October 8: ElBaradei's role

In a world at risk from an Islamic bomb, we could all be forgiven for regarding Mohammed ElBaradei's candidacy as head of the IAEA nuclear watchdog agency as some kind of sick joke.

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October 7, 2007 21:53
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ElBaradei's role Sir, - In a world at risk from an Islamic bomb, we could all be forgiven for regarding Mohammed ElBaradei's candidacy as head of the IAEA nuclear watchdog agency as some kind of sick joke. But political correctness prevailed. ElBaradei has been granted not only legitimacy, but even a Nobel prize. In return for this largesse, the least the free world must demand is that he get off his soapbox and stick to the job he is paid for: to be a policeman, not a politician. Consistent with that role, we want to read about search warrants, not supplication ("IAEA chief: 'Isolating Iran only helps hard-liners,'" October, 5). ZALMI UNSDORFER Chairman, Likud-Herut UK London Rabbinate's soul Sir, - In "Finally, the Rabbinate gets competition" (October 3) Evelyn Gordon brought up another facet of the heter mechira issue, one not too many people have noticed - that if Tzohar succeeds in breaking the rabbinate's hold on the kashrut industry, perhaps it can also mount a revolt against the monopoly on marriage certification, conversion and divorce. The heter mechira controversy is the tip of a huge iceberg. Eventually it will surface and force the rabbinate to reform or disband. I hope for reform, as we do need a rabbinate, though not in its present form. A. WEINBERG Rehovot Refugee perspectives Sir, - The UK Protestant leader, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, had recent wide-ranging contacts with official figures in Lebanon, Syria and Armenia, and also visited refugee camps. That Arab refugees are languishing in camps since 1948 is appalling, but the responsibility for this sad state of affairs is seldom mentioned. In 1947, when the UK granted independence to India and Pakistan, some 7.5 million Muslims were displaced, moving from India to Pakistan, while some 711,000 Arabs (UN estimate) left Israel. An equal number of Hindus and Sikhs moved in the opposite direction - exactly as happened with Jewish refugees fleeing Arab lands and Iran to Israel. There was no mention ever of any "right of return" for those Muslims to India, or for the nearly 1 million Jews displaced from the Arab world and Iran. The 12th Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was born in India (Delhi, 1943), while the first Sikh to become India's 14th PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh, was born in Pakistan (Punjab, 1932). The 15 million displaced persons on the Indian sub-continent were not cynically and callously left to rot in camps; nor were the Jewish refugees who came to Israel. In addition to those who fled to Israel, many more Jews fled elsewhere, such as to the US; and in 1962, to France from Algeria. The nearly 1 million Jews in the Arab world and Iran in 1947 have been reduced to 1% of that figure, but Israel alone has more Arabs than those in the whole of British-administered Palestine in 1947 (1.4m. against 1.2m.). These very relevant facts are often forgotten and little used even by official Israeli spokespersons - yet they provide essential perspective. The unique creation of UNRWA, a UN agency dedicated solely to the Palestinian Arabs, may ultimately have hindered, not facilitated their reintegration into society. The 15m. refugees on the Indian sub-continent enjoyed no such agency. And Muslim oil revenues would be more than sufficient to integrate all Palestinian Arabs into their host societies, and/or into Gaza and the West Bank ("The flip-side of the refugee issue,"October 7). TOM CAREW Dublin Sir, - You cannot turn the clock back. In our case the Jews were thrown out, but the Arabs left here largely on their own initiative, being promised they would return. Those who left have mainly passed on, and under international law their descendants are citizens in the countries of their birth. The UN does them no service by perpetuating the myth of their refugee status. HILARY GATOFF Herzliya Pituah Good for Ashkenazi Sir, - Meretz MK Ran Cohen is quoted as saying that releasing prisoners is a political issue and the army chief of staff should not have interfered ("Barak backs Ashkenazi's right to oppose prisoner release" October 3). Cohen should remember that Ashkenazi did not interfere, he merely expressed his opinion that it was a wrong move. Our chief of staff was simply defending his right to demand the release of one of his junior soldiers, Cpl. Gilad Schalit, before making a "gesture" to Abbas. I am sure MK Cohen would expect the same from his supreme commander if he were a soldier being held captive, with no ability to contact any of his loved ones, and without having faced any trial. Gen. Ashkenazi should be congratulated for publicly demonstrating concern for one of his men. MONTY M. ZION Tel Mond Unapologetic... Sir, - Supermodel Bar Rafaeli is moving to LA, hates Israel, is glad she dodged serving her country because she "made out big" - and she accuses the US of hutzpa? Good riddance. Her parents should be ashamed of having raised such a narcissistic brat ("Rafaeli bars famous friends' visit to Israel," October 3). MIKE, SARAH & JOSH WILLIAMS Jerusalem Sir, - Bar Rafaeli's flip query "Why is it good to die for one's country? Isn't it better to live in New York?" demonstrates how very little she has absorbed from her years in school. Her education clearly lacked something that should be part of every child's day - call it Zionism, patriotism, or simple love of one's country. Rafaeli's egocentric views indicate that serious thought must be given to shaking up our education system. We need committed and ambitious young people to continue our growth and progress. Bending over backwards to accommodate a philosophy of indifference to our unique position in the world is self-defeating. MARCELLA WACHTEL Jerusalem ...unashamed Sir, - As I was watching the Feast of Tabernacles Jerusalem march last week, I could not help but think how unabashedly, unapologetically and unashamedly pro-Israel and pro-Jewish our Christian friends are. The parade should be mandatory viewing for all Israeli leftists ("Jerusalem March draws 80,000," October 3). MICHAEL SPIRO Toronto If the cap fits Sir, - In "Cheers and jeers" (Letters, October 3), Moshe Berlin wrote that to Israelis mocking his American-accented Hebrew he said he'd come to Israel to be prime minister, and was therefore trying to speak like the incumbent, Golda Meir. One summer, our son, Jeff, then 14, worked in our furniture store near Cleveland, Ohio. A group of gentile teenage boys continually harassed him because Jeff wore a kippa. A red one. One night I went over to them and said, "OK, that's it. Out." "Oh yeah? And who's gonna make us leave?" "I am," I said. "And him, too?" one snickered, pointing at Jeff. "And why's he always wearing that beanie?" "Are you serious?" I said - "you don't know? He's studying to be the pope." With eyes like saucers and mouths agape, they slowly backed away, mumbling "Oh wow!" and "No kidding." I'm convinced that if Jeff had been wearing a ring, they'd have kissed it. ARLENE JACOBY Beit Shemesh

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