Letters to the editor, February 2

Descent into chaos Sir, - I must be missing something. Has there been a recent rabbinical decree overturning the rule of derech eretz kadma L'Torah - "common courtesy comes before the Torah"? On the front page of your February 1 issue you reported on settlers fighting with the army ("Army, activists prepare for violence"), and yesterday I heard reports of at least 100 injured. Your page-four coverage included the unrepentant haredi who "came on behalf of God" to murder "abominations" at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade ("Gay parade stabber convicted"), while page five had "Enraged haredim riot over autopsy," which described haredim burning municipal trash cans in protest against a perfectly halachically acceptable and legally required autopsy. Right under that a headline read "Rabbinic judges break off ties with aguna organizations." It makes one question whether there's room for moderate-minded religious Jews in a country where the extremes are so prevalent. Or has there simply been a complete lapse of the obvious point that the actions described above are a desecration of God's name and in no way uphold God's Law? It's amazing to see certain Jews descending into chaos just now - when an official terrorist organization has been instated as the leaders of those we have been fighting for 60 years. SHMUEL TAUB Jerusalem Sir, - In your coverage of the expulsion and subsequent demolition in Amona you kept things very neat and clean. But people need to hear about the severe police brutality against minors, the beating of protesters whose only crime, very often, was simply being on the scene. There were many head injuries from clubs and back injuries from people being thrown off roofs. This was a war - a "civil" war - and should be properly portrayed as such. LEAH HOCHBAUM Hebron Sir, - If these would-be martyrs joined the IDF instead of fighting it, maybe things would be better in our country. We have real issues involving terrorism and our neighbors that I want the IDF concerned with, not an outpost, or Gush Katif. In principle, I agree... we should not have to give up an inch of our land. However, in pragmatic, practical terms I would rather have defensible borders and an IDF whose job it is to defend them instead of what they are being forced to do. Enough is enough. STEVE TOLTZ Jerusalem Sir, - Where is the political sense in forcibly evicting Israeli citizens from Amona and Hebron when Hamas is victorious in the PA? Instead of legitimately claiming all the territories for Israel prior to any military or political onslaught by a terrorist-dominated PA, we are giving them the expectation that Israel will readily collapse before them. I am neither religious nor believe in biblical justification, but I know that in any conflict situation it is best to fight or negotiate from a position of strength. To forcibly remove Jews from the West Bank now and unilaterally define final borders would be politically stupid, and possibly suicidal. JACK COHEN Netanya They're land-lovers Sir, - I have to agree with Isi Leibler that the Zionist/settler youth's "patriotism and love of the land transforms many of them into role models for civic behavior" ("Don't demonize good people," February 1). On a recent holiday in Eilat I emerged from my hotel one morning in time to see a bus drive up to the main entrance and several youths jump out. They began to assist the other passengers, all physically disabled, to alight. They removed wheelchairs from the baggage compartment, assembled them and began to organize transit into the hotel and, thence, to the swimming pool. Each and every helper wore a knitted kippa, and the delight and happiness on the faces of their charges were a joy to behold. The organizer told me that without these volunteers' help such outings would be out of the question. It is this type of motivation that causes these "patriots and land-lovers" to resist our government's attempts to abandon Jewish land. To understand this is to understand the whole purpose of Eretz Yisrael. DAVID S. ADDLEMAN Mevaseret Zion Spinning dreams Sir, - Lenin reportedly said that the capitalists "will sell us the rope to hang them with." This could describe the situation of today's Western - and Israeli leftist - spin doctors who refuse to believe Hamas is sincere in wanting to do away with Israel. They twist and turn this way and that to find ways to spruce up a terrorist organization while pretending that the defeated Mahmoud Abbas has some power ("US working to strengthen Abbas," February 1). Abbas has no power if Hamas does not grant him any. Everyone would like to believe that Hamas is interested in winning over the West, especially the US. But what interests it, in the name of its dearly-held religious belief, is pushing for a theocratic Muslim state. The US's dream of a democratic Palestinian state living peacefully side by side with Israel is just that - a dream. The reality may be too awful for the US and the Israeli Left to contemplate, but intelligent public policies demand constant reappraisal, and even worst-case scenarios. If the intelligence apparatuses of Israel and the US are faulty, they should be replaced. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem Sir, - As a German Jew, I know the scenario only too well. The Hamas Khomeinist party was elected democratically, just as Hitler's nationalistic party was. Will the leaders of the world's democracies again go the way of Munich? History does repeat itself, and I was born in 1923, not yesterday. RALF HELLINGER Tel Aviv Unsurprising victory, surprises possible Sir, - Hamas's victory in the recent election was neither surprising nor unexpected. Were I a Palestinian, I too would probably have cast a ballot for Hamas, their wretched terrorist history notwithstanding. Their victory was not a testimony to their political views, but rather a popular reaction against the corruption of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas is anti-corruption, strongly religious, a supporter of widows and orphans and a protector of the downtrodden and forgotten among its people. And, yes, they are terrorists bent upon the destruction of our country and the annihilation of our people. I am reminded of the former Mau Mau in Jomo Kenyatta's African homeland. A notorious terrorist leader, Kenyatta ultimately became the national representative of Kenya, mellowed in his political views, and led his nation with wisdom and compassion. Who knows what change the Hamas leaders may undergo in their efforts to govern a "democratic and free" State of Palestine? I hate them for their violence and wanton murder. But the ruling Fatah has often been no better. And all factions of Palestinian society are united in their determination to throw us into the sea. So let the green flags wave over Palestine while our blue-and-white banner flies proudly over our Jewish state, and over the rooftops of our united and undivided Jerusalem. ESOR BEN-SOREK Rishon Lezion Save the recognition Sir, - Hamas is now the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority. Among the big questions that seem to be on everyone's mind is whether it will recognize the State of Israel ("Israel can catch Hamas off-guard," February 1). What seems to be forgotten is that recognition is absolutely irrelevant. Yasser Arafat and Fatah long ago recognized the State of Israel. Their recognition hasn't stopped the Fatah-sponsored Tanzim from murdering and maiming Jews with bloodthirsty abandon. Frankly, I'd much rather Hamas saved its breath and its recognition for someone else. In the final analysis, only its actions are of any relevance. JOSHUA MARK Jerusalem You had lunch? Now pay for it Sir, - I was pleased to see your editorial "The PA's debts" (February 1). I too feel that the time has come for the PA to pay what it owes to Israel Electric, Mekorot, Bezeq, the hospitals, the cellular phone companies and private business firms. Since the Palestinians fail to honor their debts, any outstanding amounts should be deducted from the sums we collect on their behalf from customs and other taxes, if and when we resume such payments. Future debts, moreover, need to be cleared within an agreed time-limit. If payments are not made - for electricity, water, telephone, etc. - the service must be cut off, as it would be if it was Israeli citizens defaulting. No doubt there would be an outcry from the EU and other liberals/apologists on "humanitarian grounds," but these must be firmly resisted. If the apologists wish to pay off the Palestinians' debts, or guarantee them in the future, the services can be reinstated. As for reimbursing debtors from funds already held, that is legal and permissible. Among the many precedents I can cite is that of the UK. When, in the mid-Eighties, the British government had to repay some postwar debts to the Peoples' Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia, it first advertised widely, including in The Jerusalem Post, requesting any British subjects with claims against the communist country to submit them, with proof. I showed title to certain lands my parents had held in Slovakia up to the Holocaust, and the forced "sale" by which those lands had been confiscated. In due course I was compensated. So too must our Finance Ministry investigate and compensate Israeli companies and businessmen for debts accrued by the PA. There ain't no free lunches. JOE FRANKL Savyon 'Sorry we hurt you' Sir, - "Danish Muslim group accepts newspaper's apology over Muhammad caricatures" (February 1) misrepresented the facts. Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper in question, did not apologize for publishing the caricatures. It apologized for hurting Muslim feelings. The paper remains adamant it will not apologize for publishing the caricatures. MICHAEL LARSEN Frederiksberg, Denmark Sir, - How many newspapers have apologized to Jews worldwide for caricatures printed over hundreds of years showing Jews as ugly, vicious and murderous people? JUDY GOLDIN Kiryat Ono