May 25: Peace with Syria

Is Olmert prepared to give up the Golan Heights for a vague promise of ceasing support for terrorism?

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Peace with Syria Sir, - Ehud Olmert is quoted as saying that "It's always better to talk than to shoot" (May 22). Very true. But he must be aware that there hasn't been any shooting along that border for 35 years. Is he prepared to give up the Golan Heights for a vague promise of ceasing support for terrorism? Is his memory gone of the hard and harsh fighting and the very many deaths in 1967; and the near-invasion of Israel proper in 1973, which would have happened without the buffer of the Golan? The prime minister's embrace of a light-headed idea - his foray into this suggested peace deal without any real commitment in return - will lead to another war because, again, it signals Israeli weakness to its Arab neighbors. Why not say we'll be happy to discuss peace once Syria demonstrates its true desire for peace by ceasing to incite its citizens against Israel and Jews via the media and schoolbooks? It may take a generation or two - but even if another 35 years are needed to prove Syria's commitment to peace, why not make that investment? HENRY ISRAEL Jerusalem Sir, - "Can Israel afford to live without the Golan?" (April 25.) No, but it can afford to live without Olmert. SHLOMO FELDMANN Givatayim All you (don't) need is love Sir, - It may be the best thing for Israel if Barack Obama becomes president of the United States ("Obama the Zionist," Salomon Kalach, May 22). Israel will realize that she has no friend in the US and finally stand on her own two feet - long overdue. Whoever is prime minister will realize that they must not be pressured into giving away any part of Israel unless the aim is national suicide. Obama's relationship with Hamas, Fatah and all the rest will finally show Israel that even the "moderates" aspire to the destruction of Israel. Perhaps then Israel will recognize that this is land given to us by God, not a piece of real estate to be bargained away. Finally, we will take the action that should have been taken years ago to stop the missiles and Kassams. The world will scream, but Israel will survive. We won't have love, but we will have respect. Better to have respect and live, than to have the world's love in death. BARBARA GINSBERG Ma'aleh Adumim Sir, - Jonathan Rosenblum, who generally uses his incisive language and powerful intellect to present his opinions on more parochial subjects, made a valuable contribution to the debate concerning the American presidential race in his "Why Obama won't be president - hopefully" (UpFront, May 16). He explained that most Americans will not buy the "irrational rationalism" of Obama's world view, which does not accept that the bulk of the Muslim world doesn't act according to the Western concept of rationality, a concept which holds that people will behave in a manner that promotes their best interests once we convince them of what their best interests are. He cited current events to back up his words. I would add to this by questioning the silence in the Western and Muslim world vis-a-vis the Iranian president's threats to "wipe Israel off the map." Would it not be rational for the Western and Arab press to ask, "How do you expect to use weapons of mass destruction in an area where Jews and Arabs live intermingled and/or in close geographical proximity without killing massive numbers of Arabs and Jews"? I suspect that most "rational" people understand, deep down, that irrationality of this sort is incurable, but many want to hope it will just go away. NACHMAN SHENKER Jerusalem Obligation of rabbis... Sir, - Re Menachem Dayagi's letter on the conversion dispute saying that "the matter goes back to the talmudic struggle between the houses of Hillel and Shammai" (May 21): Those days can't be compared to what we are facing nowadays. Hillel and Shammai only argued over halachic issues; in normal life they got along just fine. This cannot be said about the rabbinical leaders of our generation. It's an obvious fact that there's more than just a halachic dispute going on between the rabbinical courts - one senses almost a hatred. So rather than attacking just one side, the anti-Zionist heads and Religious Zionist rabbis need to first resolve their problem. JOSEPH LEVY Jerusalem ...and of converts Sir, - Aryeh Newman's letter (May 21) quoted Sephardi chief rabbi Benzion Uziel as saying: "We do not demand of him (the convert) to observe the mitzvot." Maimonides describes a prospective convert as one who "wishes to enter the Covenant, dwell under the wings of the Shechina and accept the yoke of the Torah" (Isurei Biah 13:1-4). I do not believe the former chief rabbi's view is reconcilable with Maimonides's. MATIS GREENBLATT Jerusalem You care, so come Sir, - We endorse what Juda S. Engelmayer wrote in "Getting the kids to care for Israel" (May 22). He expressed his great love for Israel in moving terms, and we couldn't agree more with the need to improve Israel's image, and for better public relations. That said, Juda, surely the only way to really get the message over to your son and all the other Jewish kids out there is to come and live here! Let your son see Israel when the trees blossom in the spring, in the heat of summer, in the cold, rain and snow of winter. Let him experience Israelis preparing for Shabbat, and the kids' excitement during the festivals. We need you here to help us promote Israel's good name. You and your family would receive a great welcome, and with your writing skills you would be an asset to the many hard-working hasbara groups in Israel. NORMAN AND LOLA COHEN British Israel Group Jerusalem