August 8: Don't rest on miracles

Israel's aim was not to reshape the global order but to bring its kidnapped soldiers home.

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
US-Israel ties... Sir, - When he writes on Israel, Charles Krauthammer is one of the most insightful and supportive of columnists. But his latest effort missed the mark on a number of fronts ("What has Israel done for America lately?" August 7). First, he defines the US-Israel relationship in narrow "You give me now, and I'll give you a little later" terms. But our relationship with the US is built on a basis of common political and moral values. It is a long-standing friendship that cannot be confined within a one-time payoff. Secondly, Krauthammer misconceives the major Israeli goal in responding to the Hizbullah attack on Israeli soldiers. Israel's aim was not to reshape the global order but to bring its kidnapped soldiers home, and peace to its border. That it has not succeeded is a major source of concern, but apparently the problem of stopping short-range missiles has no quick, formula answer. Thirdly, Krauthammer is right in seeing the Iranian danger as the greatest one on both Israel's and the West's immediate horizon. But it is not by defeating Hizbullah that Iran will be stopped, rather by confronting Iran directly. There are many reasons why both Israel and the US are reluctant to do this. However, anyone aware of the position of US forces vis-a-vis Iran, and of the US strategic arsenal available, understands who can best do the job. This does not preclude the possibility that the rapidly ticking Iranian nuclear clock may yet require that Israel be the one to bring it to a halt. SHALOM FREEDMAN Jerusalem ...don't rest on miracles Sir, - Israel has always been exactly the kind of ally America needs and values. Just now we are under attack. We are doing our best to fight back, taking great care to minimize collateral damage to innocent civilians. Our citizens do not whine. We go it alone, without help; we do not hide our mistakes. Olmert is no Churchill - but our citizens do not require Churchillian oratory to keep up their morale. They go about their daily tasks with quiet courage. We may not have the ability to win a quick victory, and in fact we may in the end reach a stalemate with Hizbullah. But we will have stood our ground despite everything they threw at us, and we will have proved yet again that we are not like the Crusaders. We will not board ships and sail away. We cannot be removed, no matter how much our enemies may desire it. That is the lesson we will teach them, and it will be meaningful to them. Hopefully the Americans and other democracies around the world will draw the same conclusion and will cherish us for it. America needs like-minded and trustworthy allies, not miracle workers. ARNOLD KISCH Jerusalem Sir, - It's outrageous to imply we must fight this war on behalf of the US in order to revenge the 241 military killed 20+ years ago in Lebanon by Hizbullah. Charles Krauthammer, whom I have always admired, fails to understand that America is not doing much better in Iraq. Therefore it's the pot calling the kettle black! ALIZA WEINBERG Rehovot Screaming silence Sir, - After 15 dead in Israel Sunday from Hizbullah rockets aimed at civilian populations, there's been no word from the UN secretary-general ("Carnage at Kfar Giladi, devastation in Haifa," August 7). This silence speaks volumes. Had the victims had been Lebanese, I'm sure Kofi Annan would be following one condemnation of Israel with another. RICHARD GOTTLIEB Tucson, Arizona Worry about your own folk Sir, - I made aliya June 26 from New Jersey to start a life together with my Israeli fiance. As both an Israeli and American citizen I want to voice disappointment in the government's handling of this war. While Israel is dependent a lot on US support and has been influenced by world opinion, it is the foremost duty of a government to protect its citizens and spare nothing in doing so. It sadly seems that our government is more worried about possible casualties to our enemy's civilians in Lebanon than about protecting its own citizens from slaughter. Enough is enough - especially after the horrible casualties inflicted upon us this past weekend. This is a war, and the Lebanese people are responsible for the actions of their country and for giving control to Hizbullah. This cycle of war, cease-fire and war again must be stopped with the total destruction of Hizbullah. ROBIN BERGER Bat Yam Trance or trounce? Sir, - I have no military knowledge, only common sense, but I am afraid our leaders are in a trance. How is it we are still hearing about Bint Jbail and that Israeli soldiers are being sent to risk their lives in and around the town? Why has it not been totally destroyed to the depth of metres below ground surface? Can you imagine the result of four weeks of 1,000 missiles sent from Cuba into Florida? YEHUDA OPPENHEIM Jerusalem Friends Sir, - I am a poor man with medical problems that keep me from working, but I would proudly stand with the IDF and defend the great State of Israel as much as I would my own. ROBERT FRIEND Texas Sir, - I agree with Richard Joel Martel that much is hostile to Israel in the British press - but there are exceptions ("Right piece, wrong place," August 7). I would in particular draw his attention to a wonderful full-page article by Richard Littlejohn in the UK Daily Mail on August 3 entitled "The civilian casualties are awful, but Israel is fighting for its existence." We do have friends out there! HARVEY NYMAN Netanya Sir, - Hold your ground, Israel. I'm not a Jew, but I stand with you. You are doing the right thing. You have gone this far; stay the course and end it now. If not, you will have to go through it all over again. Israel has always shown it is strong. Finish the job for all Jews and all free people all over the world. KERRY SMITH Fort Wayne, Indiana Reconciliation Day Sir, - How about this dramatic and radical solution to the current bloody Middle East crisis: a "Middle East Peace and Reconciliation Day" on which Israel frees all Palestinian and Arab prisoners in its jails, without exception, in return for the safe return of all our kidnapped soldiers, as well as Ron Arad and the three from Sultan Yakoub; agreement with the US to include the freeing of Jonathan Pollard; and a mutual undertaking by all parties to cease hostilities? I am aware that such a scenario today seems like wishful thinking, but it may be what is needed to break the accumulated ice of decades of blind hatred, bring a fresh vision to the Middle East, and hopefully usher in a new era of peaceful coexistence, prosperity and development for all the people of Israel and the region. DAVID HERMAN Jerusalem Thank you, Nasrallah Sir, - Even with all our painful losses, thanks are due to Hizbullah's leader: • for bringing us Jews closer together; • for allowing us to host and care for fellow Jews; • for showing us the strength, courage, faith and determination of our sons; • for focusing our prayers; • for revealing the foundations of kindness that are the hallmark of our nation; • for allowing some of us to rethink the injustice we heaped on our brothers this time last year; • for reminding us of our true task in our homeland. And now that Nasrallah's purpose is fulfilled, may he exit the scene as did Bil'am. DANIEL BERELOWITZ Jerusalem 'At war'? Never Sir, - Your report on the World Jewish Congress's withdrawal of the $6 million libel suit against me quotes the WJC stating that it "takes Leibler at his word that he will cease his 'war' and other agitation against the organization and its leadership." In fact, the WJC was obliged to withdraw the libel action unconditionally. At no stage did I make any undertaking whatsoever to the WJC. Moreover, I was never at "war" with it. As a senior office bearer I called for good governance and financial transparency and defended myself against defamatory allegations. The subsequent investigation by the NY attorney-general corroborated my concerns and forced the chairman of the WJC Governing Board to step down for having breached his fiduciary duties as trustee of charitable assets and return substantial funds to the organization. It was pressure from the public and its own constituents (including the disaffiliation of the Australian Jewish community) that forced the WJC to retreat from this vindictive, ill-conceived libel suit. I hope that with a new leadership, and after implementation of the reforms prescribed by the attorney-general, the WJC will resume its former constructive role on behalf of the Jewish people. I have decided that all legal costs the WJC is obliged to pay me will be donated to Emunah-initiated programs for children traumatized by the war in the north. ISI LEIBLER Jerusalem And the trumpets shall sound Sir, - With the war going into the first month, it would seem we could use all the help we can get, especially from the source we should be turning to. God said: "And if you go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresses you, then you shall blow an alarm with the trumpets and you shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies." Numbers 10:8 and 10:9 read: "And the sons of Aharon, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets: and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever throughout your generations." Two silver trumpets are displayed in the Temple Institute in the Old City; we have kohanim who provide the priestly blessings - what is stopping us from doing what the Almighty has asked us to do? NITZA KOLB Jerusalem