Insubordination and the nation
Sir, - Thank you for juxtaposing the two pieces about soldiers' "insubordination" in the paper ("IDF insubordination can save Israel" and "Let's talk about loyalty," December 1). Actually the two writers did not disagree with each other.
I completely agree with Ms. Kirshenbaum's comment that it is morally unjustifiable to refuse orders "when such refusals weaken the entire military institution and endanger all Israelis." But in fact, these particular refusals are strengthening the IDF and protecting all of us from a situation in which our army would be turning against its own rather than fighting the enemy. What these soldiers are doing is, as Feiglin so astutely points out, saving the IDF rather than hurting it.
Indeed, the very finest and most loyal soldiers are showing such courage and insight as to preempt any orders which could, in the long run, seriously hurt the IDF's morale and strength. Clearly it is better to say in advance that they will not participate in such actions, rather than waiting until they are in the midst of a mission to refuse orders.
Young people who would risk their positions and possibly their future to do what they know to be right, not for themselves, but for the entire Jewish people, are our greatest inspiration and source of hope - in stark contrast to the shameless teens who prance around the world and pose for photo-ops, bragging that they refuse to serve in our army.
Let's get our priorities straight here. This is not insubordination. It is something of which we should be very proud.
Sir, - Faina Kirshenbaum states, "Soldiers must understand that it is not morally justifiable to refuse orders."
One thing has become clear to me, and that is that the difficult process of evacuating settlements is a job that requires specialized training and should not be left to front-line troops who by and large are not sufficiently qualified to carry out this delicate task. If evacuation of settlements is necessary, the best way to accomplish it is through direct negotiations between the settlers and the army. If this is unsuccessful, special groups of reserve soldiers should be formed and given intensive training in carrying out such missions in a way that would minimize violence, and hopefully prevent it.
I call this a form of preventive medicine. A little bit of proper planning on the part of the army would go a long way toward easing tensions.
A strange role reversal
Sir, - Liat Collins does present an even-handed and sensitive discussion of the plight of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit ("My Word: The price of freedom," November 29). Ms. Collins effectively manages to express the importance of Schalit's release in terms of his family, the IDF, certain Jewish principles and, up to a point, the real and immediate dangers to Israeli civilians by the release of thousands of unrepentant Palestinian terrorists and terror masterminds.
But it is of the utmost importance to remember that Gilad Schalit is an IDF soldier who, like every other IDF soldier, swore to protect and defend our country and our citizens, even to sacrifice his life if necessary to carry out that sacred duty. And yet in a strange role reversal, it is we, the citizens, who are being told that it is our duty to endanger our lives to protect and defend this soldier.
Granted, Israel should make every reasonable effort to obtain Schalit's release. But any deal that endangers Israeli civilians' lives is prima facie morally and ethically unacceptable, and any responsible government must reject it out of hand.
Bash less, respect more
Sir, - I applaud the statement by a spokesman for the Forum for a Free Jerusalem that "we respect [the haredi community's] right to live as they choose. What we're asking is that they respect our right to do so" ("After 'Free Jerusalem' rally, both sides remain steadfast," November 30).
However, I was disappointed that apparently no attempt was made to remove such banners at the rally as "Coerce Less, Work More" or "No Work, No Worries," which blurred the line between showing genuine concern about coercion, and just using the opportunity to take a dig at the haredi community.
Yes, we want the vaccine
Sir, - It may interest the Post to know that I, a 60-year-old schoolteacher, and my husband, a 63-year-old with heart problems, decided to call the Maccabi Health Fund to inquire whether we might come in to receive our swine flu vaccines ("Only 1.3% of Israelis have received swine flu vaccination," December 1). We were told that right now only "chronic illness" patients were being vaccinated.
When I explained to the nurse that I come into constant contact with kids who are already coughing wheezing and sneezing from a variety of cold and flu symptoms, and didn't want to bring them home to my husband, who is already compromised, she repeated, "I'm sorry, right now, only people with chronic illness."
So I may state uncategorically, it's not we who are uninterested - it's the health funds!
Good one, Chavez!
Sir, - You've got to hand it to budding comedian Hugo Chavez, currently earning his living as President of Venezuela. He says that it is right for the Arabs to fight "against the genocidal state of Israel, which attacks, which kills, which attempts to exterminate the Palestinian people" ("'Israel aims to wipe out Palestinians,'" Online Edition, November 27).
His statement came in the same week as a report by human rights organization B'Tselem, known for its hard-line stance against Israeli policies. B'Tselem reported that the past 20 years of conflict have claimed about 8,900 lives in Israel and the Palestinian territories - and that figure includes almost 1,500 Israelis! About 700,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees in 1948 as a result of a pan-Arab attack on the Jewish state. That number has now increased fivefold to 3.5 million, and Chavez talks about Israel's policy of genocide and extermination.
The good president seems be suffering from an inability to do elementary math.
Cc: President Obama
Sir, - In your editorial "It's not enough" (November 27), your thoughts spot-on and were so truthful and enlightening.
Could not your editorial be forwarded to US President Barack Obama, to educate him on the truth of what is really happening in our part of the world?
Only in Chelm
Sir, - Tuesday's Jerusalem Post convinced me we live in Chelm. Settlers are not allowed to build ("Settlers vow: We won't let PM's building inspectors enforce ban," December 1), but the planned city of Rawabi will enable 40,000 new homes for Palestinians to be built in same area ("Palestinian entrepreneurialism, Israeli experience"); "Ohana brothers get life for murdering rival in hair salon," while a prisoner exchange is about to let murderers free ("Hamas: December 14 or 27 possible dates for Schalit swap"); and "Demjanjuk's lawyer compares his client to death camp survivors." People object to a minaret ban in Switzerland ("Muslims, human rights groups fume over Swiss minaret ban"), while in Israel, Jews are banned from the Temple Mount.
Would this be possible in a paper anywhere else but in Israel? Tell me we do not live in Chelm.