Letters to the editor, January 2

Puff no more Sir, - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich's "Snuff out the puffing" (January I) was an instructive article about a scourge estimated to take the lives of a billion people worldwide this century if present trends continue. However, amid all the methods detailed there was not a word about self-control. I stopped smoking in 1985 at age 72. I had no medical problems and my decision was an entirely personal, voluntary one. I simply quit from one day to the next, and it went remarkably well. I had no side effects and did not seek any substitutes such as food or sweets. I even kept my last pack of cigarettes and lighter for over a year without touching them. Based on my own experience I tried to convince smoker friends to believe they too could do it. While some continued smoking, to my regret, it worked with others. I urge all smokers: Don't underestimate your powers of self-control. Make the decision. It will be worth your while. N. GOMEL Ganei Yehuda Jerusalem's security Sir, - Mordechai Venezia's views are disputable ("An 'F' for E1," Letters, January 1). If one wants to put a wedge between southern and northern Arab villages, E1 is not enough. East of Ma'aleh Adumim the Arab villages are connected. In addition, there are plans for tunnels to connect Arab villages in Israelicontrolled areas ("Tunnels, overpasses and myopia," October 20). However, unauthorized Arab villages are putting a wedge between Jerusalem and the rest of Israel. For Jerusalem's security, the city of Ma'aleh Adumim, including E1, protects the capital's eastern gateway and provides the only southern access to the Dead Sea and Eilat. Surviving Jordan's attack in the Yom Kippur War, Jerusalemites built up Ma'aleh Adumim in recognition of its strategic importance for Jerusalem. E1 is not a new idea. E1 has been within the municipal boundaries of Ma'aleh Adumim for the last 20 years; and the Israeli consensus has been to accept Ma'aleh Adumim within any final settlement talks. Venezia dismisses me as a "settler." For those concerned with Israel's legitimacy, I am a citizen of a beautiful Israeli city, population 32,000. ALICE EIGNER Ma'aleh Adumim Sir, - Mordechai Venezia claims that fully linking Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem will "drive a wedge between the northern and southern West Bank and effectively prevent a territorially contiguous Palestinian state." How could that be? Between Ma'aleh Adumim and the Jordan River are approximately 20 kilometers of West Bank territory that could be part of a Palestinian state if the Palestinians stopped trying to destroy Israel. The same folks who decry E1 demand that Israel withdraw to the Armistice Line, which isn't a border and is only 10 km. at its narrowest point. The claim that 20 km. is unworkable for Arabs but 10 km. is just fine for Jews is fallacious propaganda that should never be given air time. D. TEICH Petah Tikva Sir, - Dare I suggest it is ridiculous to argue that Israel's building of E1, linking the capital to Ma'aleh Adumim, obviates prospects for the eventual creation of a contiguous Palestinian state ("Jerusalem's dilemma," Editorial, December 28). Montreal has a mountain in the middle of the city. To get to the other side, people have to go around the mountain. To travel from Bethlehem to Ramallah will be a direct, but slightly deviated, voyage - all in Palestinian territory. Travelers will have to go around Ma'aleh Adumim. Israel: If you build it, it will be a "fact on the ground." If you delay, it will become Palestinian land. ALLEN E. NUTIK Montreal Sir, - Let us get it straight: There will be no peace with the Arabs until, firstly, they eradicate from their educational system the violent anti-Jewish/Israeli hatred that is inculcated into every Arab child from age three on through their university years. Secondly, the massive influence of the evil autocracy underlying the Islamic religion - a murderous hatred for every other faith - must be destroyed, to be replaced by an Islam based on loving one's neighbor as oneself. Only after these objects have been achieved will there be a chance of some kind of peaceful rapport between Israelis and Arabs, Palestinians and others. DAVID LEE London Nothing new under the sun Sir, - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel remarks are odious and outrageous, promising a second Holocaust even as he denies the first one. Because his manner is so bellicose and crude, his inflammatory words make news. But there is nothing new about them. Iran's theocratic thugs have been threatening the Jewish state with genocide ever since Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in Teheran 26 years ago. Their chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" should be taken seriously. People like Ahmadinejad should concern all civilized people, as we could all be endangered by their barbaric rhetoric. In view of this Iran must be prevented from having the nuclear capability to attack its neighbors ("Vienna envoy: EU could impose Iran sanctions if UN doesn't," January 1). JOSH BASSON Seattle, Washington Much too close Sir, - My deepest sympathy to the family of Uri Binamo, the Israeli officer murdered by an Islamic suicide murderer ("Bomber kills IDF officer, two Palestinians," December 30). What puzzles me is the fact that he got so close to the killer. Surely the correct procedure is to order the occupants of a vehicle out with their hands at the back of their heads, then order them, from a distance, to open their jackets and shirts. They will thus explode any hidden bomb, killing themselves and maybe others in the vehicle. This procedure would have saved that young officer's life. MARKUS BRAJTMAN Cape Town No anti-Zionist spirit in 'Munich' Sir, - Jonathan Tobin is entitled to his view of Munich ("Worth getting upset about," December 29). What he should not do is impugn my motives in not seeing the movie as he does. My opinion of it has nothing to do with being unwilling to take on Steven Spielberg, or left-wing bias. I have a long record of criticizing individuals or institutions on the Left and the Right, powerful or not, when I deem it important. I believe Tobin mischaracterizes the movie. There is nothing flattering about Palestinian terrorists in it, despite one speech defending the Palestinian cause. They are depicted as terrorists over and over, with repeated flashbacks to the Munich horror and clips of other Palestinian terrorism. There is no denial of Israel's right to defend itself against terror. Clearly, Israel is depicted as having good reason to do so. What the film does raise is how Israel goes about getting the terrorists, and what the impact is on those involved. These are legitimate questions which many Israelis ask, and while my answers might not be the same as Spielberg's I don't find his to be anti-Israel. Furthermore, to suggest that the film has an anti-Zionist spirit is a stretch. True, it does not present the beautiful Israel we prefer to see, but the notion that in light of brutal Palestinian terror, and with the memory of the Holocaust as backdrop, Jews need to be strong and hard - while at the same time engaging in internal debate over the wisdom and ethics of how they act - is hardly anti-Zionism. Indeed, without that trait, Israel would have disappeared long ago. As to Tobin's view that I should have been more critical of this film than of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the comparison is faulty. It is not a question of saying that terrorism is a greater threat than anti-Semitic canards. Both are threats to the Jewish people. ADL combats Islamic extremism as well as Christian ideas about Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus. Gibson's film reinforced old prejudices. Spielberg's may have raised questions, but it did not engage in anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli storytelling. Finally, I do not see Munich as a defeat for Israel. I strongly believe there is a struggle going on about Israel in the world of ideas, and I like to believe that ADL has long played a significant role in helping Israel win that struggle. ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN National Director Anti-Defamation League New York Good vs. evil Sir, - For once I am glad I saw a movie before reading Roger Ebert ("Alternate universe next door," December 30). In his review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, based on the books by C. S. Lewis, Ebert says the story can be interpreted as a Christian parable. Perhaps Lewis had this in mind. But I'm hoping he wrote it also as I viewed it: a story about good vs. evil, and the importance of family and friends. CHAYA HEUMAN Ginot Shomron Why listen to a loser? Sir, - Shimon Peres has lost every election he's entered, yet the media continue to solicit his thoughts on everything to do with government. Who cares how he would have arranged the list of potential MKs for Kadima ("Peres critical of Kadima list," January 1). If people felt his advice was worth listening to, would he not be heading a party? Even more astounding, Peres continues to think his words are of value to the majority of the population when all they are are the discredited opinions of Israel's most consistent loser. ARLENE JACOBY Beit Shemesh Waiting for proof Sir, - The Forward editorial "Dover, Darwin and the assault on science" was on target (Elsewhere, January 1). Darwinism is clearly based on the faith that sooner or later a new species will appear as a result of chance and mutation. In the meantime we are waiting as news reports tell of old species dying out and no sign of replacements. Intelligent Design, on the other hand, is a straightforward scientific theory. Intelligence can be found, tested, measured and proved in many places on earth. Mice, and even human beings, not to speak of plants, give evidence of intelligence. Design is equally present, as almost anyone can confirm. What we need now is to overcome our fear of admitting that waiting for Darwinism to be proved is futile. NIEL HIRSCHSON Tel Aviv