May 19: Pressing buttons

The Jew will cough up whatever is asked for, but sweetening a deal with a promise of more candy doesn’t talk to the Arab.

Pressing buttons
Sir, – Prime Minister Netanyahu, addressing the Arabs from the Knesset, says: “These compromises are painful, because we are talking about parts of our homeland...the land of our forefathers...and not just security interests” (“PM says Israel may give up settlements not in major blocs,” (May 17).
Do he and his advisers really think this approach presses the Arabs’ emotional buttons? This approach telegraphs the message that the Arabs are not far from their goals.
The Jew will cough up whatever is asked for, but sweetening a deal with a promise of more candy doesn’t talk to the Arab.
Fear of future pain (i.e., loss of land, loss of liberty, loss of water, higher taxes) does.
Peace? Forget about peace.
Muslims cannot make peace with infidels.
Tax transfers to PA
Sir, – Regarding “Israel again threatens to withhold tax transfers to PA government that includes an unrepentant Hamas” (May 17), Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz once said he would only allow the transfer after receiving guarantees that the money would not reach Hamas.
Do our leaders think we are naïve and ignorant about financial matters? Hasn’t Steinitz heard that money is fungible – that is, by giving this money to the Palestinians it will free up other money for Hamas? Can you imagine that our government has caved in once again to pressure from the international community without getting anything in return? What will happen when the real pressure comes? Do we not have any leaders with the backbone to stand up to at least minor pressure? What is the point of making threats if we never carry them out? It seems the only ones the government carries out are against its own people. Shame.
Sir, – Perhaps the most recent event of gravest consequence for the State of Israel has been the declared reconciliation and union of Fatah and the terrorist Hamas gang of Gaza.
Among several appropriate measures for Israel to undertake in order to frustrate this perilous union, the withholding of tax money seems to be the most effective without cost in lives or property. Other measures, like targeted assassinations or cutting the electricity supply to Gaza, while all worthy, would undoubtedly invite more extensive world condemnation and involve Israel in an international imbroglio.
The citizens of Israel have the right to know what ugly pressures were brought by so-called friends (or enemies) in order to force our retreat and the abandonment of this most sensible measure.
Petah Tikva
Sir, – The Schalit family is 100 percent right to be enraged, just as I am, about the government decision to transfer previously withheld tax funds to the PA.
Doubtless, the decision to pay resulted from pressure by the EU. In that case, the French government needs to be reminded that Gilad Schalit is not just Israeli; he is also a French citizen.
If the French government wants to show its commitment to having him released, it surely must understand that if Hamas wants to show a sign it has reformed, the first thing it must do is have Schalit released immediately, without any conditions or even a prisoner swap.
Shame on Finance Minister Steinitz, Prime Minister Netanyahu, French President Sarkozy and EU Middle East coordinator Ashton for this sordid decision.
Give kids a break
Sir, – Regarding “Religion, politics...and homework,” Comment & Features, May 17), I have attended Richard Curwin’s lectures at English Teachers’ Association of Israel summer conventions and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I would, however, ask him to create a guideline for teachers as well.
My first item on the list would direct teachers not to give homework to students during vacations. The students do not enjoy their time off because of the pressure to do the work, and often do the work the night before school resumes, producing inferior results.
So teachers, please, give the kids a break! They also deserve a vacation.
Ginot Shomron
The writer is a teacher
Over before starting
Sir, – Saeb Erekat asks: “Do we have a partner to make peace in Israel?” He then answers: “We don’t. I believe negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are over” (“Erekat: We have no Israeli partner for peace,” May 17).
He goes on to state that those who “recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 lines are those who are advocating the two state solution.” However, neither Erekat nor his boss, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, accept the pre-Six Day War border as the border of the State of Israel, as they both insist on a return of refugees and their descendants to what was Israel before the 1967 war.
Since this has been their position from the beginning, the negotiations were actually over before they ever began.
Wrong analogy
Sir, – In “Breach of border with Syria unprecedented violation of Israeli sovereignty, says expert” (May 16), Ron Friedman quotes Prof. Asa Kasher as saying “The laws of war are not the appropriate framework for judging the events in the North.”
His example of Mexico and the US is not proper. Mexico is not at war with the US, and illegal border crossings are not for political or security reasons, but for personal economic benefit.
Illegal crossings from Syria to Israel are for security and military reasons. The laws of war do apply. Syria is in a state of war with Israel. When the infiltrators came over, Israel did not know if they were armed or were shields for armed men.
The Syrian infiltrators could also have been soldiers dressed as civilians.
Syria is not exactly a place where there is freedom of movement, so a large group of people moving in one direction must have been known, if not supported, by the Syrian authorities.
The only initial assumption for Israel could be that these infiltrators had some sort of backing from Damascus.
Hatzor Haglilit
Sibling matters
Sir, – The article “Obama’s Jewish half-brother tells Metzger he’ll appeal for Pollard” (May 12) stated incorrectly that a discussion about Jonathan Pollard took place in a private meeting between Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Mark Obama Ndesandjo.
Ndesandjo, a US citizen, was visiting Israel as my guest.
I personally attended, from start to finish, the meeting that is the subject of Gil Hoffman’s article and can tell your readers categorically in the strongest possible terms that it focused exclusively on Ndesandjo. Nothing political was discussed. Jonathan Pollard never came up.
No representative of the Israeli or world press was present during or after the meeting, and no press interviews were granted to anyone by Ndesandjo or me in Israel or subsequently. The press spokesman of the Chief Rabbi’s office, Avi Blumenthal, who was cited in the article, was not present at the meeting, nor did any of our party meet him or speak with him before or afterward.
Cleveland, Ohio
Sir, – We understand Mark Obama Ndesandjo’s position and regret the fact that even after 26 years of Jonathan Pollard’s imprisonment, there are still some asking to sabotage the efforts to release him by putting pressure on those wishing to help his case.
The writer is spokesman for Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger