December 26: Quid...

Will the Palestinians - or anyone else - consider the release of some of our prisoners as a good-will gesture for Hanukka?

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Quid... Sir, - So our government is going to consider whether to release Palestinian prisoners as a "good-will gesture" before the Muslim holiday of Id al-Adha. The obvious response is to ask whether the Palestinians - or anyone else - considered the release of some of our prisoners as a good-will gesture for Hanukka. ("PM orders review of prisoner releases before Shalit set free," December 25). M. VEEDER Netanya Sir, - Hizbullah won't tell the grieving parents of Israeli soldiers it is holding captive whether their sons are alive or dead. Hamas crossed a well-defined border into Israel to capture Gilad Shalit. This is not the time for further Israeli good-will gestures. Long overdue are good-will gestures by the Palestinians. A good start might be for them to live up to their agreements. MURRAY RUBENSTEIN Petah Tikva Sir, - Not one Palestinian prisoner should be released until our kidnapped soldiers are brought home. I am sure a referendum on this matter would show Israelis agreeing with me. MADALYN SCHAEFFER Jerusalem Sir, - I think Israel must be mad having a prime minister who gives the Palestinian Authority $100m. and gets nothing in return. They still hold our Cpl. Gilad Shalit hostage, and are still sending over Kassam rockets, with no let-up. What would happen if (God forbid) one of those rockets scored a direct hit on a school in Sderot? STANLEY KERSEN Herzliya Pituah ...quo Sir, - I had just finished reading your report of Olmert's $100m. gift to Mahmoud Abbas when the doorbell rang. It was my neighbor: Would I be prepared to donate money to her son's army unit for boots and winter fleeces? Charity begins at home. And to those who claim that this is the PA's own tax money, surely our government could legitimately deduct damages for the continued rocket attacks from PA territory. ZALMI UNSDORFER Jerusalem What's in a name? Sir, - Two of the three Israeli soldiers captured months ago by the Hamas and Hizbullah terror organizations carry the names of two of my sons, and whenever I hear the names Gilad and Ehud (Udi) my heart misses a beat. As an Israeli native, I realize that these boys could easily have been my own beloved children - an unbearable thought. Our Jewish sages teach that he who saves one soul is as if he had saved the entire world, and, accordingly, Israel is known to do everything in its power to save each and every one of its captives, often at the dear price of releasing many hundreds of Palestinians, who may very well return to harm the state and its people again. For Israelis, the mitzva of redeeming captives overrides any other consideration, and despite the oft-repeated statements that Israel will not negotiate with terrorists, this is what will happen now if we are to get our sons back alive. In times like these, those three soldiers - Eldad is the third - are everyone's sons. RACHEL KAPEN West Bloomfield, Michigan Grand illusion Sir, - Describing the situation in Gaza as a "cease-fire despite missile attacks" is like an abused woman saying, "When I'm not being beaten, things are fine." MOSHE DANN Jerusalem Sir, - Can't PM Olmert see that there is no cease-fire from the other side, only from ours, hardly deserving of $100m. and the dismantling of roadblocks? Both measures will make our situation worse. It seems that Jews are being sacrificed on the altar of the main aim - keeping Olmert in power at all costs. MAURICE STEINHART Jerusalem In bad company Sir, - Former US president Jimmy Carter has indeed crossed the line with regard to his feelings toward Israel - and toward US Jews as well. His remarks about American Jews occupying positions of monetary influence and power are no different from those of other notable residents of his home state of Georgia, including former governor Lester Maddux, who distinguished himself by standing outside his Atlanta restaurant with a baseball bat to keep blacks and "northern radicals" from entering. Carter has spent the last 25 years claiming to be a champion of human rights, including those of the Palestinians, whom he compares to the Tutsi tribe of Rwanda; but he seems to have misinterpreted the term. He claims the mass exodus of Palestinian Christians is due to Israeli oppression and not, as is the case, Muslim pressure from Hamas, or even PA groups like Fatah. The errors in Carter's book are such that even the most casual student of history can find them. Though he may be able to claim achievement for the 1978 Camp David Accords, which resulted in a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, the main political "event" during Carter's presidency was the hostage-taking of American embassy personnel in Teheran in 1979-80. He appears to be still trying to rehabilitate a term in office which ended the following year humiliatingly for both himself and his country ("Has Carter crossed the line?" Alan Dershowitz, UpFront, December 22). MAURICE PICOW Netanya UPZ called to account Sir, - Ben Harris's "Is tough love for Israel still love?" (December 22) about an Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) member that promotes campus programs harshly critical of Israel omitted some important information. The speakers sent by the Union of Progressive Zionism (UPZ) tell students that Israel must be brought to the International Court of Justice at The Hague to be tried for human rights abuses; claim Israelis regularly torment and abuse Palestinian Arabs by needlessly blindfolding them and inappropriately entering their homes; and call for "the continuation of the resistance to the occupation." "Resistance" is generally used as a euphemism for violence and murder of Jews. The article also didn't mention that several Hillel houses (Universities of Maryland and Wisconsin) have provided a venue for these talks, lending them even more credibility. The Zionist Organization of America also wants to make it clear that we are urging that the UPZ be removed from the ICC if it refuses to discontinue these anti-Israel programs that harm Israel's reputation and support on campus. After all, ICC's mission is to enhance Israel's reputation on campus, not ruin it. MORTON A. KLEIN National President, ZOA Julie Sager, Director ZOA Dept. of Campus Activities New York Damage control Sir, - I've been to Israel with my wife. I requested a trip by the Jewish National Fund to inspect the damage done to northern Israel by the recent war. Most of the damage had been cleared up and buildings repaired. A little-known fact was that asbestos was of great concern, emanating from the damaged buildings. That too had been cleaned up and buried. We met with some young Jews from all over the world who, after doing their basic training with the Israeli army, volunteered to cut down burnt trees resulting from Hizbullah rockets and replace them with new pine trees. (By the way, Israel found out that pine trees from Greece were of better quality than the trees they had been planting.) It will take 60 years to replace the damage done to Israel's forests and grazing areas, quite apart from the hundreds of forest fires maliciously started over the past years. I hope that American Jews will start to visit Israel and increase the tourist population. Not only does Israel need the money, Israelis need the moral support. LAWRENCE NESSMAN Wayne, New Jersey Argument for aliya Sir, - Wendy Mogel's "Why can't David and Rachel enjoy the Christmas glitz?" (December 17) made the best possible argument for American Jews to make aliya. Christmas celebrates the birth of the man called Jesus whom the Christians believe to be the Messiah and we Jews consider another false messiah, a belief for which we have been savagely persecuted for almost 2,000 years. Modern, glitzy America tends to secularize this holiday to the extent that its religious connotations are lost to many people. As an American-Israeli Jew, I thank the God of my forefathers for letting me avoid this mad Christmas hype by living in Israel, especially at this season. HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva