December 7: Too soon to relax...

Anti-terrorism demands a commitment by the world's nations to uproot the multifarious organizations that support violence.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Too soon to relax... Sir, - Larry Derfner is seeing reality through rose-colored glasses ("Mumbai is the exception," December 4). Relying on one of the world's terrorism "experts," failed presidential candidate John Kerry, he declares that antiterrorism is merely "police work." It isn't. It demands a commitment by the world's nations to uproot the multifarious organizations that support violence - some masquerading as humanitarian groups, others as groups championing free (hate) speech, yet others calling, as in Britain, for multicultural equality. Yes, there have, thankfully, been only isolated major terrorist attacks. And we should be grateful to the various authorities for their alertness. But that does not mean support for the activities of these groups is marginal. Time and again, whether in Arab countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, or among the Arabs of Gaza, we have seen widespread support for violent action. Ultimately, Mr. Derfner writes in his column, "Muslims - like the people who lived under communism - are going to pitch Islamic totalitarianism onto the dustbin of history." Not in the near (or even far) future - especially if you substitute the more valid term "Islamic triumphalism" for the more negative "totalitarianism." Islam is, by definition, a triumphalist creed which seeks and expects total victory over the world's infidels. In that struggle, all methods are legitimate. Mr. Derfner: You are not "rattling the cage" here, you're breathing an irrational, unwarranted sigh of relief. MENACHEM GOREN Petah Tikva the war on terror Sir, - Viewing the attacks in Mumbai as a full-scale terrorist war, Barry Rubin observes that India shares Israel's predicament in being largely on its own in defending itself from terrorism ("India and Israel: The parallels," December 1). Notwithstanding the readiness of many to blame the victim, the crux of the problem seems to be that "those truly willing to help in the battle are few and far between." RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne Sir, - As I sit here in the US reading what is going on in the Middle East and what Israel is up against with Iran, all I can say is, I'm damn proud that I have an "I Stand With Israel" bumper sticker on the back of my car. MARK SHERWOOD Mound, Minnesota What was so bad? Sir, - We are indebted to Yehuda Avner for recalling one more long-forgotten, missed opportunity ("An inept attempt at a flawed peace," December 2). One may wonder what could have been so very terrible about President Ronald Reagan's proposal to have it rejected outright by prime minister Menachem Begin. On September 1, 1982, the day following the events described by ambassador Avner, the president presented the details of his plan. They included these elements: • a five-year period of transition that would begin after free elections for a self-governing Palestinian authority; • a settlement freeze by Israel during the transition period; • self-government by the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza in association with Jordan. The US will not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. • The conflict should be resolved through negotiations involving an exchange of territory for peace. • When the border is negotiated between Jordan and Israel, our view on the extent to which Israel should be asked to give up territory will be heavily affected by the extent of true peace and normalization and the security arrangements offered in return. • Jerusalem must remain undivided, but its final status should be decided through negotiations. • The US will oppose any proposal - from any party and at any point in the negotiating process - that threatens the security of Israel. America's commitment to the security of Israel is ironclad. To the non-expert, this seems a flexible basis for negotiation, as opposed to a rigid plan that would not be "open to modification." However, rather than welcoming such an opportunity to settle the ongoing conflict, our government dismissed it out of hand. ZEEV RAPHAEL Haifa Food for thought Sir, - My grandson was drafted into the army last March and serves as a kravi or fighting soldier in the Golani Brigade. The soldiers' staple diet when they are on maneuvers is tinned tuna, sometimes with tinned corn, white bread and chocolate spread; or, worst of all, tinned meat luf. They are so sick of the tuna that they try to change the taste by burning packets of toilet paper to smoke the fish. Talking to other parents, I've heard that the situation is similar in other units where the soldiers are actually fighting. White bread and chocolate spread lack any life force. Tuna is known to contain large amounts of mercury and has been implicated in brain damage. Short-term effects are fatigue and slow reaction time. How soldiers expending large amounts of physical energy can concentrate, let alone fight, on this diet is hard to fathom. Why cannot the army supply whole-wheat bread, apricots, halva, dates, almonds and granola bars, which are rich in protein and energy? Our soldiers are risking their lives for us. Surely the least we can do is see they are supplied with food that gives them energy and endurance, and doesn't sap their strength ("Healthy soldiers are better soldiers," Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, November 23). HELENE GOODMAN Jerusalem