letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
'Post' readers respond to 'Checkpoint checking'
Sir, - Seth Freedman's vivid description of the hardships Palestinians must endure to enter Israel was touching indeed ("Checkpoint checking," September 4). By his tone and expressions of sympathy, I would imagine Mr. Freedman has never experienced air travel within the United States.
Domestic travelers in the US routinely endure long lines, x-ray machines, having to remove everything metal, and even our shoes. Our liquids are confiscated, including those purchased in the airport.
As for the hardship of having to pay fines and papers being confiscated - well, Seth, we have that too. Imagine my surprise when I was informed by my home state of Connecticut that my driver's license had been suspended, but they would not tell me why. The reason? When I received a moving violation in New York they informed Connecticut, but never bothered telling them when the ticket had been paid, hence the suspension. Simple interstate bureaucracy.
Imagine what we'd be going through if New York was dispatching suicide bombers to Connecticut. Maybe Mahsom Watch's women should go global?
Sir, - Okay, Seth Freedman, you may have a point. Since I don't live in Israel, I don't know. But I find it curious that you chose to write your piece for a blog associated with the left-wing Guardian in Britain, where many British Labor leaders and workers apparently want to boycott Israel. If you want to affect policy in a positive sense for Israelis and Palestinians and are not just bashing Israel, as half the fascists in Europe do, why not publish in Israel?
You make it a point to talk about the dangers inherent in having an open border. Why didn't this take up more space? Why was it only at the end of the article? It should take up, I would say, two chapters at the beginning of your projected book - including the breaches in the protective "wall" and a list of the murderous attacks against Jews before the wall was erected.
Sir, - Some years ago I was on one of those missions organized by Shurat HaDin. It was planned that we should meet an IDF unit by the name of the "Humanitarian Unit." Because of tensions in the territories our coach could not make the rendezvous on time and we missed the chance to discuss matters with the unit. A year or so after, I managed to arrange an appointment with the unit's commanding officer just outside Ramallah. The discussion that ensued covered several points of the unit's function, one of the major ones being, so I was told, to coordinate with Machsom Watch to alleviate the problems and injustices that arise at the checkpoints.
It was explained to me that the Palestinians would approach the NGOs at the checkpoints asking for help with any issues that arose. The Humanitarian Unit's flying contingent would respond as soon as it was contacted by the NGOs. In my nervousness, I did not catch the name of the officer who addressed me.
The response I got from Israeli friends and family (possibly "leftists") was that my naivete had blinded me to the charade the army had put me through.
Whatever, I have to concur with Seth Freedman that the necessary evil of checkpoints - so often manned by immature young men with their own frustrations - can only intensify the daily humiliation felt by the Palestinian men, women and children.
Sadly, I am not an optimist. I cannot foresee any resolution to the pseudo-mystical posturings of the religious extremists (on either side).
Sir, - Having dried my tears after reading Seth Freedman's article, may I point out that if the Arabs in question organized their economy and made order in their backyard, they would not have to work in Israel and the problem of checkpoints would not arise. Israeli employers and builders would have to pay a full day's wage for local labor, and would not be able to exploit cheap Arab labor.
Sir, - Seth Freedman criticizes the techniques used at Israeli checkpoints and claims that the humiliations involved will fuel the next generation of terrorists. He then undercuts his own argument by stating that the checkpoints are necessary due to "the daily streams of murderous rhetoric from the extremist groups on the other side of the security wall."
Does he really think that better checkpoint techniques are a significant way to reduce the terrorist threat?
Despite the emotional pathos, we must not blame ourselves for the often ugly, but necessary requirements involved in defending ourselves from terrorism. Although it is more soothing to take the nice-guy approach, experience shows that appeasement will be exploited as weakness.
The day the murderous rhetoric of Islamofascism stops will be the day many checkpoints around the world can be lifted.
Lebanon now, Israel then
Sir, - Kol hakavod to the Lebanese! They've become what Israel was in its first 20 years. They decided to overcome their oppressor, and did. They made a good plan and pursued it to victory, even though the campaign lasted for months and both soldiers and civilians died in the process. Knowing their government had a sound plan, citizens backed it to the extent of one man's capturing a terrorist hidden in his garden. Citizens guarded their homes to prevent terrorists from hiding in them. This was Israel in our early years.
Now that Kassams are at the nursery door, our prime minister promises that "Islamic Jihad will pay a heavy price." We must insist on this. We must decisively defeat those who kill our children. We must demand effective responses, as earlier generations of Israelis did. If this government doesn't have the guts to follow through, it must resign ("Lebanese army crushes Fatah al-Islam in 'greatest national victory over terrorists,'" September 3).
SARA LEE WOOLF
Ramat Beit Shemesh
For the record
Sir, - In "Dutch festival rejects anti-Israel boycott," (August 28), I was shocked to see comments attributed to me that I never made. I have as yet given no interviews nor released any statements about the festival and its participants. To set the record straight:
In my correspondence with El-Funoun, the Palestinian company which originally agreed to participate in the festival, I never I told them to stay home and enjoy themselves, but rather that I regretted their decision and hoped they would reconsider. El-Funoun also did not issue any ultimatums but simply pulled out because they disagreed with what they thought was the premise of the festival.
I don't know what the other two Palestinian groups' stand on the boycott is. The Dancing on the Edge - Confronting Dance from the Middle East festival is simply a regional showcase for Middle-Eastern dance and movement-theater groups to present their works, all of which reflect the societies in which the artists live to the Dutch public. It is not an attempt at Arab-Israeli collaboration, nor is the purpose to draw inspiration from one another, although that might happen. In that sense, it is not applicable for a boycott, whatever one may think of the use of cultural boycotts.
GARY FEINGOLD, Artistic Director
Dancing on the Edge - Confronting
Dance from the Middle East