(photo credit: Courtesy)
Arye Haskel: A tribute
Sir, - I was sorry to read of the death of journalist Arye Haskel, a leading figure at Israel Radio for many years ("Arye Haskel to be buried in capital," August 12).
In the early 1970s, when I was editor of the London-based Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, Arye was its Jerusalem correspondent. He was the perfect correspondent - never needing to be briefed as he knew instinctively what was required. And his copy was always perfect, never requiring even the slightest change.
He was a pleasure to work with.
Isn't this the answer?
Sir, - Re "Israel imports 2,000 foreign workers as it deports others" (August 12): A question. Why can't these jobs be given to Africans escaping into Israel over the border from Egypt, instead of putting them into prison? These people need jobs, not punishment, and can become an asset to Israel instead of using up funds we can ill spare.
Red alert required
Sir, - In its report titled Red Lines Crossed: Destruction of Gaza's Infrastructure, the Gisha organization complains about Israel's treatment of Gaza, post-Operation Cast Lead ("Israel preventing reconstruction in Gaza after Cast Lead, rights groups charge," August 12).
Turn the page, and a small news brief reads: "A mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in an open field in the western Negev on Tuesday... The attack marks the third consecutive day in which a mortar shell or Kassam rocket was fired at Israel."
I suggest that news of shelling from Gaza be printed in red on page one, then maybe it will be easier for the people from Gisha and other human rights groups to find the information.
There it is again - that old double standard
Sir, - Re "Defense Ministry report refutes PHR claims about IDF misconduct during Cast Lead" (August 10): The belated report by Human Rights Watch accusing Hamas of war crimes, and the report by Physicians for Human Rights accusing Israel of war crimes in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza are as if Hamas were a government, and Gaza a sovereign country.
The EU and US, among others, consider Hamas a terrorist organization. Therefore it is no different from the Red Army Brigades, the Bader Meinhof group, al-Qaida or any other of the many terrorist organizations operating worldwide.
Hamas cannot be accused of war crimes because, as a terrorist organization, it does not see itself bound by any convention. It is an outlaw organization that needs to be eradicated. And war crimes cannot be committed against them because, as a terrorist organization, they are outside civilized law. Their activities are completely unlawful according to international law, so they cannot hide behind the law.
In no other case of terrorist activity is a country's action against terrorists scrutinized by humanitarian bodies. Sri Lanka obliterated the Tamil Tigers and barred journalists from operating there with hardly a peep from these bodies, and not a word from the UN.
PHR and HRW, as well as the Red Cross and the UN, have ignored the brutal kidnapping and imprisonment of Gilad Schalit and his being held incommunicado. They have ignored knee-capping by Hamas and its throwing those in disagreement with it off the roofs of buildings, to their deaths; as well as its commandeering deliveries of humanitarian goods.
PHR has ignored years of indiscriminate rocket-firing from Hamas territory in its haste to accuse Israel of behaving in violation of a code its opponents are not bound by.
Failing grade on the morality test
Sir, - Your headline "Braverman supports Barghouti release to create moderate and strong leadership" (August 12) filled me with anger and revulsion.
The fact that ostensibly decent people like Avishay Braverman, Gideon Ezra and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer can support the release of this man, based on political considerations, while totally disregarding his heinous acts of murder and terror is a clear indication that their collective moral compass needs a major overhaul.
Marwan Barghouti is serving five life sentences, plus an additional 40 years, after his conviction was reviewed and upheld by the entire appeal apparatus of the Israeli legal order. To release him would make a mockery of Israel's justice system and seriously undermine its moral foundation.
This release becomes even more painfully questionable in light of a large body of political and security analysis which absolutely denies Barghouti's right to any claims of being a moderate ("New faces of an unreformed, hard-line Fatah," same date).
Sir, - It's good to see that Avishay Braverman is pleased to have Marwan Barghouti on the list of those who will lead Fatah in the future. But that was to be expected. However, to read that Gideon Ezra feels the same is almost astonishing.
No matter his sins of the past, there is no question that Barghouti is a real leader among the Palestinians and can, if he wants to, make a big difference when it comes to sitting down to discuss future relationships.
Bipartisan support means that at least it will be possible to talk. What may come of that, only God knows, and He ain't telling. But at least it gives hope.
Actions and words
Sir, - All the time we are told that we have to do everything possible to ensure that Israel is recognized as the Jewish state. However, actions speak louder than words.
We welcome new olim to strengthen our numbers and there is a big effort to increase the number of non-Jews living here (even though they are sometimes here illegally).
Yet when a former minister who is religious asks the court to delay his sentence until after the most important Jewish festivals, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the state is against it ("State opposes postponing start of Benizri's four-year jail sentence" August 11).
On the other hand, we are informed that former PM Ehud Olmert, who asked that his court hearing be postponed for health reasons, is traveling the world enjoying holidays, not holydays. What is the attorney-general doing about that? (Grapevine, August 12).
Sir, - I very much enjoyed the piece on Leonard Cohen ("'That's how the light gets in,'" August 12). Just one caveat: As a long-time fan of both gentlemen, allow me to say that Cohen is no more the "Canadian Bob Dylan" than Dylan is the "American Leonard Cohen."
Two unique individuals, each with his own voice.
To paraphrase Dylan, may their songs always be sung - and Judy Montagu's words always be writ.
G. GERSHON GUBBIO
Sir, - This paean read almost as sweetly as the sound of Leonard Cohen's music.
In Yaakov Ahimeir's "The choir practice in Brazil" (August 12) the sentence should have read: "...and I am not speaking on behalf of my colleagues," and not as it appeared.