November 19: Media-savvy

Why have Israel's government and people not loudly demanded the creation of an efficient, professional ideological warfare department to influence public opinion?

Media-savvy... Sir, - Why have Israel's government and people not loudly demanded the creation of an efficient, professional ideological warfare department to influence Arab and non-Arab public opinion? For months Palestinians have been shelling Israeli towns and villages. Where were the photographs and footage showing the damage? Did Israel ask the Security Council for a special session on the attacks from Gaza, even if there was little hope of the UN considering Israel's complaint? Well-orchestrated Palestinian propaganda forced the council to issue an anti-Israel resolution; only a US veto saved the day. Yet the perpetrators are those who initiated the rocket firing. Israel retaliated and caused civilian casualties. Ra'anan Gissin is right. Who else in Israel understands the importance of providing meaningful documentation of what really goes on? ("Ex-Sharon adviser: 'Take the media war to the enemy,'" November 13). JOSEPH GOTTFRIED West Palm Beach ...and mediocre Sir, - Ehud Olmert said: "Even after Operation Defensive Shield terror attacks from Judea and Samaria continued," and added that in the war against Kassam rockets there would be no "quick fix." ("PM: No expanded Gaza Strip operation," Internet Edition, November 16). If the prime minister cannot tell the difference between the situation emanating from Gaza and the relatively stable one in the West Bank, there certainly is no "quick fix" - at least not until he is out of office. ISRAEL ZVI Efrat Palestinian anger Sir, - The source of the Palestinian anger Daoud Kuttab refers to in "Lame-duck potential" (November 14) is pointed to in a recent Human Rights Watch study on growing domestic violence in Palestinian society. What sort of parenting goes on when family life is abusive? The urge to take revenge, to win honor through violence - reflecting very low self-esteem in the individual - and the need to constantly advertise victimization (while victimizing others) all result from pathogenic family life. Peace in the home and between the generations is the most cost-effective way to establish lasting peace beyond the home. Community mental health programs, especially parenting ones, that teach the difference between disciplining and punishing children would help implement this. M. KIND M.D. Jerusalem/New York Bigotry and belief Sir, - The most disturbing aspect of the gay parade episode was the extraordinary hatred and intolerance it revealed, and I am proud to live in a country which refused to allow bigots to restrict the actions and beliefs of others. It's important to voice support for the right of people - regardless of whether or not we approve of them - to march or rally peacefully in Jerusalem. As a Torah-observant Jew, I fully accept that there are certain acts of homosexual sex which run counter to Halacha, and that people who perform those acts are breaking Halacha. However, that does not mean they should suffer discrimination. We live in a free country. Finally, I utterly despise those who inverted reality and blamed the marchers for the increased need for police protection. The only reason they needed protection was because of the threats they received from the voices of intolerance ("On democracy and tyranny," Berel Wein, November 16). ANDY LEVY-STEVENSON Efrat Kudos Sir, - Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for his excellent points in "Is marching as a gay the greatest of sins?" (November 6). DANIELLA TEUTSCH Efrat Sir, - ...and to Ellen W. Horowitz for "When tolerance is tyranny" (November 6). ESTER KATZ SILVERS Shilo What Balfour intended Sir, - Instead of trying to read the mind of the dead to suit today's British foreign policy, Ambassador Tom Phillips should consult a good history book, where he would learn that the mess over Palestine resulted when Britain tore away 78% of the League of Nations mandate and created what would become an Arab state in Palestine, Jordan. Of the 10,000 square miles that remained, Britain - and, we presume, the ambassador - wish to redivide that tiny morsel in order to create a second Arab country. There is absolutely nothing in the Balfour Declaration that could be interpreted as an intention for any Arab state in Palestine. The passage Phillips quotes as justification for his assumption merely guarantees civil and religious rights for Arabs in the mandated territory. Enough misinformation about "Palestinians" and "Palestinian rights" has been peddled over the last three decades. The ambassador should stick to diplomacy and resist communing with the dead ("British envoy: Balfour would've urged two-state solution," Nov 7). BERNARD SMITH WILLIAM MEHLMAN Jerusalem Sir, - If the British ambassador was more honest about his country's foreign policy he would admit that what is now envisaged - a three-state solution - has nothing to do with Balfour's vision, and he might more clearly begin to see the folly of such a policy. PETER SIMPSON Pinner, Middx, UK Jews at Penn Sir, - As a senior political science major, avid Israel advocate and leader in the Jewish community at the University of Pennsylvania, I would like to add some context to "Penn president apologizes for posing with 'suicide bomber,'" November 7). I was offended by the pictures, as were many of my friends, and there is no question that the student who dressed up as a suicide bomber on Halloween exercised bad judgment. Though he issued a formal apology it is true that we will never for certain know his intent. What we do know for certain, however, is that the University of Pennsylvania is a warm and welcoming place for Jewish and pro-Israel students. That environment is created largely by the policies of the university administration. Pro-Israel students over my four years at Penn have felt exceedingly comfortable expressing their Zionist beliefs. We walk through campus proudly wearing our pro-Israel T-shirts, celebrate Israel Day on College Green, and dance with Torahs around campus on Simhat Torah without the slightest fear of anti-Semitism or anti-Israel rhetoric. I have come to know President Amy Gutmann well. We sat together on the University Council and even sang Hanukka songs together as we lit the menora in the Penn Hillel foyer. She is proud of her Jewish heritage and a supporter of the pro-Israel community on campus. As she made clear in her written statements, she "abhor(s) terrorism, suicide bombers, and everything they do." ANDREW S. MENER University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Lasting accuracy Sir, - Jeremy Last couldn't have hit the nail on the head any harder in "Israel's hopes could end with Afek at the back" (November 13) concerning the Israel national soccer team's defense. He couldn't have scripted a more accurate column about playing Omri Afek at right back against a world-class team like Croatia, where he looked totally out of place. Too bad coach Dror Kashtan is looking as ultra-conservative as his predecessor in his offense as well, by not starting Amit Ben-Shushan and Toto Tamuz up front, considering that is what saved the team in Russia. JOSHUA HALICKMAN Jerusalem