August 1: Distorted Reasoning

Attempting to show equivalence in the violence perpetrated by parties on opposite sides of a conflict may result in presenting unacceptable and at times distasteful ideas.

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
Distorted reasoning
Sir, – Attempting to show equivalence in the violence perpetrated by parties on opposite sides of a conflict may result in presenting unacceptable and at times distasteful ideas. In his latest column, Larry Derfner falls into this trap (“One man’s terrorist...,” July 29).
Many of the points Derfner makes need to be answered and criticized.
First, dismissing the claim by Sarah Agassi, that the occupants of the King David Hotel were warned of the impending blasts a half hour before the event, as not being meaningful and perhaps not true is totally unacceptable.
The veracity of the claim has been established and the time given for the occupants to leave was sufficient to have prevented most, if not all, the fatalities.
Moreover, the target was a military headquarters, and the warning was to ensure protection for civilians working in the area.
How does this compare with the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics? How do the warnings given by Etzel compare with the failure by Gazan terrorists to warn about impending rocket fire? Derfner graciously accepts that Menachem Begin should be regarded as the most beloved leader in Israeli history. He then complains that we are outraged when the Palestinians, beginning with their leaders, eulogize Muhammad Oudeh, who planned the Munich massacre, or name a square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, leader of the Coastal Road bus hijacking that killed 37 Israelis.
By applying his distorted reasoning, he would presumably feel that we should be concerned that streets in most of our cities, as well as our international airport and a prominent university, are named after the only leader in Israeli history to have ordered troops to fire on fellow Jews coming to help in defense of the new state. But unlike those who only find fault with so-called right-wingers, we are happy to pay full respect to the first leader of our country.
Larry Derfner notes: I didn’t write that Begin “should be” regarded as Israel’s most beloved leader, only that he is, and I wasn’t being gracious. Rather, I was trying to show that Israel venerates its ex-terrorists, too.
Sir, – Terrorism is not a freely used journalistic term, but a legally defined concept. As such, it always concerns attacks against noncombatant civilians. With all due respect, blowing up the King David Hotel does not fall into that category.
At the time, the hotel was used as the British military headquarters in Palestine. 
There are many things to discuss or question, primary among them whether the number of “collateral” victims was worth it. On the other hand, Palestinian terrorists practically always attack civilian targets.
Sir, – In Palestine, the British did all they could to sabotage our state-in-the-making. Anything we did to stop them was legitimate. It was a fight for our survival.
War is war, Mr. Derfner. We will not go quietly and politely and without counter-aggression, no matter how rude you think we are.
Distilling the essence
Sir, – Rabbi Emanuel Feldman’s op-ed piece “Conversions of convenience or conversions of commitment?” (July 29) is the most lucid, cogent discussion of the issue I have seen. He distills its essence and easily discards the expediency of politics.
Conversion is an admittance to what is eternal about the Jew.
Cohesion to that eternity is the only validator. Amen.
Stone Please! Not coal!
Sir, – Today, as the world goes green, Israel’s Uzi Landau wants Israel to take a step backwards (“Landau: Coal-fired power plant in Ashkelon is merely responsible decision,” July 29).
Coming from Yorkshire, England, and seeing the ecological damage caused by coal power in my childhood, and later as a biologist, I couldn’t believe the naivety of this country when it was decided to use coal for the Caesarea power plant. It is a total disgrace to repeat the same mistake twice.
Israel itself carried out many surveys as to which fuel to use, and coal was definitely eliminated by the reports. Coal power is detrimental to the health of the population living nearby. We have several alternative sources of cleaner power and we do not need to wait long to implement them.
I understand that local employment is a factor, as is speed.
However, this does not warrant the criminal pollution of our country. Is it because the Ofer brothers are wielding their power as they supply the transportation for the coal? This shameful state of affairs is supported by Minister Landau, whom we have always considered an honest and caring man. I have written him and asked him to reconsider.
Learn and understand
Sir, – Is there no end to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s stupidity? He complains bitterly about Israel’s blockade of Gaza but makes no mention whatsoever of Egypt’s (“In Ankara, Cameron slams Israel for flotilla raid, conditions in Gaza,” July 28).
I think Cameron would agree that if Eire were lobbing 2,000 deadly rockets a year on London, he might be prompted to do something about it or lose his job as prime minister within weeks. That is democracy at work.
But what of Egypt? The Palestinians are Egypt’s brother Muslims and the Egyptians are not being attacked at all, so why are they intent on starving the people of Gaza? Their crime is a hundred-fold worse. Why no condemnation of Egypt? Egypt actively participates in the blockade of Gaza because the Egyptian aristocracy and political elite fear the fundamentalist Islam of Hamas every bit as much as do the Israelis. If Hamas got a toehold in Egyptian society, the Egyptians would lose everything.
Learn and understand, Mr. Cameron, learn and understand.
Knutsford, Cheshire, UK
It’s all relative
Sir, – Ray Hanania (“Good news is hard to come by,” July 28) is spot on – good news is hard to come by from the Palestinian side. Hanania could only celebrate the fact that the Palestinians have not (yet) built a monument to the Libyan terrorist who brought down Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie.
Maybe it’s because they are so busy naming streets and squares, sports events and schools after their own terrorists that they haven’t yet gotten around to glorifying other nations’ murderers.
Is this really the only good news we Israelis can celebrate from the Palestinians? Hanania could not mention one practical Palestinian step toward peace with us. The Palestinians can’t even bring themselves to enter a negotiating room with us.
Hardly good news if you are an Israeli, Ray.
Apology would have been a start
Sir, – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu just met with King Abdullah of Jordan (“PM in surprise visit to Jordan to get king behind talks,” July 28). I hope they discussed the Hurva Synagogue as it was in all its glory before the Jordanian army demolished it to the very ground over 60 years ago.
It is a sad day to remember how the Jordanians destroyed a beautiful house of worship.
It would have been an act of reconciliation, sensitivity and justice had the king begged for a pardon from the Jewish people for this act of wanton destruction.