September 14: Wish you were here

I couldn't help commiserating with Wendy Elliman, who stands by her decision to have made aliya, yet feels the loss of family abroad more and more each year.

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
Wish you were here Sir, - I couldn't help commiserating with Wendy Elliman, who affirms her decision to have made aliya as the right one, yet realizes it does not change the fact that many of us who are absentee children, parents, grandparents, etc. feel the loss of our families abroad more and more with each passing year ("Family matters," September 13). Twelve years ago, when I made aliya, I did not have a grandson - but now I do, and my fondest desire is to be a force present in his daily life; but how do I do that without abandoning my true homeland? My ties are strong here now, and I see no future for myself in America - so that leaves one alternative. I have begun to pray each day that the same divine voice and Presence that led me to this beloved land will also lead my son and his family here while he is yet young and has the resources. After all, our scriptures promise that "I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I will bring you into the land of Israel." I am counting on these words to be fulfilled in my lifetime, so that I will no longer be an absentee savta. COOKIE SCHWAEBER-ISSAN Gizo Recalling the Blitz Sir, - Thank you, Wendy Blumfield and Stuart Palmer, for your recollections of the Blitz during World War II ("Blitz veterans' stiff upper lip made coping with Katyushas easier," September 7). I can add another story. We attended, whenever possible, the concerts at the Queen's Hall. When the sirens went off a red light would appear at both sides of the stage - but the audience continued to enjoy the music; there was no thought of an exit. Also our shelters were the coal-holes under the pavements outside each house; this was the East End of London. ROSE HURST Haifa Region of unreality... Sir, - Alan Dershowitz doesn't need me to defend him. But Ian Seiderman, writing on behalf of Amnesty International, needs more than a good defense lawyer ("Biased against Israel? Not at all," September 12). In answer to Prof. Dershowitz's charge that AI has an "idiosyncratic" view of the laws of war as applied to Israel, he quotes extensively from the amendments to the Geneva Conventions called Protocols I and II of 1977. Without a careful and lawyerly reading one would think his assertion that "nearly all states, including Israel and Lebanon, have accepted these laws" referred to the 1977 Protocols. But he knows that Israel (along with the US) has never agreed to these controversial treaties, since they blur the distinction between civilians and legitimate combatants. The UK, while accepting the treaty, did so with reservations regarding precisely the issue of attacks on infrastructure. AI and Human Rights Watch know all this, but continue to beat Israel with the stick of the 1977 Protocols, asserting that they are binding even on counties that haven't accepted them. DAVID OLESKER Jerusalem Sir, - I am all for allowing the right of reply. However, one must consider whether Amnesty International has not forfeited it. Despite what he says, Ian Seiderman ends up as just another in the long list of apologists for AI's pillorying of Israel whenever and for whatever reason it deems appropriate. The writer whinges that Prof. Dershowitz misunderstands AI's position, then pulls the rug from under his own argument by writing: "We have repeatedly appealed to both parties to protect civilians; condemned the bombing of northern Israel by Hizbullah; asked Israel to end disproportionate attacks." This is moral equivalency of the worst kind, equating a sovereign state's acting in its own defense - within international law, and not AI's skewed interpretation of it - with the illegal acts of a proscribed terrorist organization bent on its destruction. The apparent eagerness with which Mr. Seiderman tears into Israel belies his claims to impartiality. Let us be frank: That he felt moved to write his rebuttal speaks volumes. No rebuttal was necessary over Russia's near-destruction of Chechnya, which involved many thousands more civilian casualties, because AI's report of "grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws" in that case was so pitiful the Russians simply laughed at it. No Prof. Dershowitz had any reason to write in their defense. NORMAN COHEN Jerusalem ...where duplicity reigns Sir, - I read Ian Seiderman's op-ed three times and still couldn't see anything about Hizbullah's use of civilian buildings to hide the Katyusha rockets that were shelling our northern cities and towns. Any reader would have been hard put to be aware that such was the case. At the bottom of the second paragraph he wrote that "Israel has engaged in indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks aimed at the destruction of civilian infrastructure of Lebanon" (italics - A.G.). Not a word about Hizbullah's firing from civilian structures. This writer is surely being duplicitous since our aim was directed at the source of Hizbullah's fire, and not at civilians and their structures. We regret the necessity of our actions, there being no other way to stop the targeting of our people. The responsibility for this war forced upon us lies on Hizbullah and on the failed state and government of Lebanon. ARTHUR GRUDER Jerusalem Perfect customer Sir, - After reading Uri Savir's article about making peace with Syria, I believe he would be the perfect customer for me. You see, I have this used car that I have not been able to sell. It doesn't run, but perhaps that wouldn't bother Mr. Savir. ("Damascus first," September 12.) TERRY BRODSKY Eilat Mr. 'Mindful'... Sir, - Daoud Kuttab describes Hassan Nasrallah as "honest, courageous, and mindful of his people" ("Wanted - leaders who tell it like it is," September 13). Coordinating cowardly attacks from his bunker, Nasrallah spent the better part of July and August trying to kill my family and my neighbors. Disregarding the lives of his civilian population he used them as human shields. He is as honest as he needs to be to get us to let down our guard. Kuttab now calls on "Palestinian leaders" to emulate Nasrallah's leadership qualities. Articles like this give aid and comfort to the enemy. Why publish them? JOHN A. KENNEDY Haifa ...& Mr. Honest Sir, - Instead of pointing out the absurd assessments in Daoud Kuttab's take on the Israeli-Palestinian problem ("Don't give Israel an excuse to stall," August 28), I would merely suggest that he have a chat with the Hamas official quoted by Khaled Abu Toameh on August 28 in "Hamas spokesman: Gaza is caught in a nightmare of anarchy and thuggery. 'We've got to stop blaming Israel and fix our own screw-ups,' says Ghazi Hamad." NAOMI FEINSTEIN Givat Ada Voice to respect Sir, - Re "Where is all the money going?" (September 7): I wanted to state that of all the many opinion/analysis articles I have recently read this is the first one that presents logical and implementable solutions to the army's budget crisis. Evelyn Gordon is wasting her talents in writing for people like me - she needs to be speaking directly to the government and the IDF! NIR HOFTMAN Los Angeles Perilous parade? Sir, - I believe that allowing the planned gay parade in Jerusalem to take place is a greater danger to Israel's well-being than anything Hizbullah or Iran have in their arsenals for your country ("Gays petition over J'lem parade," September 11). JEAN-MARIE RONDEAU Cantley, Quebec