January 19: Inept...and loud

As an informed citizen but with no claim to security expertise, I am disturbed by the IDF’s ineptitude.

Inept... and loud
Sir, – We have now been informed of the increased concern in the IDF about the growing arsenal of anti-tank missiles and other malefic weaponry that has been smuggled into the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza (“IDF preparing for major Gaza operation within next few months,” January 17).
As an informed citizen but with no claim to expertise on security matters, I am greatly disturbed by the IDF’s apparent ineptitude.
The smuggling of serious weaponry into Gaza is not a new phenomenon. It has been known for several years, and today’s satellite technology enables the pin-pointing of these activities.
Why has it been permitted to continue? Why have the smuggling tunnels not been eradicated? Why did then-prime minister Ehud Olmert and the IDF leave most of the tunnels untouched and end Operation Cast Lead with shameful unfinished business? But if indeed there are positive answers to the above questions, why in Heaven’s name are we now informing the enemy in advance of a planned “major Gaza operation?”
Crimes of their own
Sir, – Regarding “UK: Settlements are an act of vandalism” (January 17), is British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg trying to equate building in our homeland with England’s vandalization – theft, really – of 78 percent of the mandated Jewish homeland to create, inadvertently, the only possible two-state solution? Jordan is Palestine! That is the only feasible end to the territorial conundrums England created.
(And people need to realize that there is no peace process and never will be until “liberals” like Clegg find a way to liberalize the Koran and Islam.)
Amend the sentence
Sir, – Regarding “Second Itamar murderer sentenced to 5 life terms” (January 17), in the absence of capital punishment this sentence was appropriate.
Coming so soon, however, after the unfortunate release of hundreds of prisoners with blood on their hands in the Schalit swap, I imagine I must be one of many who fear the present sentence could well be abrogated in the next prisoner swap.
Why, I wonder, don’t we, like many states in the US, give our judges the right to sentence criminals who commit heinous crimes to life in prison without the possibility of parole or pardon? This should serve to reduce the number of terrorist murders in the future, and also inhibit the plans to capture more of our soldiers as bargaining chips.
No other way
Sir, – No ballistic missile defense system can ever be entirely hermetic, and there is a realistic probability that the Iranian leadership is irrational. This means the mutually-assured destruction (MAD) doctrine is inapplicable to Iran.
So isn’t Prof. Rene Beres (“The Iranian nuclear threat: Legal remedies and remaining options,” Comment & Features, January 17) moving the goalposts by not concluding that destroying Iran’s nuclear sites remains the only viable option?
Sir, – Iran states that its aim is to destroy Israel. Russia, China and North Korea (and perhaps Pakistan) are helping Iran by providing knowledge and training, and by selling it whatever it needs to achieve its goal.
What does Iran expect? Should Israel continue sitting like a duck in the water without protecting itself? I ask the International Court of Justice to blame these countries for helping Iran, and to bring them to trial.
I also ask that before there is a disaster, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, be brought to trial for inciting and funding killing on the basis of racism and religion. Why should people die because of his megalomania?
Same difference
Sir, – The haredim who, deplorably, dressed up their children as Nazi victims were universally raked across the coals for belittling the memory of the Holocaust. Why was there no similar outrage over President Shimon Peres’s equation of the refusal to rent homes on racial grounds to Nazism (“There is no room for Hitlerism or racism in Israel,” January 13)? However disgraceful it may be, it’s a far cry from genocide.
Shame on Peres – who should know better – for cheapening the mass slaughter of our people, and shame on our opinion-makers for not holding our president to the same standards they apply to common citizens.
Positive ‘hasbara’
Sir, – Before criticizing Martin Sherman’s conservative view on hasbara (public diplomacy) (“Comprehending the incomprehensible – Part 1,” Into the Fray, January 13), we deserve a positive version that would be believable to the educated West:
1. Neither the Arabs nor the Jews caused this conflict. Europe did, in three ways: Its colonialism; its anti-Semitism, which culminated in the Holocaust; and its denial to Jews the ability to escape to Palestine.
2. The persecuted and the oppressed have a right to refuge, ironclad safety and empowerment.
3. Europe, having caused this more-than century-old crisis, has left it as an ethnic and religious conflict that is not much different from any other on Earth. Both sides have suffered Europe-instigated tragedies.
4. Modern understandings show that violence and oppression against minorities are global in scope, and that empowerment and autonomy for them is more important than was once believed. This is why Jews cannot surrender it. For the same reason, neither can Palestinians. Therefore, both sides have strong cases.
Removed from extravagances and grandiose claims, a modest and candid truthfulness could generate a hasbara that, if offered in such a spirit, most educated Westerners could understand and accept, and even profoundly embrace.
Lesser of two evils
Sir, – Although Bashar Assad’s regime has fearlessly taken the lives of thousands of its own countrymen, it is neither clear nor evident that a post-Assad Syria would be pro-democratic and favorable to the region, including Israel.
Politically, Syria can become, after Egypt, Israel’s second neighbor to fall into the hands of Islamists or supporters of militant Islam. As a result, one should expect a much harder line taken by Syria vis-à-vis Israel, perhaps even an abrupt change in its willingness to negotiate with the Jewish state at all.
In addition, Syria might renew much closer ties with the Egyptian government, and perhaps face growing influence from Saudi Arabia, which would be adding a new ally to its regional confrontation with Iran. This rapprochement could well extend beyond state-to-state relations and include education, religion and trade.
Israel has to strategically assess its needs in order to pursue as best it can a grand strategy that will maximize its security and regional leadership. This might possibly entail passive or even active support of Assad.
Useful gadget
Sir, – I would like to remind your readers that if they have trouble getting on and off public buses, there is a device the driver can use to lower the step. This gadget is in use in England, and I believe many of our buses here have it also.
It would avoid many accidents. I beg Egged to look into this, and ask all its drivers with this gadget to use it.