Sir, - We, as vice-president of the European Parliament and chairman of the European Parliament delegation to observe the Palestinian elections, and vice-chair, find the nature of the open letter to the Palestinian Electoral Commission, published in your January 23 edition over the names of a number of our colleagues, inept as to timing and content.
The Palestinian people are about to vote in an election which is of profound significance both for them and for the region. The open letter, which clearly derives from Israeli sources, represents the one-sided propaganda which Europe learned generations ago to despise.
We are satisfied that our positive approach to the future of the region represents the view of the vast majority of Members of the European Parliament.
Sir, - It is beyond me how a convicted murderer serving a life sentence can be allowed to pontificate about and, indeed, take part in the Palestinian election ("Barghouti calls for Fatah-Hamas unity," January 23). Israel is correctly described as the only democracy in the Middle East, but it appears to be a democracy gone mad when it sanctions such blatant use of propaganda by a jailed felon bent on the destruction of our country and people.
Sir, - In the last year it is with great sadness that I have been watching how strong forces in my country have started to hate Jews and Israel. These forces are, for instance, the political parties RV and SV. But also among the general public in Norway there is a growing hate toward Israel and Jews.
Also with great sadness I have to admit that the Norwegian media is not telling the truth about Israel but participating in creating this anti-Jewish and anti-Israel feeling. I am working against this rapidly-growing hate in our society. By doing this I want to participate in making Norway a safe country for Jews.
One of the ways in which we are working is to write letters to Norwegian newspapers informing them about the truth. I know I am not alone in Norway doing this.
Sir, - Many Americans, and people around the world, still do not understand the real problems in the Middle East. They don't understand that we face a clash of cultures with much of the Islamic world. Simply by being in the region and displacing some Palestinians, Israel has become the main focus of Arab hate.
Unfortunately, Israel has developed its own tribal mind-set in regard to the Palestinians. Shimon Peres proposed a workable solution over a decade ago, but nobody listened. It was to create a more inclusive process over time so Jerusalem would become an international city that would have all religious groups represented.
Separation just will not work in the long run. America and Europe have discovered that to get along, you have to have a more inclusive society, or face continuous conflict.
'Munich' is no morale-booster
Sir, - My wife, a friend and I saw Munich recently and I agree entirely with Alan Dershowitz's analysis ("Spielberg's fictions," January 23). I believe that if Spielberg had handled the movie more honestly and less violently it could have been an important morale-booster in the war against terrorism.
I was in Israel in September 1972 and I remember the horror of the Munich murders. I lived through the major IRA campaigns in London, and was in New York for 9/11, and in London for 7/7.
There is no moral equivalency, no ambiguity.
Israel, London and New York, like it or not, are in the front lines. We need supporters, not fifth columnists.
Sir, - I read with great interest your article about Uzi Dayan and his Tafnit party ("Dayan plan retains settlement blocs, Jordan Valley, Jerusalem," January 24). Dayan seems to be one of those rare Israeli politicians with a straight backbone, very much unlike the leaders of Kadima, Likud and Labor.
He and his Tafnit party seems to be a good choice for the some 50% of Israelis who are uncertain and do not yet know whom and what they will vote for.
Heartless on Pollard
Sir, - January 17 was a black day in the annals of our people. The court decision denying Jonathan Pollard Prisoner of Zion status was ugly, inhumane and anti-democratic ("High Court rules Pollard can't be recognized as 'Prisoner of Zion,'" January 17).
One hundred and two elected MKs voted yes, but the self-appointed justices seem to lack Jewish and Zionist principles.
Hasn't Pollard suffered enough? Jews are expected to behave as rahmanim bnei rachmanim - merciful from father down to son - and not as heartless, mindless technocrats.
RABBI PINCHAS STOLPER
Lakewood, New Jersey
Sir, - We are all shattered by the needless, tragic death of Andy Bronfman in a shocking traffic "accident" in New York ("Philanthropist Andrea Bronfman, 60, killed in New York accident," January 24). The Bronfman family are amongst Israel's most dedicated supporters, caring deeply for the quality of life in our land.
We, to whom safety on our roads and in our streets is paramount, share the grief of the family at this time.
National Chairman Metuna Road Safety Organization
Sir, - Instead of all the sad news we get all the time I would like to read again in your paper some of Sam Orbaum's columns.
They were so enjoyable.
Fixing the problem
Sir, - In "Where have all the rabbis gone?" (January 22) Marvin Schick correctly pointed out that shuls and schools are losing talented people - and he provides a very plausible explanation by suggesting that the jobs themselves have become increasingly burdensome. He also provides a very logical solution to the problem: Offer better salaries and working conditions so that young graduates will be enticed to enter, and remain, in the rabbinate and in Jewish education.
However, Schick dilutes his own argument by maintaining that Rabbis Kenneth Brander and Ronald Schwartzberg, who both recently left their pulpits, would have made more of a contribution to Jewish life by staying in their respective jobs.
It's only natural for two respected and highly successful rabbis who have already accomplished much in their local communities to seek out new challenges in the national and international arenas.
In addition, in their new positions at Yeshiva University both rabbis will be responsible for recruiting, training and educating a new generation of talented Jewish leaders, who will be able to fill local jobs at synagogues and schools across the globe.
Ironically, the new jobs these two rabbis have assumed are directly related to fixing the problem Dr. Schick is describing.
Let's certainly strive to make working conditions better for teachers and rabbis, as your columnist suggests. At the same time let's also find the talented leaders able to prepare these individuals for rewarding careers.
Sir, - By all accounts Tzipi Livni is smart, serious, honest, and highly competent. If she is to succeed as our foreign minister, however, she will need something more - charm.
I have never seen the woman really smile. She should take a leaf out of Condi Rice's book and stop looking like Ninotchka pre-love and Paris.
Creation? It's recent!
Sir, - As an Orthodox Jew Jonathan Rosenblum should have courageously cut to the chase and taken a more assertive stance in proclaiming the Torah's chronology ("Charlie Darwin's angels," UpFront (January 13).
"Those well meaning persons who felt impelled to interpret certain passages in the Torah differently from the time-honored tradition did so only in the mistaken belief that the Torah view on the age of the world was at variance with science; otherwise they would not have sought new interpretations in the Torah.
"There is no need to seek new reinterpretations in the Torah to 'reconcile' them with science" (Lubavitcher Rebbe).
Included in the vast body of solid scientific evidence for a young universe are: the rate of decrease of the earth's and sun's magnetic fields, the rate of decrease in the size of the solar disc, the high residual warmth of the moon and mere half-inch of dust on its surface (which amazed the Apollo astronauts, who had been told to expect to be swamped!); the decrease in the speed of light, the paucity of helium and micro-meteoric dust in the atmosphere, the rate of mineral deposition into the oceans, the fallacious premises of radiometric dating, the still "unwrapped" state of the arms of the great spiral galaxies, the thickness of Saturn's rings, the continued existence of short-term comets, human population statistics, the complete dearth of any human record or artifact older than 6,000 years, polystrate fossils, the non-organic theory of the origin of oil, dendochronolgy (no tree older than 5,100 years can be found!), and pleochroic haloes.
All indicate an astounding recency of creation.