Letters to the editor, December 18

Spielberg's politics Sir, - It emerges from Steven Spielberg's written preview of the film Munich, that it is not about the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich but rather about Israel's reaction: the government's order to kill the perpetrators. Spielberg's preview claims the film is seeking a "human dimension to a horrific episode..." Is this human dimension the grief of murdered athlete's families? No, there's nothing special about Israeli suffering. Rather, Spielberg explains, he is concerned with "Experiencing how the implacable resolve of these men to succeed in this mission" of killing the murderers "slowly gave way to troubling doubts about what they were doing." Throughout the preview, one is struck by Spielberg's avoidance of the word "murder" in reference to the terrorists' actions. Rather, Spielberg writes, the Israelis "were out to avenge the tragedy." How do you avenge a tragedy? It is doubtful whether anybody will know whether these avengers had second thoughts about their mission, but in every war there surely have been soldiers who questioned what they were doing. Thus the "human question" Spielberg claims to be exploring is also nothing new. In fact, Spielberg is exploring a political decision. And evidently, he is the one who has doubts about the avengers' actions. SHMUEL KATZ Tel Aviv Sir, - I find it interesting that Steven Spielberg will come to Israel to discuss his latest film Munich ("Reimagining the past in 'Munich,'" December 13). His arrival begs the question: Where were Spielberg and his Hollywood cohorts, over the last few years, while Jews were being blown to bits by people who have the same mentality as the Munich murderers? Such a gesture would not have had to be anything political, just a visit to the families of the victims of suicide bombers and to those, in hospitals, who survived; a "talk to the troops," something to lift morale. It never happened. However, as soon as the financial well-being of a film is at stake, it prompts a visit. GERALD BLUME Los Angeles Call for action Sir, - I was totally dismayed to see that Mel Gibson is to be part of an ABC miniseries on the Holocaust ("A 'Passion' for the Holocaust?" December 8). So I called ABC's Senior Vice President of Motion Pictures for Television and Miniseries Quinn Taylor and left a message. In an hour he returned my call. While he was talking to me, he said was looking at his Emmy for the miniseries on Anne Frank. He clarified that a person working for Mel Gibson's Con Artists Productions was going to be working on the project, not necessarily Mel Gibson himself. In addition, the producers, who include the Jewish team Jaffe Braunstein, agreed to allow viewing of the script before it is finalized. We will be able to criticize and make suggestions. We should not jump the gun and always assume anti-Semitism is at work. We have enough enemies without looking for them. LAURA GOLDMAN Tel Aviv Iranian nonsense Sir, - Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful. It also says "Wipe Israel off the map." Does anybody remember the Karine A, a ship loaded with weapons from Iran whose destination was Yasser Arafat? Was this boat load of bombs and guns also for peaceful purposes? The Holocaust never happened, Iranian nukes are for peace, and Santa Claus is actually the reincarnation of Richard Pryor. Can Iran's President Ahmadinejad spout any nonsense he wants while only barely ruffling the UN and Europe? ROBERT HARRIS Chicago, Illinois Foolproof defense Sir, - Avi Hoffman's arguments regarding why Israel should not panic over Iran's attempts to produce nuclear bombs are not convincing ("The Iranian threat in perspective," December 15). It is likely true that Israel's anti-missile systems are among the most advanced there are. But obviously they are not foolproof. Human or technological errors at the wrong moment could result in disaster. More importantly, Hoffman ignores the potential for a nuclear strike delivered by a terrorist toting a "suitcase" nuclear weapon at a checkpoint. As for Iran's technological capabilities being weak, an estimation Hoffman bases on his visit to Iran "some decades ago", given that Iran is already enriching uranium it seems foolhardy to underestimate its abilities. Unfortunately, with no room for error in the field of defense against nuclear weapons, the only foolproof defense is a good offense. LOUIS WISE Ra'anana Bad luck? Sir, - There are many reasons to avoid supporting Kadima, not the least of which is the ever-increasing number of its candidates who are suspected of illegal actions ("Kadima claims bad luck, with 6 candidates under investigation," December 14). However, the pathetic disingenousness of the excuse that it was "bad luck" which resulted in a sixth candidate, Kiryat Shmona Mayor Haim Barbivai, being indicted is beyond the pale. It leaves the electorate to conclude: If it was only the sixth candidate's indictment that was the result of "bad luck," then recruiting the first five must have been a concerted strategic direction. Sounds like a fine foundation for the formation of a party. LEN WEINSTEIN Jerusalem Credibility warning Sir, - According to Newsweek, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's advisor Kalman Geyer revealed that Ariel Sharon plans to divide Jerusalem and concede 90 percent of the West Bank for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Of course, Sharon denied the accuracy of that report ("PM denies report on divided Jerusalem," December 14). Across the political spectrum there has been a concerted effort to get Sharon to reveal his true intentions regarding the future of Israel's borders. Given the fact that the prime minister presented a clear platform during his previous election campaign and then proceeded to completely reverse course, why should we now believe whatever he claims are his true intentions? Shouldn't his past record serve as a warning as to his credibility? JERRY AND SYLVIA DORTZ Ariel No Thai crisis Sir, - Jonathan Lipow is concerned that Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer intends to impose something he calls "the full IMF treatment" in Israel ("Don't do it again, Stan," December 14). Lipow notes the press is "full of speculation" about Fischer's motives but Lipow is no different. He makes no mention of having asked Fischer what his economic strategy is. He simply makes what he calls an "educated guess." As for his guess being "educated," I beg to differ. Lipow recalls Fischer's actions as part of the IMF during the 1997 financial crisis in Thailand and attempts to extrapolate Fischer's intentions in Israel. The problem is this: Thailand's crisis happened in a different decade, under different economic circumstances, in a different region, in a country with different financial standards. There is nothing to learn from it about Fischer's moves in Israel. LES MORLEY Toronto