Letters to the editor, June 15

Right to father Sir, - I still don't understand how anyone can oppose any prisoner siring a child ("High Court removes last obstacle in way of Amir fatherhood," June 14). Yigal Amir was found guilty of murder, a crime our society punishes with a lifetime of incarceration. But the crime and its punishment do not strip the criminal of the right to procreate. That sounds much like a step toward eugenics. JOSH MARK Jerusalem Sir, - Justice Ayala Procaccia was asserting a basic human right, which for a married Jew is also a mitzva: the right to procreate (Genesis 1:28). JONATHAN BRANDWEIN Rehovot Beach blast Sir, - Media reporting in the UK of the deaths of Palestinian civilians on the beach at Gaza was disturbing. The BBC News initially stated that the explosion had been caused by Israeli gunfire, even though the subsequent report made it apparent that this was no more than a Palestinian allegation. It was being investigated by the Israelis, who, quite correctly at that stage and unlike the Palestinians, did not jump to conclusions. The following day's report by The Daily Telegraph showed a photograph of a shot being fired from an Israeli gunship stating that the picture had been taken on the day of the supposed shelling. The barrel of the gun was almost horizontal, indicating, even to the non-expert, that the target aimed at was within short range - far shorter than an Israeli gun boat would deem necessary to approach a hostile shore. Later, in response to a finding by the Israelis that their forces were not responsible for the deaths, the paper's headline was "Army dodges blame," clearly implying, without citing evidence, that the Israelis were lying. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the worst possible slant was being put on this incident without it being made clear that the Palestinians deliberately murder women and children as a matter of policy, whereas the Israelis do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties. This is the reality of the situation, and it would remain even if the Israelis had been responsible for the Gaza beach incident ("IDF says beach blast not its fault," June 14). GRAHAM MILNE London Sir, - Those who blame Israel for every possible bad act can never be convinced, nor do they want to be. Our version of events is given short shrift. A neutral observer might think we're not really the good guys. Nevertheless, we'll go on doing what we have to do - and if that includes tearing up half of Gaza, then so be it! LEONARD ZURAKOV Netanya Sir, - It seemed fairly obvious that the explosion on the beach in Gaza was not caused by Israel, simply because the PA claimed that it was. GERALD SIMENSON Perth, Australia Cold Kofi Sir, - Kofi Annan to London-based newspaper Al-Hayat: "The Israeli claim that the (Gaza) beach blast was caused by an explosive charge at the site sounds strange to me. I don't believe it is plausible that the Palestinians planted charges in a place where civilians often spend their time" ("Annan doubts IDF Gaza shelling findings," On-Line Edition, June 14). How can the UN secretary-general stay in his job if he is unaware of the innumerable explosive charges Palestinians have placed on Israeli buses, in restaurants, at shopping malls and beside bus stops? Surely he cannot subscribe to the Palestinian view that all Israelis, even babies, are part of the "Zionist war machine" and thus not civilians? ILYA MEYER Gothenburg, Sweden Sir, - Mr. Annan is reportedly sending a special UN representative to investigate Israel's claim that it was not involved in the Lahia beach tragedy. Why did it never occur to him to send someone to investigate why Israel is the daily target of rockets from the evacuated Gaza Strip? Over 100 Kassam rockets have landed in Israel in the last 30 days ("Hamas ignores ultimatum, continues raining Kassams on Sderot," June 13). HENRY SCHNEUR Tel Aviv What's self-sufficient about being a refugee? Sir, - Gina Benevento of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza defends against accusations that UNRWA keeps refugees dependent by citing an increase in the number of "self-sufficient refugees" ("UNRWA is a blessing," Letters, June 13). I would be more impressed if Benevento were to cite progress in moving all Palestinians out of refugee camps - including those Palestinians on her own turf, Gaza, where the Palestinian Authority keeps its people in refugee camps as political pawns. By contrast, the Jewish refugees who fled to Israel from Arab lands at the same time and their descendents are not being kept in refugee camps, 58 years later. YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem Sir, - I have one question for Ms. Benevento. Why is hatred of Jews and the nonexistence of the State of Israel still being taught in UNRWA-sponsored schools in the Palestine territories? DAVID RACKNER Hod Hasharon A little help Sir, - Re the recent uprising of the Palestinian civil servants in the PA parliament, it is evident that the PA civil servants need a labor union of their own. Perhaps the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) could share its expertise in Israel-bashing and instigating labor disputes ("Hamas: Abbas has frozen our bank accounts," June 14). JONAH PRESSMAN Canada True Vision Sir, - On February 11 you published "Funding NGOs is no solution" which accused our organization, by name, of using "multimillion-dollar budgets on political campaigns." World Vision categorically rejects these accusations. World Vision is, in fact, entirely different from your portrayal. Our work is focused on assisting children and families who are in extreme need - something which should be welcomed by anyone of good will. We work, for example, to help deaf children learn, poor children to remain in school, and traumatized children to regain a sense of well-being. We seek the best interests of all who suffer from extreme poverty. We grieve for all victims of violence, lsraelis and Palestinians, and call on everyone to show respect for others no matter what their politics or religion. World Vision will continue to carry out its Christian and humanitarian mandate of serving the poor, and partnering with people and organizations who care for a peaceful and true end to this conflict. CHARLES CLAYTON Director, World Vision Jerusalem Coexistence can work Sir, - It was a joy to watch my son, Carlos Katz, circle our place of work as we waved to him from below. At 17 he is one of the youngest students ever to have been awarded a pilot's license in Southold, New York, and he was the featured speaker at commencement as well as the recipient of high honors in aviation science from his school. There is no precedent for his aviation acumen in either my wife's family or mine, but he was certainly born with amazing gifts. The rest of the story is that he is the son of a Jewish father and a (50%) Palestinian mother whose roots go way back in Jerusalem. It is to me an example of what Arabs and Jews could achieve if they simply worked together! HARRY KATZ Long Island, New York