Easy work for Hamas Sir, - Alan Dershowitz's "Gaza's dead civilians are Hamas victims" (January 15) was up to his unblemished record of clear and objective analysis. However, I feel that one point needs to be expanded upon: Hamas does not have to work very hard to manipulate the media. Quite the contrary, they are seeding prepared soil, fertilized with DNA-deep anti-Semitism ("Israel worried about upswing in international anti-Semitism," January 14). As Yaacov Kirschen's cartoon character put it in his Dry Bones back in September 3, 2001: "Anti-Semitic liesâ€¦ dependâ€¦ on the desire of the audience to actually believe the stories." TREVOR DAVIS Asseret Unsportsmanlike Israel Sir, - Carlos Alberto Montaner points out that throughout history countries were proud of inflicting numerous casualties on the enemy's armed forces while sustaining only light casualties themselves, and there was no call for "proportionality" ("Gaza's true 'disproportion,'" Elsewhere, January 14). True enough, especially considering that in the conduct of war there is no rule to prevent a heavyweight boxer from going into the ring with a featherweight. All the above, however, refers to military casualties, while the worldwide outcry against Israel's disproportionate retaliation refers to the number of civilian casualties, especially the children killed and wounded. Since the harm to civilians in southern Israel was Israel's main justification for this war, Israel could have been expected not to inflict a hundred-fold suffering on the civilian population of Gaza. It should have reduced the Arab "quota of cadavers," as Mr. Montaner rather coarsely puts it - especially little children's cadavers. ADAM KELLER, Spokesman Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) Holon Sir - Hamas is on the ropes and needs to be knocked to the canvas for good. All this talk about Israel's requirements for a cease-fire are premature and insufficient ("Hamas inches closer to accepting Egyptian cease-fire plan 'in principle,'" January 15). Why is there no mention of Gilad Schalit? We should demand everything we want, and not stop until we get it. This should not be a negotiation. ALAN JACOBY Ra'anana Wishing won't turn... Sir, - I would like to put Annie Lennox wise ("I'm for peace," Letters, January 15). Hamas engages in no "pro-peace or pro-war?" wavering. It is pro-death. Many Palestinian children have been affected by the war in Gaza, but the blame lies with Hamas and its supporters. How can these kids be expected to love others when their schoolbooks and maps exclude Israel and their summer camps train them to extol the virtues of "martyrdom"? Lennox says security only comes with dialogue. But how do you dialogue with a regime that aspires to destroy you? Terrorists have a very different agenda to rational human beings, and no amount of wishful thinking will change that. JUDY PRAGER Petah Tikva ...haters into lovers Sir, - Had Annie Lennox and her associates been as vociferous in their clamoring for peace during the eight years that Hamas rockets rained down - and are still falling - on Israeli towns and villages, there would be no need for Israel's current self-defense measures ("6 wounded, 2 seriously, as two Grad rockets hit Beersheba," Online Edition, January 15). Had they been as strident in demanding negotiations when Hamas refused to renew the December cease-fire - and instead fired Grads and Kassams indiscriminately over the border, forcing hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians including innocent children to take shelter and causing untold injury, trauma and damage - there would be no dead and injured Palestinian children. If Ms. Lennox is really sincere in her despair, she should accept her share of the guilt for the present escalation on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. If she cannot do that, I must conclude that her actions result from impaired vision - that her concern for the Palestinians has simply blinded her to Israeli suffering. BERYL RATZER Kiryat Ono From the depths to the heights Sir, - My spontaneous reaction to the stirring and insightful "Bialik and the X-factor" (January 14) was "Whew!" - defined by the Oxford Paperback Dictionary as "an exclamation of astonishment, dismay or relief." Bialik's "abyss" with its dismaying question marks about the meaning of life and death is, I think, deepened by our wordy intellectualizing. Astonishingly, this abyss can transmute into another dimension altogether - one of relief, light, hope and joy - through vicariously participating in a hassidic niggun at the funeral of a caring, committed fellow Jew, may his memory be for a blessing. In one of his talks, the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that this wordless, prayerful melody "is not only joyous and ecstatic; it is also reflective and mystical, with a pensive and yearning quality." To sing a niggun is to connect one's soul directly to its Eternal Source. MIRIAM L. GAVARIN Jerusalem Sir, - This article helped me feel my humanity, and the humanity I intuit in the global Jewish community. It doesn't surprise me that the column emanated from Jerusalem, the source of all Jewish creativity. Now, more than ever, I realize why Haim Nachman Bialik is Israel's poet laureate. May his words live on for future generations. Thank you, Judy Montagu, for this moving glimpse into the "abyss." YOEL NITZARIM Skokie CORRECTION Contrary to what was suggested in Emanuel Feldman's "Real Money" (January 15), Bar-Ilan University is not among the Jewish institutions affected by the Bernard Madoff scandal.