A selection of letters written by some of our readers.

Ariel Sharon (photo credit: AVI KATZ)
Ariel Sharon
(photo credit: AVI KATZ)
Sharon vs. Time
Robert Slater’s article “Ariel Sharon vs. Time” (February 10) failed to describe the major lessons of the case. Sharon convinced the jury that he had not given a “green light” to the Phalangists to avenge the death of Bashir Gemayel, by acknowledging his long history of fighting terrorists and in wars, arguing that the brave warrior he was would never have approved deliberately killing helpless civilians.
But Sharon’s conduct was not the ultimate issue in the case. The statement for which he sued was Time’s claim that the Kahan Commission – distinguished former Supreme Court Justices Yitzhak Kahan and Aharon Barak and retired Major General Yona Efrat – lied to the public by finding Sharon negligent in its public report, while at the same time concluding in secret Appendix B that Sharon had given the green light for revenge.
The jury found Time’s statement libelous and false, because the Commission hid nothing about Sharon in Appendix B or anywhere else. Sharon lost the case in the US because a public figure plaintiff must prove not only libel and falsity, but also “actual malice” – that the statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or a deliberate disregard of its truth or falsity. Later he won a settlement in Israel, because he had no obligation to prove actual malice.
Properly understood, as Sharon’s brilliant lawyer, Milton Gould, argued, the Time story libeled not only Sharon but also the Kahan Commission (and the Government of Israel).
And perhaps most significantly, Time acted in a good faith belief in the truth of information obtained from at least one extremely high-level Israeli official whose hatred of Sharon led him to libel his own country.
Abraham D. Sofaer
Former US District Judge
(who presided over Sharon vs. Time)
Stanford, California
In the image of God
Sheldon L. Lebold writes in “Inbox” (February 24), “If Moses was himself a person of ‘color,’ it is unacceptable for Jews (and non- Jews) to reject people on the basis of the color of their skin.” This is a strange statement – does it follow that if Moses was not a person of “color,” then it would be acceptable?
It is totally irrelevant whether Moses was blond and blue-eyed or had ingrown toenails – the Torah teaches us that we are all descendants of one person, in the image of God, not as a biological fact but simply so that we should understand that none of us can claim superiority vis-à-vis any other human being.
Yehoshua Sivan
Helping Abbas
Let’s assume that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reads The Jerusalem Report. He would compare notes with The New York Times and other newspapers, and correctly conclude that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most vilified man on the planet.
He would observe a strong nation, the US, begging a weaker nation, Iran, for an agreement. He would observe that some European banks are boycotting Israel for what they call the occupation of Palestinian territories, but not Turkey for occupying Cyprus or China for occupying Tibet, and would conclude that traditional European anti-Semitism is back in style. What possible incentive could Abbas have to make any agreement with Netanyahu?
Instead, if I were Abbas, I would reject any negotiation with Israel, knowing that I could rely on The Report’s Leslie Susser and Thomas Friedman of The New York Times and other journalists to advance my case for me. I could rely on Israeli political hacks like Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid to blame Netanyahu for not acceding to my every demand.
Jack L. Arbiser
Atlanta, Georgia
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