November 15: Capital arguments

November 15 Capital arg

Capital arguments Sir, - Anderson Harkov's article "The problem with capital punishment" (November 12), in which he argues against my recent call for Israel to reinstate the death penalty for convicted terrorists, ignores several salient points: Sentencing murderers to life in prison is acceptable - as I indicated - when it is reasonable that they will serve out the bulk of their sentence and essentially spend the rest of their lives in prison. But if these killers stand a good chance of an early release due to political considerations - or as part of a lopsided "prisoner exchange" - then justice will be severely perverted and the families of terror victims will undergo yet another undeserved trauma. As for Harkov's claim that capital punishment exists only "in uncivilized countries," he blithely omits mention of the United States, which has been executing murderers for more than two centuries, and may soon be called upon to do so again, in the case of the Ft. Hood massacre. RABBI STEWART WEISS Ra'anana Healthier hospitals Sir, - Following A. Weinberg's gloomy picture of our hospitals ("Hospital Horrors," Letters, November 10), I would like to present the other side of the picture. I spend one day a month in Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem. I always come away thankful and delighted with the professional and caring manner of the staff. The hospital is spotless, with well-equipped, clean facilities. Appointments are on time and the desk staff helpful and efficient. Having come from abroad just three years ago, I can tell you that from what I have seen here in Jerusalem, we are very lucky to have the medical provisions that we do, greatly enhanced by TEREM. CHAVA LEHMAN Jerusalem Sir, - I was hospitalized for three months at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah and I received very efficient and caring attention. The doctors were knowledgeable, the nurses were just wonderful, and the food was good, wholesome and tasty. As a matter of fact, I asked my daughter, who was picking me up, to please buy a nice cake to give to the doctors and nurses who took such good care of me and the other patients on my floor. BETTY KURZMANN Kfar Saba Mismanaged water? Sir, - In "Pay no heed to populist water fights" (November 12), the reporter comments in his last paragraph, "Is populism now to save a few shekels wise, if it leads to the drying up of Israel's water supplies?" Perhaps he hasn't studied the financial statements of Mekorot, which show the company made a respectable profit of NIS 174 million in 2008, after all expenses and taxes. So what exactly is Prof. Uri Shani, the water authority head, referring to when he points out that "the price of water has never reflected the actual cost of providing water to the country's residents"? After years of failure in the management of the water supply, the public has the right to know whether the problem has been a lack of funds for increasing water availability, or simply a lack of competent management, both professional and political. PETER WISEBURGH Jerusalem At any price Sir, - At last! A group of people with no agenda tells it the way it is ("Bereaved mothers: Bring home Schalit 'at any cost,'" November 12 ). In the case of saving a soldier's life, there is no such thing as a red line. These bereaved mothers know exactly what it means to lose a son. They don't care to discuss politics in such situations. It's already been much too long. That boy simply must come home - alive - whatever the cost. LEONARD ZURAKOV Netanya Don't bridge the West Bank to Gaza Sir, - Whenever I read about the planned highway between the West Bank and Gaza traversing Israeli territory ("Encountering Peace: Negotiating about negotiations," November 10), I am astonished that Israel is willing to give away this indispensable link to the Palestinians. Israel has already yielded the biblical cities of Bethlehem and Hebron and, in a peace treaty, will have to relinquish the West Bank, the cradle of Jewish history. But why in the hard bargaining of the Middle Eastern shuk, should Israel donate an infinitely valuable prize: the critical bridge from the West Bank to Gaza and the Mediterranean Sea? After all, there is a long and bitter history of landlocked countries fighting for an outlet to the sea. The Polish Corridor, Poland's passage to the Baltic, was won after the defeat of Germany in World War I. A primary reason Armenia is now establishing relations with Turkey is that it will gain access to the Black Sea, but at a painful price - Turkey will not have to recognize its genocide of the Armenians. Notably, Bolivia lost its only sea access back in the 1879 war against Chile - and is still relentlessly struggling to recover it. JACOB MENDLOVIC Toronto Thunder & lightning Sir - Thunder and lightning - Rahm and Barack in Hebrew - can either bring rains of blessing or a harmful storm. Rahm Emanuel spoke to the Jewish Federations' General Assembly regarding Israel and US involvement in achieving peace ("Emanuel: Peace can come only through dialogue," November 11). He spoke of his family's connection to Israel, President Barack Obama's dedication to peace in the region and how what started in 1967 must end. What exactly started in 1967? Israel was victorious over the Jordanian Army after we were attacked, and ended the Jordanian occupation of the area. Jewish communities were reborn from the ashes, once again Jews were allowed to live in places from which they were once evicted and places where they were massacred.  The president's chief of staff spoke of how his father took the name "Emanuel" in honor of his uncle who died fighting for Israel. Will he show the same courage when the Arabs once again deny the existence of a Jewish state? I invite Mr. Emanuel to come out and meet us, not through the eyes of his government, but through his heart and mind: Mr. Emanuel, maybe for your son's bar mitzvah, after he reads the Torah at the Kotel, take him also to Hebron to see where his forefathers are buried, then to Shilo which served as the first capital of Israel, home to the Mishkan (Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant) for 369 years. MARC PROWISOR Reverting to type? Sir, - In reference to the article, "Jewish congressman warns US attitude to Israel could be changing" (November 9), the US is merely reverting to its default position. In 1948, President Truman was among the first to recognize Israel, and among the first (with its embargo on arms) to abandon it. In 1956, Israel was forced to give up strategic depth for a maritime guarantee of Suez Canal and Red Sea access, which was abrogated in 1967 when its implementation was sorely needed. The 1967 war was won (with French arms) despite Israel's acceding to a US demand for delay. Post-'67, the US became aware of Israel's strategic use against Russia's growing incursion in the Middle East and finally became Israel's supplier of arms. But in 1973, the US forced prime minister Golda Meir to wait, which nearly led to Israel's destruction. Israel destroyed Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor despite America's opposition. President Clinton arm twisted Israel into accepting the Oslo Accords, which led to the two intifadas,1,000 dead and 6,000 injured. The US pressing Israel for further unrewarded concessions led Israel to cleanse the Jews of Gaza, leading to the 8,000 rocket siege of Sderot and the Cast Lead war. Israel has always been a card to play: first by the Russians,then the French and now the Americans. LEO SOLOMON Nahariya