(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - I was shocked when I read about the recent march in Umm el-Fahm and its consequences ("Far-Right march leads to violent clashes in Israeli Arab heartland," March 25). It reminded me of the planned march of the American Nazi Party in Skokie, Illinois, in a neighborhood where many Holocaust survivors lived; of the Orangemen in Northern Ireland marching in Catholic neighborhoods; of Hungarian Neo-Nazi guards in their uniforms marching in Gypsy ghettoes in villages.
Such provocative hate-mongering needs to be suppressed in any civilized society.
...& free assembly
Sir, - The fundamental issue of Umm el-Fahm is very different from the one being written and talked about by the media. It is not a question of a far-rightist march into an Arab town; the issue is whether any city or town in Israel proper can be declared judenrein.
Umm el-Fahm lies within the undisputed borders of Israel. It is where Arab citizens of Israel live, just as Jewish citizens live in Tel Aviv. Both Tel Aviv and Umm el-Fahm are integral parts of the State of Israel, and neither city can close itself off from the rest of Israel.
The Supreme Court of this country, without stating the obvious, recognized that citizens of Israel can hold a march in Umm el-Fahm and not be barred from their fundamental rights.
If we bar citizens of one city from another we are creating a death warrant for the state. Baruch Marzel demonstrated for all Israelis when he proclaimed the right of free assembly for all citizens of Israel, Jewish or Arab.
Let us not be carried away by our tremendous fears.
Anything to sell papers
Sir, - It is very hard to understand the way some Israeli press covered alleged activities by some IDF units in the recent Gaza operation. The sensational way the news was presented, in front-page headlines, demonstrated at best an unbelievable naivete; at worst, the lengths to which papers will go to increase circulation.
With the current anti-Israel feeling clearly shown by overseas media, it was clear that the story would be picked up and published as yet another example of the anti-human rights stance of the Israel army in Gaza. And so it was - a full weekend of Sky News, BBC and the Guardian, etc. regurgitating the news story but conveniently forgetting to add that these were all alleged incidents taken from hearsay stories. Now, it emerges, "'Allegations of civilian shootings in Gaza categorically false'" (Online Edition, March 25).
The foreign press bias against Israel is evident in its lack of coverage of the Gilad Schalit affair, which has been extensively publicized in the Israeli press.
Kibbutz Kfar Hamaccabi
Access to Gilad
Sir, - In the photo accompanying "Dekel, Diskin may return to Cairo to renew Schalit talks" (March 23) the abhorrent spectacle in Gaza of a pathetic caged effigy bearing the face of Gilad Schalit reminded us of the utter denial of human rights by Hamas in preventing any access to the Israeli captive.
Schalit, kidnapped by Hamas during a "cease-fire" following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, has been held incommunicado for almost three years. Hamas, now sovereign in Gaza, is obliged to abide by international conventions.
President Obama has intervened in the case of the Guantanamo prisoners - all suspected terrorists - demanding that they receive treatment according to international conventions. Yet no one has succeeded in achieving this in Gilad's case, despite posturings at very high levels.
It's time for the international community to pressure their elected representatives in this case.
Speaking up to prevent genocide
Sir, - Re "US Jews may be ready to step into Armenian genocide debate" (March 25):
Among the Jewish American groups with established track records of publicly supporting US recognition of the Armenian Genocide are the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe (New York, NY); American Jewish World Service (New York); Americans for Peace Now (Washington); Center for Russian Jewry with Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (New York); Jewish Social Policy Action Network (Philadelphia); Jewish War Veterans of the USA (Washington); Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (Wyncote, PA); Union for Reform of Judaism (Washington); Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring (New York); Zionist Organization of America (New York).
These and other groups represent, in our experience, a Jewish American community mainstream profoundly committed to genocide prevention and the rejection of any and all forms of genocide denial.
ARAM SUREN HAMPARIAN
Committee of America
Sir, - If Netanyahu and Barak accomplish nothing other than the reform of our dysfunctional political system, to finally end 60 years of factionalism and institutionalized plunder, they will leave us with a truly significant legacy.
Two reforms are required to start us on the road to responsible government: increasing the threshold of votes required to gain representation in the Knesset to 5 percent; and introducing representation based on constituencies.
Gentlemen: Do you have what it takes? ("Barak strives to unite Labor after vote to join Likud gov't," March 25.)