letters to the editor 88.
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Europe's MidEast folly
Sir, - With the Aksa Martyrs Brigades - whose members Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is poised to co-opt into his security apparatus - proudly and publicly proclaiming that they support Iran's call for the elimination of Israel ("Aksa Brigades endorse Iran's call for Israel's end," November 7), how can the EU justify its funding for the PA? This is tantamount to funding a group which takes responsibility for acts of terror against Israeli civilians and now calls for its wholesale destruction.
Iran's call for Israel's annihilation evoked almost universal condemnation from the world community. Yet the EU - to whom Israel is ready to entrust the supervision of border crossings - apparently sees no conflict in its plans to continue supporting a group which endorses Iran's reprehensible decree.
Lakewood, New Jersey
Sir, - Bernard Smith's perceptive letter on Iran ("Words to the wise," Letters, November 7) focuses our attention on the nature of the Iranian threat to Israel, namely that Iran is presumably ready to suicidally sacrifice millions of its citizens in order to eliminate the Jewish State for the greater benefit of Islam. Interestingly, it seems Iran is ready to sacrifice many of our Palestinian Arab neighbors in their wager. We cannot say that it's just talk because in the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s the ayatollahs sent waves of human minesweepers across open border regions.
We must, therefore, hope that their words will also register in European political circles. Hitler's diatribes began and ended with the Jews, but millions of others also died in the sordid bargain.
France and root causes
Sir, - For almost 20 years during the intifadas Europeans have pontificated, where Israel is concerned, that terrorism could only be eliminated by dealing with its "root causes."
Let's see how the French deal with the teeming underclass in their society ("Eyewitness: Radical Islam, racism, unemployment fanning French riots," November 7). Will they look for root causes or use force to eliminate this uprising?
St. Louis, Missouri
Sir, - While the rioters in France may have suffered from discrimination, rioting is not helping their image. On the contrary, it is simply discouraging other Frenchmen from wanting to have anything more to do with them.
In this sense, the situation is similar to that of Palestinians over the last few decades. By behaving in unpleasant ways, they have made themselves even more disliked and gradually worsened their situation.
Waive the rules
Sir, - The cri de coeur coming from some over possible CIA use of foreign prisons in securing information from captured terrorists ("EU probing 'secret CIA jails', November 4) will be dismissed by most observers - and contemptuously so by those who've already suffered in al-Qaida outrages - as entirely misplaced concern. Will it take fresh carnage to remind critics of the serious security challenges we face?
The established rules of warfare simply do not apply to terrorists and should, in any case, be waived where not reciprocated. The terrorist world will surely grasp the rationale of this strategy, even as these naysayers do not.
Sir, - It seems Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is a military man with political ambitions ("PM overrules Mofaz, says no to Hamas participation, November 7). However, Prime Minister Sharon must be allowed to call the shots on Israeli policy regarding Hamas and the PA elections.
While Hamas has refused to participate in elections for years, only once it became clear that to be a player in the Middle East required the legitimacy of being elected by the people, did Hamas finally agree to participate.
However, if they participate they must be forced to accept the rules: The disavowal of terrorism as a tool for advancing an ideology and the laying down of their weapons. Ironically, only a strong stand by Israel will force Hamas to accept these conditions and enable them to become a legitimate player.
Sir, - I think that Hamas should be allowed to participate in the upcoming PA elections. This way Israel will know exactly where it stands with the Palestinians. If they reject Hamas there will be a possibility of reconciliation. If the Palestinians support Hamas in large numbers Israel will know that reconciliation is impossible right now.
Same scenario, different year
Sir, - Gerald M. Steinberg represents this year's take on the Left's 50-year history of happy "this year it will be better" scenarios ("The Yasser Arafat War is over," November 6). Unfortunately, this year, it won't. Although the names and faces may have changed, there are still millions of Arabs who hate Israel and want to wipe it off the map.
Gesture of peace
Sir - I wish to express my admiration to the family of 12-year-old Ahmed Ismail al-Khatib. Though the youngster who was shot and killed by Israeli forces when they thought a toy gun he was "firing" was a real one, his parents agreed to donate his organs to save the lives of Israelis ("Palestinian family agrees to donate son's organs to Israelis," November 6).
With this gesture the family gave new life to individuals who otherwise might not have been able to continue living.
It is gestures like this, if followed by similar actions on both sides, that could, eventually, lead to some sort of peace negotiations. Let us all hope and pray that this is the start of something big.
Sir, - Nobody deserves to be murdered and that includes Earl Krugel ("JDL activist killed in Phoenix jail," November 7). At the same time, how is it that he is described as a "JDL operative" or as an "activist?" Guys who try to blow up houses of worship, whether they are churches, synagogues or mosques, are terrorists plain and simple.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Sir, - Halacha outlines extreme cases when suicide is permissible. Some authorities have permitted those in great pain to pray for death. But suicide on demand ("Killing themselves softly," November 6)? The phenomenon is reminiscent of abortion on demand, peace on demand - as in Peace Now, and acceptance on demand - as in the Muslim rioters in Paris.
True, the rejection of a demand for instant gratification is sometimes a rationale for not doing anything, even later. But can immediate gratification, whether in the area of pleasure or pain, bring true solutions?
Often, even justified demands cannot be met immediately. Sickness requires examination and diagnosis before treatment. Suspects are put on trial and convicted before punishment is administered. And peace must be negotiated for a war to end.
Charisma vs honesty
Sir, - There is an old adage that nations get the governments they deserve. Apparently Israelis have more respect for power than they have contempt for corruption ("'Fair play' finishes last, November 7). The idea that charisma and honesty seldom overlap should not be surprising. The Jewish people's greatest leader, Moses, had a heavy tongue; he was chosen by God based on his character, not his ability to charm.
Corruption is probably the single greatest problem in Israeli society. If it were eliminated, perhaps we could effectively deal with the rest.
A vote for merger
Sir, - At long last, following a year of hopelessness, strife and bad fortune, religious Israelis will now have a chance to remove Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from his position ("NRP-Nat'l Union merger would create second largest party - poll, November 7).
Though I am a registered member of the United Torah Judaism party, I have no qualms over giving my vote to a NRP-National Union list, if and when they merge. With Sharon having lost his way with the senseless disengagement, I am certain that hundreds if not thousands of traditional Likud voters will do likewise.
Sir, - While it is right to demand proper conduct and honesty in running any municipality, especially in light of the incessant financial crises still faced by many, why should the "children" be expected to act better than their "parents" ("End the cynical game," November 7)? Inflated and inefficient governments, endless investigations of corruption, outright nepotism and even criminal acts start at the top, and have been the constant companions of almost every Knesset and government since Israel's inception as a state.
Unless we overhaul the entire Israeli political culture and system of government, we cannot expect such change in the municipal sector alone.
'Guise' of modesty
Sir, - I was struck by the timing of your article on the seating controversy on Egged's mehadrin buses, only one week after the passing of Rosa Parks ("Separate seating drives controversy over Egged's mehadrin bus lines," November 4). The unfortunate woman described in your article was subjected to the same demeaning treatment as Rosa Parks, not because of her skin color, but because she was a woman.
I agree with Rabbi Ratzon Arussi of Kiryat Ono who incisively noted that "It is obvious that men, who initiated the mehadrin lines, did not think about women or the halachic problems created." True Orthodox Judaism fosters respect and tolerance for others, rather than blatant discrimination against women under the guise of "modesty."