December 25: Words, not war

The nations of the Middle East either talk to each other, or the world is looking at nuclear annihilation.

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
Words, not war Sir, - My Xmas wish has come true with the first steps in a positive direction, as demonstrated by Ehud Olmert's talk with the Palestinian leader ("Olmert agrees to release $100m. in PA tax revenue," December 24); the reformers doing well in the Iranian election, and the UN's proposal of sanctions on Iran. The nations of the Middle East either talk to each other, or the world is looking at nuclear annihilation. Hopefully, President Bush will begin meaningful dialogue with Iraq's neighbors as well. American troops remain common targets in Iraq's civil strife. They have done all they can do, and need to be redeployed immediately. PATRICIA RANNEY Millersville, Maryland How precious is a Jewish life? Sir, - So the life of Gilad Shalit, a boy the same age as my son who is currently serving in the IDF, has no fiscal value. Israel has just authorized the transfer of $100m. to a state-in-waiting under whose aegis Shalit has been held in unlawful captivity after his illegal abduction from sovereign Israeli territory. Both his abduction and his continuing incarceration are in flagrant contravention of a whole raft of conventions and charters signed by the UN and the Red Cross. Israel has confirmed to the radical Arab and Islamist mind-set that although we make a media fuss about how precious every Jewish life is, what we actually mean is that we're prepared to pay them without any gain whatsoever if only the perpetrators hold out long enough. So whose child will be kidnapped next, and how much ransom will Israel be prepared to pay the next time - without getting the kidnap victim home or even being given proof of life? How much longer will Israel pursue its policy of living by one set of rules while its opponents fail even to recognize the game, let alone the rules? And how much more vital leverage are we prepared to cede for the sake of an international photo-op? ("Posing for Bush and Blair," December 24) ILYA MEYER Swedish-Israel Friendship Society Gothenburg, Sweden Fine suggestion Sir, - Prime Minister Olmert may want to continue the fiction of a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza, but there should be consequences for Kassams fired at us. I suggest we "fine" the Palestinians $1 million and one sq. km. of land for each rocket fired into Israel. Unfortunately, I have no MK to whom to address this suggestion. DAVID FEIGENBAUM Netanya Holy wrong Sir, - In "'Iraq war has endangered Christians in the Middle East' - Archbishop of Canterbury visits Bethlehem, says suffering caused by Muslim anti-Christian sentiment exacerbated by construction of security barrier" (December 24), Rowan Williams voiced his distress at Israel putting up a barrier between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, but did not continue to say that without it more Islamic terrorists could have murdered more Jews. He blames the plight of the Christians on Israel; what about the plight of Christians in Somalia and Kenya, a predominantly Christian country? Islamists are killing Christians and want to instill Koranic law. All because of Israel, I suppose. CHRISTIAN VAN NIEKERK Johannesburg Sir, - I support Margery Feinstein (Letters, December 22), who wrote that "Giving Jimmy Carter so much publicity is feeding an overstuffed donkey... He insults us, and knows it. What he wrote is no surprise, just ugly and full of lies. Let's let it go now." By all means. The fuss will subside, as it always does. CHARLY AVITAL Herzliya Shticks aside Sir, - Michael Freund, writing "In praise of Christian Zionists" (December 22), proposes a roving Jewish ambassador to America's Christians, preferably a man of faith. I have the perfect candidate: Jackie Mason. Jackie is not only a great comedian, he is a former rabbi and is on the advisory board of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation. When speaking to Christian audiences, perhaps Jackie will tell one of his favorite jokes: "It's easy to tell the difference between Jews and Gentiles. After the show, all the gentiles are saying, 'Have a drink? Let's have a drink!' while all the Jews are saying 'Have you eaten yet? Let's have coffee and cake!'" Shticks aside, Jackie has a sophisticated understanding of the issues and loves Israel. He's my nominee! ELIZABETH LEIGHTON Charleston Israel 24 Sir, - On my Sky TV box I can see for 24 hours of every day: News from China, European News, Al Jazeera, News from Russia: Fox News and CNN, both from the US. I also have BBC 24 and Sky news. Isn't now a perfect time for Israel to have its own 24/7 news station? Europe and Britain would at last have the opportunity to hear Israel's side. As for funding, Steven Spielberg and Roman Abramovich could provide financing from their petty cash. A continuous news and documentary station would be such a feather in Israel's cap. All it needs is energy, and understanding of the importance of having one's opinion heard on the box. DAVID AARONS London Ambulance stress Sir, - I heartily endorse Yehudit Collins's "'Wait-and-see' disaster loom" (December 19). I myself have been in a position of emotional stress because of ambulance charges. Taking my late husband to the emergency room was not sufficiently traumatic; the demand for a large sum of money from the ambulance team added to my distress. Surely people do not take ambulances for joy rides? SHEILA BRULL Jerusalem 'My' jongg Sir, - "Well, what's so Jewish about mah jongg?" (December 24) was a delight to read and brought back memories for this great-grandmother going on 84. I was first introduced to this intriguing game when I came to Cleveland as a new bride in 1944. When the family got together the men played poker while the women got out the mah jongg. Over the years I bought each of my daughters a set, though they weren't as interested as I was. After I made aliya with my late husband I decided to start a group here. Some alert and bright seniors and I teach the game once a week at my house to a few others living nearby. We do not play for money, but pay a minimal amount, which goes to charity. As the article noted, we do talk about our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren - but still manage to get on with the game and have fun. I know many men who liked to play, so clearly age and gender are no problem. It's a great game. A. SYLVIA FEIGENBAUM Efrat Recalling Pnina Sir, - It was 1942 and I was a British soldier temporarily in Cairo. I found myself sitting in a large, crowded concert hall together with many of Her Majesty's forces, awaiting the appearance of Pnina Salzman, a young Jewish pianist from Palestine. She made her entrance, slim, dark-headed and attractive. As she sat herself down and started her solo performance, a wave of pride swept through me and I felt my long-time wish to get to Palestine rise once more. After many adventures I made it, in 1950, and through thick and thin am still here to share the sorrow at the departure of another Jewish icon, a gift to her people and the world at large ("Israeli pianist Pnina Salzman dies at 84," December 19). SAM LEVY Caesarea