Letters to the editor; April 6

Date rape drugs Sir, - I cannot believe that Israeli hospitals and other institutions are unfamiliar with Rohypnol, one of the most common date rape drugs mentioned on TV programs such as Law and Order and CSI. If they are, we are really a backward country - very sad for women and girls potentially vulnerable to one of the worst things a female can suffer ("Crisis centers: Beware of 'date rape drugs,'" April 5). JUDY GOLDIN Kiryat Ono Secure future? Sir, - David Makovsky reports on Ehud Olmert's leftward shift through the years, and his admitting that he tries to satisfy the standards set by family members who strongly oppose the Israeli military. These remarks, conjoined with the fact that our new defense minister is about to be Amir Peretz, means that Israel will now have as its chief defenders two people who lack high-level military experience, while strongly supporting the withdrawal of Israel from strategically important areas. As Iran daily intensifies its efforts to attain nuclear weapons, and Hamas and Hizbullah intensify their own military preparations, the coming four years do not look very promising for Israeli security ("The political odyssey of Israel's new prime minister," April 5). SHALOM FREEDMAN Jerusalem We cannot set our own borders Sir, - One of Olmert's most blatantly false promises is that we can unilaterally set our own borders ("Rice backs Olmert's pullout plan, sort of," March 31). Of course we do have that right, recognized in international law at the San Remo Conference in April 1920, when the Jewish National Home principle was accepted as part of the post-WWI peace agreements. Nevertheless, various governments conveniently forget that decision and the later endorsement of the Jewish National Home by the League of Nations in 1922. They also forget that the UN Partition Plan of 1947 was a General Assembly resolution, and, as such, perforce only a recommendation. The same states that now overlook our rights according to the Jewish National Home principle will not accept any borders Olmert decides to proclaim, though they may keep temporarily quiet in order to facilitate the next retreat. It would be wiser to declare our right - by history and international law - over the whole country. Then we could graciously allow the Arabs to control certain areas where they already do so de facto, while pointing out that historically these were Jewish-governed and Jewish-inhabited territories. Meanwhile, as long as Arabs are shooting and bombing and just doing their normal thing, we should give them nothing. Indeed, we should take back areas such as mountain peaks that would facilitate our defense. ELLIOTT A GREEN Jerusalem Blow those trumpets Sir, - I enjoy reading your paper when I can. I just want to say that the sons of Aaron are to blow the trumpets; this is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come. When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. I am very much a supporter in my prayers for the peace of Jerusalem, and of the Hebrew people. I am a Christian and thank God for the children of Abraham, the chosen of God, for without you I would be lost forever without any hope. I felt I needed to share this scripture at this dark hour as a light. ESTHER SONNIER Louisiana Where was the 'vast majority'? Sir, - Uri Savir contends that "citizens who cast votes gave a vast majority to those ready to relinquish, by agreement or unilaterally, most of the West Bank" ("A vote for withdrawal," March 31). But that's not true. There was a close finish between the left-of-center pro-withdrawal parties and the right-of-center anti-withdrawal parties, with the Left gaining 53 seats (Kadima, 29; Labor 19; Meretz 5) while the Right gained 50 (Likud 12; Shas 12; Yisrael Beiteinu; 11, National Union/National Religious Party 9; United Torah Judaism 6). Prime Minister-elect Ehud Olmert's repeated emphasis on unilateral withdrawals in the final weeks and his declaration that he would not permit any party into his government which did not accept this condition saw support for his left-of-center Kadima Party drop precipitously to only 29 seats (24% of the vote) after being above 40 seats only a month earlier. If the Israelis had really wanted withdrawal to proceed, Olmert's support would have strengthened in the last few weeks, not dramatically weakened. In addition, we must understand that the Sharon/Olmert Kadima Party benefited from sympathy for Sharon's tragic medical condition, from antipathy toward Netanyahu's economic policies, and from loyalties of Likud voters to the 14 Likud members who switched to Kadima. Virtually none of this support for Kadima had much to do with the withdrawal plan. MORTON A. KLEIN Zionist Organization of America New York BBC: Correct your imbalance on Israel Sir, - Here is an open letter I sent to the head of BBC TV news: As a Briton and a Jew, I am dismayed at the disproportionate amount of airtime given on BBC radio and TV news programs to the policies of the Israeli government over the last 10 years. Israel appears to be the country whose government policies are covered more than any other, outside the UK, in news bulletins. Why? I have noticed that since the tragic death of Dr. David Kelly the BBC has backed away from any overtly critical coverage of our military operations, and those of the US, in Iraq. It is shameful that there has been no in-depth coverage of the likely number of civilian deaths in Irag, the possible massacre in Fallujah, and possible destruction there of 25,000 homes. Of course, in Iraq, the movement of journalists and cameras is tightly controlled, whereas in Israel, a democracy, journalists are free to film and report in most areas. Your coverage of Israel is limited to the problems there - so much so theat even my own eight-year-old son thinks the whole country is dangerous and everybody there lives in daily fear of Palestinian missiles and suicide bombers. Why does the BBC choose to label Hamas as militants, when the UK, US and many EEC government label them terrorists? Why do you never report on the positive medical and scientific achievements of Israelis, including the one million-plus Israeli Arabs, including Christians, who live, work and study alongside Israeli Jews? The extensive coverage by the BBC of only the Palestinian and Hamas issue vs the Israeli government, has done nothing to dissuade the thousands of British Jews, like me, of the view that the increasing level of attacks on Jewish people, buildings and cemeteries in the UK is not unconnected to the critical and often one-sided BBC coverage of the policies of the Israeli government and their attempts to protect the lives of all Israeli citizens against organizations, and now governments like Hamas, whose avowed policy is still, like that of Iran, to destroy the State of Israel. For years the US, UK and EEC funded Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, where it now appears that $500-$750 million intended to help the Palestinian people has now gone missing. The BBC has never covered this in any depth. A feature on the views of progressive Muslim journalist Nonie Darwish would be a great starting point to address your imbalance. PHIL MORRIS Cuddington, Cheshire, UK Dignity of privacy Sir, - The attorney-general's public demand that Rabbi Yona Metzger resign from the post of chief rabbi is outrageous ("Salvaging the Chief Rabbinate, Editorial, April 5). I am not commenting on the "un-charges" leveled against Rabbi Metzger, or on whether they are true or fabricated. If Menahem Mazuz felt Rabbi Metzger should resign, that sentiment could have been conveyed in a more private manner, one which preserved the dignity of all concerned. This is another example of what I consider to be an attack on the religious public by the ruling hierarchy, which is determined that Israel should be a "normal," secular country with its organized crime and growing quota of murderers, drug dealers, thieves, human traffickers and others making up the increasingly crowded population of Israel's prisons. CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh Sir, - What a field day the media are having with Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz's demand that Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Metzger to resign. When Mazuz made the same demand of Tzahi Hanegbi and Hanegbi refused to resign as a cabinet minister, the whole thing was passed over, apparently because Hanegbi had "done the right thing" and joined the Kadima. EMANUEL FISCHER Jerusalem Deaf ministries Sir, - I was wondering: Are you aware of any deaf ministries in Israel, either Jewish or Christian? A deaf ministry is a church or synagogue for the deaf, or a hearing church or synagogue where there is a interpreter using sign language. Deaf churches can be led by either a deaf or hearing pastor or rabbi who knows sign language. I have looked on Google, and found nothing. I would appreciate your help. ROBERT BARRETT jesuslovesdeaf@netzero.com Fort Smith, Arkansas Threefold joy Sir, - What vicarious joy to see the emotional reunion at Ben-Gurion Airport of the two sisters, Ella and Lila Friedvald, and their cousin Krystyna, whom they hadn't seen in almost a lifetime ("Separated by Holocaust, cousins reunite after 66 years," April 5). Added to the unutterable loss of the Six Million was the fragmentation of family networks and a subsequent scattering to all parts of the globe. Not all separation stories end as happily as the Friedvalds'; and not for nothing do we vow: Never again. C. ABRAHAMS Rehovot