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Sir, - Many thanks to Ruthie Blum Leibowitz for making the country further aware of one of its finest persons and exemplary citizens, Dvora Waysman ("Lights... camera... jahnun!" May 14).
Amid Israel's many problems concerning religion, society and politics, it did the heart good to be enlivened by Ms. Waysman's poignant words about the State of Israel - the most important event in Jewish history since the destruction of the Second Temple and the rise of the talmudic sages.
Sir, - Re "Pontiff calls security barrier 'tragic'" (May 14): Can we take the pope's remarks seriously - after enduring the security barriers his visit last week entailed ?
He personally lives behind very tight security all the time, for the same reasons we do.
If he was honest in his convictions, he would open his own home to everyone, friend and foe. Only then could he preach to us about setting up walls against suicide bombers.
Sir, - Larry Derfner claims that any Israeli who doesn't root for Obama against Netanyahu "is either deluded, fainthearted or hypocritical" ("Yes to Obama, no to Bibi," May 14).
With all due respect, I do not see the coming meetings between the two leaders as a contest where one roots for one or other side.
However, with all his enthusiasm for what Obama will be demanding of Israel, does Mr. Derfner know what the president has in mind to ensure our security, deal with the Palestinian right of return, or settle the contentious matter of Jerusalem?
Is Derfner sure that Obama will demand Palestinian acceptance of Israel as the Jewish state - and if not, will Derfner still put all his trust in what the president will demand of Bibi?
Finally, his opinion that the US president "has a much, much better idea of what's good for Israel than our prime minister and government" would not be accepted by the majority of informed and loyal Israelis.
MONTY M. ZION
Sir, - How naive. Larry Derfner trusts another country more than his own to steer our future.
Obama is no messiah for Israel. We are the smallest country in the Middle East, a tiny little area. Let somebody else give the Palestinians their own state.
Moshav Kfar Yavetz
Sir, - Larry Derfner is again beating a dead horse with his proposal that PM Netanyahu utter those words "two-state solution." If memory serves, during the Clinton administration the PA was handed a two-state solution, with a division of Jerusalem, on a silver platter.
Not only did its leaders reject the idea, they initiated an intifada against the Jews.
What makes Mr. Derfner optimistic about this empty phrase when Hamas has made it clear that a two-state solution is out of the question and Mahmoud Abbas refuses to recognize a Jewish state?
Calling for a two-state solution at this point, without proper preparation, could radicalize the Palestinian stance.
Sir, - Netanyahu must be clear with Obama. While the president's desires are honorable and to be respected, Israel's unique understanding of the Iranian threat leaves no alternative but to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear-capable. In Iran ideology prevails.
Unfortunately, too many outside Israel will rationalize a profound miscalculation. Netanyahu must demonstrate strength, as his brother did, in securing Israelis.
Israel: Calm down
Sir, - I am an ardent supporter of Israel and I honestly believe Israel has grasped at every hand of peace extended in its direction. Egypt and Jordan are perfect examples of Israel's willingness to make peace.
That said, I also believe that Barack Obama is correct with regard to his position on Iran.
After 9/11, Iran helped the US in Afghanistan, and tried to soften its stance against the West. In response, president Bush called it part of the "Axis of Evil."
Fearful of the consequences of that label, the Iranian people elected a maniac named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who knew that the best way to unite his nation and defer criticism of his government was via fear. He began taunting Israel and the US, and both took the bait. Then the threats began.
Ahmadinejad is smart. He knows that the Obama administration presents the possibility of peace and an end to sanctions. The Iranian people are smart as well, and now that Muhammad Khatami and others have opposed Ahmadinejad and decided to run against him, there has been an obvious softening of his rhetoric.
As long as Israel calms down, Ahmadinejad will be gone in June, but it will be difficult for a new Iranian government to back down in the face of threats; even more difficult to restrain Hamas and Hizbullah with Israel constantly building new settlements in the West Bank ("Top Obama adviser: Iranian threat reinforces need for two-state solution," May 11).
Israel's relationship with the US is as solid as ever, and any animosity seen between Obama and Netanyahu is most likely part of a strategy to convince the "Arab street" that the new US administration is a fair broker.
As a Shi'ite country, Iran is and should be our natural ally since our greatest threat comes from the Sunni al-Qaida. If Israel can stop rattling its sabers and building settlements for just a few months, everything can change in the blink of an eye. But if it continues, Ahmadinejad will win again.
Sir, - At his upcoming meeting with President Obama, I pray the prime minister will have the courage and initiative to strongly urge the president to release Jonathan Pollard.
In a recent plea to President Obama for Pollard's release, I pointed out that both he and President Obama's forebears were unjustly denied their freedom, and that this should prompt Obama to set Pollard free in a praiseworthy, if very belated, gesture of goodwill.
The US is justly proud of its commitment to human rights, but the untenable continued incarceration of Pollard is a dark stain on its record and a gross violation of basic human rights that casts a shadow on Israel-US relations.
'Husband' & heritage
Sir, - Without going into the technicalities of Ruth Rigbi's May 14 letter on Ben-Gurion's objection to using the word ba'al for husband: How many current members of Knesset could quote Hosea, or haveBen-Gurion's knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures?
Our politicians like to pontificate about Israel being a Jewish democratic state. They may think they know what democratic means, but how many can say what they mean by a Jewish state?
If they can explain it to themselves, they might be able to explain it to Mahmoud Abbas.
Sir, - Aryeh Dean Cohen's "Cart blanche" (UpFront, May 8) was one of the funniest articles about supermarket shopping in Israel I have ever read.
In addition, I can fully identify with his experiences.
JOSHUA J. ADLER