August 16: Make MIAs a priority

The stage for abandoning Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev was set in 1982, when the IDF and the Israeli government abandoned the Sultan Yakoub MIAs.

Make MIAs a priority Sir, - The stage for abandoning Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev was set in 1982, when the IDF and the Israeli government abandoned the Sultan Yakoub MIAs Zvika Feldman, Yehuda Katz and Zecharia Baumel. Just as the seeds of Europe's downfall were set at Munich, the seeds for the emasculation of the IDF were planted in Sultan Yakoub. It is not too late for the nation to demand that the IDF live up to its tradition of not leaving a wounded soldier in the field of battle. We cannot cut corners. Every soldier who fights to preserve our way of life must know that the entire nation, the entire army, stands behind him. When these recent IDF soldiers were abducted we remained quiet. We did not want to interfere in any way with their swift return. Now that it is clear they have joined the ranks of those left behind, we call upon the families who send their loved ones to the IDF to demand that the return of all the missing soldiers be given top priority. These past 24 years we have continued receiving information that at least some of the Sultan Yakoub MIAs are still alive. The court has denied the IDF's request to declare them dead. The MIAs' parents are getting older and weaker. It is time for the people to stand up and demand that the IDF supply at least closure to the families ("Olmert appoints Dekel pointman on kidnapped soldiers," August 15). YONA BAUMEL Jerusalem Wise children Sir, - What do you tell your children about this war? ("Talking war with a 10-year-old," August 13.) If you teach your children to love God and learn His word, they will understand the world around them. As children King David and Samuel understood this world better than those who didn't know the God of Israel. Herb Keinon's child may teach him as these two taught those around them. PAUL DAVID SWINFORD Geneseo, Illinois Sir, - I take offense at the implication that Israeli children are more menschlich, and Diaspora children "spoiled brats" ("Little menschen," Letters, August 15). You don't raise yourself up by putting someone else down. SHARI BLOK Jerusalem Peace Sir, - As a Lebanese citizen and a student, I announce to the citizens of Israel without any reservation: Let this be the beginning of peace between us. Let the moderates of both societies reach a compromise that will allow each of us to live securely, and peacefully, side by side. I am a pious reader of and look up to its high standards of journalism. Some day I would like to come to Israel and pick up a printed copy of your paper. YASMINE NSOULI Beirut Sir, - No leader or president, no matter how big, can give you peace. You have to show each other, and your leaders, that you want and demand peace. I encourage you to do two things: Light two candles and place them close together in your window. Young people of Israel and Palestine, go into the streets, meet by the wall and in open places, and play and sing the Beatles' "Let it be." Remember, only you, the people, can make peace. SVEN POVLSEN Farum, Denmark Going, going - gone? Sir, - I absolutely agree with Caroline Glick that "The Olmert government must go" (August 15). There is already word that Hizbullah is infiltrating trucks containing weapons and men among the refugees returning to South Lebanon. They are clearly regrouping for the next round, as has been predicted. Regarding international forces, have we not learned enough from when Jerusalem was divided under UN auspices; and has the Philadelphi fiasco with Egypt already been discounted? Israel's existential crisis, precipitated by ignorance, stupidity, or worse, must stop. Either the present government goes, or Israel will "go" in the next weeks, months or years. DAPHNE BURDMAN Jerusalem Israel didn't fail Sir, - I have become increasingly incensed about the constant repetition of Israel's "failure" in this war. Israel did not fail, and anyone who says it did is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The only failure was a political one, a government that seemed to have no clear purpose throughout the five weeks ("A non-victory for a non-war," August 15). The beginning pronouncement that we would stop only when our kidnapped soldiers were released was patently ridiculous because we knew from recent experience that Hizbullah would never release the soldiers as a result of military action. Our brave soldiers and citizens in the North not only withstood everything Hizbullah threw at them but demanded that the government finish the job and not kowtow to the US and the UN. Assuming Olmert knew retaliation wouldn't get the soldiers released, what was its purpose? If it was to show no crime goes unpunished, the initial wave of air bombardment would have been enough without involving the ground troops. If it was to have an excuse to recreate the security zone in order to stop the rocket attacks, he should have let the army finish the job. The waffling this past week was pitiful and demoralizing for the troops, and the order to go in when it was known that the cease-fire would be approved and Israel would follow the US directive was a criminal waste of many fine soldiers during this last weekend of fighting. I hope that in the future our government can exhibit the same resolute belief in its vision as our citizens and soldiers demonstrated this month. LEESA F. GOREN Petah Tikva Sir, - Don't scapegoat Ehud Olmert. He's neither better nor worse than all the others. You just take the problem by the wrong end. More military power will not make Israel more secure. The only way is to negotiate with your enemies, to give up your "Eretz Israel" dream, leave all your settlements, respect the internationally accepted 1967 boundaries. It's hard for you? Of course, but there is not another price for peace. If after this, you continue to receive rockets or suicide bombers, OK, attack! ("The countdown for Olmert has begun," Anshel Pfeffer, August 14). BERNARD MARCHOIS Couternon, France The media war Sir, - When I read that foreign press spokeswoman Miri Eisen thinks "Israel [is] not losing [the] media war" (August 13) I became a bit worried. She is separated from the realities of the situation. We have a media fairness group, and the Israeli embassy here knows about our work to help bring accuracy and fairness to mass media reporting on the Middle East conflict. Our group can provide some useful information on how to help reduce media distortions, lies and incitement against Israel. Freedom of the press? Only a press which reports accurately and fairly is free. Anyone isolated from what's happening in public opinion and the mass media in Europe won't succeed. But an understanding of how exactly to help the press become more fair and accurate will get good results. JOEL GLASS Tampere, Finland Help from heaven Sir, - If Israel could turn to God for help He would interween for Israel again, but Jews and Christians alike forget and make the same mistakes all over again. We Christians have to do what the word of God says: Bless Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and let God be the judge. BJ RG HOLST Durban Biological wills when life is finite Sir, - I read Yael Wolynetz's article on biological wills with some concern ("Hundreds of soldiers sign over rights to sperm if they die," August 10). Sad as it is at this present time, we as a people must accept that life is finite. The need of a mourning family to prolong and preserve the memory of their loved one by using his sperm must be balanced against the equally important necessity for the bereaved to grieve, mourn and accept that life is finite. With the end of life comes the end of procreation. The pressure of a bereaved family to have a child via their deceased son may be unfair to the widow or girlfriend, who needs to overcome her grief and move on with her life. Is it fair to a child to be born in such tragic circumstances? The moral and ethical issues are complex. NOEMIE LOPIAN Manchester, UK Grammatically... Sir, - What a pleasure in these depressing days, when little joy is to be gained from the press, to read Judy Montagu's op-ed about English grammar ("It's a sad, bad time for purists," August 14). Especially as, like myself, she is actually pained by incorrect grammar. One aspect of the need to be taught grammar at school which she didn't mention is the necessity to understand at least the basic grammatical structures if one is to study a foreign language. A painful memory from our early days in this country, while studying Hebrew in ulpan, is the boredom suffered and time wasted while basic grammar rules and terminology were laboriously explained, in Hebrew, to our - sorry! - otherwise intelligent North American classmates, none of whom had any concept of the passive, infinitive, or any other rule of grammar. I sincerely hope that grammar has been reinstated in the American school syllabus. LOLA S. COHEN Jerusalem ...speaking Sir, - Judy Montagu correctly pointed out several areas in which native speakers of the English language frequently err. I would add the near-pathological avoidance of object pronouns (mostly "me"), resulting in such horrific phrases as "between he and I." I take issue, however, with her laying the blame at the feet of Americans, who today represent the vast majority of native English speakers. I read and hear plenty of problems in modern British English, including "I was sat there," and the inability to distinguish between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses ("that" and "which"). I should mention that, more and more, I hear native Israelis say things in Hebrew that in ulpan I was specifically instructed are wrong (like the ubiquitous and incorrect "biglal she"). So perhaps the problem is less with Americans and more with the evolving nature of language itself, probably the world over. SHARON DEITCH Jerusalem