January 1: Cease-fires that aren't

If the government decides on a cease-fire, it should make clear: Nothing happens until Gilad Schalit is returned.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Cease-fires that aren't Sir, - A few weeks after the Oslo agreement that Yasser Arafat signed with Israel in 1993, he made a speech in a Johannesburg mosque in which he apologized, saying: "Do you think I signed something with the Jews which is contrary to the rules of Islam? That's not so. I'm doing exactly what the Prophet Muhammad did." Whatever the prophet is supposed to have done becomes a precedent. And what Arafat was saying was: "Remember the story of Hudabiya." He had made an agreement with the tribe of Kureish for 10 years. But then he trained 10,000 soldiers and, within two years, having found some kind of pretext, marched on the city of Mecca. Thus in Islamic jurisdiction it became a legal precedent that you are only allowed to make peace for a maximum of 10 years. Furthermore, at the first instance you are able, you must renew the jihad - breaking the peace agreement. It is said that the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I hope Israel will not prove this correct ("Paris truce offer splits Olmert, Barak," December 31). MEIR ABELSON Beit Shemesh Sir, - I am definitely not in favor of a cease-fire. But if the government decides on such a step, it should make clear: Nothing happens until Gilad Schalit is returned to us, whole and healthy. End of discussion. FRAN GOLDSTEIN Ginot Shomron Maintain the 'awe' Sir, - When one million Israelis from Sderot to Beersheba are hiding in their homes, ready to run into shelters, is no time to stop the war against Hamas in Gaza. A two-day cease-fire now would play into the hands of Hamas and allow it to regroup. What can EU representatives offer anyway? They have no influence over Hamas. If the government wants to "change the security situation," or merely stop the rockets, it must send the IDF in on the ground. As was discovered in Lebanon in 2006, aerial attacks cannot stop mobile launchers; but the ground invasion was left until too late. Let's hope the same mistake isn't repeated. And let's not be stupid and waste the effect of the "shock and awe" ("Dovish pro-Israel groups slam Gaza operation," December 31) JACK COHEN Netanya The legal backing Sir, - Dore Gold's "Is Israel using 'disproportionate force' in Gaza?" (December 31) furnished the necessary expert testimony and evidence supporting Israel's actions in this new war against Hamas. Certainly, Israel's sole motive is the protection of its citizenry. The international community is absolutely operating a double standard when it comes to protecting one's population in one's own sovereign territory. When will such countries as France finally recognize that Israeli Jewish children have every right to feel safe and secure in their lives - as do Palestinian Muslim children living in Gaza? YOEL NITZARIM Skokie, Illinois Making molehills... Sir, - Daoud Kuttab, writing of "amateur rockets nagging residents of some southern cities," must be roundly condemned for his cavalier attitude toward the Israelis who have suffered terrible trauma and injuries during eight years of Arab missiles hurled into their midst. In his attempt to make little of this terrorism, he is fooling no one. And suggesting that the severe mental distress of living in a target zone is "a nuisance" portrays an outstanding lack of sympathy ("Has Israel revived Hamas?" December 31). DAVID S. ADDLEMAN Mevaseret Zion ...out of mountains Sir, - Kassams are not "amateur" rockets, as the father of the two little Palestinian girls killed in Beit Lahiya four days ago can tell Daoud Kuttab. And these rockets don't "nag" the residents of southern Israel; they kill and maim them every time they fall close enough to any of them. Kassams are not falling on "some" of Israel's southern cities but on practically all of them, excluding some eastern ones like Arad. That Israel has "given new life" to Hamas, the thrust of the whole article, is no less false for being a mind-bogging thesis. The Islamic movement in Palestine is not a "fledgling" one - it just celebrated its 21st birthday and has ruled the Gaza Strip for 18 months. That's five false statements in 30 words. Not bad going. If the writer keeps this up, he could get a job at the UN. TUVIA FOGEL Milan Blacks killing blacks, doesn't it matter? Sir, - Ugandan rebels have killed more than 400 people in northeastern Congo since Christmas ("Aid group: 400 dead in eastern Congo massacres," December 31). Many of these were hacked to deathin a church. Why isn't the UN condemning these Ugandan rebels? Why is only Israel thus "privileged"? HANNAH SONDHELM Jerusalem The curious thing about BRICUP Sir, - Jonathan Rosenhead is being disingenuous in claiming that he and his boycott colleagues have always wanted dialogue with Israeli academics ("We're openly for the academic boycott," Letters, December 31). Given the plethora of motions that have emanated from British academic trades unions in recent years, followed by their withdrawal under legal challenge, it is difficult to know what the exact policy is at any one time. Anyone in doubt should visit the BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine) website (www.bricup.org.uk) where they will find the view that there are just three (!) Israeli academics BRICUP thinks are worth talking to. The website also has a statement, led by Prof. Rosenhead, on the current hostilities in Gaza which somehow manages not to mention the rocketing of Israeli cities over the past eight years and calls for various boycotts of Israel. The other curious thing about a committee supposedly established to support Palestinian universities is that it undertakes none of the usual activities to support these universities such as raising funds, sponsoring academic exchange and providing scholarships. The sole way it thinks it can help Palestinian universities is by boycotting Israeli universities. LESLIE WAGNER Jerusalem Happy endings Sir, - After reading The Jerusalem Post daily for the past 37 years, I have developed a fine appreciation for many writers contributing to the paper. But after reading "Happy endings" by Judy Montagu (December 31), I found it irresistible not to write to say: Well done. MARVIN FRIEDMAN Ramat Hasharon Sir, - While good op-ed writing should also be entertaining, it must be thought-provoking. "Happy endings" was such a piece: It made me realize that our resoluteness in the face of adversity is an essential truth about us Jews as a people: We have not allowed ourselves to be paralyzed by the past but have carried on, after the Shoah, to build the State of Israel and remain optimistic despite the difficulties. The State of Israel with its many benefits is a testament to our efforts to build our lives in this land. BARRY LYNN Efrat