January 14: Solidarity x 3

Organizers of Israel solidarity rally in London said 15,000 attended.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Solidarity x 3 Sir, - You reported that 5,000 attended the Israel solidarity rally at Trafalgar Square on Sunday. This is actually well short of the actual number. The organizers, the Board of Deputies, said it was 15,000, and in my opinion (I was there) that is probably accurate ("Despite e-mail hoax, thousands attend pro-Israel rally in London," January 12). RAFFI BERG London Yours, understandingly Sir, - Just to let you know that not all people outside Israel are anti-Israel and a lot of us do understand why Israel is taking the current action in Gaza ("'We see a broader support for this war than we've seen in decades,'" January 13). Yes - it is sad, terrible and shocking to see the innocent, especially children, suffering. The solution is that they need not suffer now or in the future if Hamas simply stops firing missiles into Israel. Many journalists here in Ireland understand Israel's point of view and write about it. I hope the madness stops soon and people can simply live and let live. I am sure there are moderates in the Arab world who need to be heard. Let's hear them. DECLAN CARROLL Dublin A new start? Sir, - The inhabitants of Gaza could never have imagined that the actions of the Hamas leadership they elected would lead to the pounding they are now receiving ("Economic activity - both legal and illegal - comes to a standstill in Gaza," January 13). They should be allowed, as soon as is practicable, to express their views on whom they wish to have as leaders. They should be allowed a free and fair election, under independent supervision, to choose a new government. It could be the opportunity for a new start. RONNIE STEKEL Jerusalem Well thanks, guys Sir, - I just want to say kol hakavod to Yoram Dori for his very well-articulated "An open letter to Annie Lennox" (January 11). I hope he has better luck than I did when I wrote to her expressing my outrage at her comments, but have yet to hear back. My parents and I left Romania toward the end of 1947 on one of the ships carrying illegal immigrants to Israel. We too were intercepted by a British warship and taken to Cyprus, where we spent three or four months in a camp. We were allowed to reach Israel because I was around three years old, and the Brits decided to let us go. I guess I too should thank them for that. PAUL SCHUR Toronto Numbers game Sir, - The reason for the inflated numbers of civilian casualties claimed by the Palestinians is a simple matter of how the terms are defined ("Discrepancies over number of Palestinian civilian deaths," January 13). For Palestinian purposes, anyone not in uniform is, ipso facto, a civilian even though Hamas has told its "operatives" to wear civilian clothing, something outlawed by the Geneva Convention. When "the Palestinian figures indicated that 292 children and 75 women were among the civilian dead [and] did not give a figure for male civilian fatalities," they include anyone under a certain age, probably 18 though possibly older, as a child even when they are manning Kassam launchers. These teenagers are the equivalent of what we in England call "feral youths" who regularly terrorize run-down inner-city housing estates. As for the women, I cannot understand why a woman wearing an explosive belt is any different from a man except that she can pass herself off as heavily pregnant in order to deliver a larger bomb. Such gender discrimination ought to offend the left-wing peaceniks who naively parrot Palestinian propaganda as if it were verified fact. ELLIS OVERSTONE Kenton, Middx, UK Force 'em out Sir, - Hamas is reportedly using the bomb shelter under the main hospital in Gaza as its headquarters on the assumption that Israel would be too scared of offending international public opinion if it attacked it ("Dichter: Hamas salaries paid at Shifa Hospital," January 12). This use of a hospital is clearly forbidden under the Geneva Convention, but it is doubtful if anyone outside Israel will protest. Would not a sensible tactic be to send in commandos to saturate Hamas's underground refuge with tear gas and force them out? Any fatalities would be unfortunate, but not inevitable, and could hardly be legitimately described as innocent civilian casualties. MARTIN D. STERN Salford, UK Packages from Home prompt 1,000 blessings Sir, - On January 5, this article appeared in your paper: "'A Package from Home' has entered the fray." By 1 p.m.. more than 100 people had come to our shul to help and within two hours had packed 1,300 packages for combat soldiers in Gaza. Since the beginning of the war, we have packed and delivered many thousands of packages. Among the calls of thanks I've received, one soldier said he had been in his tank for six days before it was safe to exit. When he came out, he sat himself on top of the tank and began to open up his Package from Home. When he saw the pack of 80 wet wipes, he quickly took off his boots and socks and began to wipe his feet with them. "I know the word in Russian," he said, "and I know the word in Hebrew, but I do not know the word in English to express the joy I felt." He said his whole tank unit wanted to express its appreciation for the fantastic Packages from Home. He asked me to tell the people who made the packages possible that the tank crews bless them with 1,000 blessings. In another call, Commander L. described his troops' reaction when they saw the packages being unloaded from the trucks. I actually heard their shouts of joy on my cell phone. How many more packages did he need? I asked. His response: "Barbara, keep packing." A Golani soldier told me that when a soldier eats the sweets from his package he is nourished by the thought that people from around the world made it possible. It strengthens him to face whatever comes, he said. Forty-five yeshiva boys in Jerusalem recently hosted the packing of another 1,030 packages for combat soldiers, plus an additional 70 for the newly wounded. The latter were specially put together because some of the wounded had lost limbs, others the ability to chew and swallow. As I write this, I can hear the army helicopters overhead as they deliver wounded soldiers to Hadassah Hospital. May God protect them and the people of Israel. In the meantime, we are obeying Commander L., and continuing to pack. BARBARA BLOOM SILVERMAN Founder, A Package from Home www.apackagefromhome.org Jerusalem Apple doesn't fall far from the tree Sir, - If you're wondering where Ariel Lang, who is going to the US presidential inauguration, got his leadership ability and devotion to Israel, look to his indomitable savta, Barbara Silverman, the heroine of "A Package from Home" for our soldiers ("Guess who's coming to the presidential inaugural?" January 13). JAN SOKOLOVSKY Jerusalem