June 25: End your folly

NACHUM CHERNOFSKY: The Arab world declared war on us 58 years ago. It's about time it gave up its folly.

End your folly Sir, - Re "Pregnant woman killed in IAF strike" (June 22): How many pregnant women and children were killed by US bombers in Germany during WWII? Did anyone in the US protest? Of course not, there was a war going on. If the Palestinians want to stop their civilians dying let them sue for peace and call for an immediate cease-fire. The Arab world declared war on us 58 years ago. It's about time it gave up its folly. NACHUM CHERNOFSKY Bnei Brak Suicide attacks can be deterred Sir, - I must question the logic of David Kellen's argument, which claims that since Israel is fighting an enemy willing to give up lives for the continuation of terror against Israel, suicide bombers cannot be deterred ("Logic of the Kassams," June 21). Retaliation, he concludes, only creates new suicide bombers. While Mr. Kellen is correct that suicide bombers cannot be deterred because they are fanatics, he ignores the infrastructure of terror behind them which can, and must, be deterred. I mean the well-oiled machine of financing and indoctrination, manufacture of suicide vests and explosives by others in the terror organizations. These people do make rational calculations (principally to send someone else's son to carry out the bombings). Suicide attacks can be deterred by "upping the ante" on the terror infrastructure through a heightened level of retaliation. Unless Israel's national security policy rests on accurate premises and logical conclusions innocent civilians on both sides will remain at risk. DR. KIM EZRA SHIENBAUM Associate Professor of Politics Rutgers University-Camden Camden, New Jersey Sir, - I was stunned by the apparent disingenuousness of two of your recent columnists. David Kellen wished to convince us that military operations had "failed to produce long-term reductions in violence." He appeared to be hoping that his readers had forgotten about the reduction in suicide bombings - from several a week before the IDF retook the West Bank to one every several months - and about comments from some Palestinian leaders that the armed intifida was a costly mistake. Alon Pinkas ("If not realignment, what?" June 15) went even further. With Sderot becoming uninhabitable in the wake of the Gaza withdrawal he implied that though a West Bank withdrawal is not risk-free, we needn't worry about its security consequences because Ehud Olmert is a great statesman who thinks "out of the box" and will come up with the answers to any problems. If these two writers are representative of the Israeli political and intellectual elite, Israel's in trouble. STEVE OSTREICHER Albany, New York Sir, - David Kellen is right - Israel's retaliations have had little effect on the Palestinians. The answer is not to stop retaliation but to increase its intensity. Can anyone imagine what the US would do if, every day, terrorists in Mexico lobbed missiles into Texas? I suspect that within a day or two there wouldn't be a living thing within 20 miles of the Texas border. What other country would put up with this? Which Arab country would? ABE KRIEGER Philadelphia What's in a title? Sir, - Are we afraid of diluting the respect carried by the title of "rabbi"? It may be a little late for that. In the Talmud, while the sages of the Mishna are called "rabbi," the Amoraic sages who followed them are given the title of "rav." Does the Jewish world lack pressing issues that we need to quibble about titles that are meaningless anyway? ("Who's a rabbi? Letters, June 22) M. BERMAN Herzliya Sir, - I agree with reader Myron Goldberg. A rabbi is a man who conducts himself in accordance with the last letter of the law as handed down to us from Sinai by God, through Moses. Anyone who does not cannot call himself a rabbi. Judaism is like a club. If you want to belong to it, you have to stick to the rules. JUDY FORD Petah Tikva How the British view minorities Sir, - Ashley Perry misunderstands the British notion of multiculturalism in his assessment of British attitudes to the Jewish community and other minorities ("An unhyphenated people," June 14). Contrary to the French outlook, which views dual identity as a challenge to one's primary allegiance - thus frowning upon public displays of religious identity - British multiculturalism embraces dual identity as a way of contributing to modern Britain. While former Conservative cabinet minister Norman Tebbit famously suggested in 1990 that people from ethnic minorities in Britain should not be considered truly British until they supported the England cricket team, this didn't mean they had to forgo other identities; rather that they should show some allegiance to the country in which they live. The British are extremely conscious of doing the politically correct thing and not offending others' sensibilities. For example, ordering kosher food in the workplace is easily done. And, generally speaking, it is safe and perfectly normal to wear a kippa in educational institutions, the workplace and the street. The rise of anti-Semitism among the chattering classes emerges from the far Left's failure to break free of the 19th-century Marxist dogma that the Jews are merely a religious group and therefore do not possess the right to national self-determination in their own land. It is this more than Perry's absurd suggestion that the Jewish people remind the British "of their humble beginnings" that has led to the delegitimization of Israel among Britain's small but vocal far Left. JONATHAN STEEL Jerusalem Skipping Israel Sir, - I am tired of celebrities who use Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport to visit the Palestinian territories but forget to see what is in between - the beautiful people and land of Israel. We have always considered the Arabs our cousins, and the desire to have dialogue and peace with our neighbors is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, which is why the need to prevent bloodshed is paramount. This is why we built the security fence. Waters's comparison of the fence to the Berlin Wall only showed how ignorant he is of our security situation, and how attention-starved he is ("Roger Waters spray-paints the wall," On-Line Edition, June 22). SERGEY KADINSKY Jerusalem FM needs flair-up Sir, - Tzipi Livni, an attractive, intelligent woman, is continually in the public eye and her dress sense leaves something to be desired. She needs to project herself in much smarter outfits and a new hair-style. She may be happy with her image - but her stature as a representative of our government mandates a new one. I ask her please not to be annoyed by this letter; I would really get much satisfaction from seeing her just as smartly dressed as the women ambassadors who come to call. B.M. JOFFE Haifa Click for meaning Sir, - Your correspondent who enjoys reading the Letters to the Editor on-line but has no energy to consult a dictionary should know that there is software that gives you the meaning of words and idioms at the push of two buttons ("What's with the big words?" Letters, June 22). M.M. VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem