May 18: What makes it a war?

What would the USA consider worthy of a proportionate response?

What makes it a war?
Sir, – Let me see if I got this right. The simulation of a missile attack upon Tel Aviv by Hizbullah caused “large-scale casualties and destruction” (“IDC war games probe what would happen after Hizbullah launches long-range missile attack on Tel Aviv,” May 17).
In response, the “Obama administration” condemned Iran’s behavior and expressed “our unequivocal support for Israel’s right to defend herself.”
But the US “does not support the Israeli view that the attack... indicates the beginning of an all-out war” and hopes that Israel does not “carry out a disproportionate response.”
If that does not constitute an act of war, then why did the deaths of “only” 2,000 American military personnel at Pearl Harbor result in the USA declaring war upon Japan? Why not just condemn Japan’s behavior? Why did the deaths of “only” 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, lead to a war in Iraq and Afghanistan?
And finally, what would the USA consider worthy of a proportionate response?
    GERALD SCHOR     Ra’anana
From a single father
Sir, – I sympathize with Dan Goldberg’s problem (“Rahav warns Yishai: You’ll be guilty if Goldberg twins harmed,” May 17). I also agree with the principle of children having a set of two parents.
In my own case, however, I was given the job of bringing up five children aged five, three and triplets aged two. Not an easy situation, but they are now either finished university or completing their studies. Therefore, a single father can achieve great results on his own.
    DENNIS MODDEL     Ra’anana
Not extremists, just realistic
Sir, – Peace Now and other Left-wing organizations gathered on Saturday night under the banner “Zionists aren’t settlers” (“‘Zionist Left’ to gather in Kikar Zion Sat. night,” May 14)
I would like to remind them that in the eyes of the Palestinians, all Israelis are settlers, even those on the Left, and even those who live in Tel Aviv. They also state that “the time has come to end the occupation and build a society that can be a light unto the nations.”
It isn’t that the Right are all extremists; they are simply realistic. I would like to suggest that the Left listen to what the Palestinians say (in Arabic) and observe what they do.
We should only find the Palestinians with an honest Peace Now movement and the courage to give up their goal of Israel’s destruction. Then we can “end the so-called occupation and build a society that can be a light unto the nations.” But until this euphoria becomes a reality, let’s be realistic and not commit national suicide.
    RON BELZER    Petah Tikva
Who is pro-Israel?
Sir, – Caroline Glick expresses a position that already has turned into a tired cliché: the entire world is against us (“Making Israel’s case,” May 14). But Glick expands the definition of our “enemies” to the point of ridicule: She includes the American government, the EU, J Street, thousands of worried Jewish intellectuals around the world, and also our Israeli organization Ir Amim, which works for an agreed-upon political future in Jerusalem.
This position is not only embarrassingly simplistic, but also points to a complete lack of understanding of the current political reality and foils every opportunity for an actual discussion about the political future of Jerusalem, and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole.
It doesn’t matter how many times we repeat the terms “the liberation of Jerusalem” and the “unification of the city,” the fact is that the international community has never recognized the Israeli annexation of east Jerusalem. Jerusalem is recognized by the world as one of the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and its future needs to be decided around the negotiation table.
As we complete 43 years of annexation, the possibility that the State of Israel will reach a two-state solution is dependent upon its ability to reach an agreed-upon solution concerning Jerusalem. Israel’s ability to maintain a Jewish majority in its capital depends upon its willingness to separate from the Palestinian neighborhoods in the city. What does Glick suggest Israel should do with the capital’s 300,000 Palestinian residents? Give them Israeli citizenship and jeopardize the city’s demographic balance? Or perhaps expel them, and mortally damage the democratic character of the state?
Under these circumstances, it is interesting to examine again Glick’s simplistic division. Are real Zionist values only in the hands of those who ignore the complex political constellation and endanger the Jewish majority in the city, or in the hands of those who demand to return Jerusalem’s honor as the recognized capital of the sovereign State of Israel, and who ensure a strong Jewish majority over the years?
To be pro-Israeli today does not mean to stick one’s head in the sand; rather it means to help Israel navigate its course out from its current political entanglement toward being a sovereign state, Jewish and democratic in internationally recognized borders. This is what real Zionists are doing, including Ir Amim.
    ORLY NOY    Spokeswoman, Ir Amim    Jerusalem
Sir, – Caroline B. Glick wisely and encouragingly (and I hope it doesn’t fall on deaf ears) concluded that our government “should follow the lead of its extraordinary citizens and the Jews throughout the world in asserting the rights of the Jewish people to our capital and our country.”
It is also encouraging to know that to this list, we can add the millions of unaffiliated Christians, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, the Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and the United States organization of Christians United for Israel, who unconditionally support the right of the Jews to Israel and to its capital, Jerusalem.
These voices, to the consternation of President Barack Obama and his administration, will, this November and in 2012, be heard.
    LEONARD C. KAHN    Zichron Ya’acov
Good luck, academic commandos!
Sir, – The pilot program initiated by President Shimon Peres whereby soldiers can combine academic studies toward a bachelor’s degree in engineering, physics or computer sciences, with army service is most commendable (“Academic commando program launched,” May 16) and fits the “People of the Book” image.
Judging by my granddaughter, who is one of the 50 combat soldiers, representing all branches of the armed forces, already engaged in this study, the standards and expectations are very high. Good luck to them all! 
    DR. RACHEL BIRATI    Melbourne
A message worth reading
Sir, – My wife often questions me when she enters the kitchen if anything in the newspaper is “worth reading.”
On Monday morning, my answer was “yes,” because of the direct, affirmative, fundamental message from Ariella Barker as she described her Orthodox conversion and her faith (“Tired of living in fear,” May 17). Essential to living with confidence as a Jew is striving to maintain our historic sense, knowing our history and why Israel has carried our burden since Sinai, and holding firmly to the sure prophecy of how our trial will end happily and eternally.
Inherent in Ms. Barker’s story is the essence of who we are and how some see the light we emit to the nations as God’s eternal sign that we are His people.
Telz Stone