'Dr. Zhivago' playing on the hill at Amona
Sir, - Starting from age 15, I attended dozens of demonstrations in England, legal and illegal. In the 1940s we demonstrated against the British government's treatment of the Yishuv. In the 1960s we rallied against the Soviet regime's treatment of the Jews of the Soviet Union. In the 1970s huge numbers protested against Arab governments for having attacked Israel on Yom Kippur, and in the 1980s we held a huge demonstration in Trafalgar Square protesting Arab terrorism under the slogan "P-L-O, No-No-No!"
On all these occasions police, including mounted police, were present to control the crowds, but never - never - did policemen on horseback wielding batons charge into an unarmed crowd. The scenes on our TV screens last week were reminiscent of the opening shots of Dr. Zhivago.
Such behavior is unacceptable in any Western, democratic society. Those who gave the orders should draw the necessary conclusions and resign before anyone else gets hurt ("Unprecedented violence as IDF razes Amona homes," February 2).
Sir, - I am not taking sides when I write that Jew-on-Jew violence has to stop for two main reasons. One is that violence is futile and will not get anyone what they want. The other is that hatred destroys. It can destroy a human being, and it can destroy a country.
This type of violence will play right into the hands of Israel's enemies. Enough!
Sir, - A few years ago I watched my teenage children ride an emotional roller-coaster when their close friends and classmates were hurt and killed by suicide terrorists. It's really scary to see my younger children, now teenagers, riding a similar emotional roller-coaster when their close friends and classmates are hurt by our own forces in Amona.
Sir, - Ehud Olmert, Shaul Mofaz and the Supreme Court are as culpable as the Special Police Units, Border Police and soldiers. Club-wielding automatons acting on orders from our "legal" authorities reminded one of the savage beatings inflicted on the "illegal" civil rights activists in America. Our armed forces, whom we so much admired and thought so morally superior to other countries', have lost their luster. Their bloodstained batons and uniforms were testament to their descent into brutality.
CAROLE AND HOWARD SHERBY
Sir, - The scene of Jews being beaten by fellow Jews in their homeland should never be repeated.
Sir, - Blaming the security forces for using "excess force" in Amona is not only ludicrous - it's cruel. In 1987, during the first intifada, Israel was constantly chastised for shooting at young Palestinian "stone-throwers" when, in reality, these youngsters were dropping cinder blocks and boulders on our soldiers' heads with the intention to kill or severely maim.
Neither Jew nor Palestinian using such weapons can expect a targeted police officer not to react to this very real threat to life and limb. As the government often said then: It isn't only bullets that are fatal.
Unfortunately, given the volatile political period we've entered, we will continue to hear about the "selfless martyrs" among the demonstrators and the "overly-zealous, even cruel" security forces, and there will be endless cries for commissions of inquiry and investigation.
The one thing no one seems to consider is learning lessons from these incidents. Who needs Hamas? We're destroying Israel quite efficiently from within.
Sir, - A strange smell is coming over the hills, the smell of bad parenting and irresponsible educators. Our role as parents and teachers is to educate our children to respect the law and good citizenship, nonviolence and healthy living so they may grow up to be good people. It is our job to protect and nurture them - not to send them out to be our pawns in a media war exploiting their parents' and teachers' frustrations and anger.
It sounds familiar, children throwing rocks at policemen and soldiers. Didn't they do that in the intifada? ("The new anarchists,' February 2).
Sir, - I took offense at Gerald Schor's comparing my sons at Amona to juvenile suicide bombers ("Sauce for the goose?" Letters, February 1).
I did not send them to break the law, rather to participate in a protest. In my naivete I imagined my sons lying down in front of bulldozers or joining hands on the roofs to try and stop the destruction, as was done at Maon Farms six years earlier.
I was not prepared for the violence perpetrated by the police who, with their batons, horses and rubber bullets, stormed Amona at 3 o'clock in the morning, before a decision had been handed down by the Supreme Court.
ESTER KATZ SILVERS
Sir, - It's a shame your letterwriter cannot distinguish between "youngsters who infiltrate into Israel with explosives" intending to blow themselves to smithereens along with as many Israeli civilians as possible, and a group of youngsters entering empty houses slated for demolition in defiance of a law they believe unjust.
Had such "illegal protests" not been launched against discriminatory racial laws in Mississippi and other southern US states - and many protests did turn violent - those laws would still be in place. The protests were successful because parents and leaders in the black and white communities joined hands with their protesting teenagers; whereas here and now, rather than being sent off by their parents to break the law, as your correspondent imagines, many protesting teenagers are disappointed and angry that parents and community leaders have not been as actively supportive of their initiative as they had hoped.
RITA B. KROPF
Sir, - I am really puzzled about why advance notice of the demolition was given, why the authorities did not wait a week or two until the protesters had dispersed, and then act. The three essentials of any military operation are: surprise, surprise, surprise.
Sir, - I believe the Supreme Court, by denying the occupants' request to carry out the dismantling of the homes themselves, ignited the ensuing melee. The court could easily have given them an opportunity to take down the houses, under police supervision, thereby avoiding the show of hatred and dissension among Jews.
But the court is stacked, and had no interest in doing that.
HOWARD N. GOLDSMITH
Sir, - I am distraught at the thought that our acting prime minister did not have enough sense to tell his officers: "Cool it, hevre. If you keep this up, you will cost me the election." I am distraught at the thought that he did not have the minimal political skills to remove nine illegal buildings without causing injury to almost 200 people, including MKs.
How could our acting prime minister, who claims he is following in the footsteps of Ariel Sharon, have forgotten that the prime minister managed to evacuate some 9,000 people in more than 22 settlements without inflicting serious injury and sending horsemen to trample young people?
RABBI SHLOMO WEXLER
Sir, - How can an acting prime minister - of a breakaway party - who was not elected, make a major decision to destroy Jewish communities two months before an election? The only possible reason is: to earn votes in that election.
Sir, - Just three years ago Ehud Olmert cooperated in the publication of a 170-page study entitled "Illegal Housing in Jerusalem," concluding that it had reached "epidemic proportions," with 6,000 unlawful buildings in Israeli Arab neighborhoods in the city. Nothing was ever done to destroy those illegal buildings. Last week thousands of troops were sent in to remove nine Jewish homes, whose "illegality" is not that clear. Can anyone imagine so many troops being sent in to do the same to some Arab buildings?
Sir, - There is a profound difference between illegal construction done by private individuals and illegal construction in places like Amona. In the latter case the State of Israel and its agents facilitated and participated in breaking the law, even, perhaps, stealing the properties of others. Those nine structures could not have been built without the approval and money provided by local and regional councils, ministries and other official bodies.
We should all recognize the dangers when the state upon which we rely for protection against lawlessness becomes the lawbreaker. At last the government decided it could no longer accept a situation in which official organs openly disobey its policies and ignore decrees of the courts.
The evacuation of Amona by force was a painful but necessary first step in the reestablishment of the rule of law, without which we will descend into anarchy. Just look on the other side of the fence to see what happens to a society that refuses to understand this elementary principle.
Sir, - Let us not get "Amona" out of perspective. The self-analysis and internal angst is unnecessary. A hotheaded group of people refused to be moved and fought the police. This scenario takes place all over the world every week. Civic disobedience and rebelling against authority has gone on for centuries. Why should Israel be immune? Treat it with the disdain it deserves, and get over it.
Sir, - Maybe if a similar level of duress was used to control the Knesset, our elected officials would show up for sessions, remain true to the people who elected them, and not constantly change their parties.