February 11: Under Fire

Ehud Olmert may have gotten plenty wrong, but he's right to argue that rage is not a plan for action.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Under fire Sir, - You are reporting (jpost.com, February 10) that Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit wants the IDF to choose a Gaza neighborhood to make an example of, warn residents to evacuate and wipe it out. Your Ehud Olmert may have gotten plenty wrong, but he's right to argue that rage is not a plan for action. There is no short-term solution to getting the Palestinians to stop launching Kassam rockets at the Negev because their behavior is irrational. Hamas refuses to recognize the reality of the past century and wants to destroy Israel. This will not happen. Short term Israelis need to maintain the pressure as your army has been doing. Long term, you need to restore the linkage between Gaza and Egypt. HAIM ADDIDAS Christchurch, New Zealand Memo to Miliband Sir, - I see that British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is concerned over the Gaza situation ("British ministers call on Israel to reverse decision to limit electricity supply to Gaza, February 10). I was wondering if prime minister Winston Churchill ever got this kind of message from FDR: "Following the 2.754 flying bombs (V1) launched on London so far (July 6 , 1944) we are extremely concerned by reports that there has been continuous bombardment of German cities. We believe that such action risks a further deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Dresden and Hamburg. We call on His Majesty's Government to fulfill its obligations under international law." MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC Beersheba Dar al-Islam Sir, - The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, says that the adoption of parts of Muslim law in Britain is "unavoidable." But rights of conscience belong primarily to persons rather than to faiths as such. Surely what is needed is "free faith in a free state," where the task of challenging obscurantism is carried out by vigorous and untrammeled debate in the free and open marketplace of ideas? Not by any quango, nor by state law, nor restricted by invocations of blasphemy or diversity or multiculturalism. The archbishop also disturbingly seems to favor retaining and enforcing collective cultural identity, not personal, or civic, identity, whereas we need to instill our membership in that primary tribe, our common humanity, in the center of our consciousness and relations, and not have our interactions or explorations always mediated or delimited by existing faith traditions or institutions. TOM CAREW Dublin, Ireland. Sir, - How the mighty West has fallen. ("Archbishop urges UK to introduce some Shari'a law, February 8). A leader of the Church of England wants Muslims to be free of British law and free to live under their own law. For centuries, Judaism compromised with its Diaspora conditions and agreed to accept the law of the land in which they lived. The principle was and is: Dina Demalkhuta Dina. The law of the land is the law, in civil and criminal law, while ritual and strictly religious law was under the jurisdiction of Halacha. Now we Western elites caving in to religious pressure in the crucial area of the law. Can you imagine a Muslim country allowing Christians to live under their own law? Can you imagine Egypt or Syria allowing Jews to place Halacha above their own legal systems? Giving in to Islam to preserve "social cohesion" to quote the archbishop is just another form of appeasement. JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem Police feel our pain Sir, - Once again police have shown that they are able to investigate and solve crimes. Seems they are furious that a judge only put their suspect under house arrest ("Police outraged at Ashdod court's laxity in revenge attack," February 10). Many ordinary citizens share their frustration. The rule of law in Israel has been under attack for some time. Police and courts often do not take proper action when crimes are committed against ordinary citizens. This does serve "to further debilitate the rule of law in Israel" - criminals have no fear of prosecution. SHARON ALTSHUL Jerusalem Orthodox conversions... Sir, - Your Friday editorial ("Expedite conversion, February 8) calls for a more lenient attitude on the part of the rabbinate toward conversion. Maimonides is quoted in a misleading way, regarding the acceptance of converts who are not observant. Although it is true that once converted, even for ulterior motives, a convert remains a Jew, Maimonides regards these insincere converts as a great source of trouble for the Jewish people, since they often lead other Jews astray (Mishna Torah, Isurei Biya,13:18). He goes on to say that many of the troubles in the desert, such as the Golden Calf, were initiated by insincere converts who left Egypt with the Children of Israel. I am, however, continuously inspired by the sincere converts who I am privileged to count among my family and friends. DANIEL KAUFMAN Petah Tikva Sir, - Kudos on your editorial about conversion, but I fear so long at the Orthodox control Israel's official "church" there really is no prospect of expediting conversion. Put simply, Orthodox rabbis say that if you don't pledge to live an Orthodox lifestyle - you can't really convert to Judaism. They equate Judaism with Orthodoxy. Until that changes, or until we take away their power over our lives - nothing else will. F. TESSLER Ramat Hasharon White House race Sir, - Menachem Rosensaft ("Obama, Clinton and Jewish good fortune," February 10) seems to be confusing good will with good strategic thinking in praising Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He is undoubtedly right to defend Obama from any charges of being a covert Islamic radical or an anti-Semite. And the evidence is ample that both candidates are staunchly pro-Israel. But good intentions alone don't necessarily translate into effective policies. For example, Rosensaft waxes nostalgic when he writes that the Clinton years "were far better than what we have now." He is referring to the Oslo era, when a well-meaning peace plan ended up ushering in the era of the suicide bombers of the second intifada. And Hillary has yet to address the failures of that agreement. As for Obama, he is so opposed to any military option on Iran, that he voted against a Senate measure seeking to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. He seems to not understand that a nuclear Iran will strengthen radical forces in the region and render any chance of achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement even more problematic than it already is. The basic shortcoming of both candidates is their refusal to see the big picture: That there is a global Jihad which must be defeated before many other local conflicts can be resolved. David Katcoff Jericho, Vt Bibi in the wings Sir, - Yehezkel Dror wants the public to reflect that Binyamin Netanyahu would replace Ehud Olmert if the premier were forced from office. Duly reflected. Now can we please have elections? Herb Deckler Jerusalem