Letters to the editor, October 31

Precedent set... Sir, - Israel's push for Iran's expulsion from the UN in response to the Iranian president's call for Israel's destruction is buttressed by the claim that no UN member should be able to call for the destruction of another member ("Israel tries to build improbable coalition to oust Iran from UN," October 28). However, it's no surprise that the UN won't do anything, and not - as is usually the case - because of anti-Semitism. A precedent has already been set. A UN Security Council member claimed a sovereign nation didn't have the right to exist, invaded and promptly wiped the nation off the map. And now it's involved in human rights violations too. No, it's not the US. It's China. Does anyone actually remember Tibet? DAVID TEICH Petah Tikva ...and dangerous Sir, - Although the remarks by Iran's president are against the spirit of the UN Charter, and an affront to any good will in the Middle East, expelling Iran from the UN would be a mistake. There are no prizes for guessing who the Arab states would demand be the next state to be expelled. DANIEL JONTOF-HUTTER Melbourne The humanity Sir, - Although I consider myself to be at the far left of the political spectrum, I have to say that David Horovitz hit the nail on the head in "Speaking his mind" (October 28). The Iranian president's appalling statements will only harm Iranians in the long run. Can someone give Mahmoud Ahmadinejad some lessons in PR and diplomacy? And where is the humanity of my fellow Muslims? NAZ ISHAQ ABIDI New York Out of the closet Sir, - President Ahmadinejad should be lauded for his honesty ("Iranian president: 'Wipe Israel off the map,'" October 27). His views - though well known - were heretofore not proffered in so public a pronouncement, thus affording the world community the protective mantle of deniability as it continues appeasing terrorist regimes and pandering to oil interests. The alternative to Ahmadinejad's frontal assault posed a far greater threat to Israel because it covertly subverts. NAOMI PHILLIPS Las Vegas Who's he kidding? Sir, - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came clean last week with Iran's real reason for a acquiring a nuclear bomb. With typical hypocrisy PA spokesman Saeb Erekat immediately stated that Iran's threat was "unacceptable." Who's he kidding? Hasn't the Palestinian Authority already wiped Israel off all its maps? JOCK L. FALKSON Ra'anana A disarming move Sir, - A candidate for mayor in a major North American city has announced a novel way to reduce crime. All criminals, including murderers, will be forced into police uniforms, handed badges and guns and paid a decent salary as police officers. Elite police units will be recruited from death row. Their crimes will no longer be officially recognized. Of course in North America such a mayoralty candidate would definitely not be elected to responsible office and criminals would remain criminals. But in the Middle East such a "visionary" can have a great career as chairman of the Palestinian Authority ("PA says it plans to disarm Aksa Martyrs Brigades," October 24). Ronn Goldberg Thornhill, Ontario Russian responsibility Sir, - "Putin's Choice" (October 28) misses the point. The Chechen problem has little to do with "international terrorism," but is actually actually a continuation of a centuries-long fight against the Russian empire. Chechen separatists have, to be sure, used terrorist methods as reprehensible as any. But the responsibility for huge civilian casualties and massive destruction of property - and all with impunity - belongs to Russian forces whose operations are, by the way, a far cry from Israel's defensive actions. In the Russian view, Russia's greatness can only be achieved by punishing disobedience in the periphery. VLADIMIR WEISSMAN Copenhagen American idealism Sir, - Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern, when asked about the attack on him and his family at the Western Wall, took a swipe at American Jews stating: "I am sure the Americans do not understand a lot of things. They do not truly understand Israeli society" ("Knowing what we are fighting for," October 27). As an immigrant from America, I would like General Stern to know that Israeli society could learn a great deal from Jewish-Americans who make significant sacrifices - economic, social and cultural - to fulfill their idealism and live here. The most motivated soldiers in Israel are former Americans who endure great hardships to defend the country. They are among the best educated, honest and caring Jews in the world. ROBERT DUBLIN Jerusalem Birthright Israel for couples Sir, - How joyous it was to hear words of welcome from The Jerusalem Post to those now visiting Israel ("Visit Israel", October 24). Those kind words might even encourage people to visit again or urge others to come to Israel. Anyone who has visited is most aware of what the country has to offer. Now what about those who haven't been here yet? Of the 63 percent of American Jews who have not visited Israel, a large percentage are couples under the age of 40 and their funds are used for day-school education, synagogue dues and donations to charity. I suggest a birthright israel program for young Jewish couples who, unlike current birthright participants, are already established in Jewish communities. These couples could really help build support for Israel in America and, having experienced Israel, they will return here with their friends and their children many times. David Geffen Jerusalem Granny jihad Sir, - My wife and I are evangelical Christians and supporters of your country. We have just returned from a holiday in Israel and I can explain what causes at least some of the country's image problems. When visitors arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport they are treated with the utmost suspicion. Even old ladies traveling with their priests or pastors are cross-examined as if they might be suicide bombers. Any mad bombers would presumably have already done their work in mid-air. Before her departure from Israel, my wife was followed in the airport and then interrogated about our daughter's studies at Hebrew University. Is it really necessary to be so intrusive when a 61-year-old lady is trying to leave? Do you think a kind of "granny Jihad" is about to start? Profile and target those likely to cause trouble but give innocent tourists an easier ride, please. ALAN FRANKLIN Fleet, Hampshire Sir, - My 89-year-old mother was staying at the Tel Aviv Hilton during the recent Succot holiday. She slipped in the bathroom and fell into the tub. There was no "panic button" anywhere in the bathroom and the telephone was not reachable from the tub. There was no way she could summon help. While it took her over an hour, under very stressful conditions, to find the courage and force to crawl out of the tub, her predicament raises the obvious question: Shouldn't all hotels in Israel be required, by law, to provide panic buttons or phones in bathrooms so that they can be reached from the tub. My mother's accident could easily have turned catastrophic. CHARLES TUGENDHAFT Nice, France A secular welcome Sir, - A letter from Shlomo Spiro complained that only the religious have welcomed the evacuees of Gush Katif ("Where are the secular Zionists?" letters, October 27). We recently went to a ceremony at Moshav Yated. Although a secular moshav, it provided land to a number of families from Atzmona and posted a sign saying "To the people of the settlement of Atzmona. Welcome. The people of Moshav Yated embrace you." BETTY AND RAFI ROSENBAUM Kiron Religious repression Sir, - In her usual penetrating style, Evelyn Gordon dissects and logically dismisses the usual arguments as to why Jews must be legally prevented from praying on the Temple Mount ("Let us go up and pray," October 27). Ms. Gordon, however, fails to suggest the following possible reasons that Israeli governments, all of which have been largely secular, have for the past 38 years enforced this decree. Given the reality of Arab unrest and violence regardless of where Jews exercise their religious observance, perhaps the real reasons include the prevention of Jewish religious expression of any kind there or to suppress the revival of Jewish religious awareness. KENNETH S. BESIG Kiryat Arba Sir, - I'm surprised that the United Jewish Communities has picked William Daroff, a Republican, to lead its Washington, DC operations ("UJC picks Republican operative with bipartisan ties for key role in Washington," October 23). Given that Jews have traditionally been members of the Democratic party in the US, because of their affinity for social services, it seems to be a short-sighted move. Have American Jews become so wealthy that we are now supposed to support Mr. Bush's war and ignore all of the distasteful parts of the Republican White House? What were the UJC leaders thinking? I'll donate my money elsewhere, thank you. Marjorie Bergemann Leesburg, Virginia Eyes on the road? Sir, - The idea of portable video devices ("Cool, a Video iPod. Want to Watch 'Lost'?", October 23) is all very exciting but how many more vehicular accidents will they cause? There are already enough crashes resulting from people talking on their cellphones. Now they may be watching TV instead of the road. JUDY GOLDIN Kiryat Ono