letters to the editor.
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What we want to hear...
Sir, - Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) is the embodiment of hutzpa. His party's single policy has been thoroughly discredited in the past weeks, yet he advocates surrendering even more land, the Golan, as if the cause for Syria's belligerency will then evaporate.
Since Oslo we have been surrendering land left and right. The only thing we received in return has been terror and rockets, from the south and now from the north.
Kadima has no credibility. It ostensibly set out to extract us from friction with the Palestinians in Gaza; yet it provided Hamas the opportunity to operate freely. Hamas still has its rockets.
It set out to defeat Hizbullah. It failed. Hizbullah still has its rockets.
It set out to bring back our kidnapped soldiers. It failed. Additionally, 160 Israelis are dead.
It mismanaged the war, resulting in a "draw" with Hizbullah. That's a loss for us. Our deterrence factor has been diminished significantly.
Then Kadima relinquished our security to UN management. Predictably, despite the cease-fire requirements, the UN is already waffling on disarming Hizbullah.
When will our top politicians and top military brass stop blabbering and say the one thing most of us want to hear: "I resign"?
...and what we don't
Sir, - "I would rather focus on the future than on the past," Olmert told reporters ("Olmert nixes talks with Syria," August 22).
How do you plan the future if you can't identify and reconcile the mistakes of the past? What an idiotic comment for the Israeli prime minister, of all people, to make.
Naive view of a complex situation
Sir, - Sorry, but Alex Sinclair is either na ve or uneducated, or both ("Two conflicts, two victims," August 22). He states that the Palestinians are "the only people in the Middle East who are currently denied their right to self-determination." Apparently he has never heard of the Kurds,
Kurdistan, a territory the size of France, is divided between Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Population estimates range from 25-40 million souls.
Under the Americans, Iraqi Kurdistan enjoys a great deal of autonomy - this after years of genocide and persecution under Saddam Hussein. Syria, Iran and Turkey have no sympathy for the Kurds; nor, apparently, does anybody else care about their fate.
And, of course, nobody gives a fig for the Christians of the Middle East, who are persecuted everywhere, including Egypt, where they number 10% of the population.
The Middle East is even more complicated and dangerous than Prof. Sinclair would have it.
Sir, - I was disappointed in Alex Sinclair's conclusions.
Before our declaration of independence there was a decision to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. We Jews agreed, the Arab refused; they thought they could win and sent five Arab armies to conquer the country. They lost, and 1% of our population, mostly young, brave people, died. A similar loss of life in the US would have meant two-and-a-half million casualties.
Now the Palestinians have elected a Hamas government which states openly that it wants to destroy the Jewish state. Thus Mr. Sinclair's conclusions of "two different conflicts" does not rest on the facts.
Sir, - The Palestinian people are victims - of poor judgment and very poor leadership. Until they change their leadership, or their leaders modify their policies toward Israel, there will be very little movement toward peace.
Mazzini, not Moses
Sir, - Many of the problems facing the State of Israel today have one common source: the attachment to the official state ideology of Zionism. This anachronism of 19th-century European romanticism owes far more to Mazzini than to Moses.
Only by adopting a truly and authentically Jewish world view and identity can the State of Israel flourish and achieve its full potential.
Sir, - Re "US rabbis urge change in IDF war code" (August 22): In former years, when progressive Jewish voices in the US counseled forbearance or withdrawal from occupied lands, the religious Right would howl that Americans have no right to preach conduct to Israelis when their own lives are not on the line.
Now come rabbis from the States who, astoundingly, offer that their "traditional" Jewish values lead them to counsel against the long-held and cherished value of purity of arms (tohar haneshek). There are many in America who take pride in Israel's great forbearance and are pleased to leave such life-and-death decisions to Israel's elected political leaders.
As to those rabbis who reject the ethical constraints common to all peoples simply because they are shared, they would take from Jews our humanity. I pray that their wrathful dogma be given the response it deserves.
RABBI DAN SHEVITZ
Why play for a draw?
Sir, - I found Edward N. Luttwak's comparison with the 1973 war interesting ("Misreading the Lebanon war," August 21). But I do not at all understand his argument that the reason the battle plan was never implemented this time was that Israel was not suffering enough civilian casualties to justify taking military casualties.
Is he saying the correct strategy is to play for a draw? How about playing to win? I think the Israeli public is more willing to accept casualties in attaining victory than are its leaders and strategists. I can only attribute this to the tendency of people working in organizations to avoid risk-taking because they fear criticism.
Unfortunately, I rather doubt the IDF is still considered a deterrent in Teheran, where it matters.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Be prepared for a future war
Sir, - During the Kennedy administration and the Cuban missile crisis in the early Sixties all Americans were urged to build shelters and stock them with essential items in preparation for a possible attack by communist Cuba, supported by the Soviet Union. It is therefore most urgent that the Israeli government prepare our citizens for a future war in which not only our northern towns suffer, as in the recent war, but every section of Israel is targeted by hundreds of missiles from Hizbullah, Syria, Iran, or all three. These enemy missiles need not be nuclear, but could simply be long-range conventional missiles fired by the hundreds at our population centers over a few weeks.
The Israeli home front must thus be prepared; and our military must come up with a plan to carry any missile or other attack against us to the enemy. The plan must also include a diplomatic policy aimed at lining up allies who will actively support Israel in such a war, especially from countries which, in the past, have not proven ready to fight world terrorism ("The lessons of Lebanon - I," Amnon Rubinstein, August 20).
JOSHUA J. ADLER
Telling the story
Sir, - We are among the thousands who have had the very special privilege of being catapulted into the history and agony of the Shoah by a most unusual guide, Rena Quint ("The stories speak for themselves, August 22). To visit Yad Vashem with her is to leave today's world and empathize with the unbelievable tragedy that befell the Jewish people, and others, while the world stood by and looked the other way.
"Maybe one of the reasons I am here today is to tell the story," she says.
Dance of defiance
Sir, - On the day I and a group of volunteers from our organization travelled to Ziv Hospital in Safed during the recent war to bring aid and comfort to wounded soldiers and children, the city was being bombarded by Hizbullah. We were struck by the desolation which had turned the city into a virtual ghost town.
As our group prepared to make the rounds to visit the wounded, loud sirens warning of a new Katyusha bombardment began to sound. Immediately doctors and hospital staff ushered us into a "safer" part of the hospital where additional injured children were recuperating from their wounds.
There we huddled together silently, Jews from different walks of life once again under enemy attack in our homeland for the "crime" of being Jewish.
Suddenly the the sound of music filled the room. Incredibly, three Lubavitcher klezmer musicians entered and began playing "Am Yisrael Hai" and other Hebrew songs.
Without a moment's hesitation members of our group joined the families of the hospitalized children and danced to those spirited, beautiful tunes, helping to drown out the wail of the sirens and the threat of the Katyushas.
This spontaneous act of Jewish unity, flying in the face of enemy attack, was a clear act of defiance, a declaration that, with God's help, Israel's foes can never defeat the Jewish people.
Victims of Arab Terror
'Beg your letter'
Sir, - On August 20 you ran my letter telling of my writing President Ahmadinejad for months. Next day I received a letter from Ahmadinejad's office.
I had asked him if he had ever read Ezekiel 38. I know he has an interest in end-time prophesy, so I thought he might like to know what the God of Israel has to say about Iran (Persia) in the latter days.
Knowing how Muslims cherish the thought of martyrdom, I said, "Wouldn't it be nice if you would be killed at the Battle of Armageddon?" (Ezekiel 39) I asked him if he had an epitaph he would liked placed on his grave if that were to occur.
The letter I received in reply was just three words: "Beg your letter."
After thinking about this for a while, I figured it meant one of two things. Either the Iranian translator was really, really bad, or he didn't want to ask the president what he would like written on his grave.
PAUL DAVID SWINFORD