Letters to the Editor, January 27

Eternal refugee? Sir, - In "Peaceful vote something to celebrate" (January 26) your reporter quotes Palestinian "Hassan el-Azazy, 42, who like Khalil fled from a town close to Tel Aviv during the 1948 war." How could a 42-year-old have fled from a war fought 58 years ago? This description perpetuates the falsehood that Palestinians, uniquely, are entitled to bequeath refugee status to their children and their children's children forever. Mr. el-Azazy is almost certainly a parent, and may even already be a grandparent. His grandchild would be the great-grandchild of refugees. Where I come from anyone born in the town where his great-grandfather settled would be considered someone with roots there. Accepting that el-Azazy is a refugee undermines Israel's claim that the descendants of those who left the country do not have a "right of return." JOSEF GILBOA Jaffa Good news Sir, - Now Hamas will be the governing party, and any terror act it carries out will be an official Palestinian act, meaning Israel will be free to respond to it as an act of war. Moreover, Fatah could always claim it could not control elements such as Hamas, but Hamas can hardly claim it cannot control itself. So the Hamas win may be good news for Israel. CRAIG DILLON Chicago Ain't so Sir, - David Forman accuses the Likud of "extreme nationalism and religion with a disregard for economic and social equality" ("Is the Right still Zionist?" January 25). I disagree. First, the reason so many of us opposed disengagement was not because of "extreme" nationalistic or religious feelings but because it rewarded terrorism and increased the dangers of an unchecked Hamas population bent on our destruction. Sympathy with Likud policies does not necessarily translate into sympathy with the ideals of the "hilltop youth." Second, as anyone with a basic understanding of economics knows, it takes years for the effects of new economic policies to be felt in the general population. The economic gap between rich and poor during the last two or three years may be more properly laid at the feet of the Labor party of the late 1990s than at Binyamin Netanyahu's. In fact, the best way to increase the standard of living of the middle and lower classes is to lower taxes and promote capitalism over socialism, which is what Mr. Netanyahu's financial policies are all about. I suspect that five to eight years from now a better economic situation will be directly linked to the Likud's tenure in the Finance Ministry, assuming that its policies are continued and other, nonpolitical, factors do not interfere with our economy. IRIS OREN COX Ra'anana On their heads Sir, - As a non-Jew I used to be perplexed at the willingness of some Jews to denounce and denigrate their own kind - until I discovered that this was a liberal rather than a Jewish phenomenon. Our own English liberals have a similar loathing of anything English; and many American liberals, likewise, show contempt for all things American. After some contemplation I came to the conclusion that this self-hatred originated as a kind of knee-jerk reaction to the perceived self-adulation and glorification exemplified by many right-wing nationalist movements. In short, our modern-day "liberals" are basically conservatives standing on their heads. What appears to have happened in recent years is that self-loathing has become a kind of international movement, with English liberals hating not only all things English but also, by extension, all things American and Jewish as well. And although none of them would admit to being anti-Semitic, I haven't failed to notice a certain indifference to the loss of Jewish life. LEE JAKEMAN York, UK Whom to trust Sir, - Andrew Weiszmann presents Israel's semi-unilateral separation as somehow "tribal" and separating Jews from Arabs (Letters, January 25). He seems not to understand that Israel has close to a 20% Arab population. While the Arabs call for a second Palestinian-majority nation (Jordan being the first) and demand a Jew-free state (like the first one), Israel has no plans to evict its non-Jews. Your correspondent also talks about an international Jerusalem, again showing a lack of understanding of history. UN Resolution 181 called for just that, and Jews nervously agreed. However, the Arabs invaded and captured the Old City. From 1948 until 1967 no Jews were allowed there and synagogues were destroyed. Since 1967, Muslim shrines have been given more protection by Israel than have Jewish sites. Meanwhile, the international inspectors continue to fail to stop terrorists and weapons from flowing between Egypt and Gaza. We have no reason to trust an international Jerusalem, but history has shown that Christians and Muslims can trust an Israeli Jerusalem. DAVID TEICH Petah Tikva Sought-after Sir, - I felt so proud to see your front-page news exclusive "Kenya asks Israel to train rescue crews" (January 26). When one considers that other rescue teams were present from many countries it begs the question of what makes the Israelis so superior and sought-after in these unfortunately frequent life-saving operations. It is obvious that the IDF's Home Front Command's operational division is superbly trained. This was a real kiddush Hashem - a sanctification of the name of God. MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya