February 2: No inquiries, no punishments

When any country sends their young men out to war, they fight their enemies as enemies. There are no innocents in war.

No inquiries, no punishments
Sir, – When any country sends their young men out to war, they fight their enemies as enemies (“Netanyahu, Barak at odds over Goldstone report recommendation,” February 1). There are no innocents in a war. There are no friends in war.
Israel holds inquiries after wars at the drop of a hat, and finds soldiers to punish.
Let’s not forget that the people of Gaza voted Hamas into power. So where are the innocents? No inquiries and no punishments for our brave IDF soldiers!
Negotiations aside...
Sir, – Douglas Bloomfield apparently does not understand what is meant by negotiations (“Turn, Turn, Turn,” January 28). When two groups negotiate, each sets out its position, no matter how extreme. They then try to work out a compromise. Neither group makes any demands on the issues to be discussed before they begin to negotiate. That’s what negotiating is all about.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated his position. He then modified his positions before they even began to negotiate by accepting a Palestinian state – something he and the Likud were always against. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, on the other hand, stated he would not agree to negotiate until Netanyahu agreed to free construction on all settlements, resume negotiations from where they were left when former prime minister Ehud Olmert resigned, and agree to split Jerusalem into Israeli and Palestinian sections. These are all major elements to be negotiated. Yet Abbas wants Netanyahu to agree to them before negotiations begin.
And Bloomfield sees nothing wrong with that. He equates Abbas’s position with that of Netanyahu. He criticizes Netanyahu’s positions as unreasonable, when in fact those are what he wants to bring to the table to negotiate. But if Netanyahu agrees to Abbas’s demands, what is left to negotiate?
... the PA is no peace partner
Sir, – A few months ago, I went on a day trip from Jerusalem to Tiberias with my American uncle and cousins. We set out from Jerusalem towards the Dead Sea area, meaning to travel north along the Jordan Valley road. My uncle remembered that at some stage there was a left turn, but unfortunately he turned onto the road leading to Jericho. Little did I know the price we would nearly pay for that mistake.
The road seemed deserted, but we did not think anything of this. There were no signs or warnings that we were approaching territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority. After about 10 minutes, we reached a barrier surrounded by soldiers. In my naivete, it didn’t occur to me to think they were Arabs; I thought they were Israeli. By the time I realized what we had done, our car was surrounded by Palestinian soldiers.
My uncle explained that we had made a wrong turn and apologized, asking them to let us to turn the car around. They refused. When the soldiers noticed we were Jews, the soldier in charge made it clear that we were the enemy, that we had stolen all the land from the Palestinians, that the fate of all Jews was death.
I don’t think it’s possible to describe the fear we felt as the soldier screamed at us again and again how much he hated the Jews, while aiming a loaded gun at us. I really thought we would never get out of there alive, but God was on our side: After about half an hour, with my uncle begging them to let us go, he ordered us to leave and not come back.
I learned there and then that the Palestinian people cannot be our partners in peace (“EU envoy to ‘Post’: ‘Proximity talks’ will start with each side defining two-state vision,” February 1). They consider themselves our enemies and hate us with all their soul. I am proud of being a Jew in our Jewish state, but feel that the government must do more to protect its people from danger in these circumstances and prevent avoidable tragedies. There should be an army barrier outside Palestinian cities, there should be more signs warning hapless tourists that they are approaching such areas, and the phone number of the police or IDF should be prominently displayed.
The unsung hospital
Sir, – The poignant personal daily Haiti journal of Zaka volunteer Arele Klein (“Haiti journal: A first-hand account of doing disaster relief,” January 31) emphasizes yet again the outstanding Israeli contribution to the Haiti rescue efforts and our “Rolls-Royce” field hospital which so impressed the international media.
Throughout the reportage on this remarkable and successful effort, no mention has been made in the press of the fact that Israel set up precisely this type of field hospital at one of the Gaza crossings in the wake of Operation Cast Lead a year ago, to treat the injured Gazan civilians. After waiting many days for the injured to show up, and none did, the hospital was dismantled and the volunteers went home. Apparently no civilians were injured – or, more probably, Hamas deterred them from seeking Israeli treatment.
In the wake of the Haiti disaster, we now know how effective such a hospital could have been.
Health care for all?
Sir, – In “Defecting for health care” (January 26) Hannah Hochwald Janal correctly writes of all the national health care benefits available to one with Israeli citizenship as opposed to one holding American citizenship. She goes on to suggest that those Americans who are eligible should take on Israeli citizenship to obtain the benefits of its health care system.
She seemed to imply that one need not even be foolish enough to live here; that one could therefore continue to live in Boca Raton and, were one to fall ill, heaven forbid, jump on a plane to Israel and utilize its health care system.
I don’t want to seem old-fashioned, but shouldn’t people take on Israeli citizenship only if they decide to commit themselves to living here? Shouldn’t Jews worldwide want to give, rather than take, from Israel? Especially Jews who live in a nation as wealthy as America.
Kudos to Efrat’s rabbis
Sir, – I have followed with interest the reports of Efrat’s chief rabbi and an MK from that city disagreeing on the prohibition of selling cigarettes there, as well as the status of smoking in Jewish law and a rabbi’s role in preventing it (“Smoking MK from Efrat slams Riskin’s effort to snuff out cigarettes,” January 27). I am pleased to see Rabbi Shlomo Riskin take a stand against something that has no benefit and only causes harm, and am perplexed by MK David Rotem’s dismissive response.
In fact, I am shocked that Rabbi Riskin’s is not a universal position among rabbis of all denominations. It would seem that any rabbi who does not take a stand against smoking is in fact contributing to the harm being done to the smoker and others who inhale the secondhand smoke.
As for our legislators, I’d like to see much more severe restrictions on smoking. I view being forced to inhale a smoker’s smoke as assault in the legal sense of the word. Smoking is not a right, nor is subjecting me to it.
I don’t believe that Rabbi Riskin’s efforts to ban the sale ofcigarettes in Efrat will prevent my neighbors from smoking. But I dobelieve that it is a correct and positive statement, and I wish thatour local MK and others would embrace it for the well-being of thecommunity, rather than dismissing it as wrong.
Sir, – Kudos to rabbis Riskin and Golan. Today when it is clear toeveryone and beyond all possible doubt that smoking kills, it ispatently obvious that smoking cigarettes must be halachicly prohibited.This ban is applicable at all times, not just on Shabbat – and iscertainly not lifted for Purim!