(photo credit: )
I'm for peace
Sir, - After reading Yoram Dori's "An open letter to Annie Lennox" (January 11) I felt despair and anguish at the manner in which the awful war in Gaza is being used to divide the rest of the world between "pro-Israel and pro-Palestinianâ€š" instead of "pro-peaceâ€š or pro-war."
In my mind, the only distinction that matters right now, as Palestinian and Israeli lives are being lost and endangered by this violent conflict, is whether you support war or peace. I join hands with other humanitarians who support peace.
For every Osher Tewito in Israel, there are at least 100 children who have tragically lost limbs or indeed their lives, to this conflict in Gaza. Each and every single one of these lost childhoods is an immense tragedy, whether Israeli or Palestinian, and I feel the pain for both peoples. I work for peace so that children on both sides of the Gaza-Israel border can be free from rocket and missile attacks. I hope for peace so that these children can know one another, learn from one another, appreciate each other, and maybe, some day in the future, love each other.
What is obvious to us all is that the continuing death toll, which has already claimed almost 900 lives in Gaza, is not going to bring safety to Israelis.
From my perspective, peace and security come with dialogue, not bullets and bombs, and therefore I make no apology for being a leading member of the voice of reason, in opposition to this senseless war. My position is supported by a cross-spectrum of communities in Britain, including my Jewish and Israeli friends.
Mr. Dori: I too have friends and family in Israel, and want to see them safe and secure, in the same way that I want human rights protection for the citizens of Gaza. I am not opposed to Israel, and I do not support Palestinians. I support an end to the war on Gaza.
This is just the first, necessary step. We must then, all of us, campaign for peace negotiations that meet the needs of both parties.
Sir, - I read with interest "Where to talk tough" (Analysis, January 14), and wonder why Israel cannot occupy a narrow strip all along the south of Gaza, running parallel to the Philadelphi Corridor. I believe Israel lost the opportunity to keep such an area when returning Gaza three years ago.
Since Egypt has proven ineffective in stopping the smuggling of weapons via tunnels, it is paramount to Israel's security to occupy such a strip.
I don't believe the sticks and carrots David Horovitz mentions can work. For one thing, the Egyptians will always need to save face with their fellow Islamic peers. Plus, powerful new influences can arise in the region at any time.
The strip would not need to be very wide - just enough to build a high fence and install sensitive detectors that can tell exactly where any new tunnels are being dug. It would, moreover, be so strategically important - while yet so small - that your government should be able to find some land to give to the Palestinians in exchange, thus shutting the mouth of the opponents.
By their votes
shall ye know them
Sir, - On January 25, 2006, in what the world declared to be free and honest elections, Hamas won 74 seats in the Palestinian parliament, compared to Fatah's 45. The elections, monitored by approximately 900 foreign observers, including former president Jimmy Carter, were held up as a festival of democracy by none other than Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. There were no complaints of fraud, intimidation or irregularities from any side or observer.
Therefore, Hamas is, in effect, the legal and lawful government of the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. Actions taken by Hamas are not, therefore, the actions of some underground, independent military group, but of an elected, recognized government.
Thomas Jefferson said, "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." If the residents of Gaza had been showing any hint of unwillingness to be ruled by Hamas, any sign of a desire to be ruled by a more "enlightened" government; had there been any protests over the past eight years against the bombing of Israeli towns and farms - perhaps we wouldn't be where we currently are.
But, alas, there haven't been any of these acts by the people of Gaza. There hasn't been one demonstration calling for a halt to the missile attacks against Israeli cities, not one action protesting the military coup against Fatah (during which hundreds of Palestinians were butchered by Hamas, some of them thrown alive off the roofs of high-rise buildings).
By their own votes and actions the Palestinians in Gaza bear responsibility for the violence instigated by Hamas. And therefore they are being required to pay the price of these actions ("Hamas stops civilians from leaving battle zones," January 14).
Quid pro quo
Sir - Re "Soldiers turn to secret weapon - Jewish spirituality" (January 14): Spirituality doesn't win wars. Unfortunately, there is no quid pro quo with God. Soldiers who are prepared to lay their lives on the line win our wars; spirituality makes it easier to combat the fear of possible death.
I would like to thank the Mea She'arim haredi "prayer hotline" organization for making our sons feel better about dying. When their boys join them on the front lines in Gaza, I will be happy to say some psalms for them too.
Sir, - Re Khaled Abu Toameh's "Heavy losses haven't broken the Hamas regime" (January 14): When an army wins the battle but loses the war, it's called a Pyrrhic victory. I've come to the conclusion that Operation Cast Lead will be just that for the IDF and for Israel.
No matter how much destruction we have seeded in Gaza, no matter how many Hamas terrorists we have killed, the final objective of crushing Hamas will not be met.
Defense Minister Barak talks about achieving deterrence with the force we have employed until now. But he is wrong. No matter how much force we have employed, the terrorists continue to launch rockets at the south. Nothing has been deterred. The terrorists, far from giving up, still engage in endless skirmishes with IDF troops. They don't care a fig for the losses in life they have already suffered.
The loss of the war has repercussions on many levels. It puts the whole Zionist enterprise in the balance. The clock began ticking from the moment it turned out we could not defeat an insane organization of Muslims whose whole raison d'etre is the elimination of Israel, and of Jews generally.
Packed and ready
Sir, - Some will say that Michael Freund's call to "Rebuild Gush Katif" (January 14) is not sensible. Must be something wrong with me, then, because it makes perfect sense to me.
Putting our collective Israeli house back in order in sovereignty-less Gush Katif will not only discourage future wars but reemphasize our positive commitment to a peaceful life, as opposed to the Palestinians' proclivity for war and death. It will emphasize who in the Gaza Strip were the good guys, and who were the bad guys.
From the way many foreign newspapers and some Israeli newspapers had it just a few short years ago, one would have thought that the evil side in the Gaza Strip were the Gush Katif farmers, and the innocent-seeming yet violence-producing Palestinians the good ones. It's time to lay that monstrous lie to rest, in word, thought and deed.
That the people of Gush Katif want this is known to me personally. When I wrote about it to Anita Tucker, one of the original Gush Katif farmers - the only "Anglo-Saxon" among the old-timers there, I believe - she responded by inviting me to join them in their rebuilt house in Gush Katif the very first Shabat after she, her farmer-sons and her grandchildren are given permission to move back.
Put on the cholent, Anita, because our weekend bags are packed and ready.