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Prisoner deal: Let's be forceful
Sir, - I am definitely against giving up major terrorist leaders, murderers "with blood on their hands" and organizers of terrorism in exchange for one soldier. How many other sons will die as a result of freeing so many dangerous prisoners? ("Six top terrorists on the prisoner list," April 11.)
In the negotiations that go on through intermediaries such as the Egyptians and the Germans, Israel must forcefully express its interests, just as the terrorists do. In order to get its prisoners back the PA government has carried on a strong PR campaign, saying the ball is now in Israel's court, and if Israel wants Gilad Schalit back it must do this, that and the other... as if the PA had any control over the situation.
Neither government spokesman Mustafa Barghouti nor President Mahmoud Abbas has any influence whatsoever on the terrorists holding Schalit. However, it is clear to them that the Hamas-dominated government cannot be accepted as legitimate by the international community until Schalit is released.
No doubt a deal can be made - it just mustn't be so costly for Israel. Also, we must remember that Hizbullah holds two of our soldiers captive, and the price for them will be at least twice as high as we pay for Schalit.
Sir, - Our enemies are to be destroyed, not released from prison. "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God He made man"
Sir, - Years ago I saw a cartoon in which a caveman sends a message to a neighboring clan: "Over here we intimidate our enemies by shutting down our defenses and outlawing our weapons. What technique do you guys use?"
Reply: "Giving away strategic tracts of land to terrorists seems to do the trick for us."
The comic strip's creator, Johnny Hart, has passed away ("'B.C.' creator dies at 76," April 10), but his legacy lives on in the daily papers, in apparently serious statements made by leaders and politicians worldwide.
Empty chairs, and filled ones
Sir, - I want to thank Liat Collins for sharing her Pessah tradition of setting aside an empty chair in honor/remembrance of our missing soldiers. It gave me something to think about. I was missing my children, who could not be with us for Pessah because they could not get tickets to come, but at least I knew where they were and that they were, thank God, safe.
This was is an important lesson for us all. May we be blessed with all our children sitting at our next festival table, and may every chair from now on be filled with our beloved sons and daughters ("Empty places, empty promises," April 10).
Sir, - You regrettably contributed to the mumbo-jumbo state of Jewish dietary practices by writing "rice and other legumes" ("Head of Shilo Institute attacked for permitting 'kitniyot' on Pessah," April 6). Rice is, and has always been, a member of the grass family (Gramineae).
Sir, - Moral rulings must be barred from the purview of our criminal court system ("Ramon verdict gives Olmert political boost," March 30).
That legal structure should be there to interpret and apply criminal law only. If we require additional intervention in moral concerns, which we clearly do not, the religious courts are available.
Moral turpitude or not, it is apparent to the average voter that Haim Ramon's return to public life would not enhance an already soiled leadership. And he who invites Mr. Ramon to participate in government once again should himself be considered for the moral turpitude label.
TED S. KRAMINER
Claiming what's ours
Sir, - After the Vatican and Israel established diplomatic relations the pope made a "historic" visit to Israel. I went to Jerusalem to protest that Israel should not have established relations with the Vatican until it opened its secret archives and returned the multitude of Jewish items that had been stolen, directly and indirectly, and that remained in its possession.
The Vatican established relations with Israel not because of any new moral stand but to safeguard its claim to land and property in the Holy Land.
Just as others are taking pride in and securing the return of what was stolen from them, we too must stand up and claim what is rightfully ours ("The hair on Pharaoh's head," Michael Freund, April 11).
JACK DE LOWE
Deir Yassin was a battle
Sir, - Many who write about Deir Yassin seem to be ignoring a few pieces of reality:
First, no observers of the immediate aftermath called it a massacre, just a battle. Second, scholars at Bir Zeit University - the oldest Palestinian University, and not exactly a hotbed of Zionism - said only a few years ago that research showed it to be a battle and not a massacre, with Arab fighters using the town to fire upon Jews. In between, we get people with agendas inventing a massacre in an attempt to obscure the massacre of Jewish doctors, nurses and drivers at Mount Scopus, the massacre of injured soldiers at Castel and the many other documented cases of Arabs slaughtering Jews ("Prelude to Deir Yassin," Letters, April 11).
What took so long?
Sir, - The visit of the first cruise ship to Israel for almost seven years, Holland America Lines cruise ship Amsterdam, was long overdue.
Holland America Lines is a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Corporation, founded by the late Ted Arison (born in Zichron Ya'acov) and currently run by his son Micky. The Arison foundation is funded by family members and under the auspices of Ted's daughter, Shari, who is associated with Bank Hapoalim and other major Israeli companies.
Carnival is the world's largest cruise ship operator, with numerous brand names including Cunard, P&O, Costa, Holland America, etc. It is a shame that Carnival did not arrange for some of its cruise ships to visit Israel during the last few years as a sign of support and solidarity.
After all, some of its ships have visited far more dangerous ports and countries in the past ("Tide turns in Israel's favor as first cruise ship in seven years sails in," April 6).
COLIN L LECI