(photo credit: Courtesy)
Such 'aid' is...
Sir, - In "The inside story of Gaza's blighted border crossings" (January 25) Tovah Lazaroff noted that the humanitarian aid for 1.4 million Gazans is delivered via these crossings. Why, after 60 years, are these Arabs still living on handouts from around the world, discouraging their incentive to support themselves?
Israel, without natural resources apart from brainpower, took in a similar amount of refugees at its founding. It rolled up its sleeves and integrated the refugees into its tiny population. Thus did they become very productive members of the state.
Now, after the self-inflicted Gaza war, the world is again showering the population there with millions of dollars to rebuild - ready for the next round. Is anyone throwing dollars in Israel's direction to repair the damage and make up the financial losses accrued from years of Palestinian shelling and terror on our southern communities?
It's hard to see that anyone would attempt to better themselves by earning an honest living as long as humanitarian aid continued pouring in.
...not the way peace is made
Sir - I am a former Londoner, old enough to remember World War II. May I remind younger readers, and media people, that the British government immediately evacuated London's children to safety when war broke out. Sadly, I lost a two-year-old cousin who happened to be in a London hospital hit by a bomb. I don't think the Germans shed any tears.
As the war dragged on for the next six years, many of us came home but were immediately sent to the countryside again once the Blitz started to escalate.
Gazan families were not so lucky. Their innocent children were cynically used as human shields and propaganda instruments by Hamas. I recently saw on TV the tragic story of the Gazan doctor who lost three daughters.
The Hamas leaders must be laughing their heads off at the world's reaction, and at our earnest soul-searching ("Gazans stay away from Israeli clinic at Erez border crossing," January 21).
Sir, - It's not so complicated. It's not about "disproportionate force," "the occupation" or "lifting the siege." Nor is it about the tragic death of Palestinian civilians.
One thing has to happen before anything else. Hamas has to accept Israel's right to exist, and show a willingness to live and let live. The civilized world should not accept any governing authority that has a charter which commits them to the liquidation of a member of the community of nations.
San Ramon, California
Bowed & blessed
Sir, - Our grandson, an army medic, related: As a group of soldiers bowed down at the call of Barechu during Friday evening prayers, a sniper's bullet whizzed over one soldier. Had he not been bent over, his upper torso parallel to the ground, the Hamas bullet would almost certainly have ripped through his head.
That lucky soldier's recitation of the Hagomel thanksgiving prayer has doubtless been echoed by thousands of others living under God's protective canopy (" 'Miracles and wonders,'" January 13).
BLOSSOM AND ISRAEL RUBIN
Small win only
Sir, - Defense Minister Ehud Barak has claimed Israel "won in a big way" in Gaza, but made only a vague reference to boosting deterrence ("Barak declares victory as IDF completes withdrawal," January 21). He did not speak of "victory," with good reason: This seems to have been neither the intention nor result of the recent battle.
Victory would have meant decimating Hamas and ending the mounting strategic dangers confronting Israel in Gaza. Other reports in the same issue such as "Gaza smuggling tunnels operating despite bombing campaign" show this was not done.
To succeed, Israel needed to accomplish at least two things: retaking the Philadelphi Corridor along the Gaza-Egyptian border and removing Hamas from northern Gaza. Both objectives have long been urged by senior defense and security establishment figures such as Maj.-Gen. Dror Almog, former head of IDF Southern Command; Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin; former Gaza Division commander Col. Motti Yogev, and former defense minister Moshe Arens. Neither has been accomplished.
MORTON A. KLEIN
Zionist Organization of America
Was talking tried?
Sir, - The hard awakening comes when we have to answer such questions as: Is it really something to be proud of when we, with one of the world's best-equipped armies, are able to "win the war" against a densely-populated, impoverished little area armed only with some missiles and nothing to defend itself with, surrounded on the ground, by air and sea?
Could the objectives of this war really not have been achieved otherwise? It was not even tried whether talking to Hamas could have brought the same results as are now being achieved at the expense of the lives of soldiers, civilians - few Israelis, but every one too many; and yes, far too many Palestinians, among them a dreadful lot of children ("Gaza children head back to school," January 25).
Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc)
Vagueness vs clarity
Sir, - "Talk to us" (Editorial, January 22) proposed the need for a pre-election debate between the top candidates. I fail to understand why Avigdor Lieberman was not included among them. Some polls have Israel Beiteinu ahead of Labor, and the trend is clearly in its favor. In some polls, the party is closing in on Kadima.
While Israel Beiteinu does not have the history of Labor or Likud, it has been around longer than Kadima, and in the past elections finished in virtual parity with Likud; a difference of only 116 votes.
Ehud Barak likes to speak with bravado, but Lieberman has been clearest on the issues and most upfront about his platform.
The last elections showed that the nationalist public is searching for a new anchor for its camp; Israel Beiteinu will fulfill this role. The current elections are not about a rightist bloc versus a leftist one, but about who is vague about their platform and who is providing a clear path for Israel to follow. It should be the responsibility of the leader of the camp of vagueness, Binyamin Netanyahu, to confront the leader of the camp of direction, clarity and strength: Avigdor Lieberman.
Candidate No. 21 on the Israel Beiteinu list
Sir, - Judith Kay's sympathy with the Beduin's "first, older wife" is a little misplaced ("Beduin vs Western wives," Letters, January 25).
When we first made aliya in 1949, we lived in Pardess Hanna, which has a large Yemenite quarter, and my wife obtained the home help services of an older Yemenite wife who had recently come over on the "magic carpet" aliya.
Intrigued by the situation, my wife asked the woman how she felt about the existence of a younger wife. The woman replied that she was so devastated by jealousy whenever her husband spent the night with the younger wife that life was unbearable.
At least a divorcee has the opportunity of leading her own, independent life, however difficult the circumstances, especially as the legal situation and protection of her interests are now continually being improved as a result of untiring campaigns to redress inequalities.