July 13: Schalit and Pollard

Now that Israel has shown its tremendous and justifiable support for the release of Gilad Schalit, how about a similar campaign for the release of one of its forgotten heroes, Jonathan Pollard?

Schalit and Pollard
Sir, – Now that Israel has shown its tremendous and justifiable support for the release of Gilad Schalit, how about a similar campaign for the release of one of its forgotten heroes, Jonathan Pollard? In his captivity, we do not count the days, but the many years (“The Pollard-Schalit connection,” July 12).
Pollard is not being held by a brutal, repressive regime like Hamas – he is incarcerated in a civilized country that prides itself on its advocacy of human rights (whatever that means).
Yet he was given a sentence that one could refer to as disproportionate.
Perhaps we should capture some American spies and do a “quiet” exchange.
Sir, – Esther Pollard’s opinion piece debases Gilad Schalit by comparing him to a convicted criminal.
Schalit is a kidnapped soldier held against rules set up by the Geneva Convention. Jonathan Pollard stole information from his government to sell to Israel. He stood trial, and though he received a harsh sentence, it was well within the confines of the law.
It is shameful that Pollard’s wife would try to compare him to an innocent Israeli prisoner.
Sir, – Esther Pollard makes the point that bringing a captive home requires moral integrity and consistency. These two qualities have been sadly lacking in successive governments that have neglected to ascertain the fates of MIAs Zecharia Baumel, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, missing since 1982, IAF navigator Ron Arad, missing since 1986, and Guy Hever, missing since 1997.
Esther Pollard has every right to protest the injustice and unfair treatment meted out to her husband, and no one can blame the family of abducted soldier Gilad Schalit in its understandable efforts to keep his name in the headlines. But where is the outcry about the other MIAs? Who has demanded of the Red Cross that it attempt to look into their fate? When there is a march on behalf of all the missing men, when there are demonstrations, when a government voice is heard on their behalf, then maybe I can believe in the professed Israeli value of not leaving a wounded soldier on the battlefield.
Perhaps too fatherly
Sir, – Aaron David Miller’s July 12 op-ed (“Lessons for an Israeli- Palestinian summit”) contained a sentence of breathtaking paternalism: “When the small powers say no to the big one without cost or consequence, the big power – the mediator – loses leverage, credibility and respect.”
We here in Israel read the problem exactly in the opposite direction.
When we say yes to the big power – as we did with the Oslo agreements and the Wye agreements – we end up paying a huge price in blood and treasure.
The bill for removing almost all the roadblocks in Judea and Samaria hasn’t come in yet, but it will. We eventually will have to send in the army to rectify the situation, as we did after the Park Hotel massacre and the thousands of rockets suffered in our South.
And then the world will blame us for defending ourselves.
We are indeed a small power.
That doesn’t make us children in need of a scolding or a punishment.
We have paid too much of the cost for saying yes.
Stay tuned
Sir, – Since Jenny Shipman (“Give us beauty!,” Letters, July 12) appears to be irredeemably consumed with the superficial appearance of broadcasting personalities, may I respectfully suggest that she confine her future activities to watching the radio.
Thumb twiddling
Sir, – Regarding “UK ambassador eulogizes Hizbullah’s late ‘great’ mentor” (July 9), why is Israel so sheepish? It should react emphatically and call in the British envoy to Israel for a reprimand about the comments made by his colleague.
How can a friend of ours have a representative that praises an avowed enemy of Israel? If the tables were turned, the world wouldn’t stand by twiddling its thumbs.
Derfner brings ’em in
Sir, – Larry Derfner’s views are well known (“Israel is waiting for Palin,” July 8), but the language he uses might go unnoticed.
Here is an instructive example.
For the US government, it is “President Obama and his administration,” whereas for that of Israel it is “Netanyahu and the gang.” So for Derfner, the democratically elected prime minister of Israel and his government are simply a gang.
The rest of his arguments – such as the Likud hates Muslims and liberals, for just one outrageous libel – are as unfounded as his language is hateful.
Sir, – Larry Derfner is rightfully alarmed that Republicans may retake the White House and Congress in future elections. If so, he’d blame the catastrophe on Netanyahu’s Likud “gang,” which hates Muslims and liberals.
Derfner may fail to read the paper’s direct quotes of the nearby foxes that constantly threaten and even act to destroy our tiny henhouse. Perhaps being encaged in Modi’in has somewhat limited his vision of serious American local and international political challenges.
Sir, – After reading his latest, I feel a little sorry for poor Larry.
He doesn’t really know what to say, in view of Obama’s friendly reception of Netanyahu, so he puts the worst possible face on it. The Republicans have no real leaders, so they follow the crazies, the so-called Tea Party nuts, who have no real platform, except that they don’t like whatever it is the Democrats are doing.
The Democrats’ margin in Congress may go down, but that happens on every off-year election.
As for their effect on Israelis, I really don’t believe we have to worry too much: Likud or Republican, they’re all the same.
The Americans woke up in 2008; the Israelis will do the same with the next election here, whenever that may be.
Meanwhile, Obama made Bibi feel good. Is that so bad? I’m betting there will still be an extension of the building freeze, no matter how strongly Likudniks protest.
Foresight needed
Sir, – The Jerusalem Film Festival is being held this year July 8- 17. It’s wonderful and positive publicity of the right kind for Jerusalem. But why does it have to be held during the “three weeks” and, even more important, during the nine days leading up to Tisha B’Av? With forward planning and small adjustments, could it not have been held before the start of the three weeks (June 29), or after Tisha B’Av on July 20? Then, all the city’s residents, in addition to the many visitors the festival brings, would have the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful series of events.
Pricing headaches
Sir, – I recently had cause to buy a package of aspirin in Jerusalem. I purchased the same product not long before in an affluent suburb of London for the equivalent of the grand sum of about NIS 4, no discounts. In Jerusalem, the same aspirin cost me NIS 15.26.
I am wondering why such a basic and essential product should cost four times the price when purchased in Israel, which boasts the world’s leading producers of generic medicines.