Unity and moderation
Sir, - Isi Leibler correctly argues for moderation and unity ("Favoring a national unity government," December 31). However, moderation has many faces. There are huge differences between moderates of all persuasions, both secular and religious, and hence no consensus.
On unity, there is, I believe, greater consensus. Livni was elected on a whim, and her popularity rating, both in the electorate and in her party, has dwindled to the point where exit is surely in the cards. As such, Mr. Leibler's statement that "today most Israelis would wish to see Kadima act in the national interest and join a unity government" is arguable. I believe that, like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, most Israelis would now like to see Kadima go, taking Livni with it.
The big loser
Sir, - In Douglas Bloomfield's analysis of "Winners and losers for 2009" (December 31), he faults the Nobel Prize Committee for giving the Nobel peace Prize to Barack Obama. However, he does not mention that Israel was the big loser this past year. By caving in to American pressure, Israel lost its freedom of action. It is hard to think of any other country in the world that would allow its population to undergo a settlement freeze on behalf of another government.
Sir, - Dan Diker is right to be critical of US funding and bolstering of Palestinian Authority security forces while these remain unwilling to arrest terrorists and dismantle their networks ("Washington, not J'lem, needs to issue clarifications," December 29).
This policy is not only based on willfully ignoring that Fatah has never repudiated terrorism and still maintains armed groups that perpetrate terrorism, like the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, but also ensures that Fatah becomes a greater danger to Israeli lives over time.
US Gen. Keith Dayton, who is training Palestinian forces, may think he is creating new law-abiding Palestinian police forces that will contribute to peace and stability, but in fact all he is doing is ensuring that Fatah terrorists will be better trained to combat Israel in the future.
In the latest case of the murder of Rabbi Meir Chai, we see that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists - two of them previously released from Israeli prisons as part of amnesties and confidence-building measures - simply returned to terrorism, claiming an innocent Jewish life and orphaning seven children.
A system whereby PA forces cannot or will not perform their duties while their ranks are swelled by terrorists and others furloughed until the next resort to arms, is not one that can bring peace. Accordingly, the US should not be funding and training Fatah until and unless the PA, which Fatah controls, fulfills its signed obligations under the Oslo agreements to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps.
MORTON A. KLEIN
National President, Zionist Organization of America
A call to action
Sir, - Regarding the article "Dubious arrest leads to alleged prison rape nightmare for American teenage immigrant" (December 22) and Gil Troy's moving response (The Galilee 'rape nightmare' tests us all," December 29), we at Hadar (Israel Council for Civic Action) would like to lend our public support to the family from Miami that has been devastated by these terrible events and voice our deep concern over the lack of law and order that allegedly allowed this incident to occur.
As immigrants from English-speaking countries, we can empathize with this family, who made aliya in order to fulfill their dreams and aspirations in security. Our belief in the inherent decency and justice of the Jewish state renders the treatment this boy allegedly received all the more shocking and disgusting. We are equally disturbed at the limited response by the relevant government authorities, which undermines the fabric of our society and our security.
A public apology to the boy and his family from Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen, Israeli Prisons Service head Benny Kaniak, Northern District Police commander Shimon Koren, Chairman of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee chairman David Azoulay is required.
The police officers and prison officials who allegedly engaged in the reported beatings and mistreatment of the boy, and their superiors who had knowledge of the events, should be investigated for criminal wrongdoing. Furthermore, we insist that a committee be set up to investigate the events, with a mandate to recommend changes to laws and procedures so as to prevent such an event from occurring again.
MARK COHEN and RANDI MELLMAN OZE
More taboo answers
Sir, - Two nights ago, I watched a documentary about a few rappers who sang about their lives and how they tried to go to the West Bank, and so on. It just made me sick to my stomach, and although I am not unfamiliar with all of this, it just made me think, why? Why isn't anybody saying anything? How can a people who have suffered so much themselves make another people - their own cousins! - suffer so much? When you see their conditions and humiliation and the waste of their livelihood, it's a wonder they're not all blowing themselves up!
Larry Derfner ("A taboo question for Israelis," December 31) put it in a very simple but powerful way: Israelis should think, what if?
Sir, - Larry Derfner writes that "For 37 years, between 1967-2005, our soldiers and settlers were the overlords of the Gaza Strip." He makes it sound like we created this warlike people.
But in 1967, when I visited Gaza there were already thousands of posters of an Arab called Shukary who, like Arafat after him, lambasted Israel and Egypt and called for their overthrow and demise. The Gazans are people just like us, but we didn't make them hate.
As a matter of fact, we keep offering them the chance to be like any other nation, and they keep rejecting it. Can you offer someone more than 100 percent? They want freedom, but on their terms, which happen to be the dissolution of the Land and people of Israel. Like Shukary, they make no secret that they don't want our pity or our homes, or even our land. They want us gone.
I have tried to follow Mr. Derfner's advice, to put myself "in those people's place." But I don't have the hatred in my heart or the yearning for their destruction, that they do for us.
As to what I would do if anyone took my land in a fight and then turned around and offered to give it (all) back - I'd accept in a flash.
New Jewish experiences
Sir, - In his opinion piece "Birthright needs to transform on a larger scale" (December 30), Haviv Rettig Gur writes regarding Taglit- Birthright Israel that "these connections are wasted if they are not directed at new Jewish experiences back home," and makes the claim that a majority of alumni are not reached by current programming.
In 2009, nearly 19,000 North Americans participated in the trip. Through Birthright Israel NEXT, we have worked with volunteer leaders from the 2009 trips to involve over 13,000 young adults in Jewish programming in North America. Is the Jewish community doing all it can to involve alumni? Not yet. But it is clear that a majority of trip participants are having new Jewish experiences back home and, perhaps more importantly, sparking Jewish involvement for many of the friends in their social circles who have not visited Israel.
RABBI DANIEL S. BRENNER
Executive Director, Birthright Israel NEXT