Talking the talk... Sir, - Wow, did Michael Freund hit the nail on the head with his "Israel's big-mouth syndrome" (June 11). There may not be another people on the face of the earth that talks more and backs it up less than you dear Israelis. We learned in nursery school that you don't start a fight unless you are prepared to go on. Your leaders threaten major Gaza action almost daily, but it's only big talk. Others threaten Iran, again big talk. And Hizbullah must be shaking in its boots over yet another threat from Prime Minister Olmert. There was a time when Israel did little talking but lots of acting - the Six Day War, the Entebbe hostage rescue, the destruction of the Iraqi reactor; but this Europeanized Israel does it the other way around. And missiles continue to land on you. Finally, maybe you shouldn't tell your enemies what you're planning. Just a thought. ABE KRIEGER Highland Park, New Jersey Sir, - Michael Freund's op-ed was superb. Transportation Minister Mofaz should have realized that we don't know how to deal with Gaza, let alone Iran. The Ehuds, Olmert and Barak, are still promising the residents of Sderot on a virtually daily basis that the rockets will be stopped. And then there's Meni Mazuz, our attorney-general, who lets us know in advance that certain people will be indicted. Well is it written in Ethics of the Fathers: "Ye sages, be heedful of your words." MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya ...walking the walk? Sir, - Caroline Glick points out that our leadership plans to carry out a limited war against Hamas - not to defeat them, but only to deliver a message ("The government's plan for Gaza," June 10). Yet this incursion will do nothing effective to halt the murderous attacks against innocent Israeli civilians in the Negev. It's like telling Ismail Haniyeh that he'd better watch out for what we might do sometime or other if Hamas doesn't behave. This "limited war," it is said, would also limit IDF casualties. Let me see if I understand: We are willing to sacrifice a few of our precious children in order to tell Hamas that it had better act nice. I have six grandsons and one grandson-in-law. Two are currently serving in combat units. The other five are reservists in the Paratroops, Golani, Combat Engineers and Artillery. All have seen some level of combat, going back to the First Lebanon War. Among them are married men with children. They stand ready to serve again, if they must, to protect the civilians living close to our borders. But if they are called upon to risk their lives to protect our leaders' political hides, it is an abomination. Let the sons of those politicos stand up and shout, in the tradition of the IDF: "Follow me!" DAVID STAR Ma'aleh Adumim Talking & shooting Sir, - In response to your reader's letter of June 11, I must correct the misquote of the Eli Wallach character ("the Ugly") from the movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly because the real quote is so much more appropriate for our situation in the south. Upon killing his blathering nemesis, caught seemingly unawares in the middle of bathing, he says: "If you're going to shoot, shoot - don't talk." Truly a valuable lesson forour leaders. BENJAMIN AVERICK Beit Shemesh Paradoxes? You bet Sir, - Is it too late to praise Yossi Klein Halevi's "The paradoxes of life in Israel" (May 21)? Its many truths included: "The Left has won the argument over concessions; the Right has won the argument over peace." Not long ago the occupation seemed wantonly endless; the then-dominant Likud's platform claimed an eternal "Greater Israel"; in Gaza one percent of the people were settlers given 30 percent of the land, on which demarcations seemed to exceed security needs and Palestinians could become a majority "between the sea and the river." Israel seemed increasingly maximalistic and ideological, and the Palestinians increasingly moderate and pragmatic, just wanting the territories back. But since then a sea change has occurred. Ehud Barak's and Clinton's offer to Yasser Arafat of land for a state was rejected outright, the second intifada came, and Islamist extremism arose. Ariel Sharon came to reject the occupation and Greater Israel and unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, with further plans to withdraw from most of the West Bank. The ominous future of an impending Palestinian majority and Israel as a future, "apartheid-like" occupier of a majority Palestinian population disappeared, and Israel's stature in the world - and its self-confidence - leapt. But though Israel's new stature has, importantly, remained, her sense of well-being soon ended with Ahmadinejad's threats and Hamas in power, the 2006 war from Hizbullah in the north and Gaza in the south, and continuing missiles from the now Hamas-run Gaza in the south. Now the Palestinian side is the one that seems maximalist and ideological, and Israel the side that is moderate and pragmatic. The Left's critique of Israel - which I used to agree with - doesn't make sense to me anymore. I feel betrayed by the Palestinian leadership. I have run out of excuses for it. Nonetheless, there is no choice but to keep trying for peace, even if it takes decades, or even centuries. I wish I knew an alternative, but I just don't. JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts Twice shy Sir, - In "She's not all pure" (June 10), Jeff Barak touched on Tzipi Livni's contradictory statements surrounding the disengagement from Gaza. Ms. Livni was elected with Ariel Sharon under the slogan "The status of Netzarim equals the status of Tel Aviv." This slogan was changed shortly after the elections, without any reason given. The prime minister then promised to adhere to the outcome of a party referendum on the Gaza withdrawal, but did not keep his promise. Thus was the democratic process twice defeated. Livni, despite being a key member in the government, never questioned this political fraud. GABRIEL H. COHN Jerusalem
Sir, - With Hizbullah, we exchanged a living prisoner for body parts and personal effects of Israeli soldiers. Why can't we ensure we get a living Gilad Schalit back by releasing, immediately, all the miserable prisoners on Hamas's wish list - that is, if they are willing to move from an Israeli prison to a situation of poverty and hunger in Gaza? ("As Israel mulls Gaza operation, Hamas transfers Schalit letter," June 10.)
Sir, - Doesn't it embarrass the Palestinians to equate one Jew's worth with hundreds, or even thousands of Arabs? ("Hamas wants 1,000 prisoners for Schalit," May 28.)
In the court of public opinion
Sir, - Larry Derfner's "The other Olmert" (June 5) hit a sore spot. All the "silly, sentimental' points he makes are really beautiful actions we would hope to expect from anyone in the human race. Yet we seem to see and hear so very little of them these days.
When do we usually find out about such extremely positive behavior? When an accused has to bring character witnesses into court to testify to what a fine, upstanding citizen he really is.
So I guess the Olmert trial has already started.