January 23: Readers respond to easing of Gaza Siege

Hamas's acknowledgement that it is responsible for firing rockets into Israel is an act of war.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - Hamas, the government in Gaza, acknowledges that it is responsible for firing rockets into Israel. This, by any definition, is an act of war, and Israel should acknowledge it as such. In a war, embargoes are weapons used by all countries. Israel should be more sophisticated and not put itself into the position of looking as though it is restarting supplies of fuel, etc. as a result of international pressure. It should announce a tariff: for every rocket fired into Israel, supplies to be cut off for, say, 30 minutes. At the end of each month, the number of rockets fired should be announced. The date and time when Israel will cut off supplies should be announced, together with the date and time when the resupply will start. Israel should then stick to its timetable. This tariff can be changed, depending on circumstances ("Barak eases Gaza siege following drop in Kassam fire, int'l pressure," January 22). RONNIE STEKEL Jerusalem Sir, - I just read that your country is allowing some materials into Gaza. What are you doing? To hell with world opinion. The people of Gaza freely elected Hamas as their government. Now they are reaping what was sown. This needs to be reinforced over and over and over again. Instead of allowing fuel and other essentials into Gaza, you should be lining the border with loudspeakers and playing the message that their suffering is caused by their free choice of government. They have to live with it, or change it and become a part of the civilized world. WARREN PAWLIUK Pahrump, Nevada Sir, - If our government had more backbone, Israel would adhere to Ben-Gurion's mantra: "What matters is not what the goyim say, it is what the Jews do." If Olmert, Livni and Barak were competent, the clampdown on Gaza would remain in place, but it would have been preceded by a suitable PR blitz, not an after-the-fact explanation that is too little, too late. JOEL KUTNER Jerusalem Sir, - One utterance by Tzipi Livni summed up the demented state of affairs in our leadership today. Speaking on the situation in Gaza, our foreign minister said that the Jewish state "is the only place in the world that supplies electricity to terrorist organizations that launch rockets at it in return." By making this statement, Livni admitted that the Israeli government has been an essential partner in launching the more than 6,000 rockets that have landed on Sderot and the Western Negev in the past seven years. Our government's moral standards are clearly skewed, since providing electricity for a hostile enemy population takes precedence over saving Jewish lives. As someone who travels to Sderot regularly and has witnessed firsthand the terrible suffering there, I can say with confidence that it is time for a new Israeli leadership to arise, one that, first and foremost, will take the necessary measures to protect its citizens. JOSH HASTEN Jerusalem Doing something right Sir, - In "Stopping Kassam fire was not rocket science" (January 22), Yaakov Katz credits Defense Minister Ehud Barak with implementing a middle-of-the-road policy of "escalating the humanitarian pressure while at the same time keeping up a steady flow of pinpoint air and ground operations throughout the Palestinian territory." If this policy succeeds it will be because the people of Sderot have been able to stand up to the immense pressure of continuous Kassam rocket attacks. They are the true heroes of Israel, working hand-in-hand with the government to confront a challenge that threatens the very existence of the State of Israel. We must be doing something right, because the rest of the world seems to be going back to the old habit of condemning Israel for trying to defend its Jewish citizens. PAUL BERMAN Shoham For the record Sir, - On January 11 the Post reported: "Rabbis for Human Rights joins petition against 'hijacking' of Durban II. Left-wing group was slammed over 2001 conference." We would take issue with the characterization of RHR as a left-wing group, as the concern for human rights unites rabbis over a surprisingly wide political spectrum. We do not think we were particularly "slammed" over our participation in Durban I, and certainly take issue with Prof. Gerald Steinberg's assertion that RHR was too quiet before and during the conference. Our representative walked out of the conference because he felt he had no place between the virulently anti-Israel atmosphere and the response recognizing no Israel wrongdoing. As we wrote in our press release at the time, "Any attempt to raise legitimate issues of human rights in Israel was made impossible by the extreme anti-Israel atmosphere." RABBI ARIK ASCHERMAN Executive Director Rabbis For Human Rights Jerusalem Justice and decency Sir, - It is unfortunate that Israel allowed the Hizbullah leader's deplorable "body parts" speech to go unanswered ("Nasrallah claims he has remains of soldiers 'left behind,'" January 19). Israel's response should not have come from the gut, like that of certain headline-seeking ministers, who during Sunday's cabinet meeting called for Nasrallah's assassination (as if we hadn't thought of it before). In a more cool-headed manner, Israel should turn its advocacy efforts to the realm of international law. According to section 5 of the Third Geneva Convention, prisoners of war must be allowed to establish contact with the outside world. The preface to UN Security Council resolution 1701 calls for the "unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers." Efforts should be made to get Nasrallah isolated internationally. It is clear that in this case, both justice and human decency are on our side. ELHANAN MILLER Jerusalem Just hype Sir, - The hype over the supposed "solution" to global warming and Arab financial strength is just that - hype ("New deal should speed the journey to an Israeli electric car," January 22). Given Israel's electricity-generating environment, electric cars are no panacea. Electricity is "zero emission" only at the user end; that power has to be produced somewhere, and if it's capacity we haven't already built, it will almost certainly be powered by fossil fuels. At present Israel has no nuclear-power generation, nor does it have any significant hydro-electric generation; thus the electric cars will ultimately all be powered by the burning of fossil fuels, be they LNG, coal or crude oil. The only thing this scheme will really accomplish is moving smog out of places like Haifa into the rural areas where the power plants are located (Hadera, Ashkelon, etc). It is a "cleanup" only in the sense that I could "clean up" my front yard by sweeping all the leaves over into yours. If Agassi, Ghosn and Peres really want to change the world, they need to be simultaneously advocating or actually building nuclear power generators so that driving an electric car will truly be the "green" solution. Otherwise, this is just so much marketing hype for a new Renault-Nissan car, and nothing more. GEOFF CLEIN Jerusalem Seeking Elli Newman Sir, - I am writing to you on behalf of a friend, Jack Fairs. Jack was in the RAF during World War II. In 1941, in Tel Aviv, he met a girl called Elli Newman. He has asked me if I can trace her or her descendents. Can any reader help? A picture of Elli appears on the front cover of a book written a few years ago by Jack and Bill Fairs titled Jack and Bill's War - Wartime Experiences with the RAF in the Middle East. Jack's tel. no. is 0044 151 645 5372; or e-mail [email protected] DAVID THOMAS Wigan, Lancashire, UK