October 20: 'Thank you, colonel'

October 20 Thank you,

Thank you, colonel Sir, - It was heartwarming to read Col. Richard Kemp's address to the president of the UN Human Rights Council on the conduct of the IDF during Operation Cast Lead ("Former UK Afghan commander: In Gaza, IDF took more precautions to safeguard civilians than any other army in history," October 18). It is gratifying to know that someone of Col. Kemp's expertise in military matters understands and appreciates the morality of our armed forces, and the reasons why we are so proud of our troops. It's a pity his words fell on deaf ears! Nevertheless we thank you, Col. Kemp, for your heroic efforts. JACKIE ALTMAN Netanya Foregone conclusion... Sir, - Hindsight is always perfect. Nevertheless, the outcome of the Goldstone inquiry was predictable. The fact that the mission was chaired by the Jewish Goldstone made the ultimate vilification of Israel inevitable. His justifying Israeli actions, under any circumstances, would have exposed him to a barrage of accusations of bias in support of the Jewish state. To Richard Goldstone, that would have been intolerable. So there was no way his report could have condoned Israeli actions during Cast Lead. And any input from our government would only have enhanced the smoke-screen of impartiality ("Cracks in united front as MKs spar over Goldstone Report," October 19). BRUM BERKOVITS Haifa ...strange omission Sir, - The Goldstone Report is astonishing for what it doesn't report. Rape and looting are the two standard war crimes that constantly accompany wars of aggression. Indeed, they are sometimes used as weapons of war. Remember when East Pakistan decided that it wished to be a separate entity (and ultimately became Bangladesh) West Pakistani soldiers raped East Pakistani women wholesale, knowing that their husbands would be forced to divorce them? In 575 pages, the Goldstone Report hasn't been able to accuse Israel of these standard - and expected - war crimes. If IDF soldiers are capable of such restraint in the face of expected aggressive behavior, it indicates that one should take many of the listed outrageous accusations with a very large grain of salt. SURA JESELSOHN Jerusalem/New York Bitter fruits Sir, - Haviv Rettig Gur's willingness to assume that "Goldstone is an honest man with noble intentions" is no more relevant than attempts by Obama apologists to demonstrate Obama's naivete. Obama and Goldstone have helped to empower those who despise Israel and wish to destroy her. They are responsible for presenting a false picture of Israel - Obama through his misguided emphasis on settlements and Goldstone by his participation in this farcical inquiry. Obama and Goldstone can see the fruits of their labors, and by their fruits we should judge them ("Answer this, Judge Goldstone," October 18). JOANNE JACKSON YELENIK DANIEL YELENIK Beit Shemesh Is all war a crime? Sir, - The eminent jurist saw "the destruction of... agricultural lands, industrial factories, water supplies, and sanitation works... These are not military targets," he proclaims. Technically, he is correct - but what is the relevance to deciding if war crimes were committed? By this definition, all war is a "war crime," since war often results in the destruction of such fields and facilities simply because battles fall on, around or even in them. It takes wisdom to put facts in context. The fact that Judge Goldstone could not fathom beforehand that, at the end of the process, only Israel would be accused of war crimes says it all ("My mission - and motivation," Richard Goldstone, October 19). BARRY LYNN Efrat Sir, - "The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, / Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit / Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line / Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it" (The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam). CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh People in glass houses Sir, - Re "Who lost Turkey?" (Editorial, October 16): It ill behooves Turkey to criticize us when it still occupies Northern Cyprus some 35 years after its invasion on July 20, 1974. People in glass houses should not throw stones! In a landmark decision on May 10, 2001, the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe found Turkey guilty of mass violations of human rights in Cyprus as a result of the military invasion and occupation of Cyprus. This court decision is historic as it reinforces the struggle of the Cypriot people for justice and holds Turkey responsible for its flagrant violations of human rights in Cyprus. COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem Gen. Jones: Stay away Sir, - The community of Americans living in Israel is estimated at more than 250,000, and the AIAC is highly troubled by the report that US National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones will be the keynote speaker at the J Street conference later this month ("Jones urges Israel to open Gaza crossings," October 18). Although J Street claims to be an American "pro-Israel, pro-peace" organization, American-Israelis know the truth only too well: J Street is a far-Left, radical anti-Israel group at least partially funded by Arab sources whose interest is most certainly not the continued growth and vitality of Israel and its inhabitants, living in peace and security as a Jewish state. Indeed, it and its leader, Jeremy Ben-Ami, have made numerous statements that suggest the contrary. Accordingly, we view any supporters or expeditors of J Street as unfriendly to them and to Israel. Numerous US Senators and Congressmen, apprised of the truth about J Street and the strong anti-J Street views of the American-Israeli community, as well as of those of the Israeli government and a large majority of Jewish Americans, have already withdrawn from this conference. We urge Gen. Jones in the strongest possible terms to do the same. Indeed, the appearance at the conference of any US government official will be viewed as a most unfriendly act and impediment to peace by Jews worldwide. We urge the Obama administration to do the right thing in this instance. HARVEY SCHWARTZ, Chairman, American Israeli Action Coalition (AIAC) Jerusalem What's needed Sir, - We do not need "a National Museum of Aliya," nor "a National Aliya Day," nor "an Annual Immigrant of the Year award." And we definitely do not need another "National Conference on Aliya." The money could be better spent on olim already here who still have problems, such as the Ethiopians. The Jewish Agency should concentrate on two projects: Bringing Israelis back from the US and encouraging our government to ease life for Israelis already living here by, for example, lowering income tax rates. As things are, a person's second job is taxed so highly that it doesn't pay him or her to work harder. When Israelis abroad see the government really cares for its own citizens, more will want to return home. And they would integrate the best and easiest. Thank you, Michael Freund, but come up with some other ideas ("Introducing the 'Zionist Stimulus Package,'" October 15). LILA BRODSKY Jerusalem