Wise folks don't gamble... Sir, - In "Giving up the Golan - the most painful concession" (June 12) Larry Derfner wrote: "If Assad offers peace, we lose our right to the land." Well, Bashar Assad must do a lot more than just "offer peace." He must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that peace is a top priority for him; and this would have to include such positive actions as:
breaking all ties with any organization hostile to Israel in any way (as Derfner indicated);
recognizing the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state and declaring this, in Israel, to the Knesset;
actively pursuing terrorist organizations and being prepared to open Syria's borders for a real exchange between the Syrian and Israeli peoples;
demilitarizing the Golan and the area adjacent to it.
If Assad met all these requirements, the ball would then indeed be in Israel's court.
As for your headline: Giving up the Golan is not the most painful concession. Gambling, and losing, the State of Israel for a mere offer of peace and by exercising poor judgment would be a far more painful concession.
..they proceed cautiously
Sir, - Despite admitting that "the Syrians were the aggressor in the Six Day War, they started shelling Israel from the Golan and Israel retaliated by conquering it," Derfner decides that international law is irrelevant and says that "So long as the Syrians didn't offer us peace, we were entitled to keep their land." But now, since they say, "We'll give you peace for the Golan" we are obligated to return it? Yeah, sign this guy up for a place in the Knesset.
Derfner believes that if we don't give up the Golan for peace, if we end up going to war, "we will be fighting a war that we could have prevented, but instead provoked." How exactly would we provoke a war started by another country simply because we hadn't given up strategic land conquered in another, defensive war - also started by them?
And the clincher to Derfner's plan: "We give Syria the Golan Heights back to the pre-Six Day War line - i.e. the northeastern shore of the Kinneret, and in return Syria declares peace and 'end of conflict' with Israel, stops giving war assistance to Hizbullah and Palestinian terrorists, and begins loosening its ties with Iran."
Why not take the reverse tack and give the Golan to Syria after they have severed ties with Iran, declared peace with us, and stopped abetting Hizbullah? Why give up land first, then wait to see if the Syrians keep the bargain?
Getting away with it
Sir, - Yaakov Katz wrote that the reason the cabinet decided to move toward a truce with Hamas, or at least a tahadiyeh, is that people like Ehud Barak are more concerned with "the elections around the corner." A major IDF operation in Gaza would be a tremendous distraction for Barak, who, "as chairman of the Labor Party, needs to focus his attentionon politics."
For seven years Hamas has been launching rockets against Sderot and its environs. Eighteen Israelis have been killed and many more have been wounded - such as eight-year-old Osher Twito, who lost his leg in a Kassam attack that hit his home. It rankles that Hamas will be getting away, with impunity, with these thousands of attacks.
When the tahadiyeh goes into effect, Hamas will continue smuggling weapons from Iran through its elaborate tunnel systems. It will obviously also take measures to strengthen itself for a future confrontation with the IDF.
I'm not a soldier or a military expert. But speaking as an average concerned citizen, last week's cabinet decision to put the major military incursion in Gaza on hold just makes me boil ("From 'closer-than-ever' operation to truce," June 12).
Incisively put. Now let's see
Sir, - Kudos to Isi Leibler for his incisive analysis of the decline of the religious Zionists' positive influence in the State of Israel ("The haredi offensive against religious Zionism," June 12).
By default, the haredi community has filled the vacuum.
To the neglected areas Liebler cites should be added the dismal condition of the state religious schools, whose graduates' defection from Torah observance has, tragically, increased over the past several years.
One sincerely hopes Leibler's words will serve as a wake-up call for the religious Zionist community.
And I only dropped in to buy a newspaper
Sir, - Down here in Eilat, I popped into my hotel shop to buy a Jerusalem Post.
"Sorry, you have to order it in advance," the owner said, reaching for a pen to take down my room number for the next day. Looking at the selection of Hebrew newspapers, I asked him to remind me which was the least left-wing.
"They're all much the same," he said, and continued, "If you support the Right, we may as well close down this place. As long as we live by the sword, no visitors will come to this country." "Well," I replied, "if we don't defend ourselves, there may be no country to come to."
He was a pleasant old man, but shook his head irritably, clearly struggling with the shopkeeping principle of "The customer is always right."
"OK, let me ask you this," I said. "Suppose our Arab neighbors, and Iran, offered us a solid peace treaty - but with one condition: that we give up either Eilat or Jerusalem.
"Which would you give up?"
"Jerusalem!" he replied, without as much as a moment's thought.
I left the shop feeling very sad.
North Beach, Eilat