December 31: Three questions

How can Israel negotiate with your PA leaders when there are still scores, if not hundreds, of Fatah men subscribing to the destruction of the State of Israel?

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
Three questions Sir, - In "A Fatah member by any other name" (December 30), Khaled Abu Toameh explained that there are still admitted members of several armed Fatah factions who want to continue armed struggle against Israel in the West Bank. In fact, such gunmen have taken responsibility for the murders of Ahikam Amihai and David Rubin, two young Jewish Israelis hiking in the area of their hometown of Kiryat Arba. My questions to the Palestinians people in the West Bank are: • How can Israel negotiate with your PA leaders when there are still scores, if not hundreds, of Fatah men subscribing to the destruction of the State of Israel? • Should Israel believe a PA leadership that cannot hold its attested murderers at bay? • As long as there are among you armed terrorists seeking to murder Israelis on every possible occasion, why on earth should Israel be willing to discuss peace? YOEL NITZARIM Skokie, Illinois The Egyptians are trying, yes - but what? Sir, - Larry Derfner spends the first third of "The folly of Egypt-bashing" (December 27) showing all the reasons for not believing the Egyptians are trying to stop the weapons and other smuggling from Sinai into the Gaza Strip. He then turns around and tells us that a couple of Egyptian soldiers have been killed in fights with Palestinian smugglers, and that over the past few months they have found about three tons of explosives. This, he says, proves the Egyptians are trying! Yes, the Egyptians want to keep their grants from Uncle Sam, and to that end they make a show of fighting the smugglers. Egypt has shown time and again that she is no friend of Israel's. Helping the Palestinian fight against Israel helps keep the Islamists in Egypt at bay. Israel cannot depend on anyone other than the IDF to stop the flow of weapons. DAVID M. ARLAN Rehovot Sir, - To trust in Egypt is to trust in a rotten walking stick. When you put your weight on it, it will break. DAVID DOTHAGER Mulberry Grove, Illinois Symptom of neglect... Sir, - "End the strike" (Editorial, December 30) completely missed the meaning of the lecturers' strike. The pay dispute is minor and could have been settled years ago. It wasn't because the Treasury refused to address the issue. This refusal was itself a symptom, not a cause - a symptom of the long-term, systematic neglect of the universities that has seen their budgets and staff shrink and their quality decline as a result. Yes, we have been working hard on research during the strike. To call our research projects "their (the lecturers') own interests" is just silly. This research is in the interest of the universities, of the nation, of the world. As a whole, research has suffered from the government's neglect as much as teaching has, but we do what we can. As for outside lecturers ("freelancers"), their interests are very much on our minds. Their numbers have grown because of cuts in the regular faculty - 400 positions at Tel Aviv alone! We seek to restore these regular positions so the freelancers can compete for them along with others who have left the country. Then the best people available will once again do research and teaching at the best universities in the world, in Israel. PROF. BENJAMIN SVETITSKY School of Physics and Astronomy Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv ...and of discrimination Sir, - The consequences of Israel's decreased funding for higher education, outlined by Nathan Dascal, are all too familiar to me ("Why academics are on strike," December 27). I attended a nominally public university in the US that received a mere 20 percent of its funding from the state. Professors were massively underpaid compared to comparable universities and it was common for them to work there for a year or two, then move on to higher-paid positions. Three years ago, my school agreed to let the state further reduce its funding in exchange for the freedom to seek money from other sources. This shift toward privatization has its benefits - faculty salaries are on the rise. But since that decision, the cost of attendance for in-state students has increased by 26 percent. High tuition costs in the US have contributed to de-facto discrimination in access to higher education - 30 percent more high school graduates from the highest income quartile attend college than high school graduates from the lowest income quartile. If Israel wants to maintain a quality higher education system open to people from all economic backgrounds, it needs to end the lecturers' strike by investing in the future. RACHEL METZ Beersheba Reform & the future Sir, - Reform Judaism is r epresented as constituting 35 percent of N. American Jewry. In evaluating this figure one must question whether the total numbers are derived from synagogue membership lists alone, and whether such lists include individuals of patrilinear descent as well as non-Jewish spouses. Even more telling might be an estimate of what percentage of these Jews have or will have Jewish grandchildren by any definition ("Religious strains," Matthew Wagner, December 28). FRED GOTTLIEB Jerusalem New book to shed light Sir, - David Horovitz's riveting December 19 column about Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman ("Visiting Argentinean prosecutor urges pressure on Iran to give up AMIA bombing planners") didn't mention that Planeta Publishing House has announced that it will soon publish Gustavo Perednik's book on the AMIA bombing cover-up and Nisman's work to indict the Iranian perpetrators. The book, in Spanish, will shed full light on this investigation, which dealt a serious blow to Iranian terror. SHEILA BREZINSKI Buenos Aires Spread that zeal Sir, - It was gratifying to see a swift indictment in the Dimona arson case. Chief Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev was quoted as saying, "I said then and I'll say it again - anyone who raises their hand against police or against a judge will find it swiftly cut off." Wonderful! ("Case cracked in Dimona arson," December 28.) Now what about the rest of us? A little of that zeal to protect ordinary citizens would be greatly appreciated. SHARON ALTSHUL Jerusalem Halacha on smoking Sir, - Chaim Zvi Wasserman claims that "the halachic world hemmed and hawed for decades about smoking, looking for all sorts of loopholes not to openly ban the habit," and despite the fact that "science has defined the dangers of smoking... young and old haredi adherents are smoking their heads off. And no one protests" ("Hardy halacha," Letters, December 30). These remarks are manifestly untrue. Many leading halachic decisors, in particular Rabbi Waldenburg, have banned smoking outright; others, such as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, only refrained from doing so in recognition of the difficulty of giving up such a dangerously addictive drug, but ruled that one should not commence smoking. The fact that smoking is so common among haredim in Israel is more a reflection of Israeli society's permissive attitude to this dangerous habit - something that shocks me every time I visit the country. It has nothing to do with Halachaper se. MARTIN D. STERN Salford, UK