Sir, - Barry Rubin would like you to believe that poor leadership on the part of US President Barack Obama is responsible for the failure of the Middle East peace process ("Lessons not learned," November 23). Of the three leaders involved in finding a solution to our problems, Obama is the only leader to put forth a vision of the final solution - two states, one Palestinian and one Israeli, living side by side in peace. With no strong, meaningful opposition to the present coalition, the only solution on which the Israelis can truly agree is one state, with the Palestinians asked to move to Jordan. The only solution on which the Palestinians can agree is one state, with the Israelis asked to move into the sea and swim to Miami.
With the strong possibility that Gilad Schalit will finally be released, along with a huge number of Arab terrorists, the prospect of Hamas winning a future election to represent the Palestinians has greatly increased.
At this time in history, Obama's vision is indeed dead, as is any meaningful peace plan.
Sir, - The two negative essays by Barry Rubin and Maurice Ostroff ("Gilo and the Green Line," November 23), show only the futility of two pygmies attempting to drag down a giant. This effort by both to bash US President Barack Obama can only result in those who seek the truth realizing how far from the truth these two have departed.
Rubin "knows" already that Obama has failed throughout his term. Of course, he hasn't mentioned the second term Obama will undoubtedly serve, beginning in 2012. Thus, he leaves himself a fall-back position.
As for Ostroff, where has he been for the past 40 years? How can he possibly say, with any hope that his readers will believe him, that Gilo is not in east Jerusalem? Has he looked at a map? And his claim that it is not a settlement? What, then, would he call it? A gift from God?
Good job, Mr. Spyer!
Sir, - I just want to compliment Jonathan Spyer on his Jerusalem Post articles, which are, without exception, superb ("Virtual diplomacy, real damage," November 22).
Jonathan, I hope your voice and knowledge can be heard further afield. Over here in the UK, the ignorance and hatred of Israel is quite widespread and has already influenced politicians like Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
Leighton Buzzard, England
The writing on the wall
Sir, - Charles Krauthamer rightly points an accusatory finger at those who preferred to be seen as politically correct rather than be accused of Islamophobia or being prejudiced against a colleague's religion ("Medicalizing mass murder," November 20). The writing was clearly on the wall that Nidal Hassan was a Muslim jihadist. But sadly, the message did not filter through. And 13 people lost their lives.
DR. RACHEL BIRATI
Sir, - Our two sons grew up in Gilo. We taught them our mother tongue (Dutch) as they would learn Hebrew easily from the local native speakers. One of the first words I taught them 15 years ago was betonmortelwagens (the Dutch like long words). Those are the trucks that transport cement. Can anyone guess why that word came up so early in the vocabulary list? That's what we saw riding by all the time for years and years.
Gilo must be Hebrew for construction site/sight. ("My Word: Blurred borders," November 23)
MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN
Zen and the price of motorcycle accidents
Sir, - In the excellent editorial "Two wheels bad" (November 22), your writer discussed at length the incredibly dangerous driving habits of many Israeli motorcyclists.
The increase in motorcycle insurance premiums is of course meant to offset some of the huge medical costs resulting from the higher rates of serious accidents these drivers suffer - and cause - as a result of their irresponsible driving and illegal maneuvers on the highways. However, these rate-increases are also intended to save these drivers' lives by financially forcing them to at least think about driving safely.
Larry, you're still
missing the point
Sir - Larry Derfner misses a critical point in asserting that the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is doing everything Israel would want for peace ("Go for it, Abbas!," November 19). Contrary to Derfner's claim that the PA recognizes the State of Israel, Abbas has steadfastly refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, declaring earlier this year, "I say this clearly: I do not accept the Jewish State."
Azzam al-Ahmed, a prominent Fatah figure closely associated with Abbas, went even further recently when he declared that Fatah had never recognized Israel's right to exist and would never do so. Rafik Natsheh, another close Abbas associate, confirmed this, saying, "All these reports about recognizing Israel are false. It's all media nonsense."
In essence, Abbas and the PA reject Israel's central Jewish character. Without such unequivocal recognition, the PA will continue to demand the full right of return for Palestinian refugees, and may very well argue that a country that asserts its fundamental Jewishness is illegitimate. This is a recipe for continued conflict for years to come - even after any ostensible peace agreement is signed.
Derfner also says the Palestinians "would have to be crazy" to return to negotiations because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refuses to resume them from Ehud Barak's offer of 95%, and Ehud Olmert's offer of nearly 100%, of the disputed territories. But Arafat and his successor Abbas summarily rejected these offers.
Both sides to a negotiation must realize that there will be direct consequences of their actions and decisions. When you walk away from the table, the table is cleared and you start afresh. If Netanyahu were to return to the previously rejected position as the new starting point, the Palestinians would conclude that they could pocket any offer or concession and then come back months later and ask for even more. Far from resulting in a rapid agreement, this would cause interminable negotiations as the Palestinians made ever greater demands, secure in the knowledge that no concession once offered could ever be withdrawn.
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Sir, - Larry Derfner writes that "Gaza, of course, is a different story, and I sincerely hope it remains politically separate from the West Bank, that there is no reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, because that would fly in the face of the PA's non-violent, two-state strategy."
This one sentence is the catch-22 of the entire Arab-Israeli peace process. Abbas refuses to separate himself from Gaza, over which he has no control, and he demands that we accept this terrorist entity in any agreement we make with the PLO.
Until such time as Hamas can be controlled and abandons terrorism, it has become clear that the US and even the European Union will not agree to a unilateral declaration of a separate Palestinian state, because such an entity would bring havoc into an area of the world that needs calm and stability.
The smell of success
Sir, - I enjoyed reading Judy Siegel-Itzkovitch's article on "sniffing out memories" ("Amputee can 'feel' with artificial hand," November 22). I have been using the knowledge that smells trigger memory to teach children with learning difficulties for many years. I use not only the sense of smell but also the sense of taste to introduce a new letter. For example, ketchup for the letter "K," or lemon for the letter "L." I have found this to be much more effective than just teaching the sounds and showing the letters.
TOVA GERTA TEIELBAUM