Words to the wise
Sir, - In support of Elihu Richter's views ("'Indict Iran leader for crimes vs humanity,'" November 4) it is worth noting that a few years ago, the International Tribunal for Rwanda indicted three media executives for "incitement to genocide and crimes against humanity" and sentenced them to between 10 and 30 years in prison. These people were not convicted for what they did, but for what they said.
The difference between the Rwandans and Iran's President Ahmadinejad is that the former were only convicted many years after the massacre of 800,000 people took place. Should we wait for a new massacre or nip this evil in the bud?
Sir, - Of particular interest in Daniel Pipes's "Genocidal designs" (November 2) is his reminder that Iran's Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said: "...application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same would just produce minor damages in the Muslim world."
Note that Rafsanjani refers to the "Muslim world" and not to Iran. If Islam, rather than Iranian nationalism, predominates in the minds of Iranian leaders, the threat is worse than we think. With the penchant of fanatic Islamists for acts of suicide to further jihad, Rafsanjani's statement could indicate a willingness to sacrifice millions of Iranians and a portion of Iran itself in order to eradicate Israel - while leaving most of the House of Islam intact.
Checkpoints and balances
Sir, - Since Sebastia symbolized for many the beginning of Israeli settlement in Samaria some 30 years ago, I was intrigued by "A happy Id al-Fitr in Sebastia" (November 4) and began to read. The almost blissful tale of the Zayed family rising in the morning to celebrate the holiday suddenly changed in tone to a description of this family being "isolated - locked between two checkpoints."
A few years ago, my three-year-old son and I were shot and wounded by Arab terrorists on the roads of Samaria, at a time when many other Jews were wounded or murdered for the "crime" of living in the Biblical heartland of Israel.
The inconvenience of the checkpoints for Arabs pales in comparison with the continuing danger of terrorism on our roads and in our cities.
Hamas in elections
Sir, - I think Hamas should be allowed to participate in the upcoming Palestinian elections ("Mofaz to Rice: We won't meddle in PA elections," November 4). This way Israel will know exactly where it stands with the Palestinians. If they reject Hamas there could be a possibility of reconciliation. If the Palestinians support Hamas in large numbers Israel would know that reconciliation is impossible right now.
Sir, - Maybe in light of the news coming out of France where full-scale rioting has erupted in major cities ("Unrest spreads in France," November 6) the Israeli government should issue a travel advisory warning against visiting France!
'Rosa Parks attitude'
Sir, - In light of "Separate seating drives controversy over Egged's mehadrin bus lines," (November 4), I have come to the conclusion that Israeli women should take a "Rosa Parks attitude" and refuse to let haredi men rule the roost on public transport.
Mrs. Park bravely refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955, even though it was his legal right to demand that she move. Haredi men don't even have the law on their side, yet they grab the seats at the front.
The bus I take home passes through a haredi area. If there is a seat next to a woman I will take it. Far be it from me to deliberately offend anyone's religious sensibilities. But if not, I will sit next to a haredi man. I get looked at and tuts of disapproval, but I regard it as their problem.
Mrs. Parks said she was tired of being shoved around because she was black. I'm tired of haredi men trying to shove me around because I'm a woman.
Sir, - Let me get this straight. According to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the haredi population doesn't halachically require buses with separate seating, but according to Shlomo Rosenstein, coordinator of public transportation for the Haredi community, "if it is possible to sanctify ourselves, why not?" In addition, some lines serving the haredi population charge lower fares.
In other words, if Egged is offering to subsidize routes with separate seating at the expense of the general public, why refuse?
It's not clear to me why we need a taxpayer-subsidized bus company with its own socio-economic policy.
Sir, - Israeli ambassadors definitely deserve credit for the unanimous UN resolution on adopting a worldwide day to commemorate the Holocaust ("UN adopts Holocaust day," November 2).
The change in attitude towards Israel at the UN was driven significantly by President George Bush. It was his public rebuke of the UN and his appointment of John Bolton that made the changes in the UN that we are now seeing. Let's give appropriate credit where it is due.
Sir, - What a wonderful feeling it was to read "The UN vote" (November 3) and enjoy the schadenfreude imagining the reaction of former UN secretary-general Kurt Waldheim as the UN adopted a worldwide Holocaust commemoration day. Given the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel resolutions passed by the UN while he was its leader, this development was good for our hearts.
Democracy and religion
Sir, - I made aliya in July 2004 and nothing in Israel's political discourse has so astonished me as as the invective that the Left pours out on religious Zionism.
Caroline Glick draws our attention to Labor MK Ephraim Sneh's call for a civil war against religious Zionists, modeled on the American Civil War ("The scarlet letter," November 4).
In response to Sneh I would suggest reflection on the words of a truly great democrat, Abraham Lincoln who, in the midst of that terrible war, chose as the penultimate statement in his second inaugural address, these words from scripture: "Woe unto the world because of offenses... but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh" (Matthew 18:7). Lincoln knew better than to endorse the absurd idea that religion has no place in democracy.
Judging spiritual paths
Sir, - Why is it that people think Madonna's - or anybody else's - religious pursuits are their business? In my chosen field of spiritual study, I have learned that any path which leads one to God is a righteous path. Madonna, like so many of us, is merely looking for her own path to God. Who is to judge this? Sharon Osbourne? She wants to punch Madonna for searching for a path that will lead her to God ("Madonna fumes over Kabbala criticism," November 2)! Truly, what is this world coming to when we judge and condemn each other for our spirituality?
Sir, - In advocating media interviews of Yigal Amir ("It's time for the media to do their job," November 4), Anshel Pfeffer states that it is the duty of the media to provide understanding of the man and his actions.
It seems to me that a cold-blooded murderer would have no qualms about filling his replies to questions with lies. Thus, if interviews were to have any meaning, they would need to be done with the application of a lie detector.
MONTY M. ZION
Sir,- Larry Derfner calls for the Labor party to rediscover itself, and adopt an economic policy which he defines as a "war on poverty" ("A 'New Labor' for Israel," November 3), while he favors Histadrut leader Amir Peretz to lead the party. Peretz stands for high taxation, high government spending, welfare handouts, monopoly on power by strong workers' committees, endless strikes and stifling of private initiative and enterprise.
It is economic growth which is the only proven and genuine "war on poverty." Most of the world has already realized that Peretz's classic socialist economic policies are disastrous, especially for the poor.
Ironically, the very party that coined the term "New Labour" (in the UK) ditched these dinosaur ideas years ago.
ANTHONY AND JUDITH LUDER
Sir, - When on a bus or in crowds, I try to be very conscious of things happening around me. Recently, I have noticed when shopping at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem that, while there are plenty of police and soldiers visible, they don't seem to be checking the people entering. They stand in groups and talk to each other and I don't feel comfortable shopping there as a result. With recent high-alert levels why are we lax?
Search for survivors
Sir, - Before she passed away, my mother Maria would often reminisce about the poor, melancholy Jewish children whom she briefly cared for in our hideaway on the slopes of Mt. Etna during WWII. My mother had been told by one of our relatives, who was collaborating with the Allies, that the children were from the northern Europe and had come through Sicily via back roads to avoid the retreating Germans. The children were trying to make their way to what was to be their new homeland, Palestine. Each group traveled with two or three adults.
In 1948 we emigrated to the United States.
About a year before she died I promised my mother that I would try find out what happened to them. Can your readers suggest what might be the best way for me to do so? Thank you in advance for any help or suggestions.
ANTHONY CARACCIOLO DI MARANO-DUCARNE