February 19: Muddled Madeleine

I can only hope the American people will be wise enough to save us from a repeat performance by Madeleine Albright.

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Muddled Madeleine Sir, - Kudos for revealing what we in the Middle East may expect should Hillary Clinton win the presidency and appoint Madeleine Albright her secretary of state - for if we learned anything during the four years in which she held that position (1996-2000), it was that the US had no foreign policy; she simply muddled through ("Muddled Madeleine," Editorial, February 18). Indeed, I often wonder who was looking out for the Middle East when president Bill Clinton was otherwise preoccupied in the Oval Office. Was it Albright? If so, I can only hope the American people will be wise enough to save us from a repeat performance; for over here, we are still trying to recover from her previous attempt at Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution: the Camp David fiasco of July 2000. ZALMEN SINGER Jerusalem Merci pour rien, M. Kouchner Sir, - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner comes to Israel to say there is no great hurry to halt Iran's nuclear drive, but that the way to do so is via France's strategy of sanctions. At the same time, he urges Israel to seek a cease-fire with Hamas. By handing Hamas victory on a plate, recognizing its domination of Gaza, all Israel would be doing was ensuring it would soon be confronting Hamas in the West Bank - in which case, instead of Sderot, it would be Kfar Saba or Modi'in facing the daily barrage of Kassams. Judging from this poor strategic advice, reminiscent of France's performance in 1940, Kouchner would have done better to stay at home ("Kouchner to 'Post': Israel must reach cease-fire with Hamas," February 18). PETER SIMPSON Jerusalem Kassam wall Sir, - What happens to the Kassam rockets that are lobbed into Israel? Added together, wouldn't they make a good, solid wall? Since the media, especially in the West, largely ignores the continual barrage of Kassams, such an undeniable, visual statement would be a powerful way to show what has become de-facto life for many Israelis ("Sderot students rally in capital, demand Olmert step down," February 18). GABRIELLA SAMUEL Asheville, North Columbia The revenge factor Sir, - Imad Mughniyeh's liquidation took place exactly three years after the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Hariri was only one in a succession of politicians in Fuad Siniora's ruling party to be liquidated by car bombs. None of the murders have been solved. It seems only logical that Mughniyeh's professional touch was involved in all these murders, which greatly served his boss, Hassan Nasrallah, who will go to any length to push Siniora out of power. And how convenient to blame Israel for the liquidation as an excuse to embark on more local and worldwide terror. The location, Syria, was ideal; had it happened in Lebanon, there could have been a full-scale civil war. Our secret service is being given the credit, but several political murders cannot go unsolved without some revenge being taken ("Defense officials say Africa likely target for Hizbullah retaliation," February 18). DAVID GOSHEN Kiryat Ono Let's test that hand Sir, - In "An outstretched hand" (February 15) David Kimche responded very enthusiastically to the outstretched hand of Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal. But did he substantiate his enthusiasm and that of his colleagues mentioned in the article? What, for example, does the prince mean by "peace"? Is it sulh (peace - shalom - in the true sense of the term); or mere hudna (a kind of armistice) which could be followed up by the next round of hostilities as soon as the situation seems favorable? If he meant sulh/shalom, what about the jihad against Israel, propagated first by Mufti Amin el-Husseini (in 1943 in a broadcast from Radio Berlin), and then widely adopted in the Arab/Muslim world? Are the Saudi royalty, the "Guardians of Mecca," ready to outlaw that jihad against Israel as plainly contradicting the teaching of the Koran? True, officially there is no jihad against Israel. There is no caliph, or caliphate, which could declare jihad officially. But the idea predominates, poisoning the minds of millions of Muslims, especially youngsters. Or perhaps that "outstretched hand" is another attempt to implement the advice of Andrei Gromyko, then Russian foreign minister, at the Geneva Conference of 1974, where he told the Arab delegates: "First, you should try by all means to retrieve the territories you lost (in 1967) - the rest will be easy." Let's first test the outstretched hand of the Saudi prince; and then, if proven true and trustworthy, accept it gladly. ASHER EDER Jewish Co-Chairman Islam-Israel Fellowship Jerusalem Lantos's struggle must continue Sir, - Re "Tom Lantos's liberal anti-authoritarianism" (Tom Dine, February 16): The death of Tom Lantos is a tremendous loss for human rights. Lantos fought against the membership of non-democratic regimes in the former UN Commission of Human Rights. With China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Cuba now on the new Human Rights Council, there is an urgent need to continue Lantos's struggle. In 2001, at the UN conference against racism in Durban, South Africa, Lantos witnessed "the most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews [he] had seen since the Nazi period." After exerting every effort to prevent the worst, Lantos led the US withdrawal. The world is now preparing for the "Durban II" follow-up conference in 2009. Libya has been appointed to chair the Executive Committee of the Preparatory Committee. Iran and Cuba have been nominated as vice-chairmen. To perpetuate the legacy of Tom Lantos, we must prevent a recurrence of the abuses that plagued Durban I and not allow the Human Rights Council to go down the path of the now-defunct Commission on Human Rights. OPHELIE NAMIECH UN Watch Geneva Unseemly, and a threat Sir, - Is it not unseemly and a threat to our separation of powers to have the president of the Supreme Court engage in political activity? ("Beinisch says Friedmann's reform proposals may be unconstitutional," February 18.) We cannot expect members of the bar to engage in objective discussion of this important issue, because many are hoping for judicial appointments. Many of us have lost faith in the Knesset properly considering it. The present system of selecting members of the Supreme Court allows for a self-perpetuating court, and this is a danger to a democratic society. The Post should be applauded for printing the columns of Sarah Honig, Evelyn Gordon and Jonathan Rosenblum, who have written about our Supreme Court. Our TV outlets are too busy with nonsense to allow time for a balanced discussion of the topic. ARNOLD SULLUM Jerusalem Flight plan? Sir, - Re "Daredevil Steve Fossett declared dead" (February 18): I think this may be a bit hasty. No remains of Fossett's plane were found. How do we know he didn't just decide to fly on and take the opportunity to start a new life? It's been done before, and most likely will be done again. JUDY GOLDIN Kiryat Ono