October 26: What deal?

Now that Schalit is back home, why exactly does Israel have to stick to a deal made with terrorist blackmailers under duress, especially if doing so will further compromise the country’s security?

What deal?
Sir, – As he advocates against further mass prisoner releases, our defense minister confirms that an additional 550 will be let go as agreed with Hamas in the Gilad Schalit deal (“Barak: We’ll change policy of releasing prisoners en masse,” October 24).
Now that Schalit is back home, why exactly does Israel have to stick to a deal made with terrorist blackmailers under duress, especially if doing so will further compromise the country’s security? Is Israel seriously that worried about retaining Hamas’s trust?
DAVID LERER Beit Shemesh
Still inexcusable
Sir, – Shahira Amin’s open letter (“‘Without dialogue and communication we shall always have a barrier between us,’” October 24) was as self-serving as her interview of Gilad Schalit.
Amin seized a journalistic opportunity regardless of whether the just-released soldier was able to speak coherently. To think that Schalit needed to spend his first taste of freedom still under the watch of masked Hamas personnel and being peppered with pointed and inappropriate questions is disgusting. It shows that some journalists will sink to any depth for a moment in the spotlight.
Amin claims to be for peace, yet her interview clearly challenges this. If she were for peace, she would have taken her interview to the released terrorists and asked them if they would now stop killing innocent people.
The letter she writes in her defense does nothing to change the fact that the interview was inconsiderate, distasteful and inexcusable. From a human rights point of view, it merely perpetuated Schalit’s captivity for that much longer.
Brace yourselves
Sir, – I was saddened by Barry Rubin’s latest The Region columns concerning the reactions of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas following the exchange of 1,027 prisoners to secure IDF soldier Gilad Schalit’s release (“Distorting the truth in the Middle East,” October 24; “The simple truth: They want it all,” October 17).
Yet they have a ring of truth.
There has been no positive step by the Palestinians to give any credit whatsoever to Israel for this unprecedented humanitarian gesture, and I do not have to wonder what the reaction of the Israeli public, press and squabbling Knesset will be if and – I’m sorry to say – when the next terrorist incident occurs.
We have limited options. I can only hope that our ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, is being instructed to bombard every country, agency and individual there (including Ban Ki-moon) to dispel the lies and distortions that are being spread. Despite Israel’s highly intelligent and articulate population, we always seem to react too late and give an easy path to our critics.
Let us celebrate the release of Gilad Schalit and at least be given credit for the humanitarian aspect of releasing so many prisoners despite the clear security risk.
Cautious exhilaration
Sir, – Tunisia has not had the privilege of elections in so many years so that it is exhilarating to see how people respond to concepts of freedom of choice (“Huge turnout in Tunisia’s Arab Spring election,” October 24). It will nevertheless be appalling if the country adopts Shari’a as the law of the land and becomes just another repressive Muslim country after having ignited the Arab Spring.
The mark of freedom should enable Tunisia to open its doors to tourism. Everyone knows that the isle of Djerba has a remarkable synagogue and that its Jews celebrate the holiday of Passover in a wonderful manner. Tourists will flock there if the country becomes a truly democratic state.
Maybe other Arab countries will learn that true democracy, openness and freedom of thought and expression can lead to economic prosperity.
Amusing and ironic
Sir, – Regarding “Asserting control over east Jerusalem textbooks” (October 24), I find it amusingly ironic that student Jalal Abukhater accuses the city’s Education Administration of that which he himself proposes regarding Palestinian textbooks.
Is it logical or justifiable that the municipality should approve and provide textbooks used in east Jerusalem schools that promote the history of a Palestinian state that as of yet has never existed? Is it reasonable to obliterate the historical reality of the State of Israel? Furthermore, why should Israel foot the bill for revisionism that makes a mockery of international law and reality? I do agree, however, with Yochanan Manor, Chairman of Impact-SE, whose assessment is that rather than provide redacted textbooks, it makes better sense to provide not only historical accuracy but to promote tolerance among peoples who must live together.
Historical backing
Sir, – Rebecca Baskin’s interesting article (“Something old, something new,” Arts & Entertainment, October 24) discusses the efforts of an Israeli composer, Gilad Hesseg, to set English romantic poetry to music. In fact, there is a case almost two centuries old of a Jewish composer collaborating with one of the greatest English poets.
In 1813, Isaac Nathan, son of a Canterbury hazan, persuaded Lord Byron to provide words for melodies used in Sephardic English synagogues. The incredibly successful joint product was titled Original Hebrew Melodies.
Some of the poems included in the volume (e.g., “She Walks in Beauty,” which was set to Lecha Dodi) have become classics of English literature.
Were Lord Byron alive, I am sure he would wish Hesseg enormous success.
Lawrence, New York
Committees a sham
Sir, – MK Shlomo Molla is absolutely right in his assessment, as reported by Seth J.
Frantzman (“The acceptance committee conundrum,” Terra Incognita, October 23), that the recent so-called anti-discrimination legislation for acceptance committees still leaves a lot of room to reject people based on “certain social and cultural criteria.”
The unpleasant experience of good friends of ours more than proves this.
They were were still relatively new immigrants at the time and wanted to live on a moshav.
They met the application criteria and began an intense acceptance procedure, including the submission of a written application, hand-written letters of explanation and medical statements, and undergoing lengthy in-depth interviews with the acceptance committee.
At least two committee members more than hinted that their acceptance was virtually assured.
Imagine, then, their shock and disappointment when they received a terse and vaguely worded letter informing them that they were not suitable, the main reason being some vague concept of being too “independently minded” for a collective lifestyle, meaning they might not accept moshav decisions .
The committee had basically rejected them because of what might happen in the future, as opposed to any kind of objective evidence or criteria. Their sociability, knowledge of Hebrew, age and a slew of exceptional artistic, musical and educational abilities documented by diplomas, samples of art work and professional recommendations meant nothing.
They gave up on any further attempts to live on a moshav.
Their experience certainly illustrates the scenario foreseen by MK Molla: an acceptance committee’s absolute authority to reject people for any kind of vague and undefined reason while remaining – formally, at least – non-discriminatory according to the letter of the law.
Hatzor Haglilit