May 29: New moral low?

If Olmert wants a prisoner exchange with Hizbullah as a diversion from his own affairs, it would indicate a new moral low in a system which is no stranger to immorality.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
New moral low? Sir, - Re "'Prisoner exchange would strengthen Hizbullah'" (May 28): If Ehud Olmert's "real motivation for the exchange... is [the] desire to divert attention from his possible indictment for bribery in the Talansky affair," it would indicate a new moral low in a system that is no stranger to immorality. For chief among the prisoners in Israeli jails whom Hassan Nasrallah wants released is Lebanese Druse terrorist Samir Kuntar, currently serving four life terms for the 1979 deaths of police officer Eliyahu Shahar and Danny Haran and his two daughters, one of whom, a four-year-old, he killed on the Nahariya beach by bashing her head against a rock ("Samir Kuntar's bloody deeds," same date). The article goes on to note, by the way, that Kuntar, "who has openly expressed pride about the killings over the years... got married while in prison and receives conjugal visits from his wife." R. LOBELL Westchester, New York Levantine 'demockracy' Sir, - Morris Talansky's evidence raises two interesting points: 1. In any normal democracy, the attorney-general would ask a minister - certainly a PM under not one, but four or five criminal investigations - to "stand aside" temporarily until all the investigations have been concluded. However, in this Levantine "demockracy" of ours we have Menahem Mazuz stating that the investigations will continue for some months, making it very clear that the premier can continue his domestic and foreign policies without having to worry about "justice" stopping him. 2. Since Olmert, according to Talansky, was always needing money to pay off election and other debts, how did he have the funds to buy that apartment in Cremieux St.? One has to wonder ("Talansky: I gave Olmert $150,000 of my own money and large sums from others - all in cash," May 28). MENACHEM SAMUEL Jerusalem Sir, - There are leaders who excel at being politicians (Ehud Olmert), and politicians who excel at being leaders (David Ben-Gurion). Right now we need a leader who will deal with the threats to the state rather than his potential indictment ("Delay in cross-examination gives PM political breather," May 28). BARRY LYNN Efrat Sir, - The prime minister maintains Morris Talansky gave him all that money without expecting anything in return. Why shouldn't we believe him? Isn't that Mr. Olmert's standard business model - offering everything without expecting anything in return? ("It stinks, but is it criminal?" David Horovitz, May 27). ZALMI UNSDORFER London Sir, - OK, so Talansky gave Olmert cash at will, like he was his sugar daddy. That's fine. Really. It's his money, and as long as he doesn't take advantage politically, he can dish out funds for cigars, hotels and other luxuries his friends can't afford. But Olmert ought to have been embarrassed to take the money, especially for luxury items. It puts him on the level of a spoilt child. He might as well be Paris Hilton. Sad, for a country's leader. MATTHEW BERMAN Herzliya How the Irish dealt with it Sir, - I read with great interest the news that your defense minister, Ehud Barak, has called on Ehud Olmert to resign ("Barak calls on Olmert to step down," On-Line Edition, May 28). Our taoiseach (prime minister), Bertie Ahern, had, for almost two years, been involved in dealing with a special tribunal of enquiry into his personal finances concerning his receipt of cash from various businessmen. Mr. Ahern maintained in evidence that it was a combination of political donations and loans. The country was transfixed by this matter and last month, after 10 months in office, Mr. Ahern resigned. He wanted the political life of the country to deal with real issues and not speculation concerning his finances. We now have a new prime minister and the entire political landscape has changed. The country is talking about oil prices, the world credit crunch and domestic issues. Mr. Ahern's finances have disappeared off the political radar. As an Irish citizen, I am not making any comment on Mr. Olmert's position, but I do wish to enlighten your readers with a similar situation in Ireland. And happy 60th birthday to Israel from an Irish friend. GERARD SEERY Cork, Ireland Prime example of 'peace at any price' Sir, - MJ Rosenberg has a long history of believing that if you give terrorist nations or groups everything they demand, they will leave you alone ("There are no dangers in diplomacy," May 27). Unfortunately, he fails to understand that what these enemies are demanding is the dissolution of Israel. Had we listened to Mr. Rosenberg's advice, Israel would not have been founded; and if it had been founded, it would have disappeared long ago. MJ Rosenberg is a prime example of the philosophy of "peace at any price," an attitude that has been discredited since the time that nations have existed, and certainly one that led to World War II and the prior ascendancy of Hitler to power in Germany. NELSON MARANS Silver Spring, Maryland Succor & sanctimony Sir, - Former Rhodesians/Zimbabweans and South Africans, myself included, must concur with your insightful assessment of the tragic consequences of decades-long, simmering rage erupting into violence and anarchy ("Cry, South Africa," Editorial, May 28). We are deeply pained by the images of brutality and misery shown in the media. You correctly surmised that the blame should be laid squarely on the shoulders of criminally inept President Thabo Mbeki and his government - whose outrageous denial of the disconnect between HIV and AIDS and the subsequent suffering and deaths of a large percentage of the population, combined with his support and collusion of (brother-in-law) megalomaniac dictator Robert Mugabe, has resulted in this tragedy perpetuated on both sides of the border between S. Africa and Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, South African Jewry has rallied and mobilized all its resources to help ease the plight of the terrified refugees in the poverty-stricken and neglected black African townships; while the sanctimonious, pontificating Bishop Desmond Tutu neglects his own backyard to visit Gaza - on a sponsored UN human-rights investigation of an incident which occurred in 2006 - to ostensibly empathize with the Palestinians living in a police state amongst warring militia clans, motivated by a self-destructive hatred of Israel and Jews. GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS Pardesiya Sir - To this South African, your editorial did much for the heart, yet little for the mind. Contrary to what you stated, many S. African Jews did not play an active role in opposing apartheid, whether out of personal trepidation, or fear for the Jewish community as a whole. Nelson Mandela was ensconced in Jewish homes while planning his revolution and the black majority does owe a great debt to a small Jewish contingent, but less to the community as a whole. Yes, moral indignation was felt by the majority of S. Africa's Jews, but it was, unfortunately, translated into practical action by only a minority. Only those living there at the time can really understand why this was, and no guilt can be laid at the community's feet. Nonetheless, the question has to be asked: Why was there an unofficial, yet strongly implemented decision taken by community leaders not to accept black converts to Judaism during the apartheid era? DANIEL ABELMAN Jerusalem