June 21: Amir and Marwan

Marwan Barghouti is in jail for a reason. He is a murderer, not a political prisoner. Why would anybody at all consider him a partner?

Set an example!
Sir, – Bashar Assad’s butchering of his own citizens represents a challenge to Israel to define its role to the peoples of the region (“Syrian forces storm town near Turkey,” June 19).
Israel should be in the lead condemning Assad’s massacres as crimes against humanity, yet its officials have been strangely silent. The fact that the US has been slow and tepid in its own response should not be the basis of our policy.
Israel should be setting the agenda, not responding to it. It should let the peoples in the region know that we stand for core values that start with respect for human life, which means respect for the rights to freedom of speech, assembly, worship and religion for all.
It is true that we do not know what will come after Assad, but at the very minimum calling for him to be tried for his butchery will gain us the respect of those groups in Syria now rebelling against him.
And as a medical doctor, I call upon the British Medical Association to strip Assad of his license to practice ophthalmology in the UK, if he still has one.
The writer is head of the Genocide Prevention Program at Hebrew University-Hadassah
Changing the rules
Sir, – Regarding “‘The whole of the French community is in mourning’” (June 19), this shocking tragedy should be used to bring to an end a very dangerous practice of allowing a commercial enterprise to open its doors for business before it complies with all safety regulations and receives a valid business license.
In most Western countries, such a practice is not permitted.
The reason for the lax enforcement here is most probably rooted in the desire by local authorities to obtain payment of municipal taxes even though a business might not have a valid license.
Another practice that goes against the public interest is the failure of successive governments to require that entire buildings be insured by the house committee, thus benefiting all owners with a sharply reduced premium and placing responsibility on one insurance company. This also would remove the need for drawn out negotiations and litigation among numerous insurance companies, agents, owners and tenants.
Amir and Marwan
Sir, – Once again a prediction of mine has come to fruition. I stated in a recent letter to the Post that Amir Peretz should be the front-runner in the Labor Party leadership race. Sure enough, you state that, along with being a regular visitor to Marwan Barghouti, Peretz has managed to bring in the largest number of new party members (“Peretz admits to visiting Barghouti, June 19).
It is my belief that with Peretz’s help, Labor is on the way back. And his friendship with Barghouti (if that is what it is) could go a long way toward bringing Jews and Palestinians together for the good of both groups, and certainly for the future good of the Israel-Palestine connection.
Sir, – Marwan Barghouti is in jail for a reason. He is a murderer, not a political prisoner. Why would anybody at all consider him a partner? Amir Peretz is free to choose his friends, but he dare not foist this murderer upon us.
Peretz believes that the Palestinian leadership is prepared to make compromises. It would be interesting to learn which compromises they are prepared to make.
Shame on Obama
Sir, – One of the most shocking and disgusting acts ever perpetrated by an American president was committed recently by Barak Obama when Jonathan Pollard, a prisoner for 25 years, was refused permission to see his dying father – even in shackles (“Jonathan Pollard’s father dies at 95,” June 19).
One can only shake his head in incredulous disbelief at this inhumane act. No caring or compassionate person will forgive you, Mr. President. Shame on you!
Sir, – Jonathan Pollard has already been incarcerated for over a quarter of a century. This is unprecedented and unconscionable for any parallel crime.
Pardons have been sought and often obtained for murderers and their ilk on the premise that they have reformed. Regretfully, not so for Pollard. What a travesty of justice.
Now, to add a terrible insult to this injury, the White House refused to allow him to visit his dying father. How can President Obama sleep at night?
Sir, – MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) sent a condolence letter to Jonathan Pollard saying “The people of Israel will never forgive Obama for his cruelty in not taking action to free you from jail to visit your father.”
Not much chance of that, I would say, as the people of Israel have shown only too often that their memories are short.
Prime Minister Netanyahu should take note and remember how he gave in to Obama’s demands to free terrorists that had murdered our people, how he endangered his own people in order to make life easier for our enemies.
Netanyahu should take note that this is the man he depends on for our security.
The glass half-full
Sir, – Ziva Mekonen-Dego is quoted in “Young Sabras becoming less supportive of Aliya” (June 15) as being of the opinion that students of Ethiopian origin are made to feel like outcasts by the education system.
The AMIT educational network’s educators try their hardest to believe in every immigrant student.
They invest everything, with all their hearts, until every Ethiopian- born boy or girl feels at home in school, becomes part of society and experiences success. Thank God we see good results.
A few examples can put things in prospective.
Hadass Melda, a graduate of the AMIT ulpana in Beersheba and daughter of a family of Ethiopian immigrants, recently graduated from medical school.
In 2010, all immigrant students at the AMIT ulpana in Haifa completed their matriculation exams successfully, as did those studying at the AMIT Nogah ulpana in Beit Shemesh. One of the members of the AMIT spiritual- educational committee is Kess Samai Alias, a young cleric from Rishon Lezion who helps us improve the way we connect with immigrant students.
We are aware of the difficulties and bumps along the road, but it is important to see the full half of the glass.
The writer is spokesman for AMIT
A better way
Sir, – Mark L. Levinson’s letter (“Better democracy?,” June 14) missed the point.
First, constituency elections elsewhere have proven to be superior to our disastrous system.
It is not true that voters are “forced” to vote for a party they do not like. There have been innumerable cases (in the US, at least) in which voters have crossed party lines to vote for an individual deemed better than their favored party’s hack. That is impossible here.
“All politics is local,” someone once said, and with a constituency system, should your representative fail to deliver on his promises, you can dump him for someone else while still voting for your favored party at the national level.
No matter how much one might despise a party, the bulk of what’s important is not dependent upon who is in power. Reducing choice may actually be beneficial, particularly when you can present a menu of apples, oranges and tomatoes while eliminating the Bamba, potato crisps, ipecac, castor oil and arsenic.