letters to the editor 88.
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Time for United Nations to pull out of Lebanon
Sir, - My sympathy to the families of UN personnel killed in the fighting near Khiyam ("IAF mistakenly targets UN observers," July 27).
But I was amazed at the premise of the UN's indignation: The UN had asked the IDF to stop shelling the area because Hizbullah was operating nearby! They go on to explain that Hizbullah does that frequently, so that it can use the UN people as shields.
Is that UN's open-text function in Lebanon now, to shield terrorists? If so, it should pull out of there immediately.
Sir, - Responsibility for the tragic death of four United Nations observers in Lebanon falls squarely on the United Nations and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan - not on Israel. The UN has been a major appeaser of Islamic terrorism and the dictatorial regimes that sponsor terrorism, especially under Annan's "leadership."
It should now be obvious that Iran, the major sponsor of Islamic terrorism, is the backer and director of Hizbullah, the terrorist organization that attacked Israel from Lebanon. During the so-called Middle East Peace Talks, Palestinian terrorists - funded and armed by Iran - were relentlessly murdering Israeli citizens while Israel was pressured by the UN to negotiate and compromise with terrorist leaders. The UN has consistently opposed military action against Iran and has failed miserably to implement Resolution 1559, to disarm Hizbullah, thereby allowing Hizbullah to receive Iranian weapons and training.
Israel has a moral right to militarily eliminate the Hizbullah threat at minimum cost to Israelis. And if Israel inadvertently kills innocent observers and civilians, then the UN deserves primary blame for effectively being an ally of Islamic terrorism and its sponsors.
Sir, - Kofi Annan appears outraged at the killing of four UN observers by Israel. Maybe Mr. Annan can tell us what the UN "observers" have been "observing" while embedded in Hizbullah strongholds for so many years? Why have they never reported the shipments of Iranian and Syrian missiles and ordnance to Hizbullah - or the digging of tunnels to conceal them? Those are questions the UN must be made to answer while Israel apologizes for the unfortunate event.
DR. KIM SHIENBAUM
Camden, New Jersey
Sir, - UNIFIL was set up for the expressed purpose of "assisting the government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of effective authority to the area" (Resolution 425). It did such a good job of preventing the PLO from using South Lebanon to attack Israel that in June 1982, Israel felt compelled to launch a full-scale invasion to oust the PLO once and for all.
UNIFIL was there from the assassination of Lebanese Bashir Gemayel through the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, both with the involvement of a Syrian government to which the idea of a strong and truly independent Lebanese government was anathema.
UNIFIL was there when Hizbullah, with full Syrian and Iranian complicity, rushed in to fill the vacuum left by the PLO. When the Israelis withdrew from every square inch of Lebanon in 2000, UNIFIL stood by as Hizbullah established its "effective authority" over south Lebanon.
UNIFIL has never done much real peacekeeping. The UN only reacts if Israel attempts to defend itself.
The prospect of an expanded UNIFIL disarming Hizbullah must have leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah shaking with laughter.
The UN was founded in 1945 at the end of World War II, a conflict that began with an impotent League of Nations and ended with total military victory over a defeated totalitarian enemy. No negotiations. No cease-fires. No peacekeepers. Just unconditional surrender.
There's a lesson in that.
Lessons to learn
Sir, - Jews do not need to give Muslims any excuse to hate us or anybody else who differs with their religious conviction ("UN aid chief says Israel has 'created a generation of hatred," July 27). They are taught from an early age at home and through their schoolbooks whom to hate. Look again, Mr. UN aid chief, and you will see the true culprit.
Sir, - "This is very clear, a disproportionate use [of power]," Jan Egeland, the UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, told reporters as he toured the destroyed plant south of Gaza City.
I must say that the Israeli use of power in Gaza and in Lebanon has been roundly criticized.
However, one wonders if there is actually another more suitable response to the terrorist attacks on its citizens by armed groups that are constantly saying things like: "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors." That's right off the Hamas Web site.
Calls for Israel's total destruction and a total unwillingness to recognize its right to exist are the hallmarks of both Hamas and Hizbullah, and their supporters.
To my knowledge, Israel has not called for the destruction of any people or state - they appear, as they have for decades, to wish to be left to live peacefully.
No friend indeed!
Sir, - Jan Egeland is no friend of Israel. I don't remember him protesting the inhumanity of the Kassam rockets falling over the civilian population in the South of Israel or the Katyushas in the North. He should be called what he is. Another anti-Semite working for the greatest anti-Semitic organization of all: The UN.
The pen & the sword
Sir, - BBC journalists are no better than those in Buenos Aires ("Be flippant, and never mind the facts," July 26). By supporting terrorists, such reporters use the media as a weapon to open the door to more violence. Their dangerous weapon has many forms: pencils, papers, digital cameras and laptop computers.
Stealing from the poor
Sir, - Corinne Sauer writes that "the best way to help the poor is to give them incentives and opportunities to join the labor force," but the only incentive she suggests is to turn the screws on them by raising their taxes ("Tax Freedom Day is here at last," July 26). And what if the opportunities aren't there? It's a curious notion, as John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out, that you can make rich people productive by giving them more money and make poor people productive by giving them less.
Sauer does want to give more to the rich, proportionately, by cutting income tax while raising VAT. She calls it a "shallow" argument that VAT hits the rich less hard. But why is it shallow that a poor family that spends its whole income in Israel is charged for VAT on its whole income while a rich family that invests part, spends part overseas, and invests part overseas pays VAT only on the part that it spends in Israel?
When the bill for the current war arrives, I hope it will not arrive only in the mailbox of the less prosperous sectors.
MARK L. LEVINSON