September 17: Sensible silence

Maybe most of us had enough sense to realize that if Israeli jets fly over a country dedicated to our destruction they probably had a good reason.

September 16, 2007 20:35
letters March 2008

letters good 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Sensible silence Sir, - Larry Derfner castigates the Israeli media and public over their initial silence following Israel's "act of aggression" of flying jets over Syria ("Israeli aggression? What Israeli aggression?" September 11). Maybe most of us had enough sense to realize that if Israeli jets fly over a country dedicated to our destruction they probably had a good reason, and to at least wait for the dust to settle before rushing to condemn our air force ("IAF raid reportedly aimed at Syrian-N. Korean nuke facility," September 16). YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem Sir, - Larry Derfner's wild, unfounded allegations will be eagerly quoted by Israel-bashers abroad. STANLEY FRIEDMAN Netanya Sir, - I get so amazed when I read articles by Israelis attacking their own government and giving credit to the Arabs! What you need as Jews is to speak with one voice against the aggressive nature of countries like Syria. Your strength and existence will depend not on American patronage, but on Jewish unity. You need to show Syria that you can still defend yourselves even if it involves carrying out flyovers to prove it. One thing the flyover exposed is Syria's vulnerability as far as air defense is concerned. PHOEBE TURIGYE Kampala, Uganda For real reform Sir, - Kudos to Gil Hoffman for his recent pieces on electoral reform efforts ("Power to the people" (September 7) and its follow-up on Shelanu ("New electoral reform," September 10). Articles like these should remind us, especially those who feel alienated and helpless in Israel's quagmire of poor governance, that the source of political power in any democracy is the public. Citizen activism can make a crucial difference. I would like to clarify one issue on the reporting of my perspective: While I do believe that the direct election of every Knesset member is vital, I don't claim that its absence primarily caused the direct election of the prime minister to fail. That effort at reform was acutely flawed because of a different combination of incompatible principles in action. Individual accountability and executive discretionary authority, facilitated by the direct election of the prime minister, were trumped by a coalition system of executive power-sharing meant to deny that very same discretion to the prime minister. Once Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak were directly elected by the public, the Knesset could circumvent the public's choice by bringing down the government in a vote of no-confidence at any time thereafter, upon a coalition's weakening. This constant threat forced these PMs to prioritize coalition demands over the public interest and campaign promises. As non-separate entities with shared personnel and management, either the legislative branch hobbled the functioning of the executive branch, or vice versa. A presidential executive system, effectively separating the legislative from the executive branch, would go a long way toward rectifying this problematic situation. It should be an integral part in a comprehensive change, including the direct election of legislators, to rehabilitate our system of government into one that truly serves the interests of the Israeli public. MICHAEL JAFFE Director, Shelanu Zichron Ya'akov Golden rule Sir, - In "Engaged to Hamas" (September 15) Melanie Phillips writes about an influential Briton, Alastair Crooke, claiming that Hamas and other Islamists are "striving to create just societies and bring about political reform in a region entrenched with inequity." That means he thinks Hamas's goal of imposing Islamic Shari'a law would be an act of justice and reform. Is Crooke aware that under Shari'a law he would be considered a dhimmi, or second-class citizen who would have to abide by various discriminatory regulations and pay a special tax? In addition, under Shari'a, his wife's or daughter's testimony would count for only half of a man's in court. I doubt Crooke would want to see Britain become a clone of other Shari'a-based countries such as Iran or Sudan. What Crooke and others need to do is practice the Golden Rule when it comes to Israel, and not do to it what would be hateful for themselves. DAVID KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont Kassams: The response Sir, - Re rocket attacks from Gaza, the Post advocates "Fighting back" (September 12) by cutting off the flow of arms from Egypt, forcefully holding Hamas to account, and cutting off services to Gaza such electricity. There is no doubt that Kassam attacks from Gaza cannot be tolerated. Palestinians are obligated to prevent them, and Israel is warranted in responding when they don't. However, targeting the civilian population with collective punishment will negate any benefits reaped from addressing the arms flow to Hamas. Military action and economic sanctions against the Palestinians have only strengthened their support for militancy. Defeating Hamas militarily requires first defeating it politically. This can only be done by offering the Palestinians a comprehensive settlement that addresses the key aspirations of Palestinian nationalism. Hamas will be hard-pressed to reject this, as doing so will place it at odds with the Palestinian people. It is doubtful that Palestinians will tolerate the firing of rockets after that. MICHAEL DAY Washington Sir, - We are taught that if something from your neighbor's yard falls into yours, you should return it. I think it is time to return the Kassam rockets. MADALYN SCHAEFFER Jerusalem Sir, - As a response to the Kassam rocket attack on the Zikim army base last Tuesday, well-dressed Gaza residents were seen on the TV news distributing lots of delicious-looking sweets to cigarette-smoking drivers in a long line of cars, many of them luxury models. They didn't look like people suffering a humanitarian crisis. ROSALIE BROSILOW Rehovot Sir, - Response to the recent rocket attack is psychologically and morally important. America and the world are looking to Israel to defend and assert its right to exist. Political meetings are irrelevant. There will not be a State of Israel if attacks against the homeland are not answered. Iran too needs to be dealt with, and soon. Echoes of the 1930s: As a life-long supporter of Israel and Zionism, I am concerned that Israel is in denial. You do not seem as inspired as in 1967. Please take decisive action now. PETER SORMAN Rochester, New York Artwork in Ofakim Sir, - During early 1986, a small group of US sailors from the USS Yorktown spent a few days in Ofakim painting the walls of a children's clinic with Disney cartoon characters. We had been told only that the walls needed painting - but what Ofakim had requested, and what it expected, were artists. It was an uncomfortable situation and we were a long distance from our ship in Haifa, but we agreed to try. The result proved far better than anyone's wildest expectations, and the murals looked as good, or better, than the Walt Disney book we were given to draw from. It has been many years since my brief stay in Ofakim, and I often wonder what happened to the wonderful people who treated us like their family. I would like to obtain some information regarding the people I met, and to know if they still remember our visit and the artwork we did. JOHN J CAMPBELL j_ Norfolk, Virginia

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