letters to the editor 88.
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Regarding the Guardian
Sir, - Alan Dershowitz's extraordinary attack on the Guardian ("The Guardian at the crossroads," September 28) was misleading and misinformed.
Half of his piece focussed on a "Guardian op-ed piece" by Henry Porter. In fact, this piece never appeared in the Guardian: it appeared in The Observer. The Observer is also owned by the Scott Trust, but has a a different editor, a separate editorial team and a separate editorial position on many issues, including Israel. This confusion was an elementary mistake which no-one familiar with the British media would have made. It follows, therefore, that Dershowitz's complaint that the Guardian "refused to publish his letter" was entirely without foundation since it never published the offending article in the first place.
His second complaint concerned a Guardian review, by an outside contributor unconnected with the paper, of his recent book Preemption and what he claimed was a refusal by me, personally, to publish a letter in response. I have never, until yesterday, been contacted directly by Alan Dershowitz, nor have I ever had a telephone conversation with him. It seem likely that he misunderstood the role of the person at the Guardian with whom he dealt. It follows, therefore, that I did not tell him that I refused to publish a letter from him. Until yesterday, I was unaware of such a request. I am more than happy to publish a response and have offered him that opportunity.
Editor, The Guardian
Sir, - Thank you very much for Isi Leibler's "For a year of people power" (September 26). I especially agreed with: "If we overcome our inner weaknesses, there is little doubt that those who today seek our destruction will suffer the same fate as did their predecessors over the ages."
In my opinion, one of Israel's weaknesses is depending too much on America - and caring too much about world opinion. This is often quite negative anyway, so it should not be a reason for refraining from self-defense.
Israel should never trust anyone - not UNIFIL (obviously), and not even allies like the US (who have proven to support Israel only partly, and then ruin things afterwards).
Israel has to do whatever is necessary to protect herself, without expecting anything from anyone else.
Cause & effect
Sir, - Further to "Students join campaign for kidnapped soldiers" (September 28): With all the talk about how to get Gilad Shalit back and stop the Kassams, it is time Israel considered the simplest answer: Turn off the electricity and stop the supply of food, gas and other commodities to Gaza.
True, this would arouse the condemnation of the world. But let's consider the advantages: It would cost us nothing; we would not be endangering any soldiers' lives; we would not be killing any Arabs; we would be making a move that would create real pressure on all Palestinians in Gaza; and there would be no need to trade hundreds of terrorists for our kidnapped soldier.
On the PR level we would explain to the Gazans that if they want Israel's help to survive and to stop their suffering, Gilad Shalit must be handed over and the shelling stopped. Any future act of aggression, moreover, would lead again to this total "disengagement."
At the same time, we should lessen world condemnation of Israel by explaining that making our sworn enemies suffer is better than killing them.
Sir, - Re the excellent and informative "Taking a conceptual detour" (September 26) and its non-threatening message of a different approach to road safety education: There are two more identifiable groups that could be targeted to help greatly reduce the atmosphere of competitiveness and hostility on our roads: driving instructors and taxi drivers.
Instructors, like cab drivers, presumably undergo training and licensing. Part of that training should include impressing upon them the imperative to teach their pupils that obeying traffic laws is not just a matter of fear of the legal ramifications, but of understanding and respecting the rules that protect them and others on the road.
Wearing seat-belts, for instance, is not a nuisance law but a well-documented strategy for reducing death and serious injury; using indicators/signals is a way of letting others on the road know what you are doing in advance so they can take appropriate action, and so on.
Taxi drivers could also, as part of earning and keeping their licenses, be taught more about adhering to the law and showing courtesy - and not responding indignantly, as one dangerously weaving cab driver did recently when my husband suggested that he use his indicator before changing lanes: "I would be using it all day if I did that!"
Sir, - Re "Klagsbald fatal crash case goes before court" (September 27): Metuna must be the troubleshooter in this case. Let's hope the organization follows it up and keeps writing articles and letters and arranging more demonstrations.
Sir, - The Israeli ambassador publicly blamed the Norwegian king for not declaring sympathy when the synagogue in Oslo was attacked ("Ambassador's criticism of Norwegian royals sparks diplomatic row," September 27). But the king is neutral and will not make any domestic or political statement, nor change constitutional practice as demanded by the ambassador!
An elder of the Mosaic community in Oslo started to weep on television over the ambassador's grave insult to the king - and hence to the kingdom and its inhabitants, including Norway's Jews - declaring that the ambassador was ambassador of the State of Israel, and not of Norwegian Jews.
Neither the ambassador nor Israel has regretted this insult to Norway. The ambassador blamed the press and did not take responsibility for her statements in a TV interview in English, which is seen repeatedly on Norwegian and foreign TV channels.
A prescription for killing sympathy!
Ad for bad
Sir, - I am an Australian Jew currently traveling across Northern India. Over many years of travel I have on occasion seen tourists from all nations behaving badly. But nothing compares to the disgraceful behavior of Israeli tourists in India.
I have seen them steal, abuse, condescend and physically threaten Indian nationals every single day of my travels. They are outrageously rude, showing no respect for Indian cultural sensitivities.
The other tourists we meet share our amazement and tell stories of their own. As ambassadors of the Jewish state, these Israelis are a great advertisement for Israel's adversaries.
Sir, - A Hebrew feminine equivalent for the term "rabbi" to denote a woman rabbi? ("Women rabbis," Letters, September 27). I would suggest "rabbit," but I believe the term has already been earmarked to mean the husband of a woman rabbi.
In related, if less holy, vein: Should a woman letters editor be addressed as "Sir"?
The Letters Editor replies:
Readers who send in letters to the editor are writing to the newspaper, and not to the letters editor personally. So whether it's he or she, "Sir" is appropriate.