Letters to the editor, November 10

Irony, despair Sir, - It seems that the French Jewish community is actually surprised, and breathing a collective sigh of relief, to find itself not specifically under attack in the wave of violence sweeping the country ("Jews in France remain largely untargeted," November 8). Paule H. Levy of France's Radio Communite Juive said it was "the first time in French history" that a problem was not "Jewish." This is a clear example that the Jewish community in France is in a state of fear - not only of Muslim violence, but of being assigned blame for any calamity by the general population. Rightly so. The worst is probably yet to come. I find irony and despair in the words of European Jewish Congress secretary-general and Frenchman Serge Cwajgenbaum, in explaining the riots: "It's societal, it's economical, it's educational." That he is saying the violence has its roots in the failure of the basic institutions of his nation, is telling. BORIS YANKILOVICH Boston Sir, - It seems the French and their European neighbors have not yet realized that we are witnessing the opening battle in the second Muslim conquest of Europe. BERTIE FRANKEL Ra'anana Poetic justice Sir, - Given French protests over Palestinians losing their jobs in Israel because of Israeli security precautions, it seems a touch of poetic justice that hundreds of cars have been burned in France by Muslim youth who can't get jobs there. I learned as a child France's slogan "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," yet Frenchmen still arrested my parents who never returned from Auschwitz. I was too young and too brainwashed to burn French cars then. How true the French proverb: The more it changes, the more it is the same. ALBERT REINGEWIRTZ Carlsbad, California Which messianism? Sir, - At first glance, the appeal for mutual tolerance and the welcoming of alternate opinions by Rabbi Michael Melchior appear to be positive and well-reasoned ("Repairing a 'people full of cracks,'" November 9). However, both the tone and content of his article seem to direct his call for serious reflection and soul-searching to only one side of Israel's grossly divided polity. While Melchior states that the ways to achieve peace are open to debate, it is important to note that those who differed with the Oslo peace promoters were labeled as "war mongers" and their opinions were rather summarily dismissed. Rabbi Melchior raises the specter of the "strident messianic declarations" that were heard in the religious Zionist community. Aren't these declarations, based on the greatest of Israel's prophets, infinitely preferable to the pseudo-messianism that insists on signing agreements with, and providing arms to, our enemies while they openly declare their intention to destroy us? ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva Sir, - I expect that most religious Zionists would not agree with Rabbi Melchior's claim that "only through mutual recognition, understanding and dialogue with our Arab minority can we build a future for all our children." Rabbi Melchior doesn't allow that other rabbis don't share his opinion. GERALD ARANOFF Bnei Brak Jewish values Sir, - I want to express my appreciation of Rabbi Melchior's assessment of the "cracks" in our peoplehood. He espouses the values of Judaism that I was taught and truly believe in as the foundation of our faith: "Love the stranger," "Seek peace and pursue it," and "Justice through just means." I would hope that his message is read and understood by many and that the factions that are dividing our society, generating intolerance and disrespect, examine their behavior and its negative effect on the lives of all of us. I, too, am concerned for the sectors of our society that suffer from poverty and neglect. I continue to hope that we can resume our role as a people who cares for the safety and well-being of our fellow men and women, a philosophy that has always made me proud to be a Jew. JUDITH TELMAN Mevaseret Zion Litmus test Sir, - Glad to hear that Israel is not considering giving up the Golan ("Sharon: No talks with Syria," November 8). The litmus test to determine if Syria is serious about peace, and the starting point for negotiations, should be whether it will admit it has lost the Golan. Wartime losers don't determine the terms of peace. The real issue here is "Arab pride," which has been a stumbling block for too long. The world can no longer afford to coddle Arabs in an alternate reality, one in which they can instigate wars, lose them, and then drag them on until they get what they believe are their eternal possessions back. If they are never made to pay the price in territory, there is no reason for them not to start a war again. If Syria will only negotiate if the Golan is still up for grabs, then the peace process will simply be a continuation of war by other means. WENDY DAVIS Nashville Sad relief Sir, - While the headline indicated that half of Israelis thought Yitzhak Rabin did what was right by entering into the Oslo process ("50% say Rabin was right on Oslo," November 9), I was relieved (in a sad way) to read on and learn that "an overwhelming majority of the Jewish public believes that, even if Israel evacuates all the territories beyond the Green Line... Palestinian violence will not stop and may even intensify." You can fool some of the people some of the time... LARRY WINNICK Modi'in Read the text Sir, - The report that the Saudis are holding firm to their vision of peace ("Saudis stick to terms of Arab peace plan," November 9) mentions the Saudi call for Israel's withdrawal to the 1967 lines. But it doesn't mention another key clause of the Saudi plan, the demand for the withdrawal from all lands taken by Israel in the 1948 war, under the absolute terms of the "right of return." In other words, not only do the Saudis demand the removal of all 121 Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and the removal of all 17 new Jewish neighborhoods pioneered in Jerusalem since 1967, but they also call for the return of all 531 Arab villages that were captured in 1948. Do the Saudis stick to the terms of the Saudi Peace Plan? Absolutely. Does anyone bother to read the text of the Saudi Peace Plan? Apparently not. DAVID BEDEIN Bureau Chief Israel Resource News Agency Jerusalem 'Active' monitors Sir, - How comforting to know that the "active monitoring" by EU personnel who will be stationed at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt will permit them to "look at computer screens [and] try to identify errors and omissions where the Palestinian inspectors did not follow proper procedure and did not properly check a bag..." Errors and omissions? In addition, EU staff would not "chase after someone who had avoided the metal detectors. That job would have to be done by the Palestinians" ("EU to have 'active' monitoring role at Rafah," November 9). The whole scenario stretches credulity. Why, if EU monitors carry out their duties properly, will anybody using the Rafah crossing be able to avoid the metal detectors in the first place? And if a Palestinian guard allows someone to avoid the metal detectors, what are the odds that guard will then run after the suspect? LEN WOLFISH Netanya Rate of return Sir, - Advertisements for financial investments which quote favorable rates of return for a given period are generally required to include a warning that past performance does not necessarily indicate future performance. With Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promising the residents of Beit Arieh that their settlement would always be part of Israel ("Beit Arieh won't be abandoned - Sharon, November 9), those residents should actually hope this type of warning, as applied to the prime minister, is true. On January 17, 2001, the top headline on page four of The Jerusalem Post read, "Sharon: I'll keep Gush Katif." We all know now that Sharon either didn't mean it, or changed his mind. Either way, his "rate of return" of land to the Palestinians is not likely to be what the residents of Beit Arieh would term "favorable." LOUIS WEIN Jerusalem Who knows? Sir, - Elliott Jager's response to the obtuseness of Vikram Seth regarding the Jewish state was very welcome ("Dear Vikram Seth," November 6). However, although he says Seth has adopted the Arab narrative in its entirety and is, apparently, unaware of Jewish civilization, Jager does not actually indicate what that civilization might be. I would point out that there are many Jews who know little of Jewish history, philosophy, etc; for whom the Jewish narrative is entirely persecution and Holocaust. So why should the non-Jews know anything different, especially when the overt manifestations of religion are currently so dubious? We have only ourselves to blame for being intellectually lazy. HELEN LEVENSTON Jerusalem Red alert Sir, - I picked up my Daily Telegraph on Wednesday morning to read that England was on red alert. Not surprising, I thought, with Paris burning just across the Channel, a major terrorist cell exposed in Australia and everything else that is going on in this age of al-Qaida. Reading the half-page story I learned the reds must be protected against the onslaught of greys, which are to be shot on sight if they enter a three-mile exclusion zone. But this is not about jihadists or rioting mobs. It was all about the squirrel population of the UK! It seems the British red squirrel has been driven almost to extinction by its American grey cousins, which are to be culled. In these times of turmoil, it's comforting to know that at least the British are not losing sight of the important things in life. ZALMI UNSDORFER London