Letters to the editor, October 30

Free Palestine Sir, - Free Palestine from the land of intolerance, where thirst for blood is greater than hunger for a state. Free her from brothers whose pursuit of Israel's destruction has been a roadblock to the birth of a state since 1947. Free Palestine from the incitement of preachers of violence, from the prisons of hatred that blind them to peaceful coexistence. Free Palestine from leaders who call for martyrdom, from cowards who hide behind women and children, from subhumans who send children as bombs to slaughter innocents ("5 dead in Hadera market suicide bombing," October 27). Once these burdens of darkness have been lifted those who love peace will be empowered and Palestine will be free to become a state other than one of despair. MICHAEL DICTOR Fremont, Missouri Chastize Iran Sir, - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for the destruction of the State of Israel during a conference called "A world without Zionism" in Teheran must be very strongly condemned by Western governments ("Iranian president: 'Wipe Israel off map," October 27). At a time when most of the world community, particularly many Muslim states without diplomatic ties to Israel, are applauding Israel's disengagement from Gaza, Iran is setting a dangerous precedent in rejecting a two-state solution, calling instead for the annihilation of the Jewish state. Iran undermines peace attempts in the Middle East by openly funding terrorist groups such as Hizbullah, providing them with weapons which threaten the volatile Christian-Muslim sectarian divide in Lebanon and put many northern Israeli cities within striking range. As Iran continues to destabilize the region by sponsoring terror and pursuing its clandestine nuclear weapons program NATO and the EU should push the UN Security Council to impose tougher sanctions and revoke Iran's UN membership. PETER SUBISSATI Montreal Sir, - The new president of Iran's speaking of "wiping Israel off the map" must be regarded as progress. For most Muslim schoolchildren Israel has never appeared on any map, any more than it exists in the literature of universities and corporations who have feebly surrendered to the Arab protection racket in boycotting our prize-winning brains and world-beating products. So thanks, Mr. Ahmadinejad, for putting us on the map. As for ever wiping us off it, history has a few lessons for you. SOL UNSDORFER London Israel's victims aren't named Sir, - I would think it is much easier for reporters to find the names of dead Israeli terror victims than those of dead Palestinian terrorists. And yet a basic Google search shows that only in the Israeli Jewish media are the Israeli victims of terrorism named. In contrast, Palestinian terrorists/militants are named by many mainstream news outlets. MATT RAND Boston Why be defeatist? Sir, - It was disheartening to read Elliot Jager's defeatist "No way out?" (October 24). Your writer seems to have been brainwashed by The New York Times-Washington Post-CNN liberal cabal. Some of their arguments: Not enough American troops in Iraq; "victory is not an option"; attacking Iraq was a mindless, unforgivable distraction, and disbanding the Iraqi army and Ba'athist civil service was the biggest mistake of the war. Jager does point to American achievements: the speedy defeat of Iraqi armed forces and the capture of Saddam Hussein; the Iraqi interim government; the democratic vote for a transitional National Assembly; and a democratic vote in a referendum to approve a new constitution. As Americans/Israelis we grieve over the loss of American heroes who brought about these achievements in spite of orchestrated US public opinion. How much tragedy would have been averted if French-British-American public opinion had recognized the dire dangers from Hitler and the rearmament of Nazi Germany? President Bush does not deserve Jager's final paragraph: "Perhaps the larger lesson of the Iraqi boondoggle is that the war against Islamist fascism was much too serious to be left in the hands of this administration. The next one will have to do better." Can America and Israel depend upon an isolationist-defeatist political party? I am proud that the president is guided by Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. This guiding principle has the power to change the face of the entire Middle East and, in its wake, bring security to Israel. ARNOLD SULLUM Jerusalem Poor show Sir, - Re "Labor's 'war on poverty' rerun" (Daniel Doron, October 27): Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty was a failure because there's still poverty. However, the fact that poverty wasn't eliminated doesn't mean the programs didn't work. Conservatives, who believe that widening the gap between rich and poor somehow helps the poor, consistently claim that the Left's policies are worse. However, many statistics, such as those clearly presented in Wealth and Democracy by Kevin Phillips, show some interesting statistics. Since World War II the status of the poor has consistently been improved during Democratic administrations and consistently damaged under Republican ones. Similarly the gap between them has shrunk under the Dems and gone up under the Reps. So, too, follow the statistics for size of government, "conservative" claims notwithstanding. Democrat Bill Clinton is the only modern president to have shrunk the government. Shimon Peres does need to retire, but many of his programs are needed. We can't trust the Likud to care about the middle class or the poor. DAVID TEICH Petah Tikva Right kind of Jew Sir, - Your interview with Maj-Gen. Elazar Stern was inspiring ("Knowing what we are fighting for," October 27). Gen. Stern truly understands the integration of our state with our Jewish way of life and how to serve both loyally. He is religious in the most righteous sense, and wise to ignore the ranting of some who claim knowledge of which storms and political decisions are God's curses or blessings. Divisiveness brings us to the edge of destruction. Each of us, in selecting a set of beliefs, must acknowledge that the beliefs of others merit the respect we expect for our own. The majesty of Gen. Stern lies in recognizing the ultimate importance of preserving our Jewish democratic state, and sharing our pride in it. STEPHEN J. KOHN Ra'anana Wrong kind of interview Sir, - Further to "Gates wows Israeli business leaders" (October 27): I have visited Israel over 40 years. Last week on TV's Channel 2 news I watched anchors Gadi Sukenik and Yonit Levy interviewing Bill Gates during his first visit to the country. Their questions were sophomoric and embarrassing, focusing primarily on his wealth and not on his foundation, which is involved in global healing; or his vision and contribution to the software and PC industry through the decades which have truly changed the way the world operates and functions. I can only hope Mr. Gates didn't leave Israel with a negative impression. PAUL LEDERER Chevy Chase, Maryland How far back... Sir, - Since he states in his October 27 letter that "we have no legitimate prior claim to the 'Land of Israel'" it is curious that Leonard Zurakov lives in Netanya, whose moshava founders settled there in 1929, contemporaneously with the purchase of the Hefer Plain by the Jewish National Fund. ESTER ZEITLIN Jerusalem ...is 'prior'? Sir, - If James Adler is after historical accuracy he would be well advised to read From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters to understand that the Palestinians, largely a nomadic population, have not lived in the Transjordan for generations. Jews have been living in what was called Palestine for almost 6,000 years continuously. At the time of the UN Partition there were 600,000 Jews in the area. Had the Arabs accepted the original partition Israel would have been relegated to the Negev desert and a tiny strip along the ocean, a fraction of its size today. And had Yasser Arafat accepted what was offered him in 2000 he would have had 96% of the West Bank and half of Jerusalem. Instead he chose terrorism, as Arabs have done since at least the 1920s ("It's Zionism, stupid," Letters, October 24). BERNARD D. SHEPEN Caesarea Rosa Park's bus Sir, - Your Elsewhere item of October 27, "Rosa Parks," reminded me of my visit to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where I sat in the very same Montgomery, Alabama bus on which Parks, in 1955, refused to give up her seat to a white man, an act of courage which practically launched the civil rights movement. As we sat on the bus listening attentively to our African-American guide I realized that the history of black Americans in the South was worse than I had thought. I heard about the senseless indignities they were made to undergo - like boarding a bus in front in order to buy the ticket, only to have to get off and reboard in the back, where they were supposed to sit. We Jews, who still commemorate our people's slavery in Egypt as well as our long history of discrimination, were in the forefront of the blacks' civil rights struggle and, indeed, are among the first to decry any sort of injustice. The Henry Ford Museum, despite the fact that it bears the name of an avid anti-Semite, is to be lauded for acquiring, preserving and displaying this highly symbolic piece of American History. RACHEL KAPEN West Bloomfield, Michigan