Letters to the editor, May 23

Power to destroy Sir, - It was only a matter of providence that a Kassam rocket did not strike students or a family home ("Miracle in Sderot: Prayers save students from Kassam," May 22). While I understand the hesitancy to send in the troops to Gaza, must we continue to supply Gazans with the power and water they use to make their missiles? BARRY LYNN Efrat Fund these, not those Sir, - Cancer patients are carrying on a hunger strike outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem to get the expensive medications they need included in the Health Ministry's "basket" of drugs ("Media frenzy no cure for hunger-striking patients' desperation," May 22). Ironically, Israel has just agreed to pay NIS 50 million toward medical supplies for the Palestinians, many of whom hate Israel and support the suicide bombing of our civilians - which also costs millions of dollars in treatment for the survivors, not to mention the untold suffering ("Livni pledges medical aid to PA," May 22). Why should Israel's government pay to treat Palestinians when there is not enough money available to ease the suffering of Israelis? One excuse given is that our government does not want to be accused of causing ordinary Palestinians to suffer. Also, the money to be transferred comes from Palestinian tax revenues Israel collects, which, by agreement, it is supposed to give back to the PA. But what is the meaning of such an agreement when Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and supports the use of violence against Israelis? Would any Palestinian organization hand over money to help Israelis if the situation were reversed? Rather than funding our enemies the money should be used for Israeli terror victims and cancer patients. JACK COHEN Netanya Just as crazy Sir, - Barry Rubin's "Why bail Hamas out?" (May 15) was cogent, well argued and eminently convincing. However, the same arguments he uses against the European proposal to pay the salaries of Palestinian Authority employees can be applied with equal force to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's unilateral withdrawal plan, euphemistically termed "convergence." If it is "crazy," as Rubin puts it, for Western governments to fund Hamas, then surely it is sheer madness for Israel to uproot 60,000 Jews from their homes and settlements and abandon large areas of Judea and Samaria to what he calls "a radical Islamist, innately anti-American, anti-Semitic and genocidal-oriented Hamas regime"? Indeed, to use Rubin's words again, why should anyone - much less any country - take such a notion seriously? NAOMI SCHENDOWICH Jerusalem Pruning time Sir, - As a keen gardener, I would like to offer a suggestion regarding Iran. When a branch allows the trunk of a tree to breathe and live in peace, both will flourish and reach upwards. But when a poisoned branch is attempting to suffocate the trunk and destroy its roots, you must cut the branch away immediately, and then burn it. Unfortunately, it seems that once again Israel will have to do the pruning as it appears that the rest of the world cannot see the wood for the trees ("Olmert: Iran just months from ability to build nuclear bomb," May 22). MITCHELL BARNETT Tel Aviv Army base is no place for girls Sir, - Re "Shkedy vows harsh punishments in IAF teen sex scandal" (May 22): As a veteran of the Israel Air Force, I am ashamed of this incident and hope that Maj.-Gen Shkedy not only demotes these rapists but also ousts them from the IAF. The longer I live in Israel, the better I understand why many Israelis, especially the religious, urge their daughters to opt for national service rather than military conscription. A military base is not the ideal place for girls. Let the officers prepare their own coffee and sandwiches, and let the soldiers do their socializing with their girlfriends on weekends, when they are at home on furlough. CHARLES COHEN Rishon Lezion Serial offender... Sir, - You write "Bayit Hadash rabbi fired for sexual misconduct" (May 19), but you missed the story by some years. The same "rabbi" was accused of the same wrongdoings in his native United States, and as a result fled to Israel and changed his name. What ought to have caused more suspicion was the fact that his rabbinical ordination came not from any recognized rabbinical school but was rather a private ordination and not from any of the "Torah greats"; also that he was supported by the far left of the Americans referring to themselves as rabbis. This man, and others like him, are a stain on the Jewish community, and on Orthodox Jewry in particular. We must be frank in our denunciation and do all in our power to prevent recurrence of the phenomenon. To permit such people to teach our youth - in this case, even after previous suspicion of such crimes years before - is a stain on those who selected him. Once again, the source of ordination should be investigated before such people are recognized as rabbis. IRA L. JACOBSON Petah Tikva ...with the title of 'rabbi' Sir, - Matthew Wagner reports that Rabbi Mordechai Gafni "has been dodging accusations and rumors of sexual wrongdoing for two decades," so it was gratifying to read that the truth is finally out. The sympathetic rabbis who refused to listen to evidence piling up against the rabbi also finally had to admit their mistake. But where are the rabbis who started all the trouble, the ones who gave smicha (rabbinical ordination) to an obviously pathological personality? Why did they not speak up, after having made their ghastly mistake, and perhaps save the latest victims from the traumas which began, for some girls, 20 years ago? Either way, the whole sorry business is a clear desecration of God's name (hillul hashem). GLORIA AND ALEX DEUTSCH Kfar Saba Pourquois pas? Sir, - I continue, as a long-term Eurovision Song Contest watcher, to wish that English-language chauvinism wasn't taking hold. There was no need for you to attack the French for speaking in French ("A monstrous loss at Eurovision," May 22). GEOFF TAYLOR Perth, Australia Sir, - I cannot shake off the niggling feeling that if I could comprehend what made a band of barking, nightmarish characters straight out of a horror film the runaway Eurovision winners, I would understand a whole lot more about modern Europe, including its attitude to our region. B. ABRAHAMS Jerusalem