March 18: Holding our fire...

Ask the people who live the reality if they're ready for a period of no retaliation for Kassam rocket fire on Sderot.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Holding our fire... Sir, - It is all very well for H. Feldman, sitting comfortably at Kibbutz Yizre'el, to suggest a period of no retaliation while Sderot is being hit daily. Ask the people who live the reality if they're ready for it ("Why not try this?" Letters, March 17). JUDY GOLDIN Kiryat Ono Sir, - A number of times during the past 20 years Israel has refrained from returning fire, particularly during rocket attacks between the two Lebanon wars, and also during the Barak government in the early stages of the second intifada. I can assure Mr. Feldman no one even noticed. JOYCE KAHN Petah Tikva ...and fueling the fire Sir, - Although Daoud Kuttab's "The futility of deterrence" (March 12) provided an interesting perspective on Israel's current Gaza dilemma, it also hid dangerous and false assumptions about international law. Kuttab flatly blames Israel for a "clear case of collective punishment‚" mirroring the erroneous claims made by a coalition of UK-based NGOs. No wonder Kuttab cited Human Rights Watch (HRW), and in particular Joe Stork, to support his argument. As reported by NGO Monitor, HRW is adept at using pseudo-legal rhetoric to further its politicized agenda, with Stork one of its worst offenders. In reality, Israel's guilt is far from clear and there exists a complex legal debate - which NGOs, including HRW, choose to ignore - over the definition of collective punishment. Kuttab calls for resolving the Gaza impasse: Replacing NGOs' hijacking of legal terminology to condemn Israel with an overdue, honest appraisal of the complexities of international humanitarian law would be a good first step. DAN KOSKY NGO Monitor Jerusalem Fence around the Torah Sir, - Michael Freund is 100% right about a special unit of yeshiva men to protect the yeshivas. Of course the right MKs have to be pressured - things don't just happen in this government, especially if they are obvious and make so much sense. The terrorists are aiming at our most sensitive spots, our institutions of Jewish learning. They are looking for a way to break us. If only the people running the government were on their own side instead of trying to appease the rest of the world. If only if they cared more about their own people and a little less about themselves ("Protecting our yeshivot," March 12). MIRIAM LOCK Efrat Sir, - Our leaders would do well to listen to Rush Limbaugh (March 2008): "Folks, as an individual or a nation, if you live your life to be liked by others you're dead, because then you're letting them define who you are." DAVID FEIGENBAUM Netanya Force invites force Sir, - Take what rightfully belongs to the Arabs by force, and they will fight you. Such was the essence of the message the great Jewish humanitarian philosopher, Ahad Ha'am, delivered to the early Zionists. Now, as the recent dreadful events in Jerusalem have shown, in the 60th year of the Jewish state there is nowhere on earth a Jew is more likely to be killed simply on account of being Jewish than in Israel. I would sooner see my Israeli friends live than die for their country. What price Judea and Samaria? MARTIN OXLEY Sheffield, UK Headed for defeat Sir, - I was appalled to see you run a piece of Palestinian propaganda by Bassam Eid ("Martyrdom and national identity," March 6). I presume he was trying to frighten us by describing how all Palestinian youth yearn for "martyrdom." There will never be a Palestinian state, because a society oriented to death and destruction can never build anything constructive. At the beginning of WW2 the Germans proudly distributed pictures of their destruction of Warsaw to frighten people around the world. It had the opposite effect, convincing everyone that Nazi Germany was dangerous and had to be fought and defeated. The Japanese, at the same time, were brainwashing their soldiers into thinking that their highest aspiration was to die a glorious death for the Emperor. In the end, large numbers of them died, and Japan lost the war. Eid's Palestinians are headed in the same direction. YAAKOV BEN-DAVID Rehovot Sir, - Nowhere did Bassam Eid mention any voices, his own included, calling for peaceful negotiations as the path to solving the conflict. This is especially disappointing in view of his record as a man dedicated to promoting human rights - which presumably include the right to see one's children grow up in peace. BEVERLY LEWIN Ramat Hasharon Sir, - As Mr. Eid would have it, the Palestinian nation may be an artificially manufactured entity, but by dint of assiduous violence it has magically turned into a real nation. "Another central factor in shaping the Palestinian national identity is martyrdom," he says. Am I narrow-minded, or is that rather a flimsy brief to carry for a national identity? The way I read his op-ed, these people seem to claim the right to warfare because they are a nation, while claiming the right to nationhood because they make war. MARK L. LEVINSON Herzliya Sir, - As I read "Resistance is... a means through which Palestinians should express their 'human dignity,'" I wondered about Bassam Eid's quotation marks around "human dignity," as if the words didn't carry their usual meaning. Then I wondered whether Mr. Eid's use of quote marks stemmed from a subconscious recognition that blowing oneself up in a crowded cafe or deliberately shooting ordinary Israelis does nothing for Palestinian dignity. MIRIAM AMGAD Jerusalem Distortion Sir, - In "Terrorism, theirs and ours" (March 13) Larry Derfner used the word "terrorism" to describe Israel's response to the barbaric use of force by Hamas against Israel's civilian population. This in no way reflects the reality on the ground, where Israel has gone out of its way to keep the number of Arab civilian casualties to a minimum, and has never deliberately targeted civilians. "Israel," Mr. Derfner writes, "has to restrain itself to targeting civilians in war only as an absolute last resort." Again, this is distortion. Your columnist should take more care when dealing with Israel's war on terror. PAUL BERMAN Shoham Sir, - Larry Derfner was right on target. Violence begets violence. "Right and wrong" by either party become intertwined. In the long run, the Arab people who are Israeli citizens will probably outbreed the Jewish people. What then? KENNETH CHEESEMAN Show Low, Arizona Gotta cry Sir, - My heart is hurting. Missiles rain down on us, it feels like every nation in the world is against us and, possibly worst of all, we are so terribly self-hating. Maybe we need "healthy" diversions, so we talk about how much money was spent by whoever, wherever, on whatever. But as I listen to the media commentators who with such glee and venom say, "I gotcha," I cry for my people ("Who will decide whether Netanyahu behaved improperly?" March 17). RUTH RACKOVSKY Jerusalem