July 2: Bitter choice

The sham-laden election in Zimbabwe is an affront to any nation that values democracy.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bitter choice Sir, - The sham-laden election in Zimbabwe is an affront to any nation that values democracy. Its bitter aftertaste is almost palpable ("An African tyrant," Editorial, July 1). If Zimbabwe exported something approaching the value of oil, we would likely be seeing democratic nations not just applying sanctions, but talking about a military option as well. The "oil factor" explains why corruption and death can run rampant in countries such as Rwanda and Sudan - and Zimbabwe - yet it is the Iraqs of the world that make the West sit up and really take notice. This callous and evil dictator and others of his ilk know exactly which cards will and won't be played against them by the so-called overseers of both human rights and democracy within the walls of inept institutions such as the UN and African Union. DANIEL KOWBELL Toronto Jewish attitudes Sir, - I think I get it: Israel is tough on her friends and lenient to her enemies. Support the IDF in Lebanon as an SLA soldier, then get ignored after you flee to Israel. Try to convert, and woe unto you if the wrong rabbi confirmed you. On the other hand, kidnap an Israeli soldier and rocket Israeli civilians, then get a nice cease-fire in which to rearm. Kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers, and get all your psychopathic killers back for nothing. Jews like to brag about being peace-loving, but I wonder if they are just self-hating ("Readers react to the deal with Hizbullah," Letters, July 1). DAVID KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont Poland at face value Sir, - When Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich recently ordained the first nine Orthodox rabbis in Warsaw after WWII, it marked a new milestone in our history and in Polish-Jewish relations ("Poland gets 1st Orthodox rabbis since WWII, July 1). Both Jews and non-Jews in Poland are proud of the rebirth of Jewish life in a country that once had 3.5 million Jewish citizens. We can only welcome every positive development. However, statements like "The Polish people are anti-Semites" with reference to Kielce (1946) or the German death camps in that country during the Nazi occupation are of no help. We are living today, and our world has to be shaped by today's inhabitants of Poland. Poland's interest in friendship with Israel can be recognized by many present-days attitudes. The fact that three top Polish leaders visited our country this year - former president Lech Walensa in January, Premier Donald Tusk in April and President Lech Kaczynski in May - is no small thing. All three stretched out the hand of friendship to Israel. When Walensa, the first president of a free Poland, visited Israel in 1991, he appealed to Yitzhak Shamir: "Mr. Prime Minister, for the Jewish blood that was spilled in Poland I ask you for forgiveness in the name of the Polish people." Our prime minister accepted. Today in Israel, Ambassador Agnieszka Magdiak-Miszewska is trying her uttermost to promote good relations between our countries by, among other significant efforts, educating the young generation through student exchanges and cultural events. She wants today's Poland to be recognized. May she hear our positive echo! Eventually all Jews will be gathered home to Israel - not because of past, present or future anti-Semitism, but simply because it is ultimately our homeland and our Prophets foretold it in God's name. Meanwhile, we need to foster peace and friendship wherever and with whomever it is honestly possible. HILLEL GOLDBERG Jerusalem Dirty little secret Sir, - What do rockets on Sderot and the recent postal strike have in common? They both affected only cities in the "periphery" of the country ("What have we poor country folk done?" Letters, June 30). Sderot residents have rightfully complained for years that no one was protecting them because as long as rockets were not falling on Tel Aviv, the concern was minimal. As for the postal strike, I didn't understand why I was not receiving mail until many days after the strike started, when I found news of the action in a small article buried deep inside the newspaper. Had the strike involved the major population centers, the outcry would have been far louder and matters would certainly have been settled in less than a month. Israel is becoming divided in two, and it's not between "Israel proper" and the "settlements." That's just been a convenient excuse masking our dirty little secret: the division between the center and the periphery. And, as evidenced by both Sderot and the postal strike, the periphery is the big loser. It's time to start caring about both Israels. DAVID JACOBS Efrat Wake up beforeyou shake up Sir, - Re "No sign that mini-tremors in southern Lebanon foretell quake in North" (July 1): Many months ago Magen David Adom announced that it would be conducting comprehensive earthquake drills for Israeli citizens. I applied to join in the exercise, but because of a lack of public response the whole idea was cancelled. The drill was not about storing water and food but about what to do in an emergency, during a quake. There are many old apartment buildings here, and public ones such as schools. One cannot imagine the panic that would ensue if "The Big One" were to hit these structures. The situation needs to be reviewed. Earthquake drills must be held periodically as part of a public safety campaign. SARA SHAW Kfar Saba Heed the messenger Sir, - Israel is in grave danger, but unfortunately the vast majority of its Jewish population doesn't seem to notice. It is my hope that Israel will heed Caroline Glick's hard-hitting, reality-based warnings. Another military setbackwould likely be disastrous, not only for Israel but also for the US. Glick's op-eds represent the most important message for Israel today ("Livni the leader, or Livni the lamb?" July 1). B.K. SKOORB Sidney, Ohio He just didn't know Sir, - Re "Hanegbi: If I had known it was wrong, I wouldn't have done it" (June 30): Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi has a long history of "not knowing it was wrong." In 1994-96, when he served as head of the road safety organization Derech Tzleha, he reportedly took, from a total of NIS 375,135 raised by the organization, over NIS 288,000, "transferred directly and indirectly to Hanegbi for rebates on salaries, car allowance, telephone, and funding newspaper congratulatory messages to himself, co-signed by various organizations" ("Police recommend charging Hanegbi with corruption," June 10, 1999.) He didn't know it was wrong! GERRY MYERS Beit Zayit