Reform or write-off?
Sir, - The editorial lament about the basic immorality of Palestinian society in relation to terrorism ("An absence of morality," December 6) is, in the bigger picture, an accurate and despairing commentary on how reform of Islamic societies involves more than just building democratic infrastructure.
We have to admit that no constitution, no matter how carefully crafted, will ever substitute for a heartfelt consideration for the lives and rights of others. In the end, we may have to write off the prospects of millions of people as hopeless, and do our best to protect ourselves from them, until the day comes when they embrace civilized values.
Sir, - The story around the suicide bombing in Netanya demonstrated the problem facing security personnel, who must decide instantaneously whether to shoot and risk killing an innocent person, or wait and possibly give a bomber time to detonate his explosives ("Pregnant cop risks everything," December 6). Would it be possible to equip guards at mall entrances with fire extinguishers, or something similar containing pressurized water, so that they could immobilize a possible bomber or render the explosives inoperable?
Sir, - The failure of the current Israeli government to protect the people of Israel from Palestinian terrorist attacks ("Israel vows strong response to Netanya bombing," December 6) is obvious to everyone except, it seems, to the majority of the Israeli population. If you believe the recent opinion polls, the stubbornness with which Israeli voters cling to the Sharon clique that cannot provide them with fundamental protection against the enemy is astonishing.
People who have insisted that Jews are smart ("Are Jews born smart?", November 30) will most definitely have to review their contention given what's been happening in Israel in recent years.
Sir, - Gershon Baskin claims that he is still a peacenik ("A peacenik's dilemma," December 6). But despite stating that, in his estimation, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will not bring peace a little closer, Baskin said he would probably vote for Sharon! Why do so if Sharon won't bring peace, won't divide Jerusalem, won't return any part of the Jordan Valley?
We have a perfectly fine candidate named Amir Peretz who will try to do at least some of those things. At least he'll make a strong effort! Sounds to me like Mr. Baskin has changed his whole political philosophy.
Sir - With Tzahi Hanegbi's decision to join Prime Minister Sharon's party on the same day it was reported that there could be a recommendation to indict him ("Police: There is enough evidence to charge Hanegbi," December 7), perhaps the famous aphorism needs to be adapted for Israel: It is not patriotism but Kadima that is the last refuge of political scoundrels.
JACK E. FRIEDMAN
Sir, - Among Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz's election campaign guidelines was the instruction that "Candidates are... prohibited from awarding jobs or other favors in return for political support" ("Mazuz lays down campaign guidelines," December 5). I wonder if that applies to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who, as reported on the same page of The Jerusalem Post as the Mazuz guidelines, offered Shimon Peres "any job he wants?"
MILTON H. POLIN
Justice for all?
Sir, - I must agree with H. Bramson that justice is indeed a dirty word in Israel ("Cause for shame," Letters, December 4). Omri Sharon and Isaac Herzog were charged with very similar offenses, except that the scale of Herzog's was much greater: His party was fined a record NIS 13 million for activities in which Herzog was involved.
I hold no sympathy for Omri Sharon or his actions, but it is a public scandal that he may be sent to jail or removed from the Knesset while Herzog continues to serve smugly, even after deliberately keeping silent for months under police investigation.
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz must reopen Herzog's file. If he does not, it will confirm that Israel has one kind of justice for supporters of left-wing parties and a very different kind of justice for supporters of right-wing parties.
Sir, - The inability of the National Religious Party and the National Union to harness the support of thousands of demonstrators into more more than 10 Knesset seats, "Heading for a political fall?" (December 6) is not so puzzling. It seems pretty clear to me that it can be explained by the fact the 15-year-olds don't vote!
BRUCE N. MOSENKIS
The car trade
Sir, - Given that Amir Peretz as "a man of the people" does not feel comfortable with his government-issue Mercedes car, I would like to convey to him my offer to trade cars with him ("Peretz wants different car," December 7).
I feel I am an average Israeli with a seven-year-old Honda (very low mileage) and would enjoy his high-end bulletproof transportation. He can get in touch with me whenever he wants to trade.
Sir, - While the devastation of Kristallnacht weighed heavily on Judy Montagu during her recent visit to Germany ("Less than joyful in Germany," December 4), we should keep in mind that some German Jews did not understand the gravity of the danger they were facing until then. Kristallnacht saved those who, as a result of it, concentrated successfully on leaving rather than surviving within Germany.
In our day, all should be aware that a significant 21 percent of Germans have "unfavorable" attitudes towards Jews, as reported in the Pew Global Attitudes Poll published several months ago. Well-meaning German NGOs endeavoring to teach democracy to Israelis should turn their attention to this 21%.
Sir, - Judy Montagu's recollection of her recent visit to Germany ended with the words: "I can stand up... with dignity" and proclaim "I am a Jew, and this is my country."
Yet, the Post's editorial, "Multiplying Kassams" (December 5) details Israel's ineffectual response to a potentially devastating threat. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sharon speaks loudly about the Iranian nuclear threat, yet indicates that he is waiting for others to take the appropriate action.
Perhaps our leaders should read Montagu's article to be better motivated in fulfilling their responsibilities.
Sir, - I wish to express appreciation for Judy Montagu's poignant, puissant short essay on her visit to Germany, which coincided with the anniversary of the ineffable Kristallnacht on which date the Germans destroyed myriad synagogues including the one in which her father had served as cantor. To paraphrase her last sentence, I can stand up easily and with admiration and proclaim to her: Well done for expressing in a few words the oft-forgotten blessing we have been given, to live as free Jews in our beautiful, if challenged, country.
Sir, - My family and I have just returned to the US from beautiful Israel. We love your country. Everybody we ran into was extremely friendly. What a joy our entire visit was! Thank you, Israel.
El Centro, California
Sir, - I'm an American businessman who travels extensively throughout the Middle East, including Israel, Iran, Lebanon and Jordan. Although most Americans perceive Israelis as more "pro-American" than others in the Middle East, my experiences in the region reveal something much different.
In Israel, I am often faced with hostility and even aggression that I do not encounter in other parts of the region. In October, during my last trip to Tel Aviv, I was actually spat on once after someone hurled an anti-American insult at me, and I was berated by complete strangers for the Iraqi war.
During this same trip, while in Jordan, I encountered the complete opposite: Warmth and acts of kindness.
The two times I've traveled to Iran in the past four years, I've been greeted with people eager to help me and tell me how much they love America, while in Lebanon locals often surround me to beseech me to return to America with the message that Lebanon needs and wants America's help.
This cannot mean good news for Israeli-American relations in the future.
Sir, - What remains to foster national pride in Israel?
The shameful treatment of the Gush Katif evacuees ("Disengagement law limits evacuees' compensation rights," December 7), the corruption of our politicians, the mistreatment of our environment, the spread of poverty, the escalation of violence, the robbing of children of their youth through non-exercise of discipline, the lack of respect for the aged and the refusal to include certain life-prolonging medications in the health basket are just some of the causes for despair.
Yes, we do have scientists whose discoveries help to boost Israel's image abroad; and yes there are some very fine individuals engaged in a myriad of volunteer activities, but these positive elements in the fabric of our society are less obvious than the negative.
The plight of the evacuees transcends political ideologies. It is a human story of abandonment. How can we even pretend to uphold the time-honored value of each Jew being responsible for the welfare of the other when a solution has not been found for all the victims of the disengagement?
Just how much more insult and injury will the Israeli public endure?