(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tough with Hamas...
Sir, - It's not too late for Israel to get tough with Hamas. I suggest we stop all shipments to Gaza until Gilad Schalit is returned home; and that Palestinian Arab prisoners in Israeli jails receive the same treatment Schalit is receiving from his captives - no communication with the outside world. Arab prisoners who have been involved in any terror activity should be denied all privileges until Schalit is home.
Israel must create pressure that will force Hamas to release Schalit ("Israel has red lines it won't cross, Olmert says," March 18).
Sir, - It would seem that the reason the negotiations for the release of Gilad Schalit failed is Hamas's certainty that, at the last moment, Prime Minister Olmert would cave in and agree to all its terms. Now, more than ever, there will be pressure on Hamas to find a way to solve the Schalit problem because the reconstruction in Gaza is on hold.
The fact that Israel's "red line" was publicized ("The government backs up its 'red line' stance with lists of prisoners' names," March 18) will go a long way in reducing the impact of critics at home who feel Israel has not done enough to bring Gilad back safely.
If we ever want to see our soldier released, we must stand firm on what appears to have been a reasonable stance on the negotiation with Hamas and wait until its people blink. If Israelis can unite on this issue and stand solidly behind their government, we might see an end to this tragic episode.
Sir, - The Israeli government should print pictures of all the 325 prisoners it was willing to release in exchange for Gilad Schalit. Let the relatives of these prisoners, and the world, see how inhuman Hamas is to refuse such a generous offer.
...and tougher still
Sir, - Maybe it's time to cross another "red line," the one that says the State of Israel won't execute anyone except those who commit "crimes against humanity."
The times are changing, and perhaps we should change as well. If these terrorist murderers were where they should be, we wouldn't have to worry about exchanging them for anyone.
A Terrorist Death Penalty Law would go a long way toward solving our red line problem, and perhaps negate the belief of would-be Palestinian terrorists that murdering a Jew, whatever the heavenly reward, brings eventual freedom in this world as well.
The solution: Keep Shabbat
Sir, - If all of us Jews here in Israel kept two Shabbatot in succession, the Almighty would save Gilad Schalit and solve our other problems, too. No risk, only gain.
Let's scrap the suicidal solutions and do it. Right now.
ESTHER SARAH EVANS
Fatah's admission of omission
Sir, - "Fatah never recognized Israel, and you also shouldn't, Dahlan tells Hamas" (March 18), coupled with Ehud Olmert's "revelation" that it is the Palestinian Authority that is obstructing movement toward a two-state solution, seems to bear out those who claim the Palestinians are not interested in what some here and in the West say is "the answer to the Middle East conflict."
In my view, there is no difference between the aims of Hamas, Hizbullah and the PA; all seek the elimination of Israel as a democratic Jewish state. They differ only in that Hamas and Hizbullah are honest about it. Has the PA in any way prepared Arab society for peace? On the contrary: Palestinian schoolbooks, newspapers, TV and radio all demonize Israel and the Jewish people.
Our decision-makers and negotiators need constantly to bear in mind the planned destruction, "in stages," of our country. Gaza has gone, the Golan may be next, then Jerusalem, and then Judea and Samaria, leaving an indefensible mini-State of Israel.
Hamas is true to its beliefs. Regretfully, so many among us do not have the same steadfastness in our own.
Sir, - I read Yakov Horowitz's "They do not represent us" (March 18) with great interest, especially after Tuesday's report concerning the sentencing of Elhanan Buzaglo, who will serve four years in prison as a result of his participation in the brutal beating of a woman deemed too secular to live in his ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood.
I was told an equally horrifying story about a young woman, also living in a Jerusalem suburb, who had acid thrown at her face by a modesty squad because her older sister had turned secular, rejecting the haredi lifestyle in which she had been raised. It appears that the family was too frightened to go to the police for fear of reprisals, and also for fear that they would be forced to leave the neighborhood which has always been their home.
This is all incomprehensible to me and bears no resemblance to either the spiritual lifestyle which the perpetrators of such acts claim is proper, or to the faith they purport to uphold. In fact, such disgustingly inhumane and criminal acts disqualify these individuals from calling themselves "righteous believers" who seek to preserve the principles that Judaism holds dear.
On this point, I go one step further than Mr. Horowitz, who called for haredi MKs to do something. I maintain that we, as a collective and a nation, must vehemently reject these actions and seek to eradicate them from our midst in any way we can.
Minefields on my mind
Sir, - Re "IAF probes deadly botched minefield rescue" (March 13): I am surprised there has been so little discussion of the large number of injuries and fatalities to innocent civilians from minefields.
Many of the minefields in Israel no longer have any defense value. We should have a public conversation about de-mining them and returning them to agricultural or other use.
One survivor, Jerry White, a non-Jewish student of Jewish history, lost his leg hiking in the Golan Heights and went on to found survivorcorps.org He will speak about his campaign to defuse minefields and his approach to surviving tragedy at the launch of his book I Will Not Be Broken (Hebrew and English).
The talks will be in Jerusalem today, March 19, at 8 p.m. in the downtown Tmol Shilshom bookstore, and on Friday, March 20, 9 a.m. at the Begin Center.
SHIRA LEIBOWITZ SCHMIDT
More support from Sweden
Sir, - There has been a lot of talk surrounding the Davis Cup tennis matches between Sweden and Israel. We are quite a few in Sweden who are ashamed that the matches were held without spectators.
We are also ashamed regarding the cowardice showed by the politicians in the city of MalmÃ¶, where the matches were held. They let protesters express anti-Semitic opinions, when they should have let the Davis Cup matches symbolize the true friendship between our two nations.
There are lots of Swedes who support the nation of Israel and your efforts to live your lives though you are surrounded by hostile nations.
It is truly a pity that a simple tennis game should be big politics ("Better service," Letters, March 15).