December 3: Strange blindness

Any fair observer will be aware of the revulsion felt in Israel - by its military, citizenry, media and judiciary - regarding the deaths of civilians by Israeli military action.

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
Strange blindness Sir, - Louise Arbour, the UN's top human rights official, has had a distinguished career as an activist on behalf of human rights. She is undoubtedly intelligent and gives the impression of trying to be fair-minded. However, when speaking about the Arab-Israeli conflict she resorts to casuistry. Arbour insists that there is very little difference in the degree of culpability whether deaths are caused by the clear intent of Palestinians to kill civilians, or are the result of Israel's "reckless" behavior despite its manifest determination to avoid civilian casualties. Arbour completely misunderstands and misuses the word "reckless," which is defined as being "utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action." Any fair observer will be aware of the revulsion felt in Israel - by its military, citizenry, media and judiciary - regarding the deaths of civilians by Israeli military action. The unfortunate truth is that Israel is faced with a ruthless and implacable enemy which places a higher value on shahidism than on human life ("Standing up for the victims," November 30). ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikava Practically speaking Sir, - In "Bulldozing the rule of law" (November 30) Gershom Gorenberg makes the excellent point that Israel should abide by international law, specifically article 46 of the 1907 Hague Convention, which forbids the confiscation of private property by an occupying power. That same document also forbids the deliberate harming of non-combatants in war, and all of Section II, Chapter I is devoted to making that very clear. It would therefore appear that the argument advanced here is that Israel should be scrupulous in following a certain legal code which her enemies have flagrantly violated. It's certainly a head-scratcher from a legal point of view - but is there anything practical to be gained by ceding land to people who have used it in the past for terror and aggression? DAVID KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont 'Wandering Jew' Sir, - BBC News presenter Emily Maitlis feels that "the image of the 'wandering Jew' may be as romantic as it is iconic" ("UK Jews mark 350th anniversary," November 30). But there is nothing romantic about it. The idea derives from Christian folklore and relates to a Jewish man who, according to legend, taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. A connected idea is that the destruction of Jerusalem was retribution for Jewish responsibility for the Crucifixion. The view of the "romantic wandering Jew" might explain a lot about the manner in which the BBC reports the news. RICHARD RINBERG Ra'anana Well done, US Airways! Sir, - Six imams, all Arab males, three with one-way tickets and no checked baggage! ("Muslim clerics taken off flight call for boycott of US Airways," November 23.) What precious little profiling of air travelers is tolerated was immediately denounced by the American Islamic Relations Council at a raucous press conference in Phoenix before the obliging, even gleeful, cameras of CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS. Islamic Council leader Omar Shakin wailed about being humiliated because some of his imams were bad-mouthing America's anti-terrorist efforts in Iraq before being booted off the airliner by its captain, and the screeching of these "wronged" Muslim clerics reverberated loudly around the world. Airline passenger rejections such as these occur routinely at Israel's no-nonsense international airport, where hijackings are non-existent. Well done, US Airways! RICHARD BOWERS Sarasota, Florida Clear & solid Sir, - Re "Guns and poses" (November 24): As usual, Khaled Abu Toameh debunks myths about the PA with clarity and provides solid information. Why should Mahmoud Abbas expend any energy in fighting Hamas, when he's not under pressure to do it and Israel will do it for him? Similarly, and carrying the analogy eastward, why should the Iraqi government fight the armed insurrection when the US and Britain are doing it? ALBERTO SOCOLOVSKY Ramat Gan Act and pray Sir, - The government of Israel must realize that if the Iranians possess a nuclear bomb, they will use it. To understand what it means, think of the burn one can get from sunbathing, with the sun over 93 million miles away. Bring the sun down to earth and everything within a radius of 1,000 miles simply vanishes. A bomb intercepted at high altitude would make little difference, the destruction merely being spread further. Air force, army tanks, etc. - all gone in a flash, no one left and no blade of grass for up to 10,000 years. Israel wiped off the face of the earth and no option of a second strike. It can't happen? The Nazis sang "When our knives run with Jewish blood," and those who did not think it could happen perished. This is no time to be timid. It is a time for action, perhaps also for prayer. Somehow Iran must never get hold of a nuclear bomb ("Netanyahu warns of Iranian nukes," November 24). STANLEY ROSS Netanya Dispelling all doubt about Pollard Sir, - Thank you for printing "Don't be fooled by Ronald Olive" (November 29). Attorneys Lauer and Semmelman most cogently dispel any doubt as to the true nature of and motive for Jonathan Pollard's behavior, for which he is paying such a disproportionate price. My guess is that the intelligence community is preparing for the possibility of a presidential pardon on the eve of George W. Bush's departure from the White House. If the public mind can be swayed by innuendo and speculation, a request to pardon Pollard will never reach the Oval Office and evil people will have prevailed. I would like to know why our own television's Channel 10 chose to be part of this conspiracy to perpetuate Pollard's incarceration and character assassination. JOEL KUTNER Jerusalem Priorities Sir, - Re "Tamir defends putting Israeli pupils ahead of Diaspora" (November 30): How could anyone argue, given the massive budget cuts and curtailing of school hours and programs in Israel? Funding educational programs abroad is the responsibility of world Jewry and the Jewish people (of which Israel is a part) - with Israel providing resources other than funding, such as manpower and programming. PHILIP STEIN Teaneck, New Jersey No ad calls, please Sir, - The phone (Bezek) rings. I'm an old man, and I do my best to reach it before it stops and pick up the receiver, to be blasted by some company advertising its fish or some other product of no interest to me - nor, I would vouch, to thousands of others. This time I vow to do something about it. I phone 199, tell the sweet voice on the other end about these unwanted phone calls, and am informed that, from that day on, advertising calls will not be passed on to me. Why don't you publicize this service, I ask? It will be put on the Internet, is the reply. But what about Bezek's other poor victims who do not have acomputer? So please, Jerusalem Post: Inform readers about this 199 service, which Bezek in its greed refrains from publicizing as it does those services that swell the company's profits. SAM LEVY Caesarea Life here's just great Sir, - Congratulations on "Pennies vs positives" (November 26). I am a living example of everything Stewart Weiss talked about, and I agree wholeheartedly with his approach. Life here in Israel is amazing in every respect: religiously, economically, socially and spiritually. It is a privilege to be here. I did not come because I had it so bad in Canada - au contraire - I had a wonderful life there. I came because I have it even better here. I hope the rabbi's message is heard. GERI GOLDSTEIN Jerusalem