Letters to the editor, February 3

Taste of reality Sir, - I can usually tell when the Jewish community here in the States is concerned about Israel - the ads for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek vShalom tend to disappear from the front pages of the Post's (and Haaretz's) Web site. It's understandable: It is hard to raise money for peace initiatives and organizational overhead when the headlines are blaring a Hamas victory. Another way I can tell there's something stirring in the community here is when my Conservative synagogue asks me to contribute a piece for their monthly newsletter. An article about Israel! Wow! Now I know something important's afoot. Perhaps there's something in the California air, or maybe it's the water that seems to make many Jews dreamy-eyed about the issues of Israel's survival. Peace is a big deal out here, and so are humanitarian issues. But Israeli security - hey, that's another matter. That's something to use to accuse, bash, complain, denounce, fault-find and grumble. Most anything Israel does for self-defense and security is subject to the c-words: condemn, censure and criticize - and the loudest voices are Jewish ones, some even coming from synagogue pulpits, believe it or not. So it's good every once in a while to have a taste of reality and see those front-page ads change. Apparently even the dreamers know when it's time to wake up. SEYMOUR KESSLER Bridges to Israel-Berkeley Berkeley, California How Hamas will go Sir, - The questions being asked about Hamas in the aftermath of its election win - Is it going to renounce violence? Will it stick to its charter and refuse to recognize Israel? Will Europe continue funding it? - seem to ignore a historical parallel: Ireland in the last century. To me the probable course of the medium term seems evident: Just like the IRA in the 1960s, faced with a choice between two unpalatable options, Hamas will transform itself into two organizations. "Political" Hamas will be the government of "Palestine," saying it is prepared to negotiate, and "real" Hamas will be the terrorist group, still unremittingly attacking Israel. The link between them will be as strong as ever, but Europe will be able to say: "We reject terrorism, but Hamas favors peace." What will have changed in all this is one thing - our level of self-deception. HENRY KAYE Beit Shemesh Deep friendship Sir, - Your January 11 article about Pat Robertson, founder of The Christian Broadcasting Network, and the issue with the Government of Israel requires clarification because the history of the relationship is based on a long-standing friendship between CBN executives and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism ("Christian Zionist support - a mixed blessing"). In 2005 the ministry asked CBN to help it develop a Christian-themed tourist site with "Christian" content on the north end of Galilee to attract more Christian tourists. They wanted to lease the land to us in a newly-formed foundation for us to raise the money for the construction costs. No real-estate agreement was negotiated. CBN would not have held the lease, nor been the fundraising entity. The ministry requested that CBN help it develop the site for Israel's economic benefit - never ours. They wanted us, as supporters of the people and the region, to develop a tourist attraction that followers of Jesus' teachings would find inspirational. The ministry knows that CBN has a deep commitment to strengthening Israel. We have provided substantial financial assistance to physically help the Jewish people with food and clothing, to educate new immigrants, and to help the Arabic-speaking people in Bethlehem, Jordan and Lebanon. The Middle East Television channel has been another major gift to the region. Pat Robertson apologized to the Sharon family out of his sincere desire to make right a friendship and clarify his newscast commentary. In response, the ministry interrupted the negotiations due to the media frenzy. A return to leading the Galilee effort could make it appear that Pat Robertson was trying to "buy his way back in" with an apology. That is certainly not true. The apology was genuine, to the family, and without strings. We see ourselves as Christian servants especially to the people of the Holy Land. We continue to maintain our strong News Bureau in Jerusalem with reports from the region, and to broadcast our hope-filled TV programs throughout the area. MICHAEL D. LITTLE President/COO The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. Virginia Beach, Virginia Super size me Sir, - It was with a furtive feeling, one almost of guilt, that I gazed at the photos and ingested your story headlined "Diet or die" (UpFront, January 20) about the massive-girthed Tehrani siblings and the world of the super-obese, where dressing fashionably must rate high on the list of bad jokes, and even putting one foot in front of the other while staying upright is a major challenge. Besides the regrettable, voyeuristic appeal of such an article, what could a reader take away from it? Speaking for myself: a sense of sadness that food overindulgence can dominate a life to the extent of seriously and immediately threatening it; the realization that the Tehranis - who came across as very nice folks - are not freaks, just people with an immensely weighty problem; and relief that we here in Israel can, if we choose, shun the junk- and fast-food style of eating in favor of the delightful, healthy Mediterranean diet with its array of fruits, vegetables, white cheeses, olives and olive oil. I finished this article sincerely wishing the Tehranis long lives. And better ones. MIRIAM AMGAD Jerusalem