(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - "Olmert and Livni now ready to pay more for Schalit, officials say" (February 8) sounds like the height of hutzpa and cynicism. For 1,000 days they weren't "ready" - but two days before elections they are champing at the bit to send hundreds of murderers back to Gaza.
Sir, - I'm sorry for Gilad Schalit, and for his family and friends, but we should not release murderers, much less leaders of murderers, among them Marwan Barghouti. Any party privy to such an exchange should be punished harshly at the polls on Tuesday.
Let's make sure that those who support such a deal don't return to the Knesset.
Sir, - It's a shame that some candidates for the upcoming elections are using Gilad Schalit's release in exchange for the outrageous price Hamas has set as a political drawing card for extra votes. We dare not pay such an exorbitant price.
That politics is the apparent motive and not the best interests of our people is disgusting. We all know that most of the released terrorists will return to their bloodthirsty pursuit of Jewish victims. We must therefore stop this precedent of disproportionate prisoner exchanges.
My apologies to the Schalit family and to Gilad, but such a prisoner exchange will endanger many more Israelis. We must not free these murderers.
The battle for hearts and minds
Sir, - Re "Israel deports Gaza aid ship crew" (February 8): It is surely a frustrating war Israel has been drawn into, on more fronts than the actual one. Israel doesn't respond, and no one is satisfied. Israel does respond, and people say, "See how many more people Israel kills than Hamas does!"
Still, one has a nagging feeling that something is not right given those asymmetrical casualty figures. Then I was made to realize that this "disproportionate" business had more to do with using military force against non-military targets, concerning which Hamas is overwhelmingly the guilty party.
You can expect Muslims not to have any sympathy for Israel out of loyalty, and while Jew-haters will continue to do their poisonous best, I'd guess that most people in those recent protests simply do not understand the issues ("Anti-Semitism rears head in Iceland," February 2). A significant number would be swayed by NGOs like Amnesty - whose latest circular here mainly vilifies Israel - and widely influential journalists like Robert Fisk.
It seems to me that central to the Arab-Israeli conflict is the perception that of the two peoples, Arab Palestinians deserve the most sympathy as those who have been robbed of their homes and denied their rights.
Looking into it further myself, I found that this "fact" is not so clear-cut either. The battle for hearts and minds is the war that has to be won. If you can reverse the trend in this propaganda war, the rest should be easy.
Invercargill, New Zealand
Sir, - Sometimes I would suspect that some kind of Murphy's Law for writers applies to Larry Derfner; whatever can go wrong in his text, goes wrong. And indeed, both examples he uses in "The moral superiority of an F-16" (February 5) are completely wrong.
More than 30 years after the fall of Saigon and 20 years since the bipolar world started to crumble, he should know that the Vietnam conflict was no popular revolt but a proxy war between the two blocs. As such, the Vietcong was no popular movement but more or less a regular army supported mostly by China and the Soviet Union. They were quite often hated by the locals, and did not care much about that.
There are many recorded cases of Vietcong leveling a village to the ground and killing almost everybody in it because they suspected them of supporting the other side. It was the communist media and bolshevized Western media that built the image of folk heroes.
True, the Algerian rebels were rooted in the population of Algiers, but, much unlike Hamas, they did not have any intentions where France proper was concerned. Any terrorist attacks in France were mostly the work of the Secret Army Organization.
Sir, - Larry Derfner compares our Gaza campaign to the French war in Algeria.
In May 1945, Arabs massacred 103 Europeans. The reprisal: Dive bombers blew 40 villages to pieces; a cruiser shelled others from the sea. The French reported 1,300 killed, the Arabs claimed 45,000.
Ben Bella and Belkasem Krim openly stated their strategy, pioneered by the mufti in Palestine, to provoke French reprisals, place the Muslims in a sandwich of terror and drive them into the extremist camp.
But it was the Muslim men of peace that the FLN really hated. While killing 1,035 Europeans, they slaughtered and mutilated nearly 20,000 Muslims.
In spite of his callous behavior toward his own people, Ben Bella was elected prime minister in 1962, when the French left.
Sir, - Larry Derfner declares us the bad guys because we used our vastly superior weapons of war against the primitive weapons of the Palestinians.
So be it. I'm okay with being bad so long as my people are safe.
Sir, - Larry Derfner presents Israel as a powerful bully going after a pesky kid. But this pesky kid is intent on Israel's annihilation. Nor does Mr. Derfner mention his big strong brother, Iran, egging him on and rewarding his behavior. Repeatedly, Israel warned Hamas to stop or get hurt.
Mr. Derfner decries the bombing of the Hamas parliament and public buildings, but what better way to show our enemy up for what he is than by taking away his trappings?
Sir, - I think that this time Larry Derfner has crossed even Israel's indeterminate red lines.
Shame on him for what can only be called aiding and abetting the enemy.
Larry Derfner responds:
Some wars are immoral, but if no one may ever write such a thing because that's "aiding and abetting the enemy," then freedom of the press should be outlawed during wartime.
Job fill = skill kill
Sir, - I loved the February 4 letters in response to my op-ed "Why I'm heading back to the US" (February 3).
As I pointed out, I'm highly skilled in an area Israel says is critical to its success. The job response, from undereducated olim from 20 years ago, is "Take anything at all."
Guess what, I didn't come here straight out of high school or college. I don't need to take any job, and I'm extremely well qualified to take jobs that have been listed.
When your letter writers can address why companies 8,000 miles away are interested in my CV while companies less than a mile from me won't talk to me, they'll begin the process of introspection rather than continuing the Israeli practice of missing the point.