(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - If the peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, takes place in November, both Israelis and Palestinians will have to be flexible. First, extreme positions should be neutralized. Such issues as "'67 borders" and "return of the refugees" are non-starters and should be approached realistically. But on the Israeli side also, the configuration of settlements penetrating into the West Bank and the incorporation of Arabs in East Jerusalem into the future Palestinian state should be looked at.
It's painful for everybody concerned, but better perhaps to resolve these major issues of the conflict than to condemn the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians to further bloodshed and despair.
Maximalists on both sides must not be allowed to derail peace, if it is obtainable ("Rice arrives to push forward Annapolis meeting," October 14).
JOSEPH GOTTFRIED West Palm Beach, Florida
...minimum of peace Sir, - It is impossible not to feel a little sorry for all the left-wingers who keep saying that if only Israel were not so stubborn and willing to give up a little bit more of its sovereignty, peace in all its glory would arrive almost immediately. It just ain't so!
Your paper ran articles about a peace concert to be held in Jericho and in Tel Aviv. Then came your October 14 headline "Jericho peace concert called off due to threats." Even a little concert upsets those Muslims who want to control everything in so-called Palestine.
Their vision is not of two states living in peace side by side. They want one state, and one state only. They are not going to be appeased at all by Abbas and Olmert and President Bush holding hands and saying, "We are on the road to peace." They may settle, temporarily, for Jews living in what was Israel as a group protected by Muslim law - the way Jews do in Iran.
TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem
Don't get upset, but... Sir, - I trust I am not upsetting PM Olmert too much by reminding him that Hamas was swept to power by the Palestinian people in a properly held general election. This means that Mahmoud Abbas is not representative of his people.
To negotiate with a man who has neither the respect nor the elected mandate of his own people has to be just another waste of time ("Poll finds Israelis pessimistic on chances of US summit," October 12).
DAVID LEE London
Sense, not stupidity
Sir, - Your October 12 editorial "Repeating mistakes" was as clean and concise an overview as I have seen of our attempts to negotiate with the Palestinians, whether by concessions or so-called confidence-building measures. One particular sentence stood out: "We hear from Palestinian leaders what they want, but nothing about what they are willing to give." Abbas has even used the word "demand" when referring to these issues.
Yet our government remains strangely silent. Its behavior reminds me of the court Jews of old, who had to accept whatever small favors were granted them.
We want and need to be fair and reasonable, but not stupid.
ELAINE SARID Jerusalem
Someone say 'stupid'? Sir, - British MEP Chris Davies's understanding of the Palestinian Israeli crisis is absurd. "What does it have to do with the EU?" he asks. "Gaza is an Israeli prison camp. It is the Israelis who should be responsible. They are the ones who keep them in misery" ("EU officials condemn Israeli action in Gaza," October 11). Of course it's perfectly OK for the Gazans to lob deadly Kassam rockets into Israel's populated areas. But Israeli defense measures cannot be permitted. Moreover, Davies adds, Israel should foot the bill to solve the Palestinians' human crisis.
If this logic were applied to Britain, murderers, assailants and property destroyers would be permitted to continue enjoying their freedom - and the British taxpayer would foot the humanitarian bill to keep the criminals out of prison.
JOCK L. FALKSON Ra'anana
The weakest link Sir, - Thank you for your editorial "Finish the fence" (October 14). As the strength of a chain lies in its weakest link, so a fence with gaps is not a fence, but a sieve.
M. VAN THIJN Jerusalem
Jews should not 'turn the other cheek'
Sir, - In "Caught in the Muhammad al-Dura crossfire" (October 12), Calev Ben-David pointed to criticism of the Israeli government for its lack of organization and approach in responding to propaganda against it.
The al-Dura affair is not the only example of this problem. We have tried for seven years to combat lies against the Jewish state in the British media. It has been a lonely battle. In 2004 a Jewish newspaper called us "nudnicks" for even trying - and this after we obtained a rare successful ruling against a nasty BBC documentary.
Common sense should dictate that when someone tells lies about us, or our people, it is of the utmost importance that we repudiate them strongly and firmly to nip them in the bud. After all, it is our integrity at stake, and this should be high on everyone's priority list.
Jews collectively and individually are guilty of ignoring the lessons of the Holocaust, which clearly established that the lies spread about us contributed to the ease with which the Holocaust took place.
It is not too late to wake up to this. If every individual privileged with a little leisure time were to respond to these lies immediately, it would make a huge difference. It has to be far better than "turning the other cheek."
LYNETTE & MICHAEL ORDMAN Netanya
Sir, - I admit I was shocked by Ann Coulter's assertion that "Jews need to be perfected" (October 12). I did not expect this seemingly anti-Jewish comment from a hero of the American Right. But after thinking about it, I came to a different conclusion.
Since I don't intend to go to church with Ms. Coulter, I'd rather be considered an unperfected Jew than a Jew suffering the epithets now being hurled against Jews by Islamo-fascists.
I recall the remarkable thesis of Prof. Joseph Klausner, stated at the end of his book on Paul, that Jews and Judaism could exist, and even flourish, only in a context which recognized the Jewish Bible - namely the Christian countries. But they couldn't exist in India or China, where that Bible was not equally recognized.
In other words, for Jewish existence, even Christian persecution is better than the non-biblical Eastern religions and cultures. Thus, in a backhanded way, Ms. Coulter is paying me the compliment of being a descendant of the Chosen People from which her Son of God came, and I am willing to live with her mistaken notion that she is a more perfect Jew than I am.
I cannot live with Osama Bin Laden, with the president of Iran, or with Hamas, who think I should be destroyed, or, at best, shipped to Alaska or Siberia.
JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem
Casual prayer Sir, - Martin Stern ("Casual labor," Letters, October 12) should not presume that our MKs give more honor to a Beit Knesset than they do to the Knesset - it just ain't so. In synagogue too, casual dress seems the order of the day!
COLIN L LECI Jerusalem