March 4: Ask Dubai

Can we expect the English and Australian police to visit Iran to interview the two suspects who fled there?

Ask Dubai
Sir, – Now that the right-hand man of assassinated Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh has suggested that the security forces of an Arab country were behind the hit in Dubai (“Hamas official: Arabs may have targeted Mabhouh,” March 3), can we expect the English and Australian police to visit Iran to interview the two suspects who fled there?
    MICHAEL PLASKOW     Netanya
Sir, – Dubai’s police chief has called for authorities to be on the lookout for “Jews” based on “physical features and the way they speak”  (“‘Dubai's ban on Israelis is a blow to relations,’” March 2).
Will this sophisticated police force now employ the finest phrenologists to determine whether visitors are hiding horns under their wigs?
    YONATAN SILVER    Jerusalem
Early warning system for schools
Sir, – After the story broke about the 13 boys who allegedly gang-raped a teenage girl, questions were raised immediately in many quarters: Where were the school staff, the parents, police, social services, etc., etc., during the three years that this shocking abuse was allegedly going on (“Alleged teen gang rapists to be indicted,” March 3).
School staff are under a lot of pressure, with large classes and a bulky agenda. Many parents in the modern world can be so busy working that they are likely to be insensitive to their children’s behavior patterns.
What school staff need is access to information about what goes on outside the classes – on the playing fields, during social activities, etc. – particularly any irregular behavior.
One option is to institute a prefect system, recruiting senior-year students who have been carefully screened to assist school staff with discipline and organization – but most importantly to be the ears and eyes of the school administration, so they can give early warning of behavior patterns that need attention. Schools in Western countries have long employed this system, which, while not foolproof, can help reveal dangerous occurrences.
With the growing violence among our youth, having one’s hand on the pulse is critical.
    DAVID GOSHEN    Kiryat Ono
Hot potatoes...
Sir, – A tribe that does not revive its heritage in every generation disintegrates. That basic truth is as old as humankind. Just Gil Troy’s need to explain that essential (“Our heritage sites are not hot potatoes,” March 2), even more than the text of the article itself, illustrates its dearth today in Israeli society. But it’s the same, to some degree, in most Western countries.
My one regret regarding Mr. Troy’s poignant piece is his inclusion of US President Barack Obama’s reputed statements about his patriotism during the campaign. As a vast percentage of Americans now know all too well, those words were worse than insincere.
    PESACH GOODLEY    Telz Stone
... and too many PR cooks
Sir, – Efraim Cohen sets out a highly intelligent set of rules for the government to deal with the thorny problem of hasbara, which certainly dates back to before the 40 years I have lived in Israel ( “A hasbara strategy,” Letters, March 2).
Unfortunately, I doubt if anyone up top has the capacity to internalize all the steps he advocates. We have just witnessed Yuli Edelstein’s feeble and foolish attempts to dump the hasbara problem into the laps of hapless Israeli travelers abroad.
The most important step put forward by Mr. Cohen is surely to establish a single body to set out and convey Israel’s message in a unified, clear and speedy manner.
The plethora of departments claiming to speak in Israel’s name to the world at large is, and always has been, a surefire way to shoot ourselves in the foot.
    MITZI KLEIN    Jerusalem
Appearances and apartheid
Sir, – Kudos to Brenda Katten for her very well-thought-out and perfectly expressed article (“What apartheid state?,” March 1). I could not agree more with her sentiments. In particular, I, too, feel great indignation at the ability of academics like Adi Ophir to slander our country while retaining her associate professorship at Tel Aviv University. In my opinion, people such as these are a danger, both through their influence on their students as well as to the future of our country.
It is one thing to feel free to speak out and to criticize, but liberty should always be available within bounds, if chaos is not to ensue.
    JACKIE ALTMAN    Netanya
Sir, – I fully support Brenda Katten’s article on the “apparent” apartheid state of Israel, based on personal experiences I had. I also happened to be in South Africa in 1987 and saw apartheid in action.
Last year, as I was about to go on holiday, I had a health problem and took the only possible appointment I could get on short notice – in Jaffa, a long way from where I lived in Herzliya. Arriving there, I was proud to see that Arabs and Jews were entering the clinic in equal numbers and waiting patiently for their turn to see the doctor.
A few weeks later, having returned from the holiday, I sprained my ankle. This time, I decided to pay the fee of a nearby private hospital in town to have an ultrasound. Once again, Arabs were waiting to be examined in this prestigious clinic, sitting alongside their Jewish Israeli brethren. The doctor, who was very competent, turned out to be Arab as well. At the time I felt that people abroad should know how we live here. Unfortunately, the media only catch the bad news. Somehow, students abroad have to be informed of the truth that we are not an apartheid state.
    HILARY GATOFF    Herzliya Pituah
Taiwan’s nuclear control efforts
Sir, – AP’s dispatch from Taipei “How nuclear equipment reached Iran” (March 2) failed to present the true efforts and policy of the Taiwanese government in preventing sensitive equipment being exported to Iran.
Though Taiwan was not a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, we are well aware of the rules and protocols of the organization, as well as the importance of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons or parts. Taiwan has taken the initiative to implement the Strategic High-tech Commodities Catch-all Controls since 1995 to monitor the end-users and end-use of exported goods such as the pressure gauges the AP story mentioned. And in compliance with the UN Security Council’s adoption of sanctions on Iran for missile-testing and development of nuclear weapons, Taiwan has laid tight controls on sensitive commodities being exported to Iran since 2006. In the meantime, we have maintained close cooperation with countries concerned.
Taiwan is a responsible member of the international community; we understand fully the “push-button issues of the West.” Our government, though lacking access to related international organizations, is determined to abide by the norms of civilized society. We have the expertise and resources to make a greater contribution to the world, if given the opportunity.
    SIMON C. HSIEH    Taipei Economic     and Cultural Office    Tel Aviv
Thank you, Dr. Qadri
Sir, – It was very refreshing to read the report on theunprecedented action of a relevant Muslim leader issuing unconditionalcondemnation of terrorism or murder in the name of Islam (“UK Muslimleader set to issue fatwa against violence in the name of Islam,” March2).
I have always maintained that my real concern is theMuslim community’s failure to unequivocally denounce violence in thename of the Koran. People often mistake such concerns for intoleranceor even racism. Yet the statements by Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri, a widelyrespected authority on Islamic jurisprudence, suggesting that suicidebombers are destined for hell and not paradise, were the first timethat I have ever read such a denunciation – coming from Europe, noless. These are the true steps that lead me to believe in real peace inour time. Thank you, Dr. Qadri, for restoring that faith in me.
    ERIC ROBICHAUD    Netanya