Why so fearful, Israel?
Sir, - Why is Israel so afraid that some civilians might be killed while the IDF is fighting against the terror in Gaza? We hear that the terrorists hide in populated areas. In every war civilians are killed. It is impossible to avoid it. And what did the most civilized nations, like England and the US, do during WW2? Did they supply Nazi Germany with fuel, gas, electricity, medicine and food? They even bombed many civilian towns into small pieces.
Nobody expects such warfare of Israel. But also your nation is not obliged to let many of her own civilians be harmed - in order not to harm some civilian Arabs.
Are the Palestinians so much more valuable than the Jews? I understand that you are afraid the world will condemn you. But the world is against you anyway, condemning you also when you do good things.
I feel very strongly with your suffering population in the south, and pray that your government will make the right decisions ("150 Sderot families consider evacuating children to US," January 21).
Rocket for rocket?
Sir, - Commenting on Israel's decision to suspend fuel supplies to Gaza, from where rockets and mortars are constantly fired on Israel, UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said: "The logic of this defies basic humanitarian standards" ("Defense officials: Gaza food will run out by midweek," January 21).
British humanitarian rights group Oxfam was also quick to condemn the fuel cutoff, calling it "ineffective as well as unlawful." Interestingly, neither UNRWA nor Oxfam saw fit to condemn the preceding rain of rockets and mortar shells on Sderot's civilians as either inhumane or unlawful.
I was in Sderot last month interviewing citizens on the situation when a salvo of Gaza rockets struck. One oft-repeated sentiment I heard was, "Why won't our government, police and military let us deal with the situation ourselves? We'll make our own rockets and fire back for every rocket the Gazans shoot at us." The general consensus was that it would take no more than three days of this random civilian response for UNRWA, Oxfam and the rest of the international community to suddenly find the means and the words to bring Gaza's rocket fire to a complete standstill.
Sir, - Israel has made a start in limiting supplies to our enemies; it's time we ceased supplying electricity and other commodities entirely, with the expressed notification that until the rockets stop, there will be no supplies from Israel.
Sir, - Throughout history, humanitarian crises have resulted from war. Gazan Arabs claim they are presently in such a crisis - but it is the direct result of an undeclared war waged against Israel by Gazan soldiers and their missiles.
As an Israeli citizen, the prime humanitarian crisis I am concerned about is the one Israel's government isn't eliminating: the one that's been going on in Sderot for over six years.
Snatchers & discarders
Sir, - There are two questions in the Post
of January 20. The first, in "Israel must not decide alone" by Natan Sharansky, was one he posed to Ehud Barak after Camp David: "Why is it that Arafat feels that Jerusalem belongs to all Arabs and Muslims? Comments Sharansky: "He had no right to make the decision [to relinquish the city] alone and therefore needed to consult the Arab and Muslim League."
The second question came in a letter from reader Judy Goldin: "Why were bomb shelters not built in Sderot when the Kassam attacks started?"
These two questions have one answer. The Arabs are unified in their respect for the role of time in history; and so Arafat did not immediately grab Barak's offer.
Among a large section of the Jewish population here - and to some extent in the Diaspora - this respect for time has been blunted, if not entirely destroyed, by the "Peace Now" mantra. It is as if there were no past to learn from, as if peace could be obtained this minute, at most in a day or two, or by fiat, within months, as per Annapolis. So why go to the bother and expense of building shelters, of maintaining a full defense force, of having a proper respect for the enormous task of defeating a determined and wily enemy that has so eagerly snatched up discarded, time-honored Jewish history as its own, for devastatingly effective propaganda purposes?
MIRIAM L. GAVARIN
Sir, - When the name Bobby Fischer popped up in the obit section of most papers, it came with the facts, figures and events of his life - doing, to my mind, a grave injustice to this iconic figure and chess-playing phenomenon.
Fischer's monumental chess battle against the former Soviet Union champion, Boris Spassky, was the same geopolitical battle that brought the American team victory over the Russians in the 1980 Olympics; or victory to Canada over the Soviet Union in the 1972 Summit Series; only this time one man stood alone against a nation that was historically the very best in the international world of chess.
The inner emotional turmoil that would ultimately destroy Bobby Fischer in his later years will never sully the moment that made him the first, and only, American to hold the title of World Chess Champion. For young chess players like myself at that time, this is what I'll remember about the life of Bobby Fischer ("'Pride and sorrow of chess'" dies at 64," January 20).
Sir, - Calev Ben-David's "The tragic endgame of a brilliant, tormented, self-hating Fischer king" (January 20) overlooked the relationship between Jews and chess, and was mistaken in saying that chess was "derided for centuries by leading rabbis." An excellent article on the matter is "Judaism and chess" by Gustavo Perednik, available in several languages on the Internet.
For the record
Sir, - I would like to point out some errors in "What Lieberman didn't do for the immigrants" (January 18).
1. I have never served as aliya and absorption minister. Twice (from 1999-2000 and from 2005-2006), I was deputy minister of aliya and absorption.
2. The article created the impression that I had criticized MK Avigdor Lieberman and other MKs from Israel Beiteinu for not supporting the broadcasting of Channel 9 to all television viewers.
What I actually said in the meeting of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee devoted to the issue was that only Russian-speaking MKs from the Kadima, Israel Beiteinu and Likud factions supported introducing Channel 9 into the basic TV package and fought to see this happen, while MKs who were not Russian speakers, from both the opposition and the coalition, fought against it.
MK MARINA SOLODKIN
Sir, - We have been subscribers of your paper for the past nine years, and the good delivery service Mary Popper has had does not extend to the Jerusalem area ("Satisfied customer," January 13). Many mornings I have found our paper lying in wet areas, without a plastic bag, and maybe once or twice in front of our door - after we complained.
We too would like front-door service, but then again, we do not live in Herzliya.