governments, that the next best thing to Weapons of Mass Destruction are Weapons of Mass Deception.
Let's hope Western civilization has the strength to fight both forms of WMD ("Israel concerned Iran-EU talks send wrong message," February 21).
Science sans morals
Sir, - To all the defenders of Darwin and detractors of Avi Shafran ("No DNA - no future," February 21) I offer the following thought: Does it really make a difference whether we are the product of evolution or of intelligent design? Science without morality gave us Dr. Mengele and the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
Sir, - I wish I had the gift of convincing people, but to put it in as few words as possible: This whole business of Moshiach - who is Moshiach, is he coming, when is he coming, who will accept him - all these questions can be answered by realizing that Moshiach is not a man, but a situation. When unity exists among us, that will be the time of Moshiach. We have to be blind not to see this, and the blessings that will come.
Abdullah, the actor
Sir, - Michael Freund is absolutely correct that the portrayal of Jordan's King Abdullah as a moderate is the result of Abdullah's great acting performance when he appears before Western audiences ("And the Oscar goes to - Jordan's King Abdullah," February 22). As Freund notes, Abdullah's Jordan welcomes Hamas and bars Jews from holding any land.
One unfortunate event not mentioned by your writer was the presentation to Abdullah by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of its 2005 Tolerance Award. Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Wiesenthal Center, led a 38-member delegation to Abdullah's palace to personally present this dubious and undeserved honor.
Hesder should go
Sir, - Re "Hesder yeshivot in jeopardy of disbandment" (February 22): I am of the opinion that hesder army units should be integrated into regular army units. I know of no other country that segregates its troops along religious lines. To foster a more egalitarian outlook among our young people and engender dialogue and openness we should surely encourage intermingling. Separate but equal has no place in a Jewish state.
If Jews were segregated (even voluntarily) into separate army units in the US I am sure there would be a huge uproar both here and in other Jewish communities.
Distinction, whether by socioeconomic class or religious affiliation, should be obliterated for the sake and survival of our country.
Sir, - Forty-eight years ago, as a teenage chaver of Bnei Akiva on his first visit to Israel, I joined the ranks of Yehuda Avner's "Rock harvesters of Galilee" (February 21) at the fledgling "British" Kibbutz Lavi. It was an experience that reinforced my Mizrachi upbringing and provided the impetus for my lifelong dream to settle in Israel.
Just 11 weeks ago that dream became a reality. The rock harvesters have long since gone, Lavi has flourished, and this former innocent has witnessed the vicissitudes that have shaped the Jewish world, for better or worse, over the past two generations.
But one thought prevails. The Israel I dwell in today is both vastly different from, yet uncannily similar to, the one upon whose soil I first stood some 60 visits ago. While the rocks may have vanished, they are ever-present in other guises.
The pioneering may be diminished, but it is as resolute as ever among sections of our youth. The kibbutz light may have dimmed, but its message yet illuminates a darkened road. Our boundaries may be enlarged and our contacts more widespread, but at the end of the day we have only ourselves - and our sense of survival - to fall back on.
Now more than ever we need to imbibe the spirit of the rock harvesters, to become rocks ourselves (though not use them against others); and we need to never forget that enveloping us all is the Rock of Israel, in whom repose our trust and our love.
Sir, - I was very pleased to learn that Yehuda Avner was relieved whilst constructing Kibbutz Lavi's first latrine.