Letters to the editor, January 31

Injection of clarity Sir, - As one who has come to take Caroline Glick's clear, brilliant analyses almost for granted I am, nevertheless, moved to express my appreciation of her careful and cogent explanation of the forces that led to the Hamas win so many deemed as surprising and unexpected ("The anatomy of Hamas's victory," January 27). Glick provided us with a geopolitical context and frame of reference for the Hamas strategy and victory as well as positing basic guidelines for future action on the part of Israel's leaders - i.e., no further concessions and a concerted policy to reestablish the deterrence factor that has been so sadly eroded in recent months. NETTA KOHN Herzliya Pituah Women of valor Sir, - In a difficult and sad year in which Israel has been battered by terrorists, maligned by anti-Semites, pressured by a world indifferent to our interests; in which it has been let down by its politicians, judges and generals and betrayed by a captive press I would like to salute five women who have shown courage and integrity, acted in the defense of our Zionist and Jewish values and never failed to lift our spirits and give us strength. My hat goes off to Sarah Honig for her feistiness in attacking cant and ignorance, and her wealth of knowledge of Zionist history; to Caroline Glick for her outstanding powers of analysis and ability to place events in their proper context; to Nadia Matar, who is always on the front line, where the heat of battle is greatest; to Nitza Darshan-Leitner for taking up the cause of justice for the victims of terror, abuse and prejudice in the face of an often-hostile authority; and to Naomi Ragen, who uses her pen as a potent tool to express a breadth of compassion extending from the good of the nation to the unique tragedies of an individual soul. God bless you all. GILBERT HERBERT Haifa Let's show some guts Sir, - We can learn a lesson from the Palestinian electorate, which had the guts to throw out the corrupt fat cats of Fatah ("The imprint of regime change," January 27). We should have the courage to do the same - to throw out the corrupt politicians who vote themselves huge salaries and pensions and demand innumerable ministries, each with its huge budget allowance funded by the taxpayer; and who, with no thought of their election promises and party platforms, hop from party to party with little show of conscience or thought of serving the public. And are we really about to elect as prime minister a man who has declared that "we are tired of fighting... tired of being courageous... tired of winning... tired of defeating our enemies"? (Ehud Olmert's June 9 speech to the Israel Policy Forum). We need a leader who will look after all citizens' interests, wherever they live - even in Hebron and Samaria. We have enough enemies who want to remove us from our heritage, and we don't need a PM to take their side because he is "tired" of defending us. ARIEL BROCH Shadmot Mehola What Israel should do Sir, - "Cut off the PA" (Editorial, January 29) was right on target. The 1995 Interim Agreement with the Palestinian Authority on tax transfers was never recognized by Hamas, and there is no governing body in the PA as the cabinet has resigned and Mahmoud Abbas remains a powerless figurehead. If Israel transfers funds under these conditions it cannot expect others not to. What Israel should do now: - transfer no funds to the Palestinians and hold any existing funds in escrow for possible future transfer only if and when all the conditions for a renewed relationship laid down by Acting PM Ehud Olmert - renouncing terrorism, recognizing Israel's right to exist, disarming and accepting all agreements signed with Israel, including the road map - have been fulfilled; - continue to supply water and electricity to the Palestinians - accompanied by the clear warning that any terrorist activities led, condoned or inspired, directly or indirectly, by Hamas will lead to an immediate cutoff; - no traffic of any kind allowed from Gaza to the West Bank, or vice versa, by anyone including diplomats or foreign visitors until Hamas has fully complied with Olmert's conditions; - any terrorist activity by Hamas or other groups to be met with very severe reprisals; - no discussion of further unilateral withdrawals, since the disengagement from Gaza was what led, in great part, to the Hamas victory. If Olmert adheres to these points he may yet unite many Israelis at this critical juncture. MAX WEIL Jerusalem Engage Hamas Sir, - There is an unprecedented public debate among the Hamas leadership over the conditions under which Hamas could become a partner in negotiations with Israel. This debate will lack all meaning, however, if Israel continues to avoid engaging in such negotiations. The entry of Hamas into the Palestinian parliament, and perhaps soon into the Palestinian government, should be no excuse for continuing this barren avoidance which has already cost the two peoples a great deal of blood. This is a historic opportunity to include in the peace process a movement that is an integral part of the Palestinian people, and thereby to arrive at a much more stable and secure peace. The very fact of conducting negotiations would constitute active recognition of Israel on the part of any Palestinian partner to them, and Hamas's leaders well know it. This would apply even more to partnership in a peace agreement resulting from those talks. ADAM KELLER Spokesman Gush Shalom Holon Undeserved spin Sir, - The upbeat headline "Saudi payment to PA could buy valuable time - pledged $100m. would prop up PA while Israel, world decide how to deal with Hamas" (January 30) provided an undeserved positive spin for the Saudis. Jordan and Egypt have signed peace treaties with Israel, while Syria and Lebanon have signed armistices. The Saudis have done neither of these. And Saudi Arabia, which also funds Hamas and Hizbullah, is the most influential nation in the Arab League, whose chartered purpose remains the liquidation of Israel. Saudi support is hardly the harbinger of better times. DAVID BEDEIN Israel Resource News Agency Jerusalem Jew-hate in Germany... Sir, - Further to Elliot Jager's "Mrs. Merkel comes to the Mideast" (January 30): The issue is not only the policy-makers but the German nation which, manipulated by the media, is becoming more and more anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. I have been visiting Germany annually for more than 20 years, coming into contact with many intellectuals and ordinary citizens, and I am deeply shocked by the ongoing anti-Israel propaganda and openly anti-Semitic activity. Of course, a segment of German society is fighting this shameful phenomenon, but with little success. MICHAEL CHECINSKI Haifa ...and in Sweden Sir, - I am 19 and live in Sweden. First of all I want to congratulate you on a very good news site, which has given me lots of interesting information and a valuable insight into what's really happening in Israel and its surroundings. The Swedish media have been accused of being pro-Israel, but that must be the most twisted thing I've ever heard, because it's evidently quite the opposite! My reason for contacting you is a concern of mine. There is a "Swedish" Web page called www.radioislam.org which contains some of the worst lies I have ever heard or read. It focuses on what it calls "the Zionist and Jewish propaganda and power" with loads of articles containing sick insinuations in every other sentence. I am not sure how close this is to illegal, but it's close to the worst I've come across. My purpose in writing this letter is to open people's eyes so we can do something about this horrible exploitation of the freedom of speech. HAMPUS BLOMBERG Stockholm Full weight of the law Sir, - I sense the crocodile tears in "Omri Sharon pleads for light sentence" (January 26). It is a plea Judge Edna Bankenstein should ignore. Firstly, it is highly likely that by raising NIS 6 million - 5 million shekels over the legal limit - Omri Sharon almost certainly changed the course of our country's history. Without this money Binyamin Netanyahu would very probably have become prime minister, and there would have been no unilateral disengagement. Secondly, if Aryeh Deri got three years for lesser misdemeanors, surely Omri Sharon should get much more. Thirdly, if we are to stamp out corruption at the heart of government we need a very definite deterrent element to the sentence. Anything less will give the impression that our justices are not interested in eradicating such corruption. Sharon's lawyer asserted that "it would be absurd to sentence his client to jail... a miscarriage of justice." The opposite is true. We all feel for the Sharon family because of their father's illness, but we cannot let this affect our judgment. DANNY LEVITT Netanya I was indecisive, now I'm not sure Sir, - "Israel vs England - who to root for?" (January 30) set the butterflies fluttering in my innermost regions. I am one of those Englishmen whose real religion, for as long as I can remember, has been to watch a 16-panel sphere being launched toward the "old onion bag," and, like the rest of us good Jewish boys from England, I thought I was good enough to play for the only real Jewish team - Tottenham. Alas, my mum had other plans for me, like doing my homework and attending heder. Anyway, this Israel vs England game really does cause a far greater dilemma than you may think. My heart is, and always will be, emblazoned with the Shield of David, but I have supported the team with three lions on its chest since that July day in 1966 when England won the World Cup. By the way, I still don't forgive Sir Alf Ramsey for dropping Jimmy Greaves. I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure. So on the fence I will stay until I am forced to decide. Perhaps I'll go to the game with half an Israeli flag painted on one side of my bald head, and half an England one on the other. MARTIN LEWIS Hod Hasharon