January 6: Jaw-jaw away

Is it too much to ask that we appoint interlocutors who speak the other side’s language at mother tongue level?

Jaw-jaw away
Sir, – Your headline (“In Amman meeting, Israeli, PA negotiators agree to keep talking,” January 4) reminds one of Winston Churchill’s famous quip: “To jaw jaw is always better than to warwar.”
But would it be too much to ask that our government appoint interlocutors who speak the other side’s language at mother tongue level?
Unseemly talk
Sir, – Noam Schalit displays a stunning lack of personal responsibility in calling upon the government to deter future kidnappings by threatening the heads of terror organizations (“Noam Schalit: Deterrence is what will prevent kidnappings,” January 4).
Schalit is certainly right in that “terrorist organizations need to know that kidnappings don’t pay off for them.” But common sense suggests that the recently reported increase in efforts to kidnap soldiers along the Gaza border is due in great measure to the unconscionable price that was paid to redeem his son, Gilad.
Schalit justifies that exchange by saying 80 percent of the Israeli public was in favor. He forgets the carefully orchestrated campaign by the family and its supporters that vilified anyone opposing the deal.
We are all happy that Gilad returned home. However, Noam Schalit’s comments would have been more convincing if they had come in the context of the negotiations for his own child. In effect he is saying, “I got my son back, at great expense to Israel’s security. Now it’s time to limit the damage.”
Zichron Ya’acov
Hardly humane
Sir, – In response to “Dutch chief rabbi: Circumcision will be targeted after Shechita” (December 3), as president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I want to state that while JVNA opposes all slaughter of animals, we also protest when Shechita is singled out for special criticism.
I suggest that in defense of Shechita we urge that people read Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz, which points out the many horrors at non-kosher slaughterhouses where stunning is used.
New York
Newman is right
Sir, – Unlike the letter writers (“Losing his balance,” January 1) who attacked David Newman’s “Israel and the European Left” (Comment & Features, December 27), I feel the haredi use of Holocaust symbolism confirms Newman’s position. I’ve criticized leftist extremists elsewhere for the same reason; such symbolism is always a double-edged sword.
The use of Holocaust-linked rhetoric makes conservative- liberal Zionist and haredi-Zionist discussion difficult. It is too bad, because the civilized processing of differences seems the only way to carry on a democracy. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Respectful discussion is the worst way to air and process differences – except for every other way.”
And for once I would like to congratulate Caroline B. Glick. In her latest column, “Is Israeli society unraveling?” (Our World, January 3), she comes out against polarization and emphasizes our common values, both of which drive this point home.
Cambridge, Massachusetts
We’ve got Bones
Sir, – Can’t wait for Fridays.
Great to have Dry Bones back. Last week’s cartoon is now on my desk, together with favorites from 2002 and 2006.
Thank you, Mr. Kirschen.
Pe’er Stenback is the independent monitor for Magen David Adom in Israel and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, and is not an official of the International Committee for the Red Cross, as was reported in “No symbols on MDA W. Bank ambulances” (News in Brief, January 5). Also, in 2005, MDA and the PRCS joined the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, and not the ICRC.