Letters: February 8, 2006

What we Jews need Sir - I agree with you that "compared to what is typically found in the Arab press" about Jews, the Muhammad parody is bland ("The Prophet's honor," Editorial, February 6). But, as you pointed out, while Jewish reaction to Arab cartoons is civilized and calm, the reaction of the Muslim world has been anything but. And that's what's so electrifying about the Arab world. Its members are able to summon up such passion for what they believe in. We have freedom of the press; but they have love for what they believe in - and they're not beyond letting others know they can't poke fun at something that means so much to them. If only we would rant and rave every time an anti-Semitic act was perpetrated in the press or on the streets. If a million Jews screamed "Don't you dare allow anti-Semitism in France!" would the French consider they had a "Jewish problem," or would they worry about the "anti-Semitism problem" in their country? Would London's mayor feel he could safely engage in Jew-bashing if he thought all of British Jewry would rise up against him? I doubt it. Burning down embassies is wrong. But being passionate about what you believe in is just what we need to "make the world a safer place for Jews." YAACOV PETERSEIL Jerusalem Radicals reign Sir, - Re your coverage of Muslims rioting worldwide as a result of a cartoon in a Danish newspaper showing a bomb-shaped turban on the head of the Prophet Muhammad, it seems to me that the burning and destruction of embassies and buildings by some Muslims simply gives credence to the point of the cartoonist: that Islam has been hijacked by extremist, violent radicals. MORTON A. KLEIN Zionist Organization of America New York Conspicuous by its absence Sir, - Caroline Glick's comments on Mohamed Elbaradei were timely ("The IAEA diversion," February 7). There is, however, the wider issue of the absence of any charge of dual loyalty against Elbaradei such as was leveled without restraint against the Jewish neo-cons in the US. Instead, Elbaradei gets the Nobel prize. Yet another example of political correctness vis-a-vis the Muslim world? LOUIS GARB Jerusalem What's unreal? Sir, - In "Hamas's problem" (Editorial, February 7) you wrote: "There is a point where 'hope' not only enters the realm of fantasy and delusion, but is so based in unreality that it serves to drive the real hope for peace further away." I remember that your editors supported disengagement in the hope that things would be better than they are now. Yesterday you reported: "Israel may totally close Gaza border," leaving only the "international border crossing," and noting that "Israel now has no say" in who or what goes in and out. The number of missiles fired from Gaza over our border will likely increase in time, and so will their destructive impact BARRY LYNN Efrat ...not this editorial! Sir, - Kudos on this editorial. I agreed with every word, including its understanding of Ehud Olmert's inconsistency. SIEG KOOL Herzliya Sir, - I think Israeli leaders have lost their minds when they continue to fund the PA. This money will go toward killing more Israelis. HENRY TOBIAS Ma'aleh Adumim Sir, - Whatever happened to the concept of fungibility? Surely no one can be so naive as to believe that monies given to keep the PA afloat won't free up funds which will go toward buying yet more deadly weapons to be used against innocent Israeli citizens? SHEILA ROSE Modi'in Sir, - I note that Jimmy Carter advised that we should give Hamas a chance and continue funding ("Carter: Keep international aid flowing to 'destitute' PA," January 27). This from a man who would not support the Shah and, by his actions, unleashed Islamic fundamentalism on the world. As a president, Carter made a pretty good peanut farmer. MICHAEL LIPSHUTZ North Caulfield,Australia Sir, - The PA should collect its own taxes. One of Hamas's claims to fame is its lack of corruption. This could be an opportunity for Israel to show the world it is "allowing" Hamas to become a legitimate government, unshackled by Israeli interference. When the PA fails the world will see what Israel did, and what Hamas/PA did not do. RICK CARPENTER Huntsville, Texas Sir, - A high-ranking IDF officer feels funds should be cut off from the settlements ("Sticks and stones," February 3). Yet the government from which he takes orders transfers millions of shekels to the Palestinian Authority. AVRAHAM FRIEDMAN Modi'in Illit Unsettling questions Sir, - Seeing the thousands of mostly young people going from site to site to confront our armed forces raised a number of questions ("Clashes are turning point for settler youth," February 2):• Why weren't the under-18s in school? • Why weren't the over-18s either studying or working, or in the army?• Where did the money come from to feed all these people?• Who supplied the barbed wire, sacks of paint, glue, rocks and all the other things thrown at the police?• What kind of parents encourage their children to put themselves in mortal danger, over and over?• If this is how the teenagers are being educated, how will things look when they grow up and run the country? SHIFRA TAREM Rishon Lezion Thick and thin Sir, - As a non-Jew looking at the situation from outside, I can say with certainty: The thing that has stopped the Arabs from destroying Israel is the fact that they are their own worst enemies. And the thing that has ensured the survival of the Jews is the fact that they are their own best friends. With Hamas in power, all Israelis need to stick together. LEE JAKEMAN York, UK Caution & collegiality Sir, - I was very pleased to read Marvin Schick's thoughtful op-ed "The four mothers - slippery genetics?" (February 5) concerning the recent report by my colleagues and myself entitled: "The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: Portrait of a Recent Founder Event" in the American Journal of Human Genetics. In public presentations and communications with the press my colleagues and I consistently emphasize the need for caution in interpreting scientific results, including our own, and we are also deeply cognizant of the burden of societal responsibility inherent in scientific research of this nature. That is why we have worked closely over the years with historians, sociologists, community leaders and ethicists, among other scholars. Population genetics research serves as a complementary tool to linguistics, archeology, archival records, oral traditions and other approaches in historical research. Similarly, responsible scientists should exercise tremendous caution and work closely with scholars in many domains when their work is used to help predict future trends, or as an adjunctive tool in guiding public health or social policy. One issue the author might have checked more carefully before drawing some of his inferences relates to the time frame for the research and publication of this manuscript. Our study took several years to conduct, analyze and report, and it underwent the most detailed and painstaking scientific scrutiny imaginable. Also there was no undercurrent of seeking glory or credit; indeed the multi-authored, multi-institutional study was characterized by true scientific collegiality at its best. Nevertheless, as Dr. Schick correctly points out, there will no doubt be refinements and updates in the years to come, as is the case in all proper scientific endeavors, which remain open to continued scrutiny and refinement as methods and concepts evolve. KARL SKORECKI Haifa Born in chains Sir, - Re "State accepts Amir-Trimbobler marriage" (February 4), my question to Larissa Trimbobler would be: "If you ever have a child, how would you explain to him who and what his father was?" To bring a child into the world under such circumstances is an unbelievably selfish act which would result in that child's lifelong condemnation. J. FISCHER Michmoret Women in chains Sir, - I am still in shock after watching a recent program on Channel 1's Second Look TV newsmagazine. It was a report on the trade in human beings and their enslavement in... no, not Saudi Arabia or the Congo, but in Israel today. We were told how women are entrapped in Eastern Europe, taken to Egypt, brutalized, smuggled across the desert, kept in sub-human conditions here, and often repeatedly raped. One woman, interviewed at length, was so ill that she died the day after being deported. One wonders why such a situation does not make headlines more often. The exploiters - not only the pimps but the "customers" - should be exposed, and punished. HELEN LEVENSTON Jerusalem As a rabbi should be Sir, - I had the honor of having Rabbi Avi Shafran as my teacher and rabbi in high school many years ago. I was a teenager exposed to Torah Judaism for the first time, and he was a newly married young rabbi who had come out to California to teach people like me. He, and his fellow teachers and their wives, gave of themselves selflessly to all of us. I remember him as patient, knowledgeable, and possessing a great sense of humor. He was accepting of us and our various stages of observance, and yet uncompromising in his convictions. He helped make Orthodox Judaism accessible to many. I enjoy reading his contributions, as I know his concern is genuine. His love for the Jewish people is heartfelt and has been demonstrated by his actions in his own life. ("Worried about government eavesdropping?" February 7.) ALLEGRA COHEN Efrat