Letters to the editor, March 2, 2006

Copy, right? Sir, - Dan Brown, author ofThe Da Vinci Code, is being sued for copyright infringement by authors of a work written over two decades ago, who claim that his novel is based in part on ideas that they published first. This is notable because at issue is whether Brown used ideas derived from the fruits of their research. This could be beneficial to Judaism. Surely if the court agrees with the plaintiffs, we could file a class-action suit against both Christianity and Islam for stealing some of the ideas we derived from our Torah and other Jewish scriptures. You know: one God, Abraham, Moses, prophets; and of course, the whoppers, the Messiah and Judgment Day. Now, let me see. How many Christian Bibles and Korans took some of these proprietary concepts and therefore infringed our copyright? Should bring us billions! ("'Da Vinci Code' lawyer says ideas too general for copyright," Postmarks, March 1). MICHAEL GREENBEERG Ottawa Champion Chechnya Sir, - Congratulations on the publication of the piece by V clav Havel and other prominent world figures ("End the silence over Chechnya," March 1). I hope this is the signal for which I have been waiting a very long time: that The Jerusalem Post is at long last showing some interest in the northern Caucasus and its problems and suffering. Just because the Russian authorities and their lapdog press say the Chechnya problem is one of "international terrorism" does not make it a fact. The situation is much more complicated and the suffering of civilians is real. So I am looking forward to further in-depth pieces on this important issue, which has serious, if indirect, consequences for Israel and the free world at large. VLADIMIR WEISSMAN Copenhagen Theological shift Sir, - Judging by the response of the Jewish readers on the Post's online "Talkback," one concludes that most Jews are completely indifferent to the opinion of Jerry Falwell as to whether Jews may merit heaven without accepting Jesus ("Falwell: Jews need not convert to get to heaven," March 1). While I slept very well before this declaration, I am concerned that opinions of religious leaders do have significant consequence. When acceptance of a religious belief system is emphasized as the sole moral criterion, tolerance and acceptance are at risk. If the period of the Crusades is too distant a memory, we need only look as far as Muslim fundamentalists, who are certain that our lives have no value until we accept their faith, and that we can therefore be dispensed with in great merriment by Islamic Jihad. Judaism, of course, teaches that all righteous people will be rewarded in the world to come, since deeds are of greater importance than faith alone. The growing support of the Zionistic Christian community for the Land and Jews of Israel has been very encouraging, especially in the face of our many detractors. This new shift in theological thinking could favorably color the course of future political events and diminish another source of anti-Semitism. SHARON LINDENBAUM Rehovot True-blue Sir, - In view of the Anglican Church's General Synod decision to recommend divestment from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the territories, the former archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey protested, saying that he is "ashamed to be an Anglican." Lord Carey's remarks are much appreciated in Israel. He is a rare and courageous true-blue Englishman. Divestment indeed! Church attendance in England is at pitiful levels while English mosques are packed. If anything, it is the Anglican General Synod that should be ashamed - of itself, given that Israel is in a war for its very survival against the malevolent forces of world Jihad ("Being kind to the cruel," February 28). Oh Anglicans of Albion - for shame! HERBERT BISHKO MURRAY GREENFELD MELVIN MACMANUS Tel Aviv Balanced judgment Sir, - In relating to the rally in protest over the rabbinic establishment's unjust treatment of agunot ("Youth champion plight of agunot," February 28), suffice to read the comments of Eli Ben-Dahan, who admitted that there are a few rabbinic judges that are problematic. He even admitted that some panels of judges come late, don't show up at all or don't do their job properly. Why are they not dismissed? Shouldn't they be treated the same as any working person who behaves in such a manner? It is futile to hope that change will come about if the method of appointment of rabbinic judges is not changed. I suggest that the courts dealing with religious divorces be composed of both rabbinic and civil judges. This might result in a more balanced judgment. HENRY WEIL Jerusalem Strength or survival? Sir, - Daphna Baram asks whether we, as Jews, do not have the strength as a people to debate the legitimacy of Zionism ("Who really sets Jews against Jews?" March 1). As a former Israeli living in London, she apparently has distanced herself sufficiently to coldly analyze Israel's validity. But for the millions of Jews living in Israel, it is not a question of strength but of survival. Surely the limits of reasonable open-mindedness are passed when we begin to question our right to exist. SHARON LINDENBAUM Rehovot Soldiers, police must testify Sir, - I find it dismaying that Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz have decided that only politicians should be summoned before the Knesset committee investigating the "evacuation" of Amona, instead of the police and soldiers who carried it out or their commanding officers. As part of basic training, the IDF teaches every soldier that there are orders which are illegal. In this case, accusations have been made that the police and soldiers were ordered to inflict injury on the Amona protesters, whether or not they were violent. If these accusations are true, the orders to do so were likely illegal and should have been disobeyed. The Knesset inquiry has to be treated as a legal inquiry and not as a political one. In that context, the only way to determine what orders were given is to ask those who received the orders ("Mofaz, Ezra: We'll testify in place of officers in Amona probe," March 1). CARL M. SHERER Jerusalem Sir, - As a former horse owner, I can attest to the fact that a horse galloping into a crowd of unarmed people is a dangerous, and possibly lethal, weapon. As a Canadian, I can guarantee that in my country a police officer giving extra-judicial punishment (such as beating) would be subject to criminal charges and jail. This would also apply to his superiors who gave the orders to perform the criminal act. Police are supposed to protect, apprehend and detain. It is the courts that are empowered to judge and decide on appropriate, civilized punishment. And politicians are supposed to uphold the law and protect democracy. As a Jew, I am ashamed that this behavior took place in Israel where something has become fundamentally wrong when our brethren, who were formerly pioneers and heroes, are now demonized and brutalized. RONN GOLDBERG Thornhill, Ontario Sir, - The decisions by ministers Shaul Mofaz and Gideon Ezra to prevent soldiers and policeman from testifying before the Knesset Amona investigation are undemocratic. If Ehud Olmert indeed gave the order to be brutal towards the protesters, it must be revealed. Israel must conduct itself like a democracy, not a third-world dictatorship. YAKOV LAZAROS Framingham, Massachusetts Accountability Sir, - I have long been an admirer of journalist Daoud Kuttab and more often than not I agree with his excellent synopses of events. However, his piece on "Arab peoples' right to choose" (February 27) was disingenuous journalism. His arguments ignored what Hamas represents to Israel: the epitome of an anti-Semitic Islamic militant group whose raison d'etre is the destruction of Israel. Does he honestly expect any Israeli, left- or right-wing, to monetarily or otherwise support such a group? I agree with his statement that the Arab people have a right to choose, but they should also have to stand accountable for their choice. No allowance should be made on the basis that Palestinians who voted for Hamas wanted to eradicate corruption. They must have clearly understood what all of Hamas's policies would be and now must live by them. FRED SPILKIN Herzliya Pituah A real 'payload' Sir, - Israel has admitted it can't completely prevent the introduction of missiles into Gaza or even into the West Bank. Yet a front page article in the Post said that "'Israel will keep Iranian funds from reaching PA'" (March 1). Can't the Iranians just hide the money inside the missiles? MARK L. LEVINSON Herzliya Destructive financing Sir, - The EU has promised to donate $143 million to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. As a citizen and tax payer of an EU member state, Finland, I can't accept this. So I sent an e-mail to every Finnish MP. I urge readers of The Jerusalem Post in EU states to send letters or call their legislators to stop this financing, as Hamas is committed to the destruction of an independent state; and all the more so as this state has diplomatic ties with the EU. JOUNI SUONSIVU Tampere, Finland Get the message Sir, - Given that the flow of homicide bombers has not stopped ("14 would-be bombers nabbed in 3 weeks," February 23), why not try the following: Close all PA newspapers, schools and mosques that encourage or contribute to such activity. And only reopen them when they agree to change their message to what is simply in the best interests of the greater Middle East. That message is: Countries should live side by side in peace. DAVID W. LINCOLN Edmonton, Alberta