letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - Amnesty International has accused Israel of war crimes in Lebanon; and yet its report does not mention a single wrong action on Hizbullah's part. This reveals Amnesty International to be an organization of extreme prejudice.
To fault Israel where mistakes were made, or if something wrong was done by intention, is legitimate. To do so while ignoring the fact that many efforts were also made to avoid harming civilians is a breach of fairness. And to do so while ignoring the fact that Hizbullah deliberately launches its rockets from the center of civilian populations so that it holds civilians as hostages for its own cover is a gross breach of fairness.
Finally, to ignore the fact that Hizbullah deliberately aimed (as best it could) all of its attacks at civilians is a crime against humanity on Amnesty International's part ("Israel rejects Amnesty International criticism," August 24).
Sir, - Well, I do find it strange that Amnesty International chose to pillory Israel first. I mean, even if one accepts there is any credit to their views, it is going to be a debatable issue - but on absolutely any level the acts of Hizbullah are those of targeting civilians intentionally; no debate needed.
So it seems strange to come out first pillorying Israel for perhaps a debatable point instead of dealing with Hizbullah, whose actions were clear and absolutely unequivocal. Chances are everyone will remember AI's initial report, and care little about the second.
Ah, now I get it.
Easy prey, this prof.
Sir, - How can an assistant professor of Jewish education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, of all places, be so outrageously ignorant about the history of Israel? ("Two conflicts, two victims," August 22.)
Why has Israel become a victim of the Arabs? Isn't it a result of pure Arab hatred, and Arab opposition to having a Jewish state as a neighbor? And do the Palestinians - who are none other than the very same Arabs Alex Sinclair is talking about - really "face an existential threat"? Has Israel threatened to wipe them off the map or push them into the sea?
There was no occupation in 1948, when Israel accepted the UN partition plan and the Arabs - there were no "Palestinians" at that time - invaded the new state on all fronts. There was no Israeli occupation until 1967. Was there any attempt up to that time to establish a peaceful Palestine?
Ehud Barak in 2000 offered the Palestinians practically everything they had asked for - and what was their response? One intifada after the other. One could go on and on proving that there is no Palestinian desire to live peacefully alongside Israel.
A Jewish professor who can have an impact on his students should know better than to fall prey to Arab propaganda.
PROF. ELIAHU TRAUM
Image vs reality
Sir, - Re "Reform school" (August 24): International Peace and Cooperation Center head Rami Nasrallah says that unlike the Jews, who created a social, economic and educational infrastructure before they had a state, the Palestinians are bent on having a state first. This, he says, must change. He is right. The Palestinians need to change their priorities.
But he seems oblivious to another characteristic of the Arab (and not only Palestinian) mind: the eagerness to believe false reports and, more generally, a concern with image over reality. Thus Nasrallah says: "Everyone keeps talking about the Hizbullah-Iran connection, but this is not exactly the way it's perceived." Likewise he says that Hamas, before the elections, wanted to be perceived as a resistance movement, but now wants to be "perceived by the public as a nationalist movement."
What matters is the reality, not the perception. Is Hizbullah getting its weapons from Iran and acting as its proxy, or not? Is Hamas still a "resistance" (i.e., terrorist) movement, or is it really working to create a nation? What the Arab public perceives is much less important than what the Palestinian authorities do.
Sir, - Oded Abramsky wrote that "For all the tendentious criticism, I cannot imagine what Olmert could have done differently, faced with Hizbullah's aggression. In fact everyone, except for a handful of ultra-leftists, agreed that Israel's response would need to be harsh" ("Hold the feeding frenzy," August 24).
The most important criticism of Ehud Olmert is that he allowed himself to be influenced badly by Tzipi Livni's "diplomacy mania" and by Amir Peretz's fears, thus not giving a harsh enough response to Hizbullah. During that month of fighting, the IDF could have done much more if Olmert had not listened to Livni's advice, if Peretz had known how to deal with a war, and if the IDF leaders had been ready and competent.
Things would be different if Israel's leaders had fewer selfish political ambitions, less thirst for power, more love for Israel, more respect for true ethics and more courage to take any necessary action.
Terrorists understand only the language of force. Anything else seems like weakness to them, and nothing other than military force will be able to stop them. And that includes Iran.
Sir, - What happens the day after we "go it alone"? Will Iran just give up its bomb project, like Iraq did? The alternatives are not good.
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