February 17: Fatality figures

Where were the responses to the claims from the UN, the Red Cross, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights?

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Fatality figures... Sir, - Your front-page story about the IDF's figures on fatalities in the Gaza offensive, I'm sorry to say, did not read like real journalism, but more like something you'd expect from Al Jazeera ("Int'l community was duped by Hamas's false civilian death toll figures, IDF claims," February 16). The IDF's claim that the vast majority of deaths in the conflict were not civilians can be true, of course, but missing from this report was the staple of decent reporting: Not blindly accepting what you are told without doubt and critique. Where were the responses to the claims from the UN, the Red Cross, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights? Where were senior UN official Chris Gunness and Gazan witnesses telling reporters that at the UN school on January 6, kids and women were killed in the botched mortar strike? Were the images seen on TV? The IDF presents as evidence that "only few stretchers were brought to evacuate people," but where was your reporter to say that the wounded in Gaza were often carried in people's bare arms in lieu of stretchers? Where was even a slightly deeper look at how the figures were reached - on both sides? And indeed, why did the tone of this "report" sound so overtly like a mouthpiece for the IDF? DANNY COHEN Jerusalem ...the frustration Sir, - You were right to point out the tragic and frustrating lack of attention the IDF gives to recording and reporting enemy fatalities, and the unbelievable incompetence and apathy of the IDF and Foreign Ministry regarding the need to investigate and reply to all human rights claims in real time. It didn't begin in Gaza, of course. It was evident from the first intifada. The problem became a major strategic threat in the second intifada. Israel had no real information on the al-Dura shooting, evidently, and was unwilling to give Philip Karsenty any help in his struggle with Charles Enderlin. There was simply no real investigation, it seems. Perhaps there was no way to establish the facts, but the impression is that no serious attempt was made to establish them. Without a credible paper trail and credible investigation, there is no way either to correct abuses, if they occur, or reply to critics in real time. The same problem occurred in the Jenin "massacre" libel - at one point Shimon Peres even said there was a "massacre" there. By the time the IDF presented the facts, it was too late. The same problem was again apparent in the Second Lebanon War. The enemy makes charges, often fabricated, and our side is silent as these are propagated to rights organizations, the media and the UN. The frightening thing is that the problem is not corrected. Nobody is listening. There's no one to talk to in the IDF or Foreign Ministry. Everyone engaged in Israel advocacy, everyone trying to understand "what really happened" is frustrated. AMI ISSEROFF Rehovot Maggots can metamorphose Sir, - I cannot claim more significance than to be a victim of Iranian-initiated terrorist atrocities. My elder daughter, Flora, was murdered at Lockerbie in 1988. I cannot experience the effects of the rockets underwritten by Hamas and therefore Iran. All the same, it may be worth recording that I strongly back the prospect of discussions between the Obama administration and that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When Libya was newly accused of the Lockerbie bombing, it was the immediate reaction of many in our UK Lockerbie relatives group that the way forward was to talk, not to bomb. We went and talked. An eye for an eye leads only to the land of the blind, and perhaps stems from it. Hatred harms the hater. We all contain the potential for change, so condemnation must be confined to the deeds we commit rather than to the doer himself. Today's monstrous maggot can metamorphose into tomorrow's butterfly, unless you destroy the chrysalis ("Ahmadinejad welcomes Obama's offer of dialogue," February 11). JIM SWIRE UK Families Flight 103 Chipping Campden, UK Bye-bye, Jewish state Sir, - Shlomo Loshinsky advocates that Likud and Kadima form a coalition to "reduce concessions to the other smaller coalition partners" (Letters, February 16). What he doesn't realize is that without the smaller parties, civil marriage would be instituted, conversion would be reduced to non-halachic standards, and, most important, land given to the Jews by God would be given away. Without a right-wing government, all of the above would happen without hesitation, reducing Israel to just another nation instead of a Jewish state. CHAIM GINSBERG Ma'aleh Adumim 'Jewish Home' for a Jewish home Sir, - Re "Habayit Hayehudi [Jewish Home] agreed to back Bibi for PM" (February 13): This party could improve the Jewish component of our state dramatically, and provide a compromise for Avigdor Lieberman, by making the following demand: Instead of agreeing to change the rules for conversion, as Lieberman wants, it should agree to change the decision-makers - in other words, break the stranglehold of the haredi rabbis and hand the reins over to Religious Zionist rabbis. Shas won't agree, of course. But with Likud, Kadima, Israel Beiteinu, Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union in the coalition, Shas would not be needed. Under this condition, even Labor might be persuaded to join. RANDI OZE Jerusalem Sir, - Had Bibi not shot himself in the foot by demoting Moshe Feiglin from the 18th to the 36th slot following the Likud primaries, Likud would have picked up two or even three extra seats, leaving Kadima in second place. DAVID STEINBERG Bnei Brak For Israel to decide Sir, - Neither American Jews nor their government should pressure Israel in terms of its internal political situation concomitant to Israel's diplomacy with its surrounding neighbors. At this critical time, Israel must continue to place her primary emphasis on security - and only Israel can determine what is necessary to maintain her edge over the likes of Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizbullah and the Palestinian Authority. One must never forget that it is Israel's young men and women in the military who are putting their lives on the line to protect Israeli citizens from their enemies, safeguarding Israel's present and future survival ("American Jewish leaders: US shouldn't interfere in Israeli politics," February 16). YOEL NITZARIM Skokie, Illinois Here's to faith Sir, - Re "Rational nationalism scores major victory" (February 16): Charles Krauthammer gives credit where credit is due. President George W. Bush was vilified by the opponents of the Iraq war, some calling it another Vietnam. The peaceful election that took place there this month is testimony to faith in people to choose freedom. SIMCHA FRIEDMAN Betar Illit Dubai's foul play Sir, - Re the disgusting behavior of the authorities in Dubai who refused Shahar Pe'er a visa to enter their country to play in the WTA tournament a day before she was due to travel: As an avid follower of international tennis and a lifelong sportsman myself, I feel compelled to express my resentment at this severe slap in the face of Israel's top female tennis player. As a result, I am totally disinclined to watch our television's other matches - which means that for the moment, Eurosport has lost a viewer ("Pe'er 'shocked' after Dubai visa refusal," Sports, February 16). RONALD BEAR Ra'anana