February 14: Kudos and shame

Ruthie Blum filled an important journalistic role by posing aggressive questions to Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, in "Control creates responsibility."

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
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Kudos, and shame Sir, - Ruthie Blum filled an important journalistic role by posing aggressive questions to Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, in "Control creates responsibility" (February 7). Bashi continually avoided these questions and repeated her main contention that cutting utilities to an enemy population is "against international law." Since the start of the Palestinian war in September 2000, the so-called human rights organizations have been using the "international law" argument to prevent Israel from defending itself and to bolster Palestinian state power. What should be remembered, however, is that statements on what international law prohibits or allows are just opinions. Every country in the world has international law experts in its foreign ministry whose job it is to prove that their countries' policies are legal under international law. In the absence of any higher authority than sovereign states, their opinions are equally as valid as the pronouncements of the human rights organizations, local or foreign. Bashi knows full well that most international treaties leave states with a lot of leeway to defend themselves. (The treaties were written by states, after all.) Yet she casually dismisses other legal opinions, and even a High Court decision, which do not agree with Gisha's pro-Palestinian agenda. It is to Ruthie Blum's credit that she came to the interview armed with other opinions, and to Sari Bashi's shame that her fervency was shown to be not for the law, but for the Palestinian cause. DOUG GREENER Jerusalem (In)action plan Sir, - The response of our officials to the torturous Kassam attack on Sderot this past Shabbat was very revealing. PM: "Outrage is not an action plan. We must act in a systematic and orderly fashion. This is what we are doing and continue to do." Chief of staff: "The time is not ripe for a large military operation since Israel has yet to formulate an exit strategy." Best of all, the defense minister insinuated that Israel was employing covert operations, recalling the classic "My work is so secret that even I don't know what I'm doing"("Hundreds of protesters urge gov't to make Sderot security a priority," February 11). They are clearly saying: We have not developed any contingency plans to protect ourselves. The best we can do is more of the same. Those responsible for Israel's security should first shut off the supply of electricity and other services to Gaza. I do not believe the civilian population has no impact on the Kassam shooters. As long as it suffers no consequences, it supports the Kassams. But if Palestinians are severely inconvenienced, they can stop the Kassams, especially considering that the rockets are launched from their territory. Hospitals and essential services are equipped with standby generators, so this is not a question of disregarding basic human values. Secondly, bombing raids on launching sites need to be less "pinpoint." When more territory is covered, more people are held accountable for the raids; which should lower popular support for them. Thirdly, there is a need for large-scale ground operations to desensitize the Kassam launching areas and prevent them being fortified (as Hizbullah did in Lebanon). Such actions need not be long-term if the message of "No free lunch" is absorbed. By the way, I have a granddaughter who is presently doing her national service in Sderot, by choice. TUVIA MUSKIN Rehovot Time to go, guys Sir, - Evelyn Gordon showed herself to be smarter and more perceptive, clearer and more responsible than most, including the Winograd panel, when she wrote: "The government must understand that security is the bedrock on which all else is built. A government that abandons its citizens to enemy fire has no right to exist" ("Sderot in sound bites," January 31). In this spirit, I would take the "s" out of exist and tell this government: Exit! HINDE FEKETE Netanya Fact & fiction Sir, - I was astonished to read in "Forum marks Lehi, Etzel lone battle for fair recognition" (January 24) that the "historian and prize-winning author, Yehiam Weitz" declared that David Ben-Gurion had forced Moshe Sharett, who later served as Israel's first foreign minister, to vote in favor of immediate independence. State archivist Dr. Alexander Bein and I interviewed and taped Sharett in 1960. He told us that US secretary of state Gen. George Marshall had told him that the Jews of Palestine should not declare independence lest the Arab nations destroy the Jewish state-to-be. "We will not retreat," Sharett told Marshall. "We should go forward and proclaim the establishment of the state. We had reached a historic turning point, and who knows whether it would repeat itself. We would have to give an accounting to all past and future generations. We had to balance the risk against the opportunity, and on this note we parted." We asked Sharett about the rumor that he had returned from the UN to urge Ben-Gurion not to proclaim the establishment of the state, and to continue with the UN trusteeship. Sharett told us: "I know that such a rumor circulated. I have all kinds of enemies that spread it willfully, despite all my refutations." We later interviewed Ben-Gurion, and put the question to him. Did Sharett urge him to delay the proclamation of the state? "No," said Ben-Gurion. "He told me what Marshall had said, but Sharett did not oppose the immediate establishment of the state. I never heard him say he was opposed." So much for the rumor that many people, including academics believed. Apparently, the prize-winning author specializes in fiction. ELIEZER WHARTMAN Jerusalem Is Jerusalem on the table... Sir, - Eli Yishai and his Shas colleagues, in a quandary over whether or not to believe our PM on Jerusalem negotiations, might consider: • the old German proverb: Wer einmal luegt den glaubt man nicht, auch wenn er dann die Wahrheit spricht - He who lies once is not believed even when he subsequently tells the truth; • that Shas should put more trust in the Post's reports of the "secret" negotiations, and also in the words of Hatem Abdel Qader ("PA official: Jerusalem issue is 'on the table - and under the table,'" February 13). • a paraphrase of the biblical saying: "The voice is the voice of Ehud, but the words are the words of Peace Now!" MENACHEM SAMUEL Jerusalem ...or off? Sir, - Why should Jerusalem talks be on and "under" the table? If the talks are so important for the Palestinian hold on The Noble Sanctuary and the future home of the Palestinian Parliament, shouldn't the Palestinian public be aware of their content? Conversely, if the talks are so valuable for the peace process, shouldn't the Israeli public be privy to them? YOEL NITZARIM Skokie Lantos's legacy Sir, - The death of Congressman Lantos reminds us that with the passing of time, fewer and fewer people can tell us firsthand about the Holocaust. Tom Lantos, a great friend of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and its co-founder, was saved by Raoul Wallenberg. He never forgot his savior and worked for many years to make sure the world remembers this hero. With Lantos no longer among us, we must continue to make sure Wallenberg is never forgotten. Tom Lantos will be missed. His legacy lives on ("A true friend of Israel," February 12). ABIGAIL TENEMBAUM Int'l Raoul Wallenberg Foundation New York