letters to the editor 88.
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Gilad - and the other missing ones
Sir, - The people of Israel and the country's media are, quite justifiably, absorbed by the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit ("Neighbors hold out hope for Shalit," June 26).
As we hope and pray for Gilad's immediate release and a speedy end to the terrible anguish he and his family have been enduring, we should consider what that suffering and torment must be like when it is multiplied over thousands of days, as in the case of our MIAs Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, missing in action since the battle of Sultan Yakoub in June 1982; Ron Arad, taken captive after baling out over Lebanon in October 1986; and Guy Hever, last seen in August 1997 at his army base on the Golan Heights, one kilometer from the Syrian border.
The government and people of Israel must ask themselves each day what they have done to return all of our captives to their families.
Sir, - The Palestinians do not miss any opportunity to prove that Israel's decision to leave the Gaza Strip was a wrong one: Kassams and killings without end.
Leaving the West Bank will be even worse.
Sir, - We do not need to waste a lot of time talking. We should immediately get down to brass tacks, go into Gaza with substantial forces and collect a few dozen prisoners - important individuals - so we can make the necessary exchange for Gilad Shalit.
HILLIE AND IDA FELDMAN
Sir, - When does Israel say: Enough, and give the terrorists the tough answer they deserve? Talking to them is comparable to talking to the wall. I say this with apologies to all walls.
MICHAEL A. OLIVERA
Sir, - Congratulations to the brave IDF soldiers and their commanders who engaged in the Gaza Strip incursion ("IDF commandos enter Gaza, capture two Hamas terrorists," June 25).
My concern, however, is how many more of these "deadly exercises" will be needed before the politicians realize that ceding land to the enemy ends up being more costly to Israel in lives, defense and maintenance than if the nation remained steadfast in protecting and keeping the precious land, already paid for with Jewish blood.
Expose the prisoners' ruse
Sir, - Further to "Fatah, Hamas said near agreement" (June 25): Regarding the "Prisoners' Initiative," all other business at the Foreign Ministry must be swept off the table. The spokespeople, policy planners, PR people and all diplomatic liaison officers must immediately begin an aggressive campaign to utterly and unequivocally discredit this "peace initiative" and expose it for the ruse it is.
They must make it very clear to everyone in the foreign diplomatic corps and the international media that the authors of these "proposals" are convicted murders and terrorists - all with blood on their hands.
We must keep saying no in a loud, clear and unified voice, without hesitation, apology or ambiguity. This prisoners' ploy is naked deceit meant for consumption by the EU and the media - nothing more.
We must not be held hostage on the world diplomatic stage by the authors of such a document. We must dismiss it out of hand, with nothing more to say about it ever. Period.
Biting the bullet?
Sir, - A Palestinian mayor explains that people launch rockets from his town at their Israeli neighbors because "A hungry man is an angry man" ("Beit Hanun's Hamas mayor: Kassams aren't meant to kill," June 23).
Now, I'm not a nutritionist. But I strongly believe that spending one's people's food money on rockets, suicide belts, weapons and a massive terrorist infrastructure is not the best way to feed them.
And maybe an anger-management course would be useful.
First things first
Sir, - I can understand some of us being interested in evacuating the so-called illegal outposts. However, it seems to me that when faced with a murderous external threat, all our resources should be directed at eliminating that threat and not at creating further internal strife ("Security officials start planning outpost evacuations," June 22).
Love & hate
Sir, - Re "Bnei Menashe stymied in aliya bid" (June 26): Our enemies recognize us all simply as Jews and accord us all the same zealous hatred. If only our love for each other could be as strong as their hatred for us.
Let the Bnei Menashe and Falash Mura make aliya.
Objective about Reform
Sir, - I once described Reform Judaism to a prominent Reform "rabbi" in Israel and asked him if my description was objective:
Picture a group of Jews, I said. One says: "I know we are supposed to keep Shabbat, but I don't. I feel guilty about not keeping Shabbat. How about creating a version of Judaism that doesn't require keeping Shabbat."
Another says: "I know we are supposed to keep kosher, but I don't want to. And I don't want to feel guilty about it either."
I gave several more examples and expected him to lambaste me for a typical Orthodox vilification and skewing of Reform. Rather, his answer was: "That's about it!"
Another prominent Reform rabbi and spokesman said at a public forum: We believe that there is a God, but we do not believe He ever communicated with people. Not Abraham. Not Moses. God does not tell us what to do. Consequently, nothing is required or prohibited. Some mitzvot should be kept for historical reasons. Others belong in the past.
People representing this version of Judaism, regardless of the titles they award themselves, should not be recognized as rabbis of the Jewish people. A version of Judaism that does not accept the divinity of the Torah cannot be a legitimate form of the Jewish religion ("Reform leader: Katsav's refusal to say 'rabbi' is hurtful," June 21).
Sir, - So Larry Derfner has seceded from the 98% of Israelis (his estimate) who think President Katsav has done a great job ("Thank you, Mr. President," June 22). Why? Because he does exactly what has endeared him to the public. What? Remaining silent.
He hasn't called the head of the American Reform movement any names - especially the name he most covets: "rabbi." Although the president has stated his reasons, from both personal and national viewpoints, Derfner faults him for insulting 1.5 million (sic) Reform Jews in America, whom Derfner says are on the golf course while Israeli Reform are on the barricades.
Derfner doesn't shrink from using some very disrespectful language in his last sentence. I, in turn, would ask: Who the heck is Larry Derfner?
Sir, - B.M. Joffe's criticism of Tzipi Livni's image was succinct and appropriate ("FM needs a flair-up," June 25). I hope she read the letter. Attractive and intelligent our FM certainly is, but outward appearance does count. It always has.
Anyone seen this plant?
Sir, - You occasionally print letters from people looking for a penpal, or seeking postcards from the holy land - in fact, I myself found a penpal through your Letters column.
Something a little different this time: I am looking for someone who has a plant called black cohosh, a folk medicine, growing in his or her garden. In Latin it's Cimicifuga.
Maybe someone in the North?