What are hesder students being taught?
Sir, - It would be prudent to learn exactly what action is being required by the IDF manpower chief in his ultimatum to hesder rabbis when he calls for "actions, and not just a condemnation" of the phenomenon of insubordination among their pupils ("IDF manpower head demands action from hesder rabbis," November 26).
In the midst of the ongoing, agonizing debate on the subject, it is imperative to consider what is being taught in the hesder yeshivot and what indeed motivates their students.
Their entire curriculum is founded on a Torah-infused love of the people and the Land of Israel. This is what inspires them to loyally fulfill those ideals by enthusiastic dedication to military service or any other positive endeavor.
It must be stressed, therefore, that their apparent insubordination, while possibly mistaken, is not at all politically motivated, but based on their genuine concern for those prophetic ideals that inspired the founding fathers of the entire Zionist enterprise.
Indeed the warnings of a slippery slope must be heeded, but at the same time, it is necessary to remember that inherent in the very name of the Israel Defense Forces is an obligation primarily to the defense of the people of Israel and their land. It was never conceived as an army that would be used against fellow Jews who are among the most loyal and dedicated of citizens.
A minority can be right
Sir, - Isi Leibler deserves praise for addressing a journalist's "elegantly phrased question, not intended to offend... that if virtually the entire world has concluded that we are the principal cause for the Middle East impasse, perhaps they are right?" ("Why does so much of the world hate us?," November 26)
With Mr. Leibler's fine answer, we may recall another written more than a century ago by Ahad Ha'Am, in his essay "Consolation": the "blood libel" against Jewry continues to recur, and multitudes believe it, although it is quite false; a big majority of gentiles can be wrong, and a tiny minority of Jews can be right.
Hamas and Fatah do agree on one thing
Sir, - The article "Haniyeh cancels Mecca trip as hopes rise for Schalit deal" (November 25) reports that during a speech at a conference on Arab prisoners, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad "saluted" Amneh Muna, a member of Fatah, currently serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison for the murder of a 16-year-old Israeli. If Fayyad is truly a "moderate" who seeks peace with Israel, why does he continue to applaud acts of terror?
It is once again obvious that while Hamas and Fatah may not be getting along these days and have different strategies when it comes to Israel, both agree that targeting Israeli civilians is a legitimate course of action.
A promotion for Ray Hanania?
Sir, - How dare an Israeli publication publish such... brilliance! It's depressing that Ray Hanania, with this common-sense outline of what everyone who isn't navel-gazing knows needs to happen ("Announcing my candidacy for president of Palestine," November 15), is just an op-ed columnist.
This should get real attention. Please thank Mr. Hanania for the decency of looking at the situation from a human angle and suggesting a just vision.
Vigilance for academics
Sir,- In painting a worrying picture of what goes on in the minds of Israel boycotters, Ben Cohen ("The academic boycott campaign: Is it over?," November 18) urges extra vigilance in ensuring that Israeli academics are not victimized "by private, undeclared boycotts." The reason, as he put it, lies in the fact that "when you are convinced that you are right beyond any doubt - as the boycotters manifestly are - the rules don't matter."
Sound words, indeed, which merit close attention!
DR. RACHEL BIRATI
Erekat's gift with numbers...
Sir, - Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat has been quoted as saying, "The last I know, Washington is 6,000 miles from Jerusalem, while Jericho is 67" ("Erekat: Settlement halt is insignificant," Online Edition, November 26). Actually, the distance between Jerusalem and Jericho, where Erekat lives, is approximately 17 miles, which is about 27.2 kilometers. But then, Erekat is always exaggerating, as with his figure of "500 massacred" in Jenin.
...And Abu Rudaineh's red lines
Sir, - The fatuous statement by Nabil Abu Rudeineh that "for the Palestinians and Arabs, Jerusalem is a red line that can't be crossed" (Gov't declares 10-month settlement freeze," November 26) would be amusing were it not for the fact that such statements serve as a vehicle and a justification for incitement and rioting.
Evidently Rudeineh, along with many other spokesmen for hatred and violence in Jerusalem, is not aware that Jerusalem was King David's city before there were any Muslims, and that Jerusalem is not mentioned - not even once - in the Koran. What is the rationale for the Palestinians' insistence that Jerusalem is suitable for their eventual capital?
Threats of a new intifada have been put in place. If Rudaineh's bluster is successful, we will once more be faced with violence. This cleverly instigated violence serves as an effective diversion for people who are daily being denied a normal life by their corrupt government. Evidently, a feeling of powerlessness against a dictatorship can be dissipated by covering your face and throwing stones at an imaginary defiler of a site deemed holy by all three major faiths.
Eden in J'lem
Sir, - I was glad to read Abe Selig's article on Jerusalem's Deer Valley ("J'lem's Deer Valley gets green light to become nature park," November 26). My wife and I and our three children were very fortunate to have lived in the capital's Givat Mordechai neighborhood from 1977-1984, our first seven years in Israel.
Deer Valley was my little secret. I was informed by a cousin, a survivor, that the green patch between my neighborhood and Rehov Herzog was filled with beautiful wildlife, infusing Jerusalem city with a natural element that only a few Israeli cities had.
One night in the late '70s, that same cousin took me on an off-the-record tour. With flashlight in hand, he led me along the paths of the gazelles. He had me listen to a few birds, whose calls he recognized. Most of all, he made me feel as if I was in the Garden of Eden.
I cannot say that I helped with the battle to save Deer Valley, but I can say that I savor the determination of a citizenry that will not allow its city to be stripped of the one phenomenal nature preserve it has.
Mazel tov to all those who fought so hard.
A load of bull
Sir, - If I may correct you in your article on the injured rancher: there is no such animal as a "male cow" ("Galilee rancher forgives aggressive calf who sent him to hospital," November 26). It is like saying a "male woman." The type of animal referred to is usually a bull or an ox or steer, (a castrated bull). Also, not even an elephant calf weighs half a ton. The animal referred to may have been a young animal, but it is highly unlikely to have been a calf.