Letters to the editor, April 12

Who knows five? Five are our MIAs Sir, - When world Jewry was struggling for the release of Soviet Jews we set aside an empty place at our Seder tables to represent our missing kin. This Pessah let us place a prominent figure 5 on our Seder tables to symbolize five MIAs: Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, who have been missing for 22 years; Ron Arad, who has been missing for 17 years, and Guy Hever, who went missing a few years after Arad. The suggestion is being circulated by email lists to protest the deliberate withholding of information about the MIAs by Syria, Iran and the Palestinian Authority. The case of Zachary Baumel epitomizes the suffering and anxiety which the families of the MIAs endure. In an exquisite refinement of torture in 1993, Yasser Arafat acknowledged that he knew details of the soldier's fate and handed half of Baumel's identity tag to Yitzhak Rabin, with the firm promise that more information on the MIAs would be forthcoming. He never kept his promise, but it is believed that other members of the PA shared that information. They should be pressed to disclose it, especially during any negotiations for the release of Palestinian prisoners. MAURICE OSTROFF Herzliya Sir, - As we prepare to celebrate the Festival of Freedom, what are our leaders doing to free Jonathan Pollard? DAHVID AND LEAH WOLF Metar Death of an infant Sir, - The Post is to be commended for its guarded language concerning the alleged murder of the poor Valis baby ("Police press for manslaughter charges after battered baby dies," April 11). His death was shocking, as was the reaction of the haredi community. However, while our sympathies must always lie with the innocent victims, some of the media once again presented the Israeli public with the "fact" that a father had brutally killed his infant son. Even a confession is no absolute proof of guilt, and while a professional judge may not be influenced by a media pre-trial, with lawyers arguing their case before the cameras, the principle of sub judice must be carefully balanced against the right of the public to know. If we aspire to be an enlightened state with respect for the law we must put a stop to this pernicious and persistent phenomenon. MIKE COHEN Ra'anana Sir, - Will this man, like so many other child abusers, get only a slap on the wrist? It's high time babies and helpless children received justice via harsh measures, such as maximum jail time, for the perps. Where was the mother during this entire horrific episode? Isn't she just as guilty? A. WEINBERG Rehovot Sir, - I feel for that young father who didn't have the emotional stamina or maturity to deal with a crying baby. Sleep deprivation can do terrible things to people. Where was the baby's mother? His grandparents, family friends? A support network is important for all parents, especially those isolated at home with a newborn. It doesn't matter whether you're haredi, secular, purple or green. We're all human, with human frailties. Still, let's not compound the injustice to that little baby by failing to call it a crime and prosecute accordingly. To show only pity for the father would not serve him, his family or his community. There must be consequences to actions. We must balance hesed, or compassion, with gevura, force (of the law). ESTI ALLINA-TURNAUER Netanya Dry run \ Sir, - Re "IDF may return to Gaza if Kassams keep falling" (April 10): I think Gaza's Kassam problem has to be solved, and quickly, before it becomes a much larger problem (bigger missiles, etc.) In my view the best way is to use all peaceful means - for example, by telling the PA that water to Gaza will be shut down for 12 hours after each Kassam fired. Once most Gazans feel that the Kassams are hurting them, the firing will stop. GREGORY GUTIN London Sir, - Hamas, Fatah and Islamic jihad are the equivalent of Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq, blaming each other for their killing of innocents, be they Israelis or fellow Arabs. Killing is their only language. They need to practice shalom, peace. It works! Wake up, terrorists, to the real world. CHARLIE SAUL El Paso, Texas One rule for Israel, another for the world Sir, - British MP Gerald Kaufman, commenting on the death of ISM militant Tim Hurndall during a Palestinian terrorist battle against the IDF two years ago, demands that the accused Israelis be "put… before an international war crimes tribunal. If the Israelis don't agree… then I think we have got to consider economic sanctions against Israel" ("British MP suggests sanctions on Israel," On-Line Edition, April 11). It would be interesting to gauge MP Kaufman's reaction were Brazil to request the extradition of the British policeman who put several bullets into the head of a young Brazilian civilian last year, a man whose only crime was to run for a train in London at a time when terrorist activities had reached a climax; and his response to a Brazilian demand that Britain be subjected to international economic sanctions. MP Kaufman is not concerned with justice, but with Israel-bashing. He is not on record as demanding a tribunal or sanctions for crimes PA security officers committed against Israeli and European civilians - such as, for example, the lynching of two Israeli soldiers who strayed into a Palestinian town, or Hamas's execution, at close range, of a pregnant Israeli woman and her four small daughters, the youngest a few months old, in their car. It's a worrying silence on Kaufman's part. But then, it's one rule for Israel and another for everyone else, isn't it? ILYA MEYER Gothenburg, Sweden Wrong rabbi Sir, -The attorney-general rebuked the wrong rabbi ("Eminent rabbis defend [Chief Rabbi Yona] Metzger," April 7). Venerable rabbis Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Ovadia Yosef vetoed another candidate - Rabbi Ya'acov Ariel, chief rabbi of Ramat Gan - for the position of Ashkenazi chief rabbi. Highly regarded and respected, Rabbi Ariel is a scholar and halachic authority of impeccable character. His appointment was blocked by the aforementioned rabbis for no reason other than that he was proposed by the National Religious camp and his appointment posed a threat to haredi interests. It should come as no surprise that Rabbis Elyashiv and Yosef are defending Rabbi Metzger, whose ascent they pushed for motives of political self-interest. SOL LIEBGOTT Jerusalem Crucial cutoff Sir, - In response to Jay L. Abramoff's "ESPN drops the ball" (Sports, April 6): ESPN channel made great efforts to broadcast, in Israel, Shay Doron's crucial moments in the NCAA games. Due to extremely bad weather the satellite broadcast was cut off for a few moments during the game. ESPN channel is doing its best to maintain a high level of broadcasting, but is limited in handling the effects of the forces of nature. Due to a technical problem the NCAA championship game rerun was not broadcast as planned, but on two alternative dates: Friday, 7/4, at 15:30, and Saturday, 8/4, at 10:00. We apologize to all our viewers for the inconvenience. TIMNA HALLEL ESPN In Israel Meimad Studios Tel Aviv