Letters to the editor, November 17

Scary Sir, - Now that the intifada has resulted in the deaths of almost 1,100 Israelis, it is obvious that we can not allow an un"safe" passage from Gaza to Judea and Samaria ("Israel, PA agree to reopen Rafah crossing by Nov. 25," November 16). With the Jewish presence in the Gaza Strip removed, it is only fair and logical that the Palestinians not be allowed to enter Israel from Gaza, so the disengagement can be mutual and something good can come from it. Nevertheless, to find favor in the eyes of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israel has agreed to make progress on the passage from Gaza across Israeli territory. How scary! KALMAN FEDER Nof Ayalon Sir, - With the Rafah deal done we can now rest easy. We can trust the Palestinians not to bring weapons and explosives into Israel, right? Now Gaza will be free from danger, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be working hard at promoting peace and cooperation in the region. It seems there's only one small problem with all this in the eyes of these terrorist groups: Israel still exists! Too bad our dreams of peace will have to be put on hold as long as there's no change in that outlook. Sorry to disappoint Condoleezza Rice. ROBERT HARRIS Chicago Law not politics Sir, - Regarding "Supreme Court to hear PA terror liability lawsuits" (November 15), I hope the court will make a decision based on legal considerations and not one based on politics. It was pleasing to read that Israel's legal representatives for the cases wrote "The position of the attorney-general is that the PA does not meet the criteria of a state in accordance with international law." Earlier this year the PA declined to appear for a trial in a US court, citing immunity based on the presumption that it is a state. The US court came to a conclusion similar to that written by Israel's legal representatives here, declined the PA's immunity claim, and found the PA guilty in that case. The appeal judge upheld the decision and awarded damages, to be paid by the PA, for the death of a Jewish child in Israel. DOV KORET Givat Olga Pipes dreams Sir, - Daniel Pipes points out that it took a suicide bombing by al-Qaida in Amman, in which Palestinians were among the victims, to eke out a shift in views among Jordanians against al-Qaida's legitimacy as a "resistance organization" ("Unique learning opportunity," November 16). Pipes wonders if a similar change of heart might be forthcoming among the Palestinians as a result of this event. While I'm doubtful that those who are fanatical enough to strap on explosives and detonate them to destroy innocent people - and themselves - would avail themselves of the logic and sensitivity which Pipes hopes might dawn upon them, I cannot help but shake my head at the mammoth irony should any Palestinians be thus moved now. In such a case, we might actually have to thank al-Qaida for doing what Israel and the rest of the world has been unable to accomplish for years. Who'd have thought? LES MORELY Toronto Dear Bibi Sir, - The time has come for unity within the Likud ("Netanyahu rejects calls to quit race," November 15) and so I am writing an open letter to Binyamin Netanyahu. Dear Bibi, I am a Likud member and have voted for Herut/Likud since making aliya in 1968, and for you personally many times. However, now is not the time to challenge Prime Minister Sharon for the party's leadership. A clear danger to Israel's democracy has emerged: Amir Peretz. It is up to you to make the choice not to split the party and endanger the country's future. It's not yet your time (don't worry it will come). We need Arik the "bulldozer" for now to defeat Peretz. JEROME WEBBER Ramat Gan Simplistic... Sir, - I think Yoram Peri's "The metro-retro divide" (November 15) was simplistic. First he layed down the definition of the two terms, with "metro" meaning humanist, universal, Israelis, and "retro" meaning religious, nationalist, Jews. Then he backtracked and admitted that no individuals, including himself, really fit neatly into the these categories. The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was tragic. But in the United States, after a real civil war, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and America lived on as a united country. Several other assassinations were attempted and carried out in the US, yet it became the world's only superpower. So where is the special danger for Israel that Peri sees symbolized by Rabin's death? One can love Rabin and his legacy, but reject Peri's pessimism about our culture war. MENDEL MENDELSON Jerusalem ...solution Sir, - Applying Yoram Peri's criteria for defining "retros" and "metros," one could substitute the terms Zionist and anti-Zionist for them respectively. Israel was established as a "Jewish state," a refuge for all Jews when needed, in the context of remembering Amalek and its successors. If his description of the cultural schism is accurate, the "metros" will likely emigrate eventually to countries where the values they wish to emulate are more central, while the "retros" will choose to stay here. Perhaps, in the long run, this will solve the kulturkampf. TUVIA MUSKIN Rehovot Fill in the blank Sir, - Yoram Peri noted that in Israel "we actually have a political party set to run in the next elections on a platform supporting removing a section of central Israel - where hundreds of thousands of people were born and continue to live - because they are _______..." Fill in the blank. If your choice, like Peri's, was "Arabs," then you must be a "metro." But I must be a "retro" because I thought it would be "settlers." CHANI HADAD Nof Ayalon It's Israel's pull Sir, - The article "More Brits mulling aliya" (November 15) misleadingly suggests that anti-Semitism is the catalyst for this growth. Aliya from the UK has traditionally been largely for ideological reasons. The high proportion of British youth that visit Israel with youth movements on UJIA-Israel Experience programs is often the start of the process that leads to aliya. In addition, young families, dismayed by the lack of options for a decent Jewish education in Britain, have found appropriate frameworks in Israel instead. "Telecommuting" allows olim to bring "portable" jobs, and their salaries in pounds, with them, while the strong pound helps pensioners retire here with a high standard of living. While UK Jewry is awakening to the growing undercurrent of anti-Semitism there, the majority of aliya is still the result of Israel's pull. NEIL GILLMAN Aliyah Counsellor UJIA Israel Aliyah Department Jerusalem What about LaGuardia? Sir, - Although quite interesting, Samuel G. Freedman's "Three Jewish mayors" (November 16) neglected the fact that Fiorello Henry LaGuardia's mother was Jewish, making LaGuardia New York's first Jewish mayor. While LaGuardia did not practice Judaism, that does not change his status. He was elected mayor in 1934, only two years after Herbert Lehman was chosen governor, so the sub-headline, "New York State elected a Jewish governor and senator long before NYC chose its first Jewish mayor," would be more accurate if "long" was omitted. RICHARD A. ROSEN Jerusalem Keeping a kippa Sir, - As a former New Yorker who settled in Israel 35 years ago, I am still interested in "Big Apple" politics. Thus I enjoyed reading Samuel G. Freedman's piece. I have noticed an interesting difference between New York City politicians and their peers in Israel. In NYC, the mayor - even a non-Jew, like William O'Dwyer - would always carry a kippa in his pocket, probably as a courtesy to his Jewish fellow citizens. Not so among Jewish Israeli politicians. Here, unless you are Orthodox, you keep your kippa in a drawer and don it only for synagogue-based occasions. EDWARD HOLTZMAN Tiberias