September 27: First things first

September 27 First thin

First things first Sir, - Listening to Barack Obama's UN speech, it was plain he means to fix the world - including solving the Israel-Palestinian problem and global warming ("PM to 'Post': Obama's speech will push peace talks forward," September 24). With all due respect, may I suggest he fixes the climate, and when he's done that, he can move on to the problems of this region. Might as well get the easy bit done first. CECILIA HENRY Kfar Bialik Overboard... Sir, - Once again Larry Derfner goes overboard in putting President Obama down as too weak or too unlearned in the politics of the Israeli Right to know what he has done - or not done ("Played for a sucker," September 15). But he is willing to give Obama a chance to correct his mistakes and put Netanyahu and his rightists in their place. He admits that Obama has the right advisers, led by Rahm Emanuel, to correct all the "errors" of the past and get back on the right track to solving the problems of the Middle East, and in particular Israel's part in them. Still, I feel certain that the president, if he reads this op-ed, will be eager to learn more from Mr. Derfner. LEONARD ZURAKOV Netanya ...over Obama Sir, - While other Post writers worry about Obama's anti-Israelism and the danger that to compensate for his medical, economic and military failures he may use Israel to score points as a forceful American leader, Larry Derfner seems to be aiming for the title of "Maverick of The Jerusalem Post," crying with disappointment that his darling genius of liberalism and peacefulness caved in to Netanyahu. He is worried about Israel being joined by the American Republican party, laughing together at Obama's weakness. Would that this weakness increases if that will prevent his offering up Israel on a silver platter to the Arabs and the Palestinians. Derfner talks about the next war. Does he not realize that war is more probable if Hamas, Fatah and Hizbullah are encouraged to expect a weak Israel created by Obama determined to push us back to the '67 borders? Is war more likely with Israel in control of the West Bank, or more likely to come from a State of Palestine refusing to recognize Israel as the State of the Jews? JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem Three statements Sir, - The interview with Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan by Yaakov Katz and David Horovitz (Magazine, September 18) contained three statements that Israelis could put on their bumper-stickers, use as closures on their e-mail correspondence, place on their refrigerators, memorize, internalize and share constantly with friends and foes, internal and external. They are statements of unbelievable simplicity, but genuine profundity: "We did not choose to operate in Gaza." "There is no other place like this in the world where schoolchildren need to run within 15 seconds to a bomb shelter." "We sometimes don't have a choice, but to fight." SIMCHA RUDMAN Jerusalem Goldstone Mission's 'factual' evidence Sir, - Judge Goldstone admits that the report of the UN Fact-Finding (sic) Mission on Gaza devotes disproportionate attention to Israel's conduct, but says it was "unavoidable considering the many incidents the mission was obliged to investigate in Gaza.... relating to a severe three-week military operation from the air, sea and land" (Who's being unfair?" Richard Goldstone, September 23). Based on the facts before it, the report concluded that Israel did not adequately protect the civilian population in Gaza during the campaign. But what are the "facts" on which these conclusions were based? Despite Israel's decision not to participate in its work, the panel received numerous factual submissions from individuals and groups sympathetic to Israel. On July 10, 2009, the International Commission for Jewish Legal Affairs submitted a video of a June speech delivered in Jerusalem by Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan, in which he declared that in Operation Cast Lead, the IDF showed more concern for the civilian population than any other army he knew of, and provided numerous examples. Col. Kemp's qualifications as an expert military analyst are unassailable. Yet, astonishingly, the Goldstone Mission ignored Col. Kemp's speech. Challenged about this, Goldstone responded personally, on September 21, to Maurice Ostroff, a very serious blogger who was aware of ICJLaw's submission of the Kemp speech, as follows: "There was no reliance on Col. Kemp mainly because in our Report we did not deal with the issues he raised regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers 'in the fog of war.' We avoided having to do so in the incidents we decided to investigate." This response is shocking, inexplicable and in stark contradiction to Goldstone's explanation above that the mission gave disproportionate attention to Israel's conduct precisely because of the complex military operation. If it did not deal with the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas, then what did it deal with? If Col. Kemp's statements are not relevant, then what is? Even more distressing is the total suppression of the Kemp statement, submitted as evidence. Goldstone admits it was received. The commission was entitled to review and reject it. But proper procedure demands an explanation be provided. None was forthcoming, justifying concern about the reliability of much of the "factual" evidence upon which the mission relied ("Who's being unfair?" Richard Goldstone, September 23). JAN SOKOLOVSKY Jerusalem Fuel to the fire Sir, - As a Holocaust survivor, I am outraged at the thought that the appalling treatment of Daniel Hiben and his wife, Michal, could be based on racism ("Converts' marriage still unrecognized by Interior Ministry," September 24). It's amazing that the Hibens even want to remain here. Someone needs to remind those clerks, and the minister too, that they do not operate in a separate legal system but are paid by the taxpayer, and bound by the state's laws and principles. We are accused internationally of being an "apartheid state," something we vehemently deny, and we are fighting the claim that we systematically commit human rights abuses. We don't need our paid officials to add fuel to this fire. In any other Western democracy they would be sacked. This couple needs a welcome and an apology from our government. URI THEMAL Kiryat Tivon Where are the scientists? Sir, - Re "New boost for clean energy launched" (Photo, September 22): It was surprising to learn that very few members of the Israeli Clean Energy Forum are actually scientists or engineers. Were a similar forum instituted to consider, for example, penal or tax reform, I don't think the lawyers or accountants would let engineers or scientists be members. Let's have a majority of professionals in this forum qualified and experienced in the technology rather than those interested in making money. It bodes ill for our international standing as leaders in technology! COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem