Sir, - I am certain that never in the history of the Nobel prizes has a prize been awarded to someone less than a year in the public eye. It is not a matter of how one feels about Barack Obama, and whether one agrees or disagrees with the US president's policies.
If the Nobel committee awarded the peace prize to Obama as encouragement to "steer away from any confrontation with Iran," as Herb Keinon suggested in "Obama, Nobel peace, and Israel" (October 11), that is a clear divergence from Alfred Nobel's intention, which was to reward actual achievement - not to get involved in politics on a grand scale, as the Nobel committee has done.
Sir, - If Yasser Arafat could receive the Nobel Peace Prize, why not Barack Obama? ("Nobel committee: Prize to Obama was early vote of confidence," October 11).
Sir, - If the purpose of the peace prize was encouragement, well, that's already been tried and found unsuccessful. Yasser Arafat and Mohamed ElBaradei neither made peace nor removed the danger of a nuclear Iran. On the contrary, they only created more chaos.
Sir, - When Henry Kissinger was awarded the peace prize for ending the Vietnam war, his North Vietnamese counterpart refused to accept his prize because he felt peace was not really there yet.
Sir, - This is arguably one of the most absurd awards the Nobel committee has ever made, so obviously partisan and political in its intent. Obama's done nothing of value in the Middle East, and nothing to improve relations with the Russians.
To award a prize simply on hope suggests a naivete and a blindness that I think will only damage the value of the prize and diminish its worth to all previous winners.
Sir, - It is all very well to keep mouthing the word "peace," but to achieve peace is a monumental effort. Talk should not be rewarded, only actions that bring results.
President Obama speaks beautifully, but his idea for peace in the Middle East will probably not work because it demands so much from Israel and is based on a complete misunderstanding of Arab and Muslim intransigence.
Sir, - There is a parallel between Obama's receipt of the Nobel Prize for Peace and his drive to establish a Palestinian state. In both instances the cart has been placed before the horse.
Obama has achieved nothing for peace, to date; and creating a terrorist-dominated state would promote war, not peace.
Sir, - Over the years, the overtly political Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to many surprising recipients, reflecting the bizarrely skewed value system of the Norwegian Nobel committee members rather than any absolute characteristic linked with peace (such as wars stopped or prevented, treaties signed, self-sacrifice, and so on).
Whatever one's views on President Obama, there is so far no possible connection between him and anything that can be defined as peace, unless pusillanimity toward Muslim terror, appeasement of Russian, Arab and Iranian intransigence and good intentions on a Neville Chamberlain scale can be defined as that vital link.
How about a new public foundation called the No-Bells committee, awarding annual prizes for stupidity and treachery?
I propose that the first No-Bells Prize for Stupidity be awarded to the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize committee; and for treachery - perhaps to the Swedish government, whose most memorable recent contributions to this time-honored field include acquiescence in the blood-libel and support for terror (aimed in a politically correct direction).
Sir, - Judging by President Obama's reaction to being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I think he would have preferred an Olympic medal.
Sir, - The peace prize should be discontinued. The other prizes are for something concrete, but this one has gone to some people who it's difficult to believe are truly interested in peace. Take Yasser Arafat, who worked for anything but peace, and Jimmy Carter, with his Israeli-bashing, one-sided outlook.
Now we have a man who couldn't possibly have achieved anything in such a short time - who is, granted, an accomplished speaker but is more suited, in my opinion, to a Christian pulpit than the steps of the White House.
Not the point
Sir, - In criticizing Gil Hoffman for comparing the number of Israeli Nobel prize winners with those from Muslim countries, Leonard Zurakov missed the point ("Nobel numbers," Letters, October 11).
Rather than attempting to show how clever Jews are, the piece pointed out the remarkable achievements of a country in existence for only 60 years and with a small population, compared with those of countries in existence for centuries and comprising populations totalling over a billion, with enormous financial resources and little existential threat.
MONTY M. ZION
Bravo, Ada Yonath...
Sir, - Chemist Ada Yonath deserves our respect and admiration. That said, it was hard to understand "Nobel prize winner Yonath: Free all Palestinian prisoners" (October 11).
While plain, garden-variety killers sit in jail, should we release convicted terrorist murderers like Marwan Barghouti; or those who placed bombs in public places; or those who dispatched people outfitted with explosive belts into crowds of Israelis?
Prof. Yonath should look into the statistics on recidivism among terrorists released in various "deals."
How to deter terrorists? Institute the death penalty, or deport them to some "Devil's Island"? That would be much easier on the taxpayer, the police force and the army, but the menace would only metastasize.
We need a solution, yes, but releasing terrorists isn't it.
...but stick to your field
Sir, - There have been very few cases in human history of people - Leonardo de Vinci is the foremost example - who excel in all fields. Most geniuses are brilliant in one specialized field and normal, or in some cases below normal, in other fields.
I am very proud of Prof. Ada Yonath's well-deserved Nobel Prize for chemistry, but her declarations about Palestinian prisoners and theories of what causes Palestinian terrorism only prove that a person can be exceptional in one field and hopelessly naive in others.