August 15: Crucial omission

The most crucial issue of the conflict is Palestinian acceptance of Israel's existence as a Jewish state in whatever borders might be finalized.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Crucial omission Sir, - When Gershon Baskin lists the "main issues of the conflict" in "Why Oslo really failed" (August 14), he misses the most crucial one: Palestinian acceptance of Israel's existence as a Jewish state in whatever borders might be finalized. This error is the fundamental basis for the failure not only of Oslo, but of all prior and subsequent attempts to "resolve the Arab Israeli conflict." By focusing on borders, territorial issues, Jerusalem, refugees, etc., we all pretend we're talking peace, when one side - or at least its leadership, whether Fatah, Hamas or others - is talking not coexistence, but temporary means of accommodation to an existing reality which it still aims to change (sometimes by force, in this case by negotiation). Until Palestinian leaders stop teaching their children that the Jews are usurpers in their land; that killing Jews is an acceptable - nay, admirable - means of protest and a means of reaching spiritual redemption; that Israel is an illegitimate entity… all talk of peace is meaningless. All my Palestinian friends agree with this, including Mr. Baskin's partner at IPCRI, Hanna Siniora. I suggest he include this critical issue in his next op-ed. ARYEH GREEN Beit Shemesh Sir, - Gershon Baskin: "There is no doubt that the leaders on both sides failed to find a positive and effective way of confronting the spoilers, the extremists and the killers on both sides." In other words, Baskin compares one Baruch Goldstein to 150 suicide bombers on the Palestinian side - ratio 1:150. This is what is wrong with Baskin's article; comparison of the incomparable. If one side is 1/151 - that is, 0.66 percent - responsible and the other is 150/151 - or 99.34 percent - responsible, why write "both sides"? MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC Beersheba In a democracy... Sir, - In a dictatorship, orders are orders; in a democracy there is dissent. A conscripted army is to protect the country from enemies. It cannot be used to serve a political party or a certain political ideology, even if this ideology is supported by a majority ("Orders are orders," Haim Watzman, August 12). PETER ARTON Kiryat Ono ...what democracy? Sir, - While in theory I have to agree with Haim Watzman that soldiers cannot choose which orders to obey and that a democracy provides the safety valve of the ballot box, what redress do citizens have when the government itself bypasses the democratic process - for instance, Yitzhak Rabin's bribery of two opposition members with cars and ministries in order to pass the Oslo Accord, or Ariel Sharon's blatant disregard of the "No evacuation" platform on which he was elected, his firing of everyone in his cabinet who did not agree with him, and his ignoring the results of a party referendum he himself arranged - in order to forcefully remove 10,000 people from Gush Katif? It seems to me that especially with the advent of the Kadima Party, which took power without having been voted into office, the democratic process has broken down because our political leaders disregard it. ARIEL BROCH Shadmot Mehola Key to the problem Sir, - The truck driver who was responsible for the death of a father and daughter had 195 recorded traffic violations. This information was retrieved by the simple pressing of a computer key. The most cost-effective and efficient way to help reduce the number of traffic accidents would be to press on that key and remove these monstrous violators from our roads. Why didn't the traffic police do it, or the several judges who dealt with these violations, or the successive traffic and police ministers? They were obviously very busy attending meetings and granting interviews. For want of a key another two innocent lives were lost ("Truck driver could face manslaughter charges," August 13). ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva Sir - Just south of the Poleg junction on the Haifa road there have been roadworks for some time. The road narrows; 60-km. speed limit signs are posted everywhere, plus "No Overtaking" for trucks, vans and buses. I'm an experienced driver, but I have to admit that each time I drive along that section I am almost scared to slow down - 100 km. continues to be the average speed there, with the usual overtaking on any and all sides, buses sometimes the fastest. If the authorities are not interested in educating and punishing, how about collecting heavy fines off every car ignoring the No Overtaking sign - including mine? STEPHEN POHLMANN Tel Aviv Sunday school Sir, - Re "Sunday school doesn't deter intermarriage, new US study finds" (August 10): Having been an on-line "referee" with Jews for Judaism for a number of years, I have interacted with countless Jews from just about every area, from the typical to the bizarre; and while it is my opinion that intermarriage is one of the primary causes of Jews leaving Judaism, I believe that the above study supplies only half the data. Given that the majority of the members of a Reform congregation are intermarried and a good percentage of them are not Jewish, it is unlikely that these Sunday schools condemn intermarriage. Children learn from what they see, and they see non-Jews being accepted as equals in the community, given aliyot at a bar mitzva and included and treated as community members. The more children are exposed to this attitude, the more likely they will not create any distinction. These Sunday schools also do day-trips to other places of worship. In Chicago, going to visit the Bahai Temple or Church is not uncommon, and photos of these trips are proudly displayed. Children are taught equivalency of religion. It is not that Jewish education causes assimilated Jews to intermarry, more that an education of Jews which emphasizes the sameness of non-Jews and Jews strengthens what assimilated Jews experience at home. An honest study would provide a breakdown of what is actually being taught in these Sunday schools. An addendum showing the number who remain Jews would also be worthwhile. ELIYAHU GROSSMAN Efrat Sir, - It is noteworthy that the Union for Reform Judaism has devised blessings for actions that defy the will of God. May we look forward to coming manuals that propose blessings for Sabbath desecration, adultery and eating lobster on Yom Kippur? FRED GOTTLIEB Jerusalem Author's query Sir, - For a biography of Commentary magazine (1945-present), I'd appreciate hearing from anyone with letters, documents, anecdotes or recollections. BENJAMIN BALINT Jerusalem Kudos Sir, - Please send my greetings to Yaniv Salama-Scheer. I found "What I learned from my father" (August 14) really beautiful, and it made you think a bit. Thank you for a great newspaper that for a very long time has been my absolute favorite! NIKODEMUS GALLEWICZ Sweden