Sir, - Jordan's King Abdullah II says Israel must choose between the "fortress" mentality and peace. But Israel has already achieved both with respect to Egypt and Jordan, and will eventually do the same with Syria and Lebanon, by defeating enemies through military strength and defensive war. That is why Abdullah's father and Egypt's Anwar Sadat realized that a peace treaty was the only way for their nations to avoid further military and political loss.
Abdullah claims the solutions to all regional problems depend on Israel solving the "Palestinian problem." When Arab and Muslim leaders provide the Palestinians and citizens in their own countries with as much economic opportunity and political freedom as Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank had and squandered, they will be addressing the real "Palestinian problem."
As Abdullah's father recognized, the responsibility for movement toward peace in the region ultimately resides with its Arabs and Muslims, not with Israel ("Jordanian king: US must prove 'it's not biased' toward Israel," March 4).
Sir, - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook painted an unbalanced picture of Palestinian education and misrepresented the positions of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace ("Supporting peace education in the PA?" February 24).
In our letter to Sen. Clinton, Brit Tzedek stated that we "deplore the use of any textbooks with political, national, religious or other kinds of bias." Furthermore, we oppose any educational materials which damage the prospects for peace.
The vast majority of textbooks in use in Palestinian schools represent a significant improvement over the older Jordanian texts they replaced. We readily acknowledge that some texts are still problematic, including anti-occupation rhetoric. Yet arguably this is because the occupation is still in place and the conflict continues to rage.
According to Irwin Wall of New York University, many texts demonstrate "tolerance and respect for other religions, and respect for diversity of opinion and multiple political parties characteristic of democracy."
Brit Tzedek works commitedly for Israel's best interests through advocacy for a two-state resolution to this horrific conflict that has led to countless deaths and immeasurable suffering. The ongoing hostilities between the Jewish state and the Palestinian people were not caused by pedagogy, nor will they be resolved by merely editing textbooks. A mutually acceptable, negotiated settlement will lead to understanding in the educational and every other arena. Only such a settlement will bring Israel the peace and security her people so richly deserve.
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Sir, - In "The ball is in Olmert's court" (February 20), Gershon Baskin says Mahmoud Abbas has the authority to negotiate with Israel. But what is Abbas's authority worth? If he were able to to forswear terrorism and state categorically that Israel has a right to exist - a fair request - he could gain an unimaginable future for his people.
Besides freeing movement in the West Bank, an increase in work permits, allowing more people and goods through checkpoints etc., Mr. Baskin paints a picture of wonderful future possibilities: a new city in the West Bank, starting the Gaza seaport project, renovating and activating the Gaza international airport, a solar energy project on the Gaza/Egypt border, a rail link from Gaza to the port of Ashdod, and so on.
All of the above is realistic... if only the ball landed in the right court!
Sir, - Re "Suicide bomber's drivers convicted" (March 2): These men should pay the ultimate price for their heartless, greedy act in July 2005, when they drove the perpetrator to the Sharon mall in Netanya so an act of random, senseless terror could take place, yet again.
I can't imagine anyone selling out their beleaguered country for any amount of money, and the fact they are Israelis makes it even more imperative they be punished to the fullest extent of Israeli law.
"Three Stooges" indeed!
Massapequa, New York
Sir, - Two items in your March 4 issue highlighted something that should be obvious.
"Moscow slammed for Syrian missile deal" reported on Syria obtaining Russian missiles because Iran pays her bills to Moscow. The Iranians can do this because the high price of oil gives them almost unlimited funds. Then in "IAI's revolutionary projects: Solar spy, fuel cell flier and unmanned cargo plane" we read that Israel Aerospace Industries are developing a fuel cell-powered plane that doesn't use oil. So we have the technology to do the same in practically all other fields where oil is used.
We must make the development of this technology our number-one priority, to be adopted globally. Our success will bring the price of oil down drastically, undermining the economic clout of the oil producers.
Sir, - Must we be resigned to our political situation?
While electoral reform would not be a cure-all, instituting Knesset popular representation with accountability to the people could be a start. Regional Knesset elections have never been tried. With all its shortcomings, representative government is the hallmark of a democracy.
Israel is only one of two democracies in the world that does not have legislative regional representation. I don't know about the situation in L.A., but in many parts of the US the system works well. There is someone to talk to, and it very often it is about national issues.
In "The pipe dream of electoral reform" (March 1) Larry Derfner contends that people get the kind of government they deserve. Surely we don't deserve what we have - a system that is inept and lends itself too well to corruption. Party politicians gave it to us.
We in CEPAC, an all-volunteer, grassroots movement representing all segments of the population and not just "Anglos,"cannot accept that our situation is hopeless. We are engaged in a national petition campaign (see www.cepac.org.il) to demonstrate that the people do care and insist on change. Why not give the people a chance?
Public Action Campaign
Sir, - Some modest proposals for better government:
Adopt Ed Koch's zero-tolerance policy. An appointed public servant who lies to us is out.
Limit the number of ministries to 10. Why 10? Why not?
Ministers cannot be MKs. They must undergo public Knesset hearings and be voted in by a Knesset majority.
Treaties, like Oslo, must be approved by two-thirds of the Knesset.
The threshold for a party's representation in the Knesset to be raised to 5%, with voters allowed a second choice if their first-choice party doesn't meet the threshold.
These proposals may be easier to implement than major electoral reform, and appear to have few unseen consequences.
Sir, - A friend sends me Post articles on a regular basis. I do appreciate the insights you offer. Please keep up your good work.
JOHAN D. TANGELDER