November 20: The other PM

After Peres made a statement about Israeli policy on the Palestinian, Syrian negotiations, I'm confused. Is he Israel's president or prime minister?

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The other PM Sir, - After reading and watching the news where President Shimon Peres made a statement about Israeli policy from London regarding the Palestinian and Syrian negotiations, I am thoroughly confused. Is Shimon Peres the president or is he the prime minister of Israel? ("Peres: Damascus must cut ties to Hizbullah for peace," November 19). JOE GELLERT Netanya Only talk... Sir, - I wonder if someone can tell me how many times the present Israeli government has threatened "full military action to stop once and for all the rockets coming from Gaza?" (Barak: When the time comes, IDF will act with force in Gaza," November 18). It is at least a dozen times and probably more. But of course nothing has been done and the rockets continue. Does anybody still seriously believe that Israel will take the military action necessary? I don't. And neither does Hamas. DOV AARONS London ... doing little good Sir, - Can somebody please explain to me why the Israelis are letting anything in and out of Gaza at all? ("Furious foreign journalists decry IDF ban on entering Gaza," November 13). We left Gaza three years ago and closed the gates behind us. Why are we expected to continue having any contact at all with this enemy entity? UNWRA and all the "do-gooders" insist on trucking into Gaza everything from fuel to baby foods, and the locals just sit around and expect these hand-outs? I hope that one of the byproducts of the world financial crisis will bring this ridiculous situation to an end. Sixty years of funding this enclave is already too long, or will this be expected to go on infinitum? JUDY HILDE STRAUSS Petah Tikva Still worried Sir, - It is my fervent hope that the new US administration will be savvy enough to comprehend that Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei are not men of peace ("On Obama - what, me worry?" Editorial, November 19). If Abu Mazen extols the spirit of the shahid (martyr), even including the founder of Hamas, what kind of peace partner could he be? YOEL NITZARIM Skokie, Illinois Sir, - I do not understand the logic of Elliot Jager's editorial concerned with not worrying about Obama, because we should remember what US presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush Sr., Regan and Nixon did for us and to us in the past. Jager's argument is: could Obama be worse than they were? I wish we could be consoled and reassured by the past record of presidents who put pressure on Israel. Unfortunately, the logic works in the opposite direction. There is a logical technique known in Talmud as the kal vachomer, in English rendered as a fortiori. If the previous presidents, who did not have a record of listening for 20 years to an anti-Israel preacher, could act that way toward Israel, when there was no danger of an Iranian bomb - all the more so, kal vachomer, do we have to worry that Obama, who did listen for 20 years to such a preacher, will pressure Israel in this moment of danger. I agree that we should not come to any conclusions before January 20 and the inauguration. We hope Biden, Ross, and Emanuael will prove to be strong in their defense of Israel. But worry? Yes, I worry, and Jager should worry too. JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem Hypocrites at sea Sir, - In light of the article about European lawmakers and activists who defied the (so-called) Gaza blockade to "highlight the harm done to Gaza's 1.4 million residents," indicates to me that although it is an acceptable reason, they seem to have swallowed the Hamas narrative whole, while giving no credence to Israel's what so ever ("Third protest boat allowed to reach Gaza," November 9). Such kind people who want to remedy the nastiness that goes on in this world, while at the same time rockets and mortars from Gaza rain onto Israel's civilian population and the Hamas terrorist organization won't allow anyone, not even the Red Cross, to see Gilad Schalit, let alone talk to him or have a doctor look him over. I smell something fishy. Ah yes, I recognize it now - it's the stale stink of rotten anti-Semitism. What else can explain the pin-pointed prejudice of these hypocritical European lawmakers, parliamentarians and activists? JOCK L. FALKSON Ra'anana Lasers, not shields Sir, - In "Barak seeks OK to hit residential areas" (November 9), Public Security Minister Avi Dichter noted correctly that Hamas's recent heavy mortar shelling of the southern region presented a threat that could not be detected by the Color Red rocket alert system, but he incorrectly called for the installation of the Iron Dome rocket shield, which is scheduled to be in place not until 2011 at the earliest. The fact is that the Iron Dome system, if it is ever implemented, will not be capable of intercepting mortars or artillery shells. In addition, it's minimum range of 4.5 kilometers means that it is incapable of protecting the 8,000 homes cited in the article as needing fortification, as they are situated within 4.5 km of the Gaza Strip. Therefore the only system that could provide comprehensive coverage for Sderot and its environs is the high energy laser, Nautilus/Skyguard. It has proven itself capable of intercepting Katyushas, Kassams, artillery shells, and mortars - all with an extremely high "kill rate." Even as I write, there is one prototype sitting in the sands of New Mexico, that if brought to Israel with a couple of upgrades, could provide Sderot and Gaza periphery residents with some peace of mind. Better an array of upgraded Skyguard laser systems that could protect the entire South from Hamas and the North from the 40,000 Hizbullah rockets lying in wait. What is Barak waiting for? JEFF DAUBE Jerusalem Collapsed consensus Sir, - It is time to admit a bitter truth: there is no longer a consensus of support for Israel and Zionism among the Jewish people ("Obama's conquest and Beilin's confession," November 14). Before the rise of Hitler, Zionists were a minority. The Holocaust changed that and (except for fringe groups of the assimilationist Left and the haredi Right) Jews of all political and religious streams came to support the Zionist project as the answer to Jewish homelessness. That consensus is collapsing in Israel and in the Diaspora. On the Right there is a continuing process of "haredization" among the Orthodox with the accompanying alienation from the State, while on the Left, anti-Israel activism has gone far beyond Pappe, Chomsky and Finkelstein. Groups that were once militantly Zionist such as Hashomer HaTzair and Habonim now collaborate with organizations dedicated to Israel's destruction. Even the center cannot hold. A few years ago Jerry Seinfeld was asked what he thought about Israel and replied that he promised his mother he would not speak publicly about Israel. But this is no joke. Losing the support of these significant portions of the Jewish people is grave and should cause us to ponder and to worry. JOSEF GILBOA Jaffa