Sir, - I am concerned that your editorial "The alternative to wishful thinking" (January 24) did not accurately reflect the interview I conducted with Marwan Barghouti in prison last Sunday. You say he "left no doubt as to his authentic support for terrorism," using as proof his statement that "the Palestinian people... have got the full right to resist Israeli military operations in the occupied territories in any way." You do not mention the following exchange:
Lindsey Hilsum: "So what is your view now on suicide bombings, which are continuing, there was a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv the other day?"
Marwan Barghouti: "We are against this."
LH: "Yes, but what is your opinion of Palestinians who do... that?"
MB: "I think the Israelis didn't help the Palestinians with their internal discussion to reach to the point about that. More than any time the Palestinians were very close to taking a decision on that. But Israelis in the intifada killed 800 Palestinian children."
LH: "Does that justify Palestinians killing Israeli children?"
MB: "No. In any case no one can justify killing civilians - children, women, anywhere in this world. They should be outside of the game. It should be very clear. In Palestine or in Israel."
As the reporter who conducted the interview, I noted that he made a clear statement against suicide bombings and the killing of women and children.
I understand that many of your readers may be cynical about what Marwan Barghouti says, but I feel they should get the full picture.
Channel 4 News
Child of a myth
Sir, - Prisons Service Spokesman Ofer Lefler approves of freeing Marwan Barghouti from jail because "he is capable of calming the Palestinian street" and is "a moderating influence" ("Only a matter of time?," David Horovitz, January 20). And, indeed, in a January 15 Washington Post op-ed titled "Want Security? End the Occupation"
Barghouti claimed he was "neither a terrorist nor pacifistâ€¦ Simply a regular guy from the Palestinian street advocating what every other oppressed person has advocated - the right to help myself in the absence of help from anyone else." Reasonable, no?
Barghouti was convicted in an Israeli civilian court of murder and attempted murder. As a Fatah commander he was involved in every aspect of recruiting and sending people to carry out terrorist acts.
Born in 1960, he was only about eight when Yasser Arafat suddenly announced that his Palestinian Arabs were no longer just "part of the great Arab nation," but "The Palestinian people." Does Barghouti know, for example, that until 1950 The Jerusalem Post was The Palestine Post, that Bank Leumi was the Anglo-Palestine Bank, that the Israel Electric Company was the Palestine Electric Company, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra the Palestine Symphony Orchestra? For two decades after the establishment of our state the term "Palestinian" was applied almost exclusively to Jews - even by Arabs, who rejected it for that reason.
Barghouti is the child of a myth. Nevertheless, Israel went along with it in the hope that once on the road to an independent state, the Palestine Arabs would relinquish their genocidal intent. Ofer Lefler's stand on freeing Barghouti is where myth and illusion meet.
Keeping up appearances
Sir, - While attempting to demonstrate that Hamas is altering its attitude so that it more closely resembles the PA/PLO approach of "stages," Yoni Ben-Menachem made a basic factual error in "Pragmatic fanatics" (January 24). He referred to "principles the PLO had to scrap from its charter after signing the Oslo Accords."
But the PLO never changed its charter. What it did was give the semblance of having done so by selecting a committee to make the necessary changes; and while the world celebrated the changes the reality is that the committee never even met.
Hamas, then, does not need to change to become like the PLO. It already is like the PLO (and Fatah) in its stated goal of destroying Israel. The lesson is not that Hamas's apparent moderation is illusory, but that this has been the case with the PLO/PA all along.
Losing the war
Sir, - In "Israel needn't lose the war" (January 24) Caroline Glick quoted Acting PM Ehud Olmert as warning his government ministers not to comment on the Palestinians' upcoming election so as to avoid possibly being criticized for "meddling" in their internal affairs. She suggested that this course was mistaken, and that Israel should publicize far and wide the terroristic and genocidal nature of all the Palestinian political groups, and not just Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The principal trouble with this analysis is that no one, not even the Israel government, really cares about these things.
Even if Hamas wins a landslide victory the Europeans and the Americans will still contribute vast sums of money to support the Palestinian Authority, and the international media will still trumpet the justice and legitimacy of the Palestinian cause and condemn Israel as the source of evil in the world.
And, not to be outdone, the various Israeli political parties are already searching for a way to justify negotiating further concessions, even with Kassam missiles ready to fall on Tel Aviv and Ashdod.
KENNETH S. BESIG
Sir, - Ehud Olmert and Shaul Mofaz have some nerve to send 1,500 officers to Hebron and Amona ("Amona outpost to be emptied by end of next week," January 25). The Olmert government is only a caretaker until the March election.
And couldn't those officers be put to better use beefing up security in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during these volatile times?
Remember what happened in Tel Aviv only a week ago.
Sir, - Great plaudits should be given to the Chabad outreach program, which has done great work in introducing Judaism to lost Jewish souls. That said, in all the letters about Chabad recently published in the Post no one has mentioned that it has been called "the closest religion to Judaism."
Why? Because it has become a new religion. In the words of Brooklyn College professor David Berger:
A "dominant faction within Lubavitch believes that their late rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, will be resurrected from the dead to become the Messiah... such beliefs are tantamount to idol-worship, even Christianity, and Chabad texts are suspect."
Ask Lubavitcher hassidim if their Rebbe is "resting in peace," and many will not answer.
I would steer clear of any minyan that begins its prayers with the designation "Yehi adoneinu" ("Long live our eternal Lord"), referring to their late Rebbe as Moshiach.
Down to the depths
Sir, - Repulsive as it is, I can understand Iran's fanatical obsession with Israel on political grounds. But by engaging in state-sponsored Holocaust denial Iran is descending into base, racist anti-Semitism.
May God have mercy on all those evil souls involved in this ("Iran defends parley probing Holocaust," January 25).
Sir - Your editorial "The poverty debate" (January 25) states the facts pretty clearly, but the headline you chose is a misnomer.
There is no debate. It's a fact that poverty is getting worse every year, and more and more people - elderly, children, single mothers, etc. - are suffering from it.
It doesn't matter how you attempt to find excuses for poverty. It exists - and how !
You're right: Somebody should find a remedy for it.
But don't make excuses.Do something.
Right to worry
Sir, - Re "Hoenlein: Sentence given to Franklin 'disturbing'" (January 23): Malcolm Hoenlein is right to be disturbed by the US Department of Justice's actions against - and attitudes toward - Larry Franklin and Rosen/Weissman (and, by innuendo, AIPAC). You get the feeling that nothing makes its day like the possibility of highlighting the "dual loyalties" they just know all Jews have.
Remember Martin Indyk and the classified docs he took home? While such lapses in security were known to be pervasive among diplomats, it was a Jew who was the first to be nabbed for this "crime."
Then there was David Tenenbaum, a weapons research analyst whom the US Army falsely accused of sharing classified documents with Israeli military officials (he was never charged); and Adam Ciralsky, a young lawyer at the CIA who was headed for a job at the White House - until he was questioned by the CIA about his "Jewish connections."
Real Israeli life
Sir, - It was an honor to be written up in Greer Fay Cashman's Grapevine column of January 18 as a model for other "well-educated new immigrants" who have left Israel in discouragement rather than pursue innovative options for employment.
However, my contact details weren't included. Post readers who want to enquire about our dynamic speakers who address the realities of life here in Israel can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling
Let My People Know
Calling Sica Joseffson
Sir, - Originally from Romania, I grew up in Unirii Street in the city of Buzau, in the same house as a Jewish family. Their names were Iancu and Ella Joseffson, and they had two sons, Sica and Lucu. Sica was like a brother to me.
After they emigrated to Israel, around 40 years ago, we lost contact. Then I emigrated to the US.
Many times I think about Sica and how much I would like to contact him. A few years ago one of my high school classmates met him in London - but at that point he didn't know my whereabouts.
Can anyone help me find Sica before I go to see my Maker?