letters to the editor 88.
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It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world
Sir, - Have we gone mad? ("Israel to remove 27 W. Bank roadblocks," December 26.) Surely there are enough guns in the Palestinian Authority. Why on earth are we giving them more? Kassam rockets rain down on Sderot, and all we can do is give the Palestinians more weapons. Are we also providing the bullets to go with them?
I would strongly suggest that we start demanding gestures of good faith from the PA - but don't hold your breath!
FRIEDA I. ROSS
No military option
Sir, - I write as coordinator of an appeal from parliamentarians and civil society on Iran. The appeal has been endorsed by large numbers of parliamentarians and NGOs worldwide.
There is no military option on Iran. Any talk of one is irresponsible in the extreme and merely serves to convince the Iranians, who currently do not (according to the CIA) have a military nuclear program (yet), that they should have one, and fast.
Talk of military action and military action itself do not serve the cause of Israeli security, and merely serve to make a bad situation immeasurably worse.
A military solution to these problems simply does not exist - certainly not in the long term, and most probably not even in the short term ("'Iran may still be stopped peacefully,'" December 26).
New South Wales Australia
Sir, - In a globalizing world with no effective borders many, especially in the industrialized nations, have been speaking of a "clash of civilizations" and of "cultural imperialism." This rift can be smoothed through mutual respect for each other's values. There is an urgent need for a balanced exchange of intellectual property.
Islam is one the greatest civilizations, providing key solutions to the problems of social instability and challenging dialogue among cultures. If we look between Cordoba in Spain, Sana'a in Yemen and Jakarta in Indonesia, we will see how advanced Islam was in the areas of architecture (el-Saheli), medicine (Avicenna), mathematics (algebra), philosophy (Ibn Rushd), history (Ibn Battuta), political science (Ibn Khaldun), mystics (al-Ghazali), astrology (al-Sufi), etc.
All these achievements have been rendered "useless" today due to a blind fanaticism which strangulates creativity. There is a vacuum waiting to be filled by constructive dialogue between the Islamic and the Western culture in particular. Sadly, the unfortunate events of September, 11, 2001, and the existing international policies of the "superpowers" have so far hindered an accurate exhibition of Islamic culture and progressive values.
Added to this is the mainstream media aggrandization of "Muslim suicide bombers versus American soldiers." This myopic media policy has helped extremists on both sides of the so-called "war on terror" hijack mature intellectual discourse - cutting off the moderate voices that stand for the correct application of Islam as a religion of peace, tolerance and progress.
Worst of all, the silent majority is being subjected to collective punishment as Islam and its symbols are, for dubious reasons, associated with violence.
We, the International Islamic Institute of Peace and Geopolitical Studies (www.islamic-peace.org) seek to be a development partner of all moderate citizens of this world, be they Muslims, People of the Book, or ancestral followers, since Islam is a tolerant faith.
International Islamic Institute
of Peace and Geopolitical Studies
Sir, - Even a very young child quickly learns to distinguish between a parent's idle threats and those that will bring the threatened consequences, and adjust his or her behavior accordingly. There seems to be a policy here in Israel of making threats, but then not following through. Our enemies know this. When they treat those threats accordingly, why should we be surprised?
Ad nauseam we have heard: "No negotiations under fire, no exchange of prisoners unless certain conditions are met, we will protect our citizens, etc., etc." Yet how many times has our government followed through on these threats? Not many.
We now hear about a very possible release of Palestinian prisoners, even thought Cpl. Gilad Shalit has not been released and there is no realistic expectation that he will be. This is just another futile gesture on our part - even though such gestures have not paid off in the past ("PM orders review of prisoner releases before Shalit set free," December 26).
Statements about "protecting our citizens" evidently exclude the Kassam rockets, which continue to fall within Israel, terrifying and terrorizing our citizens.
Our enemies have learned that if they wait long enough they will get what they want, no matter what we say. And as long as we continue along this path there won't be any reason for anyone to believe us. We will be strengthening our enemies and continuing to suffer the consequences.
Sir, - When are we going to stop offering the other cheek to our enemies?
Take politics out of education
Sir, - As an new immigrant from the US who has been impressed by the technological acumen of Israel and is involved in technology here, I am distressed by how petty politics and third world attitudes affect the educational budget.
Education is crucial for the whole country's moral and technological development; to decrease any group's educational funding - in the current case, religious institutions' - because those groups are not in the ruling coalition or have different methods of educating their children is something every member of the country should oppose. Another recurrent issue is politicians' involvement in rewriting textbooks.
I propose instead that an educational voucher be granted to every child's parents enabling them to choose a school. We can then take the politics out of education once and for all ("State religious schools go on strike," December 25).
Argument for aliya
Sir, - Wendy Mogel's "Why can't David and Rachel enjoy the Christmas glitz?" (December 17) made the best possible argument for American Jews to make aliya.
Christmas celebrates the birth of the man called Jesus whom the Christians believe to be the Messiah and we Jews consider another false messiah, a belief for which we have been savagely persecuted for almost 2,000 years.
Modern, glitzy America tends to secularize this holiday to the extent that its religious connotations are lost to many people. As an American-Israeli Jew, I thank the God of my forefathers for letting me avoid this mad Christmas hype by living in Israel, especially at this season.
HAIM M. LERNER
'Sorry - can't hear you!'
Sir, - In From our Archives (December 25), you reported that in 1981 the Health Ministry was considering the installation in wedding halls of a measuring device that would warn when the noise exceeded a reasonable level. Perhaps someone could enquire whether the ministry has completed its consideration. The device is sorely needed. I suggest it be wired to the musicians' amplification equipment to limit the noise level automatically.