letters to the editor 88.
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The real message
Sir, - Breaking the Silence presented a program at Yakar in Jerusalem last week. We learned that over 400 soldiers have come forward with stories of IDF abuse of Palestinians in the West Bank. The message: We must confront our moral turpitude at home and publicize it overseas.
I disagree. We don't claim perfection. We know we fall short of our aspirations. But we should praise the general restraint of our soldiers in dealing with an enemy population.
Checkpoints are places of high tension and danger. Yet, daily, thousands of Palestinians pass safely through - inconvenienced, but not abused.
We can be proud that IDF soldiers don't take pleasure in checkpoint duty, that relatively few instances of abuse occur and that abusers are punished. And we can be proud that after 58 years of war we are trying to act morally.
That's the real message Breaking the Silence should be taking to the world ("Who speaks for the Zionists?" Jonathan Tobin, February 4).
Diaspora heroes on
their flying machines?
Sir, - Natan Sharansky has called for Jewish and Zionist groups to dog Iranian diplomats and missions wherever they are, echoing the anti-Soviet protests of the 70s ("Mobilize now, save the world," February 12). One wonders: Where are our Diaspora heroes during the so-called Israel Apartheid Week? There should be strident and continuous protest going on at every venue ("The apartheid libel," Editorial, February 15).
More than that, it is high time our Diaspora defenders set up permanent "flying squads" to go into action at short notice. Similar action on the Internet is already working - but where is it on the ground? This is the real lesson of this miserable farce.
ANTHONY & JUDITH LUDER
Sir, - Natan Sharansky's call to "Mobilize now and save the world" should be applauded. Everyone complains about Iran, but he has suggested concrete steps that can be taken.
To resist seduction...
Sir, - In "More than a walkway" (February 12), Daoud Kuttab almost mesmerizes, using his mantra "There are reasonable Arab-Muslims with whom one can talk" to morph the clear need for a safe walkway to the Temple Mount into a sneaky Israeli political stratagem.
The brouhaha over the routine presence of the Antiquities Authority at an excavation site - because of the possible unearthing of valuable historical artifacts - stands in painful contrast to the Wakf's wholesale destruction within the Mount itself when it made way for a huge underground mosque. Aside from some mild protest, we Jews then also acted as if in a trance. Tons and tons of rubble were unceremoniously dumped; and Antiquities personnel scavenged, like beggars, for the discarded remnants of our great heritage.
Our daily prayers continue the tradition of more than 2,000 years: Every Monday we recite, as did the Levites in the Holy Temple, Psalm 48, in which we Jews are enjoined to "encircle her" (Jerusalem). "Mark well in your hearts her ramparts... so that you may recount it to succeeding generations. For this is God... forever and ever, He will guide us eternally."
With this firmly in mind, we have the protection we need to withstand the seductive pull of any false cooing about sweet reason and peace.
MIRIAM L. GAVARIN
Sir, - Our government is searching for ways to appease the Muslims regarding our work at the Western Wall. Why? It is our territory and the work is necessary for the safety of Jews who wish to worship at our holiest site.
We are not sure how to respond to the Mecca agreement. Why? The Palestinians gave us their response - "Four Kassams hit Western Negev" (February 11).
End to intimidation
Sir, - Alan Dershowitz once wrote a book about a strong offense being the best defense. The Arabs took his advice. Unfortunately, Israel did not.
The violence at the Temple Mount is less about possible damage to Islamic sites and more about intimidation. Note what happened when the Arabs started clearing Solomon's Stables, disregarding precious Jewish artifacts and international rules about archeological structures. They let our government know that if the work was interfered with widespread violence would result.
The government was intimidated and did nothing to stop the digging. The reason given: It did not want to encroach on religious Islamic feelings.
Look back over the last 10 years and see how many times Israel has tailored its decisions so as "not to interfere with Islamic sensibilities."
The threat of violence has worked on Amir Peretz and other officials, who say we should stop work on the Mughrabi walkway and get the Arabs' consent to continue ("Secrecy and capital strife," Anshel Pfeffer, February 12).
Our construction has nothing to do with the Aksa mosque. And if we give in yet again, there will be no end. It's time to take Dershowitz's advice and put up our own strong offense, showing that we won't be intimidated any longer.
Out of neverland
Sir, - Karen Koning Abuzayd, commissioner-general of UNRWA, begins "Who UNRWA is, and what we do" (February 14) by saying "UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees while a solution was being sought to the conflict." Now, 58 years later, how can she justify perpetuating this refugee crisis when a solution was found to the initial conflict - the establishment of the State of Israel with UN recognition?
The humanitarian solution was and still is clear: to resettle the remaining refugees where they are and not continue to nourish their hope of returning to their homes. The refugees of WWII gave up that hope long ago, and the same is true of every other war in the 20th century.
Only the Palestinians still wait in a neverland, never going back to their original domicile and, for political reasons, never being resettled.
This must stop, or UNRWA will still exist in another 58 years.