(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - I agree with Judy Prager about the death penalty ("The impending prisoner swap," Letters, February 18). If Israel could waive its abolishment of the death penalty once, to enable Adolf Eichmann to be put to death, why not other mass killers?
Each had the intention of murdering as many Jews as possible. So the difference between Eichmann and killers like Marwan Barghouti is not one of intent, but of degree.
Our high moral standards give terrorists the knowledge that their only possible punishment is a short vacation in Israeli jails. If they knew death was their punishment, perhaps there would be fewer incentives to capture Israelis for ransom.
At the very least, Israel might not have to pay such a horrendous price to get its boys back.
Netanya/ Stamford, Connecticut
It's about protection
Sir, - Re "Victims' families torn by prospect of releasing terrorists for Gilad" (February 18): Gilad Schalit swore an oath to defend Israel from its enemies. How will he sleep each time he reads about a released murderer killing another Israeli?
Israel needs to stop this kind of trafficking in human flesh.
No deal, period. Not even one prisoner who may kill again.
Protect your country.
A torrent of reconciliation
Sir, - As someone who lives many thousands of miles away, I have watched the events in your country unfold with mixed emotions. Having been to Israel on three occasions, I know firsthand what a beautiful and amazing country it is. It therefore greatly saddens me to see the turmoil and division in a country with an unparalleled history.
I pray that your new prime minister and his or her government will show not only wisdom but also great compassion at a time when emotions run high and actions take place when, at other times, words would prevail. I also ask and pray that in "victory," Israel will be magnanimous, brave and show the face of compassion to the innocent victims who have suffered, whoever they may be. Let Israel show the true face of a nation that knows more than anybody what suffering and pain really mean.
Let the whole world see the mercy and compassion of a proud and God-fearing nation. Surprise everyone by holding out your hand in providing whatever is necessary to heal wounds; bury the dead, feed the hungry, house the homeless and console the bereaved. For is this not what God would have us do?
Have mercy and compassion, Israel, and may the world be astonished by your actions. Remember, too, that peace and reconciliation carries no flag, has no country and is not proud but rewarded with acceptance and respect.
May everyone shed tears, tears that run together and become a torrent of reconciliation.
Finally, may I quote the amazing words of a young girl who recently saw the death of her sisters in a way that words utterly fail: "If you don't have tears in your eyes, you cry in your heart." Need I say more? ("Maggots can metamorphose," Letters, February 17.)
Highlight those figures
Sir, - The statistics of those killed in Gaza do not highlight the numbers of Fatah supporters executed by Hamas fighters under cover of war. Some, in prison pending trial, accused of assisting Israel, were injured and had been transferred to hospital when the prison was bombed. There are eyewitnesses who saw the killings in the hospital.
Further reports from our security services since the end of the fighting cover the continuing Hamas executions of Fatah supporters. These figures should be taken into account in investigating and publishing the number of killed; also those killed as a result of Hamas using human shields and forcing people at gunpoint to stay in their homes after warnings of imminent IAF bombings were received ("UN moves to determine own Gaza war civilian casualty figures," February 17).
We got wet, and for what?
Sir, - Why did we go out in the pouring rain to vote for someone who hasn't a chance of forming a large enough political bloc to rule? ("Plenty of brakes, but no engine," Amnon Rubinstein, February 18). Electoral reform is the number 1 priority of our next Knesset - if we manage to have a Knesset at all.
I would make things simple: a party on the Left, a party on the Right, and whichever of these is the largest - if it gained less than 60 seats - to join with a center party. This would make a viable government.
Otherwise, whoever we vote for will join with a group which has exactly opposite views to the one we wanted, so why bother?
Sir, - I was glad to observe the 2009 elections here even after the hard Gaza conflict. It proved that Israel is really a democracy - no matter how difficult the situation is, you insist on carrying on your democratic system.
I also had interest in your article about women in Israel being more active in the elections as well as in other fields ("Activists urge women to vote to advance rights," February 9). In our last parliamentary elections in Taiwan (2008), we elected 34 female legislators out of a total of 113, compared with 17 out of 120 in Israel's 2006 elections.
When President Ma Ying-jeou was sworn in last May 20, Premier Liu Chao-Shiuan was appointed to organize his cabinet with 10 female ministers.
TERRY G.C. TING
Representative, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
Waiting and hoping, what a disgrace
Sir, - I can't believe tennis star Andy Ram is waiting for a visa and hoping to play in Dubai next week, and that the Israel Tennis Association is not moving to prevent that despicable action.
Don't they understand that if Dubai gives Ram a visa, it will only be because it is trying to whitewash its rejection of Shahar Pe'er, hoping thus to avoid any adverse reaction such as the cancellation of next year's matches there? ("Storm clouds gather over Dubai debacle," Sports, February 18.)
The APT should cancel next week's men's tourney in Dubai. Of course it won't, because if the 1972 Olympics could continue after the murder of the Israeli athletes, then a mere visa refusal won't halt a tennis tournament.
Sir, - I wrote to the Women's Tennis Association about its despicable failure to call off the Dubai tournament in the wake of that country's refusal to allow Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe'er to compete, reminiscent of the world's failure to speak out when the Nazis banned world-class Jewish athletes from competing for Germany at the 1936 Olympics. The WTA should hang its head in shame.
I implore all readers to inundate its website with protests.
Secondhand smoke, firsthand sickness
Sir, - As a nonsmoker, I am frightened to learn how sick I could become after breathing in all the smoke-polluted air around ("Nonsmokers exposed to tobacco smoke face higher risk of dementia, UK, US research study reveals," February 16).
Never mind the smoker who doesn't give a damn about his or her own health; maybe every cigarette packet should tell the story of the damage being done to "the other person."