March 6: How it is

I didn't know that the United States was at war with Somalia.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
How it is Sir - A small item in your March 4 edition was headlined "US launches air strike in Somalia targeting Islamic terrorist suspect." A home was destroyed and "at least eight people, including four children, were seriously injured." I didn't know that the United States was at war with Somalia. In any event, the most it can expect from the world is a slap on the wrist, while Israel's careful retaliation to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza causes immediate worldwide condemnation. J. FISCHER Michmoret 'Sorry, guys' Sir, - I was delighted to read that, five years after the event, Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, has "apologized" to all of 300 people at the UK's Jewish Book Week for his "misjudgment" in publishing an editorial which stated that "Israel's actions in Jenin were every bit as repellent as Osama bin Laden's attack on New York on September 11." But I might take his apology more seriously if he were to publish it in The Guardian, in the same space and in the same type size as his original article. I rather doubt that his apology has reached all the people who read his editorial. Unless and until it does, he deserves little congratulation on his tardy words ("'Guardian' editor apologizes for Jenin editorial at book fair," March 4). HILDA SCHMERLER Petah Tikva Eyes on the prize Sir, - "Defeating Hamas" (Editorial, March 3) was absolutely right that the "facts are simple: Israel is fighting to stop the bombardment of its cities." When the far Left ignores Palestinian human rights crimes against Sderot and Ashkelon and concentrates on the inevitably ugly side-effects of the Israeli response, it uses deplorable double standards and does not serve the truth. And yet one can still wish Israel would recognize more the difference between what it has every right to do, and what it is prudent to do. Israel is a tiny dot on a huge and still-hostile map, and the inescapable conclusion to draw from that hostility is that the war of 1948 continues. The only way to security and peace is to change the map from hostile to friendly, or at least for the map to be amenable to overall agreements - on withdrawal, the 1967 borders and east Jerusalem. Mutual concessions that generated larger peace agreements would eventuate the resolution of so many problems, like in Gaza, which would be enfolded in the more basic momentum and pressure toward moderation and peace and security. As the American Civil Rights song goes: "Keep your eyes on the prize." JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts UNICEF's role Sir, - "To our knowledge, UNICEF has never shown specific concerns for the children of Sderot." This statement, from your editorial "Defeating Hamas," is entirely without foundation. UNICEF provides vital assistance in 156 countries to children in need. It does not indulge in political debate but does advocate on behalf of children everywhere, especially when children become victims to situations over which they have no control. UNICEF supplied much-needed polio vaccines and other assistance to Israeli children in the 1950s, and a substantial grant to the Tnuva dairies to provide children with pasteurized milk for the first time. In 1965 the Israeli government decided that Israel would no longer be a recipient of UNICEF's assistance, but would henceforth become a donor country. Despite this, UNICEF decided after the Second Lebanon War to assist in psychological counseling of Israeli children traumatized by the rocket attacks, and $300,000 were allocated to implement an emergency program in northern Israel. It was UNICEF's Regional Child Protection Officer in Amman who insisted on including Sderot in this program of assistance. The UNICEF field office carrying out the Program of Assistance to Palestinian Children may have a natural tendency to express its concern primarily for the children who are the target of this specific program. However, what might appear to be a preoccupation with their situation certainly does not mean UNICEF is immune to the suffering of Israeli children, or in any way tries to minimize their plight. UNICEF is one of the "better" UN organizations (I happen to think it is the best). It has always been supportive of, and has always exhibited excellent relations toward our country, primarily our children. AVRAHAM LAVINE, Chairman Israel Committee for UNICEF Jerusalem No human right to electricity Sir, - There was a terrifying subtext to "Barak checks legality of options against rocket fire" (March 4), supplying further evidence that the government and the IDF no longer have the moral courage to defend the country. One of the functions of artillery is to subdue the fire of enemy artillery. But every IDF officer knows that the colonel who gives the order to fire a projectile that kills a particularly photogenic Palestinian baby will be branded a "war criminal" for the rest of his life. Travel abroad will become problematic, with shopping trips to London's Oxford St. particularly dangerous because of renegade Jews waiting in Heathrow with a detective sergeant and a warrant. At home, too, he may be exposed to gratuitous legal suits. The chain of command is more frightened of B'Tselem, Amnesty and Al-Jazeera than of the enemy. The UN organizations and NGOs that form the anti-Zionist coalition must be repudiated and their reports ripped up, as the late Chaim Herzog did with the UN "Zionism is Racism" resolution. We must defend ourselves, without apology, with the means at our disposal, confident that our struggle to survive is just. There is no human right to electricity, and the Gazan who hangs around a rocket launcher during a battle is gambling with his life. JOSEF GILBOA Jaffa Sir, - I am still waiting for the first peace-with-Israel demonstration from the so-called occupied territories. I only see their residents dancing in the streets when Americans and Jews are murdered. Where are these peace partners I keep hearing about? FRED CROWN-TAMIR Mevaseret Zion Having your cake... Sir, - Emanuel Feldman's marvelous "Never on a sundae?" (March 4) reminded me of the devastated elderly patient who came to my husband, a family practitioner, to pour her heart out after having been given a somber prognosis by a heart specialist of the years she had left to live if she didn't give up chocolate, starch, ice cream, butter, cake, etc., etc. "I'm so depressed," she wailed. "I don't know what I'll do without my cheesecake on Shabbat." The doctor took one look at her, and being a specialist in "people medicine" insisted that she must never forgo her cheesecake on Shabbat. Her face lit up and she went home a different person. What happened to her I don't know, but at least the years she had left were happy ones. LINDA STERN Safed ...and eating it Sir, - Rabbi Feldman has performed yet another great mitzva by sharing his recipe for an enjoyable life. May I suggest just two changes: locally-produced, delicious ice cream - e.g., triple-chocolate or rum raisin - instead of Ben and Jerry's; and adding a token amount of a vegetable, onion, to his three-egg omelette, together with a generous helping of lox, like our mothers taught us. MOSHE BERLIN Jerusalem