August 27: Disservice to credibility

Ross's version of the Goldstone investigation indicates evenhandedness. The actual version does the opposite.

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August 26, 2009 21:30
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Disservice to credibility Sir, - Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Ross stated that the scope of the Goldstone investigation has been broadened by the UN Human Rights Council president to include "all... violations committed in the context of the conflict (writer's italics)." However, the council president's actual wording, according to a citation from Richard Goldstone himself, was "in the context of the military operations conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after." Ross's version indicates evenhandedness. The actual version does the opposite. The main issue in the Goldstone mission is its objectivity and fairness, which Ross wishes us to accept. By resorting to a verbal distortion to support his thesis, he has done a disservice to his overall credibility ("Don't smear the messenger," August 26). ROBERT ENGLMAN Jerusalem To be exact Sir, - "Netanyahu thrilled about visit to Palestine Exploration Fund" (August 26) incorrectly spoke of "40,000 photographs of Palestine, Jordan and Syria dating as far back as 1850," giving the impression that a state calledJordan existed at that time. The territory of Transjordan was the western part of Palestine given by the League of Nations to Great Britain as a mandate to carry out its decision to create a Jewish state in Palestine. Said territory, torn by the British from the Mandate, became the country of Transjordan only in 1946. BERNARD SMITH Jerusalem 'Both sides of the conflict' Sir, - Re "Int'l Elders to meet cross-section of Israeli and Palestinian societies" (August 25): Three weeks ago, the organizer of the Elders NGO contacted the Sderot Media Center about bringing a Sderot resident to Jerusalem to talk to the influential group. Wouldn't they, we asked, visit not only the worst Arab parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also come to Sderot to meet with some of the countless families whose lives have been terrorized by the near-decade of rocket fire? The visit wouldn't take them far out of their way, we explained, reminding them that it takes only 15 seconds for a Kassam rocket from Gaza to hit Sderot. The Elders organizer, while insisting that the trip was structured "to show both sides of the conflict," replied that they had no time to visit Sderot and refused a small donation to the Sderot resident who would lose a day's work in order to travel to Jerusalem. Soon afterwards, a scheduled group of European students from a prominent worldwide Jewish organization came to Sderot to see the human side of the conflict. Several of them scoffed at a "corny and stupid" video of kindergarten children running for their lives in the midst of an oncoming rocket attack; the reality of terrorists targeting innocent civilians was lost on them. The group also criticized our work for not supporting the suffering in the Gaza Strip by not opening a media center there. Their organizer was as stunned as we were by these reactions, clearly a reflection on the environment with which these Jewish students - described as "intensive and militant" - interact. Even the cream of the crop of European Jewish youth have, it seems, been embraced by the tentacles of Arab propaganda. For us, it was just another day of advocating for Sderot. JACOB SHRYBMAN Sderot Media Center Sderot Bostrom: Come visit an Israeli hospital Sir, - Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom, who is so ready to accuse Israelis of organ-snatching, ought to visit a Jerusalem hospital and see the stream of Arabs, old and young, men and women, coming to seek medical treatment from Israeli doctors. Apparently, they are not afraid that the doctors and surgeons will illegally remove any of their organs. The number of Arabs who consult Israeli doctors clearly demonstrates their trust; and the skill and reliability of these professionals, and the respect they show to their patients (Letters, August 25). JOEL LITKE Jerusalem Aw, shame - he stole your thunder Sir, - Unfortunately for Dr. Neve Gordon ("Boycott Israel," Elsewhere, August 24), the fame that accrues to someone who labels Israel "an apartheid state" has already been preempted by former Jimmy Carter, for his book bearing that exact title. Gentlemen: Apartheid is a policy of total separation and discrimination, based on antipathy to people of color and enforced by law. Dr. Gordon should have realized the utterly ludicrous nature of the apartheid label being attached to Israel as he lectured at Ben-Gurion University - while witnessing the integration of the student body, faculty and all social and recreational facilities. Carter, during his visits to Israel, should have noted that the public transportation system is used daily and indiscriminately by Arabs and Jews, and that its restaurants are frequented by all who choose to dine in them. Above all, Israeli hospitals administer quality health care to all in need - even enemy combatants in wartime. ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva How about some presidential goodwill? Sir, - While PM Netanyahu seeks ways to appease the Obama administration with tokens of misplaced goodwill ("Israel, US progressing on settlements," August 26), we have yet to see any reciprocity by Obama in releasing Jonathan Pollard. Has Netanyahu forgotten the unkept promise former president Clinton made on October 23, 1998: "With respect to Mr. Pollard, I have agreed to review this matter seriously, at the Prime Minister's request"? He should remind himself by reading The Wye River Memorandum (Revised Edition, December 1998, published by the Information Division - Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Jerusalem, page 25) and remind Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem Down, and up Sir, - Judy Montagu's "Holding the heart" (August 26) showed that far from being a burden to their families and to society, Down Syndrome children can be a positive attribute, giving love, affection and, to quote Chaia Gilbar, "helping the family to grow." It was with some concern, therefore, that I read that the UK offers an abortion to any pregnant woman testing positive for the Down Syndrome gene. Bearing in mind that statistics prove a total absence of Down people involved in the criminality and lawlessness that so besets modern societies worldwide, perhaps it would be a move in the right direction for scientists to attempt to identify and isolate the gene responsible for this character trait! DAVID S. ADDLEMAN Mevaseret Zion Sir, - When our daughter, Miriam, was born with Down Syndrome, she required life-saving surgery - similar, if not identical, to the surgery required by your writer's friend's daughter. It was suggested that we withhold consent for the procedure and then our problem would be "gone" in a few days. We were told that Miriam would never be able to do the things other children do. Well, she showed them. She speaks, reads and writes Hebrew and English, rides a bike, swims and jumps rope. But more important, she's happy, charms everyone she meets, and simply makes our day. Most important: We and our children are better people than we would have been without her. TASYA AND ZVI STONE Jerusalem

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