letters to the editor 88.
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Failure to learn
Sir, - The "68 well-known authors, academics and retired generals" who urge Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to open peace negotiations with Hamas, Syria and Lebanon reveal a penchant for stubbornly failing to learn from experience ("Authors, generals urge gov't to talk peace," September 26).
The whole history of the Israeli-Arab conflict, most especially that of the past two years, shows that one-sided generosity and openness do not necessarily bring any reciprocal measure. Shlomo Lahat's saying that "we will talk to [Hamas] and then they will recognize us" totally ignores its charter and the repeated declarations of its most prominent members that Israel must be destroyed.
The worse part of this petition, however, is that it totally misjudges where the center of national attention should be now. Israel needs to correct the many military shortcomings revealed in the recent Lebanon war. It must fully prepare itself for possible surprise missile attacks. It must act in accordance with the old adage that "those who would have peace must be properly prepared for war."
Peace with Syria
Sir, - Why reject Syrian President Bashar Assad's peace overture out of hand (""Israel brushes off Assad's peace overture," September 25)?
When will Prime Minister Ehud Olmert start facing reality?
He was wrong or willfully self-delusional when he:
expected Hamas to return our soldier without our releasing Arab prisoners;
expected Hizbullah to do the same;
expected bombing infrastructure in Lebanon would cause the Lebanese to put pressure on Hizbullah to release our prisoners;
and thought that, although we could not stop the Kassams in Gaza, we could stop the Katyushas in Lebanon - and this from the air or with minimal use of the ground reserves (who were undertrained and underequipped).
Now Olmert expects Syria to expel the Hamas leaders and break ties with Hizbullah before negotiations begin! Does anyone think that is going to happen on the prospect of maybe then Israel will talk to him?
Why not explore the possibility of a cold peace with Syria such as we have with Egypt? We don't have to withdraw from the Golan Heights before Assad makes some confidence-building moves, but we can talk. What do we have to lose?
Sir, - There is much I agree with in Andrew Sacks' article "The tools of Halacha are there to use" (September 25).
However, I find one aspect of the Masorti/Conservative movement somewhat quirky. I refer to women being called "rabbi." That term has always been exclusively used in reference to men.
That women can reach the same standards as men in Torah, Halacha, Talmud, spirituality and all branches of Jewish learning is, for me, beyond doubt. That such women should be accorded the same respect and social position as men with similar learning is, for me, beyond question.
But such women are not rabbis. A term, equal to "rabbi" but of feminine gender, should be found. Will Masorti/Conservative women, who do not have rabbinic training and learning, eventually insist on being called "sir"?
The use of the term "rabbi" for women smacks of strident American feminism.
A modest proposal
Sir, - I gave a great deal of thought to the article that described the response of the Israel Police to the demand to prosecute police officers for brutality at various demonstrations, but mainly at Gush Katif and Amona ("Police under fire for 'brutal treatment,'" September 22).
The police claimed that they could not carry out all their duties and responsibilities if these officers were prosecuted, found guilty and suspended because their manpower was already stretched to the limit.
These officers wielded their batons with determination and great enthusiasm against demonstrators young and old and sent many with bruises and broken bones for treatment to hospitals. Meanwhile, there are many police officers stationed in the Galilee who are afraid to enter Arab villages during uprisings and riots. This results in the disruption of peaceful living for most of our Arab citizens both young and old.
I therefore would like to present my modest proposal. Those brave and determined police officers who face prosecution should be sent to the Galilee to preserve law and order using their batons, and those in the Galilee who show more sensitivity should replace them. This way the police would not have to deal with threats of manpower reduction and continue carrying out their important duties and responsibilities.
It should be noted, however, that police manpower reduction would bring a great deal of relief to our many politicians facing prosecution and even those whose crimes have yet to be uncovered.
Sir, - Anyone with a vestige of foresight knew that the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and an increased presence of UNIFIL in Lebanon would not make any difference to the peace and security in the North other than to worsen it further ("UNIFIL won't take initiative to stop Hizbullah," September 25).
What we now have are some 5,000 UN troops - and more to come depending on whether the UN can make up its mind and agree upon anything among its members. This amounts to more opportunities for Hizbullah to use UNIFIL for its protection while attacking Israel.
Furthermore, Hizbullah has the luxury of such a force being composed of nations which won't recognize Israel and which support terror as long as it is in the name of Allah.
Adding insult to injury was the "victory" appearance by Hassan Nasrallah, whom Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to liquidate as soon as he came up from his bunker. I suspect that Nasrallah will last longer than Olmert's government.
Sir, - The Irish academics who now call for a boycott of Israel ("Irish boycott initiative angers Israeli academics," September 25) might usefully reflect on two simple facts.
Firstly, the original UN Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, which authorized both a Jewish and an Arab state in Palestine, was rejected by the entire Arab world, which attacked Israel on its establishment.
The Arab attack was not about boundaries, but against the very existence of any Israeli state.
Secondly, UN Security Council Resolution 242 after the Six Day War deliberately did not call for Israeli withdrawal from all, but only from "occupied" lands, thus leaving the extent of any withdrawal to be negotiated.
Israel immediately offered to trade land for peace, but the Arab Khartoum Summit opted for its notorious triple negative of no recognition, no negotiations and no peace.
Arabs, except for Egypt and Jordan, still refuse to recognize Israel, and no government on Earth would hand power or territory over to a regime like Hamas, dedicated to destroying Israel by jihad and replacing it with an Islamic dictatorship.
It would be interesting to know just how many of the 61 signatories are also members tiny groups like the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Movement or the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.
Surely publicly funded academics will not refuse the public information?
And why pick on only Israel? Are Sudan or Iran not good targets for boycott?
Get terminology right
Sir, - I was shocked to read that professional chartered (registered) engineers, who are responsible for the design, construction and operation of major facilities and infrastructure that are relied upon for our way of life, have now been denigrated to theoretical engineers ("High-tech leaders fear low-tech drought," September 22).
The practical engineers mentioned are known throughout the world as technicians. The reasons given why there is a shortage of technicians in Israel are identical to those in major Western countries, as the emphasis is placed on league tables in schools as well as budget-cutting operations.
Clearly the emphasis on the liberal arts has now resulted in major elements of society being unable to distinguish between professional engineers belonging to a learned society - like those for lawyers, accountants and medical doctors - and technicians.
It's time the Post got its terminology correct if it is to succeed as a vehicle for hasbara.
COLIN L. LECI
Sir, - I read the article regarding the spiking of a poisonous sugar solution onto trees and thereby killing mosquitoes ("HU researchers: Mosquitoes' love of sweets could help fight malaria," September 20).
I wonder if it would be ecologically acceptable to other sources of life which do not present any hazard; or perhaps to incorporate an anti-fire solution (or use one separately).
This should have a benefit in reducing the large amount of acreage that is destroyed yearly by forest fires.
Mazal tov to Prof. Yosef Schlein and co-researcher Gunter Muller on their accomplishment, and to Judy Siegel for producing this article.
Postpone the game
Sir, - Recently in my home country of Turkey, Israeli international soccer player Felix Pinhas Balili, currently playing for Sivasspor, requested that the national football association postpone a game scheduled on Yom Kippur so that he could fulfill his religious duty.
As a Jew, it is of significant importance to us as a part of the small Jewish community of Istanbul that the state authorities of a Muslim country practice such a positive act at a time of tension.
I found it very interesting and wanted to share it with you.
AKSEL T. VANSTEIN
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