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Sir, - It is so elementary and obvious that Yona Baumel, a father who speaks from tragic personal experience, should not have been required to rightly insist that Israel stop allowing Red Cross visits to Arab prisoners ("Stop Red Cross visits to Israeli prisons," December 18).
The injustice, the inhumanity and the unspeakable cruelty that terrorists inflict on the families of kidnaped soldiers - without an outburst or even whisper of condemnation from the vaunted human rights advocates who regularly criticize Israel for alleged violations against Palestinians, but who see nothing unfair in denying Red Cross access to Israeli captives - is the epitome of hypocrisy.
The list of IDF hostages, whose whereabouts and conditions remain unknown after so long, grows longer and more heartrending by the year. The thundering silence from organizations and bodies whose raison d'etre should be the fate of these captives will forever be an indelible blot on the conscience of the world.
Here and now
Sir, - In his interesting "Getting past 'normalization'" (December 19), Ray Hanania has lumped all Palestinians into one group and concludes with the statement "They can either start living in reality or they can disappear in the past."
But I see three separate groups of Palestinians, each with its own problems: The Palestinians that identify solely with Hamas and call for the elimination of Israel; the group which is interested in an independent country and will only consider normal relations with Israel after all its demands are met; and Israeli Arabs that when, and if, an independent country is established may opt for dual citizenship similar to that enjoyed by many people living in Israel today.
By concentrating our efforts to improve the lot of the Israeli Arabs we might be able break all three groups' ties to the past and make them view Israel as an asset to both Arabs and Jews to help obtain a quality of life that until now has been unobtainable. We must live in reality, because disappearing into the past is not a solution.
Sir, - I was very moved by the picture of three young Russian soldiers posing with the new chief rabbi of the Russian armed forces ("Russian Army gets its first chief rabbi since 1917 revolution," December 17). It is extraordinary that the same Russia that once conscripted small Jewish boys as a means of cutting them off from their families and the Jewish faith now has a military rabbi to attend to the religious needs of Jewish soldiers. Stories like these are a testament to the indomitable Jewish spirit which has allowed us to persevere through the most trying conditions.
Sir, - I have wondered why it is often reported that meetings on settling strikes, disputes and government decisions take place at night. I finally realized that with the time difference between here and America, officials have to meet when it's night here to call and get an OK.
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