December 28: A step up

I didn't think I would see the day when I congratulate the PM on doing something smart.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A step up Sir, - I didn't think I would see the day when I congratulate the PM on doing something smart, but his latest move is a step up. The other side has been continuing its rocket attacks whilst claiming to be observing the cease-fire. Now we are going to resume attacks on Kassam launchers while claiming the same thing ("Kassams wound Sderot boys," On-Line Edition, December 27). Isn't politics wonderful! It merely remains to be seen whether outside commentators will be as willing to accept our version of the cease-fire as they have been to accept the Palestinians'. MAURICE STEINHART Jerusalem Talk to the Syrians Sir, - Why does the prime minister seem to think it better to enter negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas, the weakened Palestinian president, and reject trying to sit down with the Syrians? Entering negotiations would not only give hope of reducing the chances of war in the north, but would potentially have side benefits: weakening the "axis of evil" and cutting off arms to Hizbullah, as well as closing down Hamas's offices in Damascus and possibly weakening that organization - laying the groundwork for strengthening people like Abbas. We could condition any land swap on those two benefits; it certainly wouldn't hurt! By rejecting Syria's calls for direct negotiations our prime minister is giving Bashar Assad ammunition to say we're the "rejectionists" and legitimize the possibility of a war everyone knows he is preparing for ("The way to approach talks with Syria," Efraim Inbar, December 22). JAY ZUCKERMAN Oranit Shun 'em Sir, - Much has been made of the atrocious behavior of some Jews dressed as rabbis who attended the recent Holocaust "conference" in Teheran, and of how their behavior brought the Jewish people into disrepute in the eyes of a bemused world. However, little notice has been taken of groups here in Israel who, although not personally involved, pester the Supreme Court with demands that undermine Israel's safety by attacking the IDF and its commanders. The IDF is trying to protect all Israelis - as well as the livelihoods of those in Judea and Samaria - from the attacks of terrorists hiding behind civilians. Those groups' who threaten to take their spurious cases to the international court - which would delight in castigating Israel - should be taken seriously as they threaten officers and others in the IDF traveling abroad with arrest and trial in unsympathetic overseas courts ("Peace Now slams 'scandalous' Justice Ministry response to its complaint," December 27). Like the Teheran conference attendees, they should be shunned. CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh Silence is approval Sir, - Bubacarr Sankanu of the International Islamic Institute of Peace and Geopolitical Studies in Cologne expresses the hope of many of us: that most Muslims would rather live peacefully in this world than try to subjugate it by brutal force ("Islam, accurately," Letters, December 27). However, his lament - "Worst of all, the silent majority (of Muslims) is being subjected to collective punishment as Islam and its symbols are, for dubious reasons, associated with violence" - is misplaced. September 11, 2001 was not a day of "unfortunate events" but of a vicious attack, the attempted murder of 50,000 civilians and the actual murder of almost 3,000. If those Muslims opposed to such violence are indeed a silent majority, then their silence is just what deserves punishment. Muslims worldwide have demonstrated their ability to speak up loudly on other topics, so it is not unreasonable to equate silence with approval. I hope the sentiment Mr. Sankanu expresses is an early step in the right direction, the next one being to tell it like it is to his fellow Muslims, too many of whom still seem to entertain the fantasy that it wasn't Muslims who carried out those attacks in the first place. That fantasy is not coincidental: It allows them to be silent and still sleep at night. JACOB GORE Denver, Colorado Carter & King Sir, - Once again Shmuley Boteach has jumped in where there is no need. Now he's explaining "Why Jimmy Carter is not an anti-Semite" (December 27). But what difference does it make? Who cares? Carter was a lousy president and he hasn't learned much since being unceremoniously bounced out by Ronald Reagan. He has two good things going for him - he helps build houses for people who can't build their own, and Larry King seems to like him. Other than that, I can't think of any reason to treat him as if he were important. LEONARD ZURAKOV Netanya To clarify Sir, - "Watchdog group questions WJC appointment" (December 26) incorrectly stated that Ambassador Oded Eran was unilaterally appointed by the WJC's New York-based secretary-general. The ambassador was appointed to serve as the WJC's representative in Israel by the Steering Committee of the World Jewish Congress, which is comprised of the WJC's senior elected lay leaders and the chairman of each of its five regional branches. STEPHEN E. HERBITS Secretary General World Jewish Congress New York The wonder goes on Sir, - I've added Barbara Sofer's "Jerusalem, the wondrous" (UpFront, December 8) to her "56 reasons why I love Israel" (April 29). I have never been to Israel, but fell in love with the nation back in 1968, when I learned about the war, the Labor Party and kibbutzim. Now even a friend who lives in Jerusalem proclaims that Zionism is dead. But the wonder goes on - of a city and a nation, formed by the Almighty, that cannot be destroyed. Thanks to Ms. Sofer for emphasizing the positive, a trait journalists often fail to display. BARBARA F. CODY Williamsport, Pennsylvania Bethlehem parade Sir, - Bethlehem's Christmas parade is supposed to commemorate the coming of the Prince of Peace. But there were signs of the opposite: Rivalry between two pipebands caused a small riot; drums were smashed and flagpoles broken; bottles were used as missiles in an area where there were children. In a city where Christians feel oppressed by their Muslim and Jewish neighbors, solidarity within their own community seemed fragile. Paradoxes abounded. The people I met took great pride in their charity toward me, yet felt it necessary to become aggressive with others to uphold their honor. The way the Latin patriarch was welcomed into the city was almost a metaphor for the situation: Thousands of Catholics turned out to welcome him; however, the potential for violence was never far away as he was accompanied by two 4x4's with machine guns pointing out of every window. J RG LUYKEN Jerusalem 'What a relief!' Sir, - In response to "'Sorry - can't hear you,'" (Letters, December 27) on the idea of noise-level monitors: All wedding halls are now required to install noise-level meters, including a mechanism that automatically shuts off the electricity to the music system - not the entire hall! - if the decibel levels get too high. This new regulation has been incorporated in the Ministry of Interior's business license laws, making it a basic condition for receiving or renewing a wedding hall's license, on the same level as fire, sanitary and security standards. GERSHON HARRIS Business License Dept. Local Council Hatzor Haglilit