January 25: A collective blindness

George Mitchell has the same blind spot that afflicts almost the entire diplomatic world.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A collective blindness Sir, - George Mitchell has the same blind spot that afflicts almost the entire diplomatic world ("Every conflict can be solved, Mitchell tells 'Post,'" January 22). His "proof" - the peace agreements reached in Northern Ireland. But he overlooks one vital difference between that conflict and ours: Sinn Fein and the IRA did not believe they were on a mission from God. The core belief of the Islamists and their Iranian backers is that they are fighting a holy war not only against Israel, but against all infidels worldwide. It is their religious conviction that they must create a global Islamic state in which there is no place not only for a Jewish state, but for any non-Muslim one. There can be no peace until they are disabused of this conviction. MEIR ABELSON Beit Shemesh Act like a winner... Sir, - Israel captured dozens of prisoners, Hamas terrorists, in the war that Hamas started. We need to approach the issue of these apprehended enemy fighters from a position of strength, releasing them only if Hamas releases our precious soldier, Gilad Schalit. No terrorists already in jail for previous terror activities should be freed so as not to greatly endanger our people. Let's remember who won the war, and not allow the loser to call the shots ("Barak: Hamas was dealt a blow it never imagined," January 22). KALMAN FEDER Nof Ayalon ...yeah Sir, - After reading the above report, it was perplexing, and deeply disturbing, to see on the front page of the same issue of the Post video footage showing Palestinians' continuing use of the tunnels to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip. Equally incomprehensible is the fact that the "vanquished" Hamas is now dictating the terms for the release of Gilad Schalit. ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva Wide of the mark Sir, - "Neo-Nazis plan Gaza 'Holocaust' vigil in Berlin" (Online Edition, January 21) grossly distorted the facts. True, the the Left Party has vehemently criticized Israel's recent Gaza campaign. True, German citizens of Arab/Muslim extraction have added their voices to this criticism. True, the neo-Nazi NPD sought to ride on the back of anti-Israeli feeling by organizing a demonstration in Berlin. Your correspondent was completely wrong, though, to conflate these three matters. The NPD is a vile, right-wing extremist grouping that is rightly detested by the majority of Germans. It has nothing to offer any German citizens or immigrants who are not, as they would put it, "aryan" enough. I myself am a British citizen, and am neither colored nor Jewish. Yet I too would face pretty certain deportation from Germany if the NPD ever came to power. The suggestion that Muslims in Germany would vote for the NPD is completely wide of the mark. The NPD's hatred of Arabs and Muslims is as great as its hatred of Jews, and members of either of these groups would find it extremely difficult to become members of the NPD, even if they wanted to. The only question for the NPD is which of these two groups it is most advisable for them to scapegoat at any one time. DAVID BAGSHAW Bad Schönborn, Germany Before conflict, and after Sir, - David Golinkin's "Proof texts" (January 19) was a fairly accurate portrayal of the traditional Jewish attitude to war. I would take issue, though, with his "two words of warning [to our soldiers] before every battle": While it is true that the biblical Jacob was distressed that he might have to kill, Rashi nevertheless states that he prepared for the confrontation with Esau in three ways: diplomatically, by sending a delegation bearing 'peace' offerings; spiritually, via prayer; and, finally, militarily - dividing his camp into divisions in preparation for war should the first two options fail. In other words, rather than allow his fright to cow him into inaction, Jacob readied himself for conflict. Secondly, in Golinkin's extract of the Midrash in which God rebukes the angels for singing upon seeing the Egyptians drown in the Red Sea, the Midrash is criticizing the angels, who are a third party to the conflict: They have no right to rejoice while watching the Egyptians drown. However, there is no implied criticism whatsoever when the victims and former slaves themselves, led by Moses and Miriam, celebrate their salvation and the Egyptians' downfall. MORRIS KARLIN Mercaz Shapira Beduin vs Western wives Sir, - After reading Larry Derfner's article on Beduin women in polygamous marriages, I was so thankful to be part of an enlightened society where a man, after many years of marriage, will never take a second wife ("Three's not company," UpFront, December 12). He simply divorces his wife of some 30 years and marries, generally, someone younger. After all those years he finally "finds" the woman who loves and really understands him. The Beduin woman feels lonely, depressed and humiliated as her husband chooses a second, younger wife. Does the divorcee who has been dumped after 20-30 years of marriage not feel lonely, depressed and humiliated? The Beduin's first and older wife gets little attention and some money. Our divorcee gets no attention. The Beduin first wife is left with her abode. The Western divorced woman may be forced to leave her apartment since she is now compelled to go it alone. The expense of the children is on her shoulders. Her "ex" feels little obligation to her and gives her only what he is absolutely forced to pay, and that may come after a long, hard battle. As for enmity between the "old" and "new" wives, there's plenty. The Western "enlightened" divorcee is, of course, free to remarry; but as my divorced friend, 45 with four kids in tow, says, "My chances of remarrying are basically zero." After thinking about it, the lot of the Beduin first, older wife doesn't seem so bad. JUDITH KAY Jerusalem