Tie of sympathy?
Sir, - Israel's problems with the General Assembly and human rights agencies of the United Nations ought to resonate strongly with President Obama. Our situation is closely analogous to that of the blacks in some southern states in the bad old days of segregation.
Arraignments based on little or no evidence. A jury consisting of avowed enemies of the accused. A travesty of a trial, with free rein given to the usual hypocritical rent-a-rage elements. The verdict a foregone conclusion.
It is to be hoped that the president will be as zealous for the rights of Israel as a nation as he would have been for those of individual blacks in former days ("Goldstone: Independent probe by Israel would stop UN push," October 20).
A 'judicial inquiry' is...
Sir, - Re "Cracks in united front as MKs spar over Goldstone Report" (October 19): I do not understand Nachman Shai's call for a "judicial inquiry" into Operation Cast Lead. Who will chair such an inquiry? Who will carry it out?
We rejected the inquiry by eminent Justice Richard Goldstone because, as Alan Baker pointed out, the United Nations Human Rights Council "determined in advance that Israel had committed war crimes" and slanted the inquiry that way ("Just what did Goldstone expect?" same date). MK Shai seems to have determined in advance that our own "judicial inquiry" would "bring all those who violated IDF protocol to justice."
After the IDF's own investigations, why does Shai assume that there are such violators? And who would bring them to justice: our courts, the ICC in the Hague, the UK courts? His suggestion smacks of the opposition's desperation to attack the Likud government.
Suppose we assigned our most respected jurist, Aharon Barak, to head such an inquiry. Any positive result would be decried by the UN, by democratic vote, since Barak is known to be "a loyal Israeli." Any negative results would be quoted in the ICC. It's a no-win situation.
Let us be satisfied with the results of Cast Lead. Peace has been tasted in the South. We have survived anti-Israeli votes in the UN and even judicial actions in the Hague.
Time will cast Cast Lead into a footnote of Israeli history, if that.
...a bad idea all round
Sir, - When Aryeh Deri was on his way to prison, his fans held an alternative trial that found him innocent. How many people's minds were changed by that? About as many as will be changed if Israel commissions an inquiry that finds it innocent of war crimes in Gaza.
The difference is that the alternative Deri trial was quick, cheap and quickly forgotten, whereas any inquiry by Israel will take months, waste taxpayers' money, and serve as fodder for a whole new round of hypocritical fulminations against the country.
MARK L. LEVINSON
...on the contrary -
it's part of our struggle
Sir, - While I agree with most of the criticism and disapproval of the Goldstone Report and with some criticism of Judge Goldstone himself, I believe there are important issues being obscured by our instinctive reaction of disapproval and rejection.
Yes, I believe there are some hard questions we here in Israel should be asking.
To go back a few years: Was it really necessary to end the Second Lebanon War, already full of manipulated anti-Israel media coverage, with a rain of controversial cluster bomblets, to no discernible military advantage? Should the government consider demanding that the IDF cease using those munitions? Could not some other munitions have been used in place of the most photogenic of weapons, the phosphorus bomb, while the world's TV cameras were lined up just a few miles away?
The government should investigate the use of this weapon and decide if it is absolutely necessary or justified.
And, of course, we need to understand exactly why, or if, so much civilian infrastructure needed to be destroyed.
I think it is way past time the IDF fully internalized the new reality of modern warfare. The instant media coverage, the visual and first-person reports, are as much a determining factor in the win/lose equation as the purely military one.
Therefore, I also call on those Israelis making decisions about how and with what weapons to pursue our military actions to be more thoughtful and aware of the media realities of our time.
It has nothing to do with the justice of our cause, rather with the prudence with which we struggle for survival in this jungle.
Don't ask for absolution
Sir, - First came the Goldstone Report, and now comes Goldstone himself, whining and asking for understanding of his motivation, professing his basic love of Israel and its justice system ("My mission - and motivation, October 18). He speaks of the personal hurt he feels following the criticism his report received.
Does he really believe that its critics have damaged his good name more than he has damaged the good name of Israel and its armed forces? We do not need to understand and forgive the Goldstone Report or its author - but that is beside the point.
What Judge Goldstone does not seem to realize is that he has written his own epitaph. The report that bears his name will live on just like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion - endlessly quoted by the enemies of Israel. But each time the Goldstone Report is quoted, defenders will arise who will point out the egregious flaws in the report and the bias of its authors.
Whatever else he may have accomplished in life, Goldstone's name is now eternally linked to a document that evokes disrespect and ridicule in fair-minded people.
That is Goldstone's punishment. He may complain as much as he will, but history will not forget him, and the stain he has put on his name will not disappear.
So I would ask him: Don't come to the victims and ask for absolution. It is a futile and undignified effort.
ARNOLD I. KISCH
Sir, - I don't think "motivation" has much to do with it, Judge Goldstone. You were always going to be in a lose-lose situation.
As a non-Jewish friend of mine told me back in the 1970s, when the Arab oil embargo was in place: "Moses made a big mistake by turning left into Israel, which has no oil. He should have turned to the right. Had he done so, Israel would have all the oil. And the world would complain that the oil is in the hands of the Jews.
"So the Arabs got the oil. And whose fault is it that the Arabs control the supply of oil? The Jews', of course. So - my friend concluded - it doesn't make any difference at all. It's always the Jews fault!"
Had your report decided in favor of Israel, everyone would be saying, "What do you expect, he is a Jew and is obviously biased toward Israel." So Israel loses.
You decided against Israel, and so everyone is saying, "If he is a Jew and he says this even when he has a bias toward Israel because he is a Jew, just imagine everything the Israelis really did! How much did he hide because he is a Jew"? So, again, Israel loses.
That, Judge Goldstone, is why you should never have accepted the mission.
Kilda East, Australia
One man's integrity
Sir, - In a world full of Javier Solanas, Miguel Moratinos and Richard Goldstones, one man's integrity, courage and decency stand out vividly in contrast to the appeasement and cowardice that has swept the West.
Col. Richard Kemp has shown that men like Orde Wingate still exist ("Former UK Afghan commander: In Gaza, IDF took more precautions to safeguard civilians than any other army in history," October 18).
'Pravda' said it
Sir, - "When the Soviet Union was asked to return annexed territories after WWII, the reply from Pravda (September 2, 1964), quoted in The Jerusalem Post, was:
"Political boundaries are the outcome of causes active for some time... Frontiers [are] sanctified by the copious blood shed on them. A people that has been attacked, defended itself and wins the war is bound in sacred duty to establish in perpetuity a political situation that will ensure the liquidation of the sources of aggression...
"A nation that has attained security at the cost of numerous victims will never agree to the restoration of previous borders as long as the danger of aggression still prevails."
Could Israel put her own position regarding the so-called territories more succinctly?
weapon called humor
Sir, - Daniella Ashkenazy is spot-on with her suggestion that Israel needs to add more humor to her arsenal of unconventional weapons ("Bring out the Laughter Brigade," October 18).
The Middle East conflict is one heavy subject, laden with uncomfortable images and emotions. There's a lot of resistance to even listening about it - let alone be willing to have one's perceptions (or misperceptions) of Israel challenged.
Humor, a known tool for defusing tension and breaking down stereotypes, is starting to gain a more respectable place among professionals working to handle difficult issues.
As an example, I was recently working with Enosh, the Israeli Association for Mental Health. We were engaged in a ground-breaking project using humor and laughter as an effective means of dealing with the stigma of mental illness, and in reversing society's negative perception of the psychiatrically disabled.
There have been some remarkable results, as humor is simply the ability to see things from an unexpected angle. Laughing makes one feel good, and if we want to laugh more, we need first to open ourselves up to being surprised.
Every good hasbara activist understands that success depends on the readiness of an audience to see things differently. A humorous perspective is a great way to help them see that there is another angle.