Sir, - This is madness! Releasing 980 Palestinian terrorists for one Israeli soldier ("980 prisoners to be freed for Schalit, state tells court," November 30)? If Israel does this, it will be putting every Israeli - and in fact, every Jew - in the world in danger. How many terrorists might Israel release if the terror groups kidnap a rabbi, or a government official? Might it abandon the entire West Bank should the terrorists manage to hijack a whole plane of Jews? A bus?
In its overwhelming desire to be perceived as good, Israel is doing wrong. Dangerously wrong.
Highland Park, NJ
Freedom for all
Sir, - Contrary to reports in the press that the recent "Freedom March" in Jerusalem was organized and attended by secular groups, liberal religious groups also took part ("Barkat, vowing to run for one or two more terms, says Intel dispute is now being solved," November 29).
Among them was my congregation, M'vakshei Derech, a Reform-affiliated synagogue. We are proud to have struck a blow for religious freedom, and call upon all Israelis, regardless of identification, to continue the struggle until the freedom of religion promised by our Declaration of Independence is obtained.
Appreciating Israel's supporters...
Sir, - It is indeed appropriate to underscore the Costa Rican president's visit to President Shimon Peres, coinciding with the historic anniversary of UN Resolution 181 ("Costa Rican president visits Peres on 62nd anniversary of UN partition resolution for Palestine," November 30). Costa Rica has a rich democratic tradition, and it was one of the countries that supported the partition plan.
Coincidentally, just the day before, The Jerusalem Post published a most intriguing article by Mr. Baruch Tenembaum from the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which enlightens Angelo Roncalli's role in the creation of the State of Israel ("A tireless friend," November 29).
Both articles help us to better understand the context and to appreciate what Roncalli and Costa Rica mean for the Jewish people.
...and recognizing its detractors
Sir, - Zvi Schreiber makes the oft-expressed but still misleading assertion that "the PA and Arab League have repeatedly called for two states" ("Enough cliches," Letters, November 30). Fatah's charter continues to call for the destruction of Israel and describes the liberation of "Palestine" as a "national obligation." It goes without saying that Hamas views the total destruction of the "Zionist entity" as its primary raison d'etre.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials have repeatedly expressed a refusal to recognize Israel. Although some in the PA and the greater Arab world may grudgingly recognize its de facto existence, they steadfastly reject its intrinsic Jewishness. While the PLO said it would recognize Israel, its charter was never changed.
Until the Arabs acknowledge and accept the critical element of Israel's character as the rightful homeland of the Jewish people, any suggestion that they have recognized Israel's right to exist is self-deluding and dangerous.
EFRAIM A. COHEN
An answer for Barry Rubin
Sir, - Barry Rubin asks, regarding the recent settlement freeze, "Will the world give Israel any credit for making one more effort to show that it wants peace?... Is this going to affect the knee-jerk media view of Prime Minister Netanyahu as 'hard-line'?" ("More, more, more!," November 30)
Mr. Rubin needn't look far for the answer. If he scans down that same page of your newspaper, he will see Jeff Barak's column ("A change of heart? Not likely," November 30), which argues that, despite his direct statements to the contrary, "Netanyahu is not serious about reaching a deal with the Palestinians based on two states for two peoples."
It's not difficult to imagine the Palestinians pointing to the column written by Mr. Barak, an esteemed former editor-in-chief of your newspaper, as "proof" that Mr. Netanyahu is not to be trusted because he - and other people in his government - are "hard-line." Sadly, Mr. Barak proves Mr. Rubin's point beautifully.
More UN dialogue
Sir, - Chris Gunness's response to Michel Freund is remarkably naive for one so experienced in Middle Eastern affairs ("Fundamentally flawed," November 27). The word "pledged" appears four times in his letter. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a pledge is something deposited as security for the fulfillment of a contract, and not the actual handing over of money. It may be of interest to Mr. Gunness to know that the Arabs pledge and even promise many things to others, but rarely come up with the goods.
From Palin's mouth to God's ears
Sir, - In his article "Going rogue on the West Bank" (November 29), Michael Felsen berates Sarah Palin for saying that "more and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead."
All I can say is, "From her mouth to God's ears."
Ms. Palin added, "And I don't think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand."
My personal sense after reading the article is that Felsen believes that a) President Barack Obama does have that right, and b) an exodus of Jews from the Boston area and other places in the Diaspora to anywhere in our ancestral homeland would be of no great importance to the writer.
For the record, as an American expat, I proudly cast my absentee ballot for McCain-Palin in 2008 and would do so again in a heartbeat.
Sir, - While it is true that that the chronically sick toddler on dialysis died two days after receiving vaccination ("Sick toddler dies after H1N1 vaccination; two more adults die of the virus itself," November 27), an autopsy showed there was absolutely no link between these events. H1N1 vaccine is potentially life-saving and its side-effects are minor and rare.
DR. ANTHONY LUDER
Head of Department of Pediatrics, Rebecca Sieff Medical Center
Who needs the UN?
Sir, - Sixty-two years ago, the UN voted to establish Israel. The lead headline in Friday's Jerusalem Post reads, "Today's UN wouldn't vote to establish Israel, says Ayalon on anniversary" (November 27). Why did Israel need that vote? If there were no UN, each state would declare itself, as Palestine is planning to do.
If God wants us, let Him bring another solution. Let Him split the sea, send down the manna, make the jar of oil burn for eight days.
Let Him vote for our existence without the UN.
RABBI JACOB CHINITZ
Sir, - In "Couple crashes White House dinner" (November 27), we read that "an initial finding indicated that a checkpoint didnot follow proper procedures."
With checkpoints like that, I now understand why President Obama thinks we could do with fewer such screening points in the territories.
MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN