Letters to the Editor, March 1 2005

Higher standard Sir, - Lori Lowenthal Marcus is correct when she states that there are laws in Israel for dealing with the finding of human bones ("A faux controversy - and ironic, too," February 28). However, if Ms. Marcus was resident in Israel she would know that a great many laws of the land are observed in their breach. My house, at the entrance to Safed, borders what was once a large Muslim cemetery. Over the past 30 years I have witnessed major work done in the area where bones, grave liners and tombstones have been dug up and carted away by trucks, along with the earth and rubble, to be used elsewhere. Several years ago when a major sewer line was installed dozens of graves were dug up and simply dumped. I contacted the local Antiquities Authority. While they were furious with the Safed Municipality, nothing was done and the desecration continued. I agree that the deliberate destruction of Jewish graves and religious sites by Arabs is inexcusable. But we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. ELI MINOFF Safed Good leaders wanted Sir, - In a country filled with smart, energetic people, why can we not seem to find ideological, moral, upright individuals capable of breaking the hold of corrupt political organizations. The powerhungry individuals currently in control of the political parties are only interested in keeping their jobs and positions by zigzagging on policy. Until people of good conscience can work their way up the ladder of power we will continue to have governments filled with corruption and moral turpitude ("Corruption captures headlines, month before poll, as usual," February 28). PAUL SCHNALL Mitzpe Netofa Starting over Sir, - The fact that "both settler leaders and high-ranking government officials say that the Disengagement Law did not provide for full compensation for farmers' greenhouses and that if the farmers want to build them again they will have to make up the difference, which amounts to 20 percent to 40% of start-up costs" is unfair. Under normal circumstances, a farmer who sells his land and structures is able to use the proceeds of the sale to buy a new farm. Gush Katif farmers did not sell. They left their land at the government's request. We owe them the cost of starting all over again ("Few Gush Katif farmers have received land," February 28). SARA LEE WOOLF Ramat Beit Shemesh Oh my, darling Sir, - MK Muhammad Barakei stormed out of a police interrogation saying he was angered and humiliated after being called motek ("MK Barakei leaves police probe after being called 'darling,'" February 27). I am not surprised. Bubbelleh would have been far more dignified. JEFFREY MARLOWE Tel Aviv Surviving a hostile world Sir, - It goes without saying that the transfer of funds by the EU to the Palestinian Authority flies in the face of everything the US and the EU have threatened about withholding financial aid since Hamas's velvet coup d'etat. The Palestinian people have cast their lot with Hamas. Let them have what they have called for in such a strong voice. And let America, the EU and the Quartet withhold the aid they have foresworn. When Israel declared independence the world stood by as the Arabs tried to annihilate an infant democracy. It was reasoned that if Israel was to survive in a hostile world it had better be able to survive that early war. The same logic should apply to the Hamas government. It's time for America and the Europeans to stand by their principles ("Israel believes EU still on board with Hamas strategy," February 27). ALAN B. KATZ Melville, New York Recognize this... Sir, - Has the whole world gone mad? When, in the annals of history, has a legitimate nation had to wait with baited breath for some people to recognize its right to exist? I find it intolerable, as a Jew and as an Israeli, hearing these words bandied about almost daily in the media ("Israel not impressed by Haniyeh's '67 scenario," February 26). If indeed such recognition were given it would be meaningless. No matter how sugar-coated Hamas leaders might try to sound, their only real goal is to eradicate Israel. The only declaration of any value at this juncture would be for the Palestinians to lay down their arms. Their words alone are not enough. NAOMI FEINSTEIN Givat Ada ...or this Sir, - I find it difficult to understand why all the major parties refuse to speak with Hamas. Have we not learned from the late Yitzhak Rabin that "you make peace with your enemies"? Have we any better enemy than Hamas? ELISHEVA DUKOV Petah Tikva Eschew obfuscation Sir, - With the new Hamas regime representing the Palestinian people, Israel has the rare opportunity to correct years of malfeasance with regard to its public relations. Israel must ensure that all comments that Hamas makes in Arabic, and thus for Arabic and Muslim consumption, are communicated to the world press, not the made-for-Western-media double-talk that Arab and Muslim countries have been sending out to obfuscate their real positions. If Israel provided the media with a side-by-side comparison of Hamas's English and Arabic statements, anti-Israel media would be hard-pressed to continue passing themselves off as impartial while sowing the seeds of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments. Israel failed to institute this simple procedure with the Palestinian Authority and Arafat in particular. It ought to seize this moment while it can and finally impart to the world what Israelis have known for far too long: that Hamas is a terrorist organization whose sole purpose is the destruction of Israel ("Hamas immoderation," February 27). KEVIN KOPLIN New York Not just farce Sir, - In 1938 Hitler told the world that a resolution of the Czech territorial problem would be his last such demand in Europe. In 2006 Hamas tells the world that Israel with 1967 borders, and the right of return for good measure, is not its last demand. Both Marx and Chesterfield are out of date ("Exposing Hamas," Barry Rubin, February 27). Those who do not learn from history are not only doomed to repeat it, but to make things worse. And we had better believe that it will not be simply a "farce." LOUIS GARB Jerusalem Laughable Sir, - Was Gershon Baskin's "How to guard the two-state option" (February 28) a pre-Purim joke? REUVEN BEN-DANIEL Kfar Mordechai-Gederot Challenge Sir, - Sadly, while academia, church leaders and some media were shirking a frank discussion of the implications of the recent lethal Islamic fury over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, they found time and expended a great deal of effort for a series of hate-fests demonizing Israel. After all, attacking Israel is not only safe; it is popular and even attracts encouragement from Islamic fundamentalists. Students at Oxford University, Warwick University, Cambridge and Toronto recently held anti-Israel events, and at the Palestine Solidarity Movement's conference at Georgetown University students received training in influencing the media and demonizing Israel as worse than apartheid. My challenge then, to all who participated: Demonstrate your moral clarity, intellectual honesty and even-handedness by addressing "the Muslim threat to Western civilization" with as much fervor as you applied to your "Israel is apartheid" efforts. MAURICE OSTROFF Herzliya Suspension of disbelief Sir, - Shulamit Leaman imagines what would have happened if London Mayor Ken Livingstone had made an anti-Muslim remark: There would have been demonstrations in major capital cities, with violent demonstrations in London ("What if?" Letters, February 28). However, I very much doubt that she is correct in concluding that "Livingstone would have been suspended from his job forever" as a result of the violence. He simply would not have survived the lynch mob long enough even to be censured. MARTIN D. STERN Salford, England Phantom operas Sir, - Those who deplore the Yiddish film with its male-only cast ("Forward & back," Letters, February 24) can find solace in the following: There have been an exclusively female opera (Puccini's Suor Angelica) and two male-only operas (Mehul's Joseph and Massenet's Jongleur de Notre Dame). For all practical purposes none of these works has survived. IGO FELDBLUM Haifa Dance of love Sir, - Earlier this month, I visited Israel on a familiarization trip for American travel consultants. I would like to share with you a special moment that touched me deeply, a moment that I will always remember as a symbol of the love and caring of the Israeli people. While walking along the Eilat seafront I observed four teenage girls approaching me from the opposite direction. Suddenly, one of the young ladies jumped into my path, performed a sweet little dance and ended by blowing kisses to me. Surprised, I returned the kisses. Just as quickly, this precious child moved on with her friends. I deeply regret not capturing her photo. There might be more peace in the world if others would visit Israel and experience the love that I received from a perfect stranger in your beautiful country. ELAINE SHAPIRO Encino, California Great match Sir, - In tense times it is always nice to have a good game of football to help clear the mind. So I'm looking forward to the friendly between Israel and Denmark on Wednesday. Hopefully it will be a great match. I'm very excited about how the Israeli side will perform this time (hopefully not too well). So enjoy the match and may the best team win! ALAN THOMSEN Copenhagen