September 27: Fallout from Olmert

Israel would benefit from separation of church and state; trading Jonathan Pollard's freedom for a settlement freeze is a non-starter

Fallout from Olmert
Sir, – One would think that former prime minister Ehud Olmert – under investigation, indictment and on trial for various reasons – would want to stay out of the limelight. But lo and behold, true to his nature, he makes headlines, as he did in your September 24 lead story (“Olmert urges ‘int’l trusteeship’ for Holy Basin, which would involve relinquishing sovereignty over Western Wall, Temple Mt.”) and in an opinion piece in the same issue (“The terms for an accord”), with an obvious slant to the Left.
Olmert apparently believes that by mimicking former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who removed the threat of pending indictments by removing Israelis from Gaza and thus currying favor with the Left, he might also be absolved.
We can only hope that his exhortations fall on deaf ears.
Sir, – Given the total failure of UN Resolution 1701, which was supposed to keep Hizbullah disarmed and which Ehud Olmert himself negotiated, I would think he’d be a little more reticent about recommending that the international community oversee anything in the Middle East.
Sir, – It is jolting that Ehud Olmert is headlined on the front page of The Jerusalem Post and given space in its Comments section, since his opinions are widely known and occasionally discredited.
As an indicted suspect, he is innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. But what reasonable purpose is served by giving so much space and prominence to the questionable views of a possibly disgraced former official?
Sir, – Three cheers for Ehud Olmert! He may have plenty of personal problems, but he tells it like it is.
How is it that a man with such forward-looking ideas can be blasted in almost every report on his personal foibles? It’s really too bad because in this short report, he tells us how to settle the whole Israeli-Palestinian issue, and makes it sound doable! If only our present leadership would follow his lead! Give it a try, at least!
Sir, – I think I understand Ehud Olmert’s suggestion that Israel surrender sovereignty over the Holy Basin in favor of international trusteeship. Now his lawyers can plead insanity.
BENNY GLUCH Beit Shemesh
Sir, – I am afraid that Jacob Chinitz is reflecting some popular ideas about the relationship of church and state in the US rather than what is actually the case (“The meaning of ‘Jewish,’” Letters, September 24).
While there are “blue laws,” there are no uniform regulations that cover the country. It is also true that while Christian symbols have been widely used in government matters, they have gradually been modified over the years as the country became more religiously diverse. The principle of separation of church and state is a dominant constitutional theme.
In the case of Israel, it seems to me that the country can similarly benefit from such a separation.
It can remain ethnically Jewish without any requirement for enforced Judaic laws.
...and unequal
Sir, – Regarding Seth J. Frantzman’s “Coexistence partners with ourselves?” (Terra Incognita, September 22), study after study and survey after survey illustrate the disturbing inequalities that exist between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens. It is therefore naïve of a researcher to conveniently ignore such realities and speak of the need for “coexistence” work, as if the two societies were equal.
When criticizing the Abraham Fund’s work of coexistence, Frantzman fails to mention the need for stable coexistence based on currently nonexistent equal status, including social, economic and political rights for all of Israel’s citizens. The initiatives of the Abraham Fund aim to create successful working models that develop the reality of Jewish-Arab relations into one that enforces the democratic principles on which the State of Israel was established – as well as the principles of human and minority rights, which are necessary for building a truly shared society.
History shows that coexistence without equality is unsustainable.
The “separate but unequal” myth of early-twentieth- century America did not work.
In addition, we do not believe that “separate and unequal” is sustainable. Accordingly, the initiatives of the Abraham Fund work on promoting equality as a gateway to coexistence, for it is only on a solid foundation based on equality that true and sustainable coexistence can work.
AMNON BE’ERI SULITZEANU Newe Shalom The writers are co-directors of the Abraham Fund Initiatives
Swap a non-starter
Sir, – Renewing the settlement freeze in return for Jonathan Pollard’s freedom is ludicrous (“Idea of ‘settlement-freeze extension for Pollard’ seeps into public debate,” September 21).
When Israel, under great pressure from the US, agreed to a moratorium on settlementbuilding, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made it clear that construction would resume after 10 months. If he fails to fulfill his promise, he will come off as a liar to the people of Israel, and it will weaken his hand in further negotiations.
The fact that PA President Mahmoud Abbas waited until the last moment to begin talks is no concern of ours.
We all want Pollard freed and this is an issue that stands apart from any other. It should not under any circumstance be part of a deal that would undermine Israel in the peace talks.
Sir, – Sadly, there is no such possibility that Jonathan Pollard can be released before the end of his life sentence. He apparently incurred the vicious wrath of then-defense secretary Caspar Weinberger by unconsciously revealing that the satellite photos of Arab countries that Israel was receiving under an official agreement with the US were being doctored.
The embarrassment of being caught was unbearable for Weinberger. Hence, his presentencing memorandum to the judge, which sealed Pollard’s fate.
Just plain wrong
Sir, – Daniel Pipes thinks that the large number of Americans who are against the burning of the Koran think that Islam is beyond criticism (“The Rushdie Rules reach Florida,” September 21). There is a much simpler explanation: We deplore book burning, period.
Any book burning brings to my mind images of the Nazis burning books by Jews and other literature they considered unworthy of existence.
Anybody who wants to discuss the merits of Islam is welcome to do so. Burning the Koran is disgusting, because burning books is disgusting.
JACOB GORE Denver, Colorado
Meaningful mitzva
Sir, – Kudos to Judy Siegel- Itzkovich (Health Scan, September 19) for highlighting options for patients who need wigs due to the side effects of therapy.
May I mention an important project of Shevet Ma’apilim/Bnei Akiva in Hashmonaim? Our granddaughter, Noa, grew her lovely hair for three years and, before her bat mitzva, had it appropriately cut, donating it for the needs of young cancer patients. What a meaningful and beautiful way to begin the obligations of mitzvot! May all those requiring blessings for good health be answered.