April 15: Bethlehem? No, thanks

If I go to Bethlehem, though it is the birthplace of Jesus, I make a statement that it’s okay to be there.

Bethlehem? No, thanks
Sir, – As an active Israeli tour guide I am absolutely, 100-percent opposed to going into the Palestinian Area A to visit Bethlehem (“Will Israeli tour guides be allowed to lead tours to Bethlehem?,” April 14). Why should Jewish Israeli guides like myself put ourselves at risk?
Like Ariel Stolar, I see myself as an ambassador, an ardent Zionist, showing countless thousands of people our lovely land. If I go to Bethlehem, though it is the birthplace of Jesus, I make a statement that it’s okay to be there. When I don’t go, as it is against the law, I’m saying it’s not okay.
The pilgrims sometimes come back across the border to me in tears. Bethlehem is now so run-down, and they are happy to come back to the land of the free and the brave.
    HELA CROWN-TAMIR     Neve Ilan
An unacceptable risk
Sir, – I was bemused and angry with Bernard Avishai’s article “Israel’s Pentagon Papers” (April 13). He takes some barely disclosed information regarding the theft of 2,000 pages of secret documents and concocts a twisted fantasy.
He quotes a Canadian sociologist who has researched suicide bombers and lists this as a reason to justify the theft of massive amounts of top secret military material. He then goes on to quote an article accusing our young soldiers of “lacking the courage” to steal and offer their findings to the press.
What sort of delusional world does Avishai live in? Our young soldiers do not lack courage. On the contrary, they are dedicated people who have pledged their loyalty to the state.
The quoted article further accuses Ehud Barak, Shaul Mofaz, and Moshe Ya’alon of perpetuating “the big lie” that Yasser Arafat planned the intifada, when clear evidence of that fact is available – including Arafat’s minister of information, who announced that Arafat did indeed plan the second intifada even before the Camp David negotiations with Barak.
Avishai weaves an article to justify the serious theft of highly sensitive secrets by Anat Kamm and the refusal of reporter Uri Blau to return them. Has he any sense of the danger to our country if any of the disks or documents were to fall into the hands of our enemies? Is he not aware of the risk to us all if such sensitive military information is used against our soldiers?
    BARRY SHAW    Netanya
Where is the outcry?
Sir, – How many innocent Afghanis will be murdered by US troops before the world comments (“Anger mounts in Afghanistan as US troops kill four people on civilian bus,” April 14)?
    JUDY GOLDIN     Kiryat Ono
The spirit of education
Sir, – People with disabilities can indeed be “independent, intelligent, funny, or just plain superficial and obnoxious” (Embrace the fear of sounding like an idiot, April 13). However, the spirit of education is not to want to punch people in the face for being ignorant or asking ridiculous questions.
The spirit of education is helping ignorant people, through patience and understanding, to overcome their own imperfections – their lack of knowledge, awareness and sensitivity about disabilities and the challenges faced by disabled people. The spirit of education is encouraging  people to visit the Dialogue in the Dark and Invitation to Silence exhibits at the Holon Children’s Museum. The spirit of education is indeed encouraging people to get to know disabled people and learn more about them than the maximum speed of their chair.
But the spirit of education is also engaging in a mutually respectful dialogue.
I am sorry, Ms. Barker, that you are disabled. And no, I don’t know what it’s like to be unable to walk; being significantly hearing-impaired is difficult enough. And I am sorry that Israelis are no less ignorant than Americans. But it is unlikely that we will become more enlightened about disabilities when faced with a hostile attitude.
    YEHUDA NEUMARK    Ma’aleh Adumim
We’ve drifted apart
Sir, – Over the past several weeks, I have been scouring The Jerusalem Post online in search of news and opinions that could put the current politics of the Israeli government into a context that I – a Jew living in the USA and born to a Holocaust survivor – could understand and support. It’s just not happening.
I am saddened by the reluctance of the Netanyahu government to come to terms with realities that would stabilize Israel’s place in the region and the world (“Netanyahu’s pullout from nuke summit draws spotlight,” April 13). I am insulted by the repeated assertions in the press that there is no alternative to the Israeli viewpoint and that the rest of the world will (eventually) come around to seeing things your way. I resent supporting the perpetuation of these self-delusions with my tax dollars, and I abhor the manipulation of my nation’s politics by interests of outsiders who do not have my nation’s best interests at heart.
I have been to Israel – you cannot hold ignorance of the land against me. I have been in the military – you can’t scare me with stories of might or right. I have visited the places where my ancestors were murdered, as well as many other places in the world – your supposed beacon and safe haven does not shine for me, as I have seen better with my own eyes.
As I child, I spent many hours collecting for Trees for Israel and Magen David Adom. To ask me to involuntarily support your defense and stubbornness with time and money makes me wince.
Unfortunately what Israel has become today has helped do something that no Nazi, no anti-Semitism and no Muslims have been able to do: It has completed my assimilation. My children are Americans first. My priorities no longer coincide with yours. Like old friends who have drifted apart – it was nice knowing you, but we just don’t have the same old spark anymore.
    ANDREW WILLIAMS     Chicago
Hanania’s peace plan
Sir, – Ray Hanania is living in a fantasy world (“A peace plan Obama might embrace,” April 14). A “peace” plan can only be implemented if it is viable, and his clearly is not. There are too many absurd points to mention, but just to name a few: 
• “Jews wishing to remain in Palestine could do so and retain Israeli citizenship for voting purposes, but they must abide by Palestinian laws.” The problem was never about Jews keeping their citizenship, but always about Jews living among or near large Palestinian populations. There is no way the Palestinians would allow Jews to live in any of their towns or cities. Even if the law stated that they could do so, the Jews would rightfully fear for their lives on a daily basis. On the other side, the Arab population of Israel can pretty much live wherever they choose in this country, and almost never have to fear for their lives.
• An underground subway linking the West Bank and Gaza? I certainly hope no medieval Muslim cemeteries are disturbed during this construction!
• Is it really the “Jewish extremists” who are the root of all the violence?  How many Jewish extremists are there versus Arab extremists? Who outnumbers who? Does Mr. Hanania realize that the entire Gaza strip is run by “extremists” now?
I'm also curious to know how many Israelis he has met who supposedly agree with him that this plan is “doable.” Maybe from America, it looks nice, but from here, it doesn’t.
    CHANA PINTO    Ra’anana
Sir, – The gap between Palestinians and Israelis is getting wider andwider. Yet we keep dreaming of peace. We look back to when peace waspossible; we were digging trenches. We look to the future; it is simplya bad situation, and we are not doing anything to make it better.
We have a new option, however. US President Barack Obama might impose asettlement on us. Either he will chicken out, or he will say, if youdon’t care, I don’t, either.
We keep dreaming, forgetting in the meantime that we have an obligationto our children and their children. It is time that we face reality andthink and mean peace, because it is our duty to plant the seeds ofpeace, not war and hatred.