June 13: Top and bottom

Prof. Uriel Reichman puts his finger squarely on many of Israel's problems in governing itself.

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
Top and bottom Sir, - In his interview with Haviv Rettig ("It's all in the plans," June 12), Prof. Uriel Reichman puts his finger squarely on many of Israel's problems in governing itself. A central one, as he points out, is the need to form coalitions with other, often hostile, parties. The problem goes deeper, though, as the choosing of Amir Peretz as Labor leader demonstrated. If the parties at least elected competent, experienced people at the top, even the coalition system wouldn't be so destructive for us. At bottom, we need a constituency electoral system and better people in politics. If we achieve the first, we might get the second. CAROL CLAPSADDLE Jerusalem Demonizing rhetoric Sir, - "American Jew finances campaign against demolition of Palestinian homes" (June 12) once again failed to give the full picture of the activities of Jeff Halper's Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). In detailed reports NGO Monitor has shown that ICAHD employs language that demonizes the State of Israel, draws comparisons with the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis, and supports the ongoing boycott campaign against Israel's universities. Halper, who received EU funding under the Partnership for Peace program, travels the world spreading this vociferous rhetoric and claiming, "The Israelis just don't get it." That anyone should help him in his attacks on Israel is a sad reflection of the lack of scrutiny applied to such highly politicized NGOs as ICAHD. GERALD STEINBERG Executive Director NGO Monitor Jerusalem Apple that rolled Sir, - Not only did the Avrum Burg apple fall far from the tree, it seems to have rolled down a steep hill into an abyss. French citizen Burg appears to have lost all sense of proportion in declaring himself a liberated European, allying himself with a continent that has not really been "user-friendly" to Jews over the last several centuries; one, moreover, whose Jew-baiting over those centuries culminated in the Holocaust. His equating Israel's security policies with Nazi Germany's racism goes beyond the pale of discussion. And all this from a former Speaker of the Knesset! Feh, Avrum'eleh, you should be ashamed of yourself! ("The apple that fell far from the tree," Maurice Ostroff, June 12) HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva Sir, - Maurice Ostroff's op-ed prompts an important question: Is it possible that the fall from the tree rendered Mr. Burg somewhat confused and irrational? R. BIRATI Melbourne Here's the answer... Sir, - Lily Polliack asks for an answer to "How does Israel define freedom for the Palestinians?" (Letters, June 12). Here it is: Israel does not define freedom for the Palestinians; they have to do it themselves, in a civilized manner. The bad things "being done" to Palestinians (roadblocks, the security fence, etc.) are a result of their own actions. Israel is only reacting, as did other countries where the Palestinians created problems. They need to straighten themselves out before demanding that the world take care of them. Even their Arab brethren are shaking them off. A. WEINBERG Hagolan ...though you may not like it Sir, - It is an established fact that the vast majority of Israeli citizens are in favor of a Palestinian state living in peace side by side with Israel. Achievement of this would ensure that the Palestinians had freedom, if their political leaders permitted it. However, both the failure of those Palestinian leaders to reach out to a two-state solution, guaranteeing Israel's right to exist and renouncing all forms of terrorism, and their clear determination to deny any form of democracy in their own domain make the development of such freedom impossible. I suggest that nearly all Israelis are aware of this and refute your correspondent's claim that the academic and other boycotts are related to the question she poses. MONTY M. ZION Tel Mond Disturbing thought Sir, - Throwing people out of the 12th floor of buildings, out of the 18th floor, dragging people out into the street and shooting them in the legs, if not worse, gunfights in hospitals ("Bloody battles spread to Gaza hospitals," June 12): This is just a glimpse of what the Arabs in Gaza are doing to their own people. I wonder what they would do to the ones they call their enemy? SETH CLYMAN Jerusalem Embarrass the Dutch Sir, - Targeted killing has suddenly become fashionable even outside the Gaza Strip. A few days ago the Dutch press reported that when Dutch soldiers in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan identify senior Taliban leaders on the Allied forces' killing list, they should, preferably, arrest them. If that is too difficult, they should ask permission from headquarters to carry out a targeted killing, even if there is no concrete threat. (This report was confirmed by Robin Middel, a Dutch Ministry of Defense spokesman.) What is this but yet another example of European double standards? When Israel killed Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi in April 2004, then Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot called it "not acceptable and reprehensible." Yet Israel has far more justification for its targeted killings of people who are aiming at its citizens and are part of an organization which wants to commit genocide against all Jews than the Dutch have, fighting on their own initiative in a remote country ("IDF chided for failing to pursue infiltrators back into Gaza Strip," June 11). Our Foreign Ministry must raise this matter with the Dutch government. Only by continuously stressing the Europeans' double standard and hypocrisy can we make it somewhat more embarrassing for them to behave as they do. MANFRED GERSTENFELD Jerusalem His credibility's poor Sir, - As always, Caroline Glick was most insightful ("James Baker's disciples," June 8). Were Mr. Baker coming from a neutral position in terms of Israel vs. its Arab neighbors, his "stability" plan could be judged on its own merits. However, in light of (a) his many public anti-Israel pronouncements, particularly while serving in the first Bush administration, and (b) his being senior partner in the law firm defending the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the various lawsuits brought by the families of the victims of 9/11, in my eyes at least, his proposal loses any sense of credibility. MICHAEL D. HIRSCH Kochav Yair Doing time for Yossele Sir, - I read with great interest Michal Lando's excellent "Here's Yossele, 45 years later" (June 8). There was an uncle living in Stamford Hill, London, who was also involved in the kidnaping of Yossele Schumacher. He was sent to Brixton Prison, where he was visited by my late father, Monty Radberg, who was the prison's Jewish chaplain at that time. Arrangements were made for kosher meals to be sent to the prisoner, and for the brit of his baby son to be held within the premises. CHAVA COHEN Jerusalem