September 15: Assaf Ramon

Assaf Ramon's tragic death reminds us that we also have amongst us young men who ask what they can do for their country.

letters pink 88 (photo credit: )
letters pink 88
(photo credit: )
Assaf Ramon Sir - Assaf Ramon's tragic death reminds us that we also have amongst us young men who ask what they can do for their country, and not just egocentric teenagers who ask what the country can do for them as they demand that the defense minister guarantee their safe return from army service. May individuals like the Ramons multiply in Israel ("A nation grieves," Amir Mizroch, September 14). AVIGDOR BONCHEK Jerusalem That soldier's query Sir, - Yossi Tanuri's focus in "Will you guarantee my safety?" (September 13) may have missed the deeper issue. That 16-year-old student's question to Defense Minister Ehud Barak could have stemmed from knowledge about the circumstances of Gilad Schalit's kidnapping. It has been widely reported that there was a major breakdown in standard procedures to avoid such incidents - including statements that intelligence even described the likely scenario. It was all ignored. As well, the student may be presumed to have heard about other breakdowns of security reaching as far as the chief of staff's office. If he was asking whether he could have confidence that his life would not be potentially wasted by ingrained carelessness, he had every right to ask. That he was asking if, as a soldier, he would be fully protected from risk doesn't seem reasonable. While Barak's answer was appropriate, he answered as someone who had allowed many to be killed by his late-night flight (or retreat) from Lebanon; as someone who was willing, even anxious, to give virtually all of Israel's heartland to Yasser Arafat. What followed the first action speaks for itself. I suspect the student was cognizant of much of this. The military needs to be restored to a reputation for responsible, alert readiness. That reputation needs to pervade Israeli society. Then such questions as this student's may become irrelevant. P. GOODLEY Telz Stone About pressures... Sir, - The pressures on Israel to sign some sort of agreement are increasing ("Diplomatic efforts intensify to relaunch Israel-Palestinian talks by month's end," September 14). The freeze on natural growth in the settlements is something no country in the world would accept as it makes for the absolute fact that young people cannot fall in love and get married. The only time such a thing ever took place was in the Greek play Lysistrata, when women withheld affection from men to bring about a change in the national attitude. Freezing natural growth is population control - something the Israeli nation cannot accept; this must be emphasized continuously by Israeli negotiators. Any lesser stance would seriously damage not only Israel but the very concept of countries providing for their populations. Israel has survived under the most bleak and horrible circumstances. Freezing natural growth is truly foreboding in its implications for the future. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem ...and attitudes Sir, - I am puzzled. How can Israeli leaders meet with members of the PLO, a certified terrorist organization that proved its total unreliability by violating the Oslo Accords? Clearly there is no value to Arab signatures on agreements. On what grounds should Israel freeze construction of homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria, land the Arabs lost to Israel in a war of annihilation? The Arab loss of this territory to Israel was acknowledged by the United Nations in Resolution 242, which granted Israel the right to govern these lands. Arabs should respect Resolution 242. And how can Israeli leaders allow themselves to meet with Arabs whose schools and mass media continue to inculcate hatred of Jews and of Israel? All this flurry of diplomatic activity is an attempt by pro-Arab interests to bulldoze Israel. We Jews have had enough of negotiating. Let the Arabs get their house in order before we meet with them again. CHAYIM SEIDEN Jerusalem Sir, - I think it's about time there was peace in the Middle East. I don't see why Israel and the Palestinians don't form a federal country with its capital in Jerusalem. The West Bank, Gaza and Israel can become relatively autonomous provinces or states within this new country, which can be named after something Jews and Palestinians have in common such as "Land of Abraham." To enhance cooperation, both Jews and Palestinians can be given a veto over all legislation in the new federal parliament, but will have considerable autonomy over most daily affairs in their various provinces. I feel the Jews and Palestinians need to remember that they are first cousins who share many things in common. It's time for them to get over their differences and start treating each other like children of God since they live in what Christians, Jews, and Muslims consider the holy land. ALEX SANGHA Delta, British Columbia, Canada Sir, - Everyone talks and acts as if Israel has real influence in the matter of peace talks, when in fact the problem is and always has been Palestinian and Arab stubbornness in demanding that in any peace settlement, Israel must dismantle herself and become a Palestinian state. Minus Israeli Jews, of course. If the situation wasn't so serious, it would be a comedy, a Middle East version of Much Ado About Nothing. KENNETH BESIG Kiryat Arba The second death of Col. William Higgins Sir, - Re "Israel goes ballistic" (September 11): I think some clarification should be made regarding the grisly fate of USMC Col.William Higgins, as described by Yaacov Katz. If my memory serves me correctly, the unfortunate US Marine officer was murdered shortly after his kidnapping in 1989, and his corpse kept in cold storage until some "appropriate" occasion made it useful for Hizbullah to then "execute" him as an act of vengeance. Our nabbing of the arch-terrorist Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid apparently sufficed as an excuse. It was estimated that Col. Higgins had been dead for about six months when he was "hanged" by the Arab barbarians who had abducted him. TREVOR DAVIS Asseret The whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth Sir, - If the deputy health minister is so concerned about the dental health of the Israeli population, why doesn't he first of all remove the VAT on dental treatment? If the government is unable to subsidize dental treatment, it certainly shouldn't profit from it! ("Litzman wants inclusion of basic dental services for children in health basket," September 10). The Israel Dental Association is definitely not against government-subsidized dental care; on the contrary. What it is advocating is that the government foot the bill, like in most Western countries, rather than the four health funds overcharging their members and running an insurance scheme, which obviously wouldn't cost the Treasury a shekel. DR. ERWIN PAVEL (D.D.S. Sweden) Ra'anana Pure Hollywood Sir, - Quite a story: Rabbi becomes insurance salesman, divorces wife for secretary, makes fortune from teaching esoteric mysticism to all, including underdressed pop star, who then becomes humble. Anyone have the phone number of a Hollywood producer? ("Popular mysticism," September 10.) J. LAKE Beersheba