'Post' readers react to the Goldstone report
Sir, - I commend the Goldstone Commission on a job well done ("UN probe alleges Israeli crimes against humanity in Gaza," September 16). Its mandate stated that Israel was guilty of war crimes and that the commission was to find evidence to support that charge. They found anecdotal and uncorroboratable evidence, as required.
I also commend the perspicaciousness of Franz Kafka, whose work of fiction now sees life.
KENNETH (KENNY) PREISS
Sir, - Your headline played down the damaging bias inherent in the Goldstone panel's report, which includes actual "crimes" and not just "alleged" ones. It is being reported by the BBC as a serious indictment, and no surprise.
Sir, - It is time for the government to issue a serious repudiation of the Goldstone report. It should be presented within a day or two, not weeks or months later, by an English-speaking person who can list and repudiate - not in generalities, which would simply be ignored by the world, but point by point - each slanderous accusation against Israel.
This cannot be left to well-meaning volunteers. While their work is admirable and useful, they simply don't have access to the detailed information needed for a proper repudiation that will be quoted by the BBC.
Sir, - Richard Goldstone is aware of the skepticism with which Israelis view his panel, which includes anti-Israel activist Prof. Christine Chinkin, and the disgustingly biased UN human rights body which dispatched it. So what does this fine judge hope to accomplish in such an atmosphere?
Why he agreed to head this commission is an enigma, but it will enhance his standing with the South African government and the UN.
Sir, - The accusation that Israel used "disproportionate force" during Cast Lead is baseless. For the word to have meaning we must define what proportionate force would be - force sufficient to solve the problem without the damage that can be caused by a heavier hand.
A simple example: If I wanted to insert a tack into a wall, a small hammer would suffice. A 10-lb. sledgehammer could damage the wall. However, if I wanted to hammer a stake into the ground, the small hammer would be insufficient and I would need the sledgehammer.
Proportionate force is, simply, enough force to get the job done.
We wanted to stop the missile fire from Gaza. The force we used was insufficient to accomplish this. Had the rocket fire stopped and we had continued to attack, we would then have been guilty of disproportionate force.
Our hammer was too small. We should have used an even bigger sledgehammer and whacked them upside the head with it until the Kassams stopped flying.
Goldstone would have come to the same conclusion.
Sir, - Only one question should be asked about Operation Cast Lead: Did it stop the firing of the rockets from Gaza that were terrorizing the men, women and children of Sderot?
The UN-Goldstone commission was set up only because the operation did succeed; the rain of rockets has dried up. Had Israel's military action failed, and were the children of Sderot still living in fear of their lives, there would have been no commission of enquiry.
It is the success of the use of Israel's overwhelming military power against a terrorist entity that ires the leftist intellectuals. Their basic sympathies lie with the radical elements in society and they fear the use of such measures by other legitimate states against the radical/terrorist groups that threaten their security.
The commission's primary concern was that Israel's operation in Gaza not be allowed to become a precedent. Its condemnation of Israel's actions was thus a foregone conclusion.
JEREMY I. PFEFFER
Sir, - If Israel attacks Iran and thousands of Iranians are killed, will there be another Goldstone Commission?
Gilo & Gush Katif
Sir, - Re "Israeli unhelpfulness in the peace cause" (Letters, September 16): made me wonder where in Jerusalem reader Jody Kohn lives.
At the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif, I gave a lady a lift in my car. I had a Hebrew bumper sticker lying about, and she picked it up and asked me what it said. "Jews do not expel Jews," I replied. She retorted: "If I had known you had that sticker in the car, I would not have taken a lift with you."
I then asked her in which part of Jerusalem she lived, and she said French Hill. I told her that French Hill, Ramot, Ramat Eshkol, Gilo etc., were, in the eyes of the world, as much settlements as those in Gush Katif. After a moment's pause she said, "I don't believe you."
It seems many Jews are unaware of the true attitude of the international community to the eternal capital of the Jewish people - and to all Israel's actions, examined under a magnifying glass reserved for Israel alone.
No 'big fish' but nice entree
Sir, - Re "Putting a map on Israel" (September 28): After this splendid piece on Haim Srebro and mapping borders, is it not time to embarrass Syria, Lebanon - and Hizbullah - by proposing that if Syria transferred the Sheba Farms to Lebanon formally by treaty, registered at the UN in the orthodox diplomatic manner, then Israel would have no problem with such a convention (a piffling technicality and not a political argument) and would welcome the easing of the circumstances in which to settle outstanding matters between Israel and Lebanon?
Ready-drafted texts and maps would then be handed simultaneously to the UN, Syria, Lebanon and the US as a challenge to make peace over at least one practical point - and perhaps between Israel and Lebanon, while they're about it.
This might not be "the big fish," but it would be a nice entrÃ©e for all to start this year's White House festivities.
Our approach is wrong
Sir, - Further to "That soldier's query" (Letters, September 15) and "Barak takes a tough line" (Editorial, September 4): It is very clear that our whole approach to the kidnaping of soldier Gilad Schalit in June 2006 is, to put it mildly, wrong.
The Geneva Convention lays down that prisoners of war must be visited periodically by an external international agency such as the Red Cross. As far as I am aware, during the three long years of his incarceration, Schalit has not had one such a visit; neither has Ron Arad, now "missing" for nearly a quarter of a century. Nor did Eldad Regev or Ehud Goldwasser, who were both returned dead.
First we must ensure the daily safety of any of our soldiers held captive: past, present and, God forbid, future. We must continually emphasize the sorry fact that not once has any representative of any international agency been able to check on the condition of any of our soldiers held prisoner. When this state of affairs has been corrected, then and only then should the formalities of a prisoner exchange be started.
If we are successful in this endeavor, the sufferings of Gilad Schalit and the anguish of his family will not have been in vain.