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Sir, - My op-ed "Kosovo deserves independence" (November 27) in the Post was in reply to Caroline Glick's column "Islam and the nation-state" (November 13), and not to any column written by my honorable colleague Mr. Miodrag Isakov, ambassador of Serbia in Israel ("The case against Kosovo independence," December 13).
Any ambassador has to advocate his/her official position, but with all due respect to Mr. Isakov, I have to make clear a number of points.
First, the atrocities in Kosovo committed by the Serbian Army in 1999 were the most documented events witnessed and condemned by the international community after World War II. When I speak of atrocities, I mean Milosevic's Serbia, not Tadic's and/or Kostunica's, although the latter has openly expressed his anti-NATO stance. What is even worse, not a single Serbian politician has ever asked for a public apology. Instead, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, in his visit to Kosovo last year, met with the representatives of the Serbian minority and denounced isolated cases of violence.
Second, Kosovo was annexed by "the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians," as my colleague wishes to specify, but it was in 1923 that this annexation was recognized by the commission entrusted by the League of Nations, which determined also the Albanian-Yugoslav border.
Third, attempts to link Kosovo with "the Nazi regime," the so-called "Greater Albania" and the 21st SS Division "Skanderbeg" that allegedly "committed genocide against the Serbian and Jewish population" - as my colleague has said - are speculations, as there is no such a reality of "Greater Albania."
Regarding the genocide Isakov has mentioned, this is false and invented by Carl Savich, James Jatras and Srdja Trifkovic, known for their extreme attitudes against Albanians. Jatras, for example, is known for having excommunicated former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, calling him "a pagan" for marrying a Jewish young lady, Mrs. Kitty Dukakis. Meanwhile, Trifkovic is the spokesman for accused war criminals General Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic.
Instead, my Serbian colleague may refer to Noel Malcolm's Kosovo: A Short History (NY, 1998), as the most authoritative work on Kosovo in our time.
Concerning the number of Jews saved by Albanians: This is untrue. I suggest he visit Yad Vashem's Righteous Among Nations list.
Finally, there is no need for me to make the Albanian case to the Israelis, as this was already done by the US and the EU, united in their attitudes and actions.
Kosovo will not declare independence unilaterally, but in coordination with the US, Britain, France, Italy and Germany. Other countries will then join, including former Yugoslav countries. Most policy makers are fully convinced that there is no alternative to independence. Europe needs a multiethnic and democratic state of Kosovo, open to cooperation and neighborliness with Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania.
Ambassador of the Republic of Albania to Israel
Sir, - Tzipi Livni's statements often are contradictory and confused. This made all the more refreshing her straightforward comment on Thursday that "current events," i.e. terrorism by Fatah and Hamas, must not get in the way of forging ahead with the so-called "peace process," providing the terrorists with a steady stream of unearned and unreciprocated Israeli concessions ("Livni: Separate talks with PA from situation on ground," December 14).
To divorce conditions tomorrow from reality today is to deny the foundational logical principle of cause and effect - a denial that one would expect to find only in a person suffering from a severe mental disability.
DAVID B. GREENBERG
Sir, - Citizens have a right to expect an equitable allocation of resources from a democratic government. If the government has plenty of money, that should work out to quality medical care, education, housing and sanitation for everyone. If resources are limited, then even in the context of equitability, it must be taken into consideration that such benefits are not basic human rights, like freedom of speech and freedom of religion, though Melanie Takefman tries to lump them together ("A sewer runs through it," December 12).
After all, I have freedom of speech and religion unless someone takes them away from me. I don't have medical care, education or housing unless I obtain them from someone.
I think most Israelis would be delighted to see nothing but model neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. But if the residents there largely refuse Israeli citizenship, largely evade taxes, largely resent the presence of Jewish Israelis even for benign purposes and largely oppose the goals of the State of Israel - including the practice by Jews of certain basic human rights - then nobody should be surprised that their slice of the government's less-than-sumptuous budget is a small one. Unrequited altruism exhausts itself.
The government would do well to seek further ways of weaning east Jerusalem away from the hostile mentality that alienates it, against its own interests, from the State of Israel.
MARK L. LEVINSON
Sir, - After all these excruciating weeks of strife within the education system, the outcome is a shameful farce, compromising both students and dedicated teachers.
Desperately needed educational reform and financial incentives are a prerequisite for the finest jewel in Israel's crown: our youth, whose talents are so imperative for the future. Once again, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his political hacks have failed to supplant top-heavy bureaucracy and dysfunction sponsored by their ineffectual, negligent and blinkered appointees.
Haviv Rettig comments ("The Treasury's shining hour?" December 14) that "the strike has only contributed to a widespread feeling... that the country is led by a political class disconnected from the daily struggles of ordinary Israelis." Why, then, are we the electorate so apathetic and inured to opposing the system and forcing electoral reform, whereby a talented, accountable and moral leadership could emerge to correctly prioritize the enormous reservoir of talent within our youthful citizens?
GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS
Smoke and mirrors
Sir, - I am convinced an error was made in The Jerusalem Post. "Labor MK forms pro-smoking lobby in Knesset" (December 14) surely belonged in the comic section. I am incensed at MK Yoram Marciano's decision to introduce legislation repealing recent anti-smoking laws. Secondary smoke is a serious hazard that exposes people to diseases associated with cigarette smoking. My family went bowling over the Hanukka break. When we went in August, there were no smoking restrictions, which made the fun event less sweet. But last week, we were delighted to see the no-smoking sign and that the law is being enforced. Marciano is wrong to try to repeal the new laws. I understand his wife still smokes. Maybe he should check out the latest findings about the danger he is in and leave the rest of us alone.
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