July 16: Disturbing notion

Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar entered an Israeli prison even longer ago, in 1979. Despite that, he was never forgotten by Hassan Nasrallah.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Disturbing notion Sir, - Yesterday I heard Pirhiya Heiman-Kfir, the sister of Yehuda Katz, interviewed by Yaron Dekel on his It's All Talk radio program. To the question of why her brother and Zachary Baumel and Zvi Feldman, captured in the 1982 battle of Sultan Yakoub, had been forgotten, she agreed with a sort of sad cynicism that it was because it all happened so long ago. It prompted this unwelcome comparison: Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar entered an Israeli prison even longer ago, in 1979. Despite that, he was never forgotten by Hassan Nasrallah. On the contrary, his name was constantly on the Hizbullah leader's lips, as he hoped and negotiated for the murderer's release. If all goes as planned, tonight Kuntar will go to sleep a free man. MIRIAM AMGAD Jerusalem Sir, - To paraphrase your editorial writer: What kind of mentality can cause a victimized society to release a serial killer who has vowed to continue his murderous activities? ("A celebration of evil," July 15.) SIMI SCHWARTZ Sir, - Whatever demoralizing effect the Kuntar release may have, it is matched by the demoralizing effect of the continued incarceration of Jonathan Pollard. SIMCHA RUDMAN Jerusalem This assertion is obscene Sir, - MJ Rosenberg's "They do not trust him because of what he says, but because of who he is" is wrong and insulting ("No point pandering to Israel" July 15). We have no idea who Senator Barack Obama is, for three good reasons: • He is new to the national political stage. • In the last few months, strong positions he has taken have simply changed to match the direction of the weather-vane (or audience). • His response to intensive questioning lacks depth. For the vast majority of those wondering about Obama, these points have nothing to do with the color of his skin, his father's religion or any other bias. An inexperienced candidate, incapable of sticking to a position and with no obvious quality other than "It's me, the savior" just does not cut it. Many of us who were active players in civil rights from our teenage years are getting increasingly resentful of the assertion that we doubt Obama for reasons that are inappropriate. The implicit "You are racist if you are against Obama" is obscene. Mr. Rosenberg should grow up and realize that there are plenty of good reasons to be skeptical about Obama's candidacy. And that there are potential black candidates for the presidency, Republican and Democratic, who would not raise the skepticism Senator Obama has. STEPHEN J. KOHN Ra'anana Professional failure Sir, - I wish Ira Forman, my former employee, in his "The irrationality of Obama's critics" (July 10) had also followed some of my other advice that he mentioned in his piece. That is, to look for how long a US legislator has compiled a pro-Israel record - McCain's 25 years to Obama's four - and not cavalierly accused me of a "hysterical" view (i.e. opposite to his). Nor did I appreciate his lumping me in with another writer he criticized, whom I don't necessarily agree with. I am really sorry to see that even writing as a professional Democrat, Ira failed utterly to acknowledge any of his presidential candidate's shortcomings. MORRIS J. AMITAY Washington Platitudes don't provide water Sir, - If one wants to base a water policy on platitudes such as "Look after the poor of one's own town before those of another," one could also refer to the sage Hillel about treating others as one would like to be treated. However, platitudes don't provide water ("Desalinated tears?" July 13). If Israel reneged on an agreement (i.e., the part of the 1994 Peace Treaty with Jordan to do with water allocation), no matter how hard it is to implement, we would have no reason to complain when others renege; and it would reflect on our integrity and morals. Implementing a water policy based on practicalities rather than "age-old Jewish" sayings might offer useful solutions. One is a total clampdown on watering lawns. Suppose you had just two bottles of water in your house to last until next week. Would you use one of them for watering the lawn? Here's another saying to add to the debate: "Better let the grass die than let your neighbor go thirsty." FABIAN ACKER London All of us in blunderland Sir, - Re "Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train faces budget derailment" (July 13): Speeding up this project would save gasoline, time and - most important - lives lost on our highways. In the meantime, millions have been and are continuing to be spent on the Jerusalem light rail project, despite the fact that Jerusalem has one of the country's best bus systems. J. MEYER Jerusalem Jews have a choice Sir, - Thanks for your fine "Cruelty to animals riles Jewish leaders" (July 14). Richard Schwartz, president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, is right in saying that Jews have a choice, and it should be made in the direction of treating animals with compassion. Unfortunately, many Jews, including the Orthodox, do not seem to understand that there is extreme cruelty to animals on factory farms. We must draw their attention to this problem - which your report certainly did. Just the other day, I was asked by the supermarket checkout clerk why I was buying cage-free eggs. I explained why, and we both agreed that there isn't sufficient awareness of the subject. Interestingly, another article in the same issue noted the difficulty of obtaining kosher meat in Zimbabwe ("Unharmed by violence, but suffering economically, Zimbabwe Jews hold out"). Well, let them switch to a vegetarian diet! They, the animals and our planet will be better off for it. ZIVA ELIEZER Chairperson, SPCA Hasharon Tzofit Sir, - I hope that this well-written article helps start a long-overdue discussion in the Jewish community on the many moral issues related to our diets. This is especially important today as animal-based diets are contributing to an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish community and animal-based agriculture is contributing to global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction and many other environmental problems that threaten Israel and all of humanity. Anyone interested in exploring these issues further can see our new documentary A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World at ASacredDuty.com RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ New York You can't win... Sir, - How pleased I was to learn that the recent changes in bank charges mean that I will be NIS 6 per annum better off under the new regime. And imagine my delight when Isracard informed me this week that the charge for using their card will double to NIS 13 shekels per month. Who regulates the credit card companies? ("The banks are bamboozling us again," Daniel Doron, July 15) M. VEEDER Netanya ...but they can Sir, - David Goshen's suggestion that MKs need to take a course on long-term planning is preaching to the converted (Letters, July 15). Such a course is already the most important part of every politician's education. Its main focus: survival. STANLEY LAWSON Jerusalem