June 9: Police behavior

Had the Jerusalem policeman fired his weapon ending the bulldozer carnage, Batsheva Unterman would be alive today.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Police behavior... Sir, - Police authorities have concluded that the officer who climbed aboard the tractor but did not shoot the terrorist acted properly. He determined that the driver had no pulse, and was therefore neutralized ("Police reject criticism over handling of bulldozer attack," July 8). Had he fired his weapon, Batsheva Unterman would be alive today. It took an off-duty soldier, "M," to take the initiative and end the carnage, in a near-replay of events at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva four months ago. There, while the terrorist was slaughtering teenagers inside, a policeman sat safely outside, ostensibly to prevent civilians from entering. He was also not officially censored. "M" credited his action to his upbringing and the injunction in Leviticus 19: "Do not stand idly by while your neighbor's blood is spilled." In contrast, the police's guideline seems to be: "To protests by your fellow citizens apply violence, but to your enemies be indulgent and wear kid gloves." TUVIA MUSKIN Rehovot ...& misunderstanding Sir, - Thank you for this clear rendering of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee meeting. I'm proud of our having a moral police commander like the popular Mickey Levy, who testified about why the terrorist wasn't killed before he did more damage. However, the source of this police failure becomes clear from his misquoting the Torah and seemingly being unaware of the full scope of Jewish teachings on attackers. The Ten Commandments say "Don't murder," not "Don't kill." The Talmud explains that if someone sets out to murder you, kill him first. And the rabbis teach: He who is merciful to the cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful - as indeed happened last week. So I disagree with MK Marina Solodkin that there is not enough professionalism in the police force. Yes, an error was made, but it was in understanding how to deal with wicked people. For the same reason we needed the (Shai) Dromi Law, to tell us that we can and must defend ourselves most forcefully when there is a risk of acute danger to our lives. M. HAGENAUER Jerusalem God's interpreters Sir, - Re "Baltimore immigrant: 'God saved me from bulldozer terrorist'" (July 4): God's purported intervention in our affairs is, in my opinion, not news - whether an individual has decided that God saved him because of something he did, in this case donating to charity; or didn't save others for some cited negative "reason," as we have occasionally read in past press reports. Those who claim to know the mind of God, whether in causing disasters to punish certain groups or in singling them out for rescue, have more appropriate forums to express their beliefs. NORMAN LOBERANT Nahariya Equal exchange Sir, - Let the biblical "An eye for an eye" be translated into modern legal language, meaning that only the living should be exchanged for the living. The same for dead bodies ("Brother of slain policeman petitions against Kuntar release," July 8). SHIVTA WENKART Arad Obstacle to peace Sir, - As ever, we are indebted to Caroline Glick for her insightful and painfully accurate assessment of the world media's view of Israel ("The media and enduring narrative," July 8). If only Western journalism applied her standard of integrity and professionalism to its reporting of events in the Mideast, we might not fear to entertain the idea of a negotiated peace. Until that time, whatever Israel does on its streets or offers at the negotiating table will continue to be inaccurately and unjustly perceived. And that's one of the biggest obstacles. JUDITH AMATEAU HAZARY Nahariya Fearless in their pursuit of right Sir, - A South African delegation is currently visiting here, hosted by vehement Israeli human rights activist Avner Inbar, to examine "Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinians" ("South African team to probe alleged Israeli abuses," July 7). Might I suggest that these well-heeled top judges, politicians and Jewish activists get their own house in order first. Let them take Inbar and visit their neighbor, Zimbabwe, to investigate Robert Mugabe's shocking abuses of his population. True, they would risk being thrown into into jail, but surely that would not deter such a fearless, righteous bunch of people. URI MILUNSKY Netanya US Jews during WWII Sir, - I appreciated Isi Liebler's informative "Yad Vashem and Hillel Kook" (July 8). History has always portrayed Dr. Steven Wise as a righteous leader who had the Jewish people's interest at heart. Many places in Israel are named after him. The time has come to try and set the record straight. Perhaps the place to begin is Yad Vashem, where an exhibit prepared by Hillel Kook's daughter, Dr. Becky Kook, should be inaugurated at the earliest possible date, bringing attention to the true facts about US Jewry during WWII. JOYCE KAHN Petah Tikva Myopia, and worse Sir, - Although water shortages can, in the long run, be attributed to a shortfall of rain, Israel's current crisis is in fact the result of myopic policies combined with incompetent management. The problem has been well known for decades, and a number of excellent solutions have been proposed, from more rational pricing to importing water to monitoring profligate usage. None have been implemented, turning a difficult but manageable problem - that it is manageable can be attested elsewhere, such as in Melbourne, Australia - into a crisis. Let's be clear where the blame lies and finally get rid of those who are responsible, from the very top down ("Drip, drip... drought," Editorial, July 6). HARVEY LITHWICK Metar Sir, - Your editorial did not go far enough. There should have been finger-pointing, especially at Shimon Peres, who as environment minister and foreign minister in the years 1999-2002 refused to sanction the building of the Mediterranean-Dead Sea canal option for refilling the Dead Sea. It could by now have been completed and be producing - in addition to 2,500 megawatts of clean hydroelectric power - over 1.3 billion cu. m. of desalinated water, thus alleviating the whole area's (including Jordan's and the PA's) water shortage for the foreseeable future. Peres instead decided to back the Jordanian Red Sea-Dead Sea option, which would produce only half the amount of water (and no electricity) and is unlikely to be pursued owing to the environmental risks to the Bay of Akaba and the proposed route along the Syrian-African Rift line, with its danger of exposure to earthquakes. ARIEL BROCH Shadmot Mehola Blessed name Sir, - Re Mayer Waxman's "My nice Jewish boy named Barak" (July 7): Barak, Barack, Baraka or Baraki have similar yet different meanings all through Africa and the Middle East. I am Tanzanian and I speak Swahili, and the Swahili language is a mixture of Arabic, Hebrew and Bantu. Most words in Hebrew have similar meanings in Swahili, but different interpretations. In Swahili the word barak or baraka means "blessing," as in Nimepata baraka za mungu (I have received God's blessings). KAREN GAMA Tanzania