Letters to the Editor
How long will the truce last?
Even though the triplets - Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Ehud Barak - appeared together shortly before the cease-fire and praised one another for their cooperation, things are not so quiet on the southern front. Their appearance was obviously necessary to tell the public that if they love one another, there is no reason we shouldn't love them, at least until the next election.
So who were the real winners in this miniature war with Hamas that just ended? This is easily determined through logical deduction - Israel was the loser. Why? Because it reinforced the notion in the minds of so many people (excluding the triplets ) that we are invincible.
The problem with thinking we are invincible is that we tend to act that way.
This has two disadvantages. The first is that this arrogance sullies our name around the world, leading eventually to the same fate as delicious food that we forget to put in the refrigerator.
The second is that we fail to grab every opportunity to start to talk peace. For example, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says "I will sit down with you to talk peace if only you cease building settlements in the occupied territories for nine months," our lame response is "we stopped for 10 months and you didn't come to talk peace."
Another problem for our "invincibility" is that we may not use the ultimate weapon that some think we might possess - even though we have not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Even with this weapon we would not be able to eliminate a nuclear reactor that sits 200 meters under a mountain in Iran.
It is obvious to anyone, even without a high-tech education, that it is much easier and quicker to develop an anti-aircraft weapon with an 80 percent success rate than it took to develop our Iron Dome weapon, which has at best the same success rate in shooting down a comparatively tiny rocket.
The prediction is obvious. The truce with Hamas will at best not last much longer than it took to develop the Iron Dome system.
Vital private medical services
In response to "Waiting time for Hadassah patients varies 8-fold," November 22
What a shame Hebrew University's medical students have nothing better to do than compare waiting times for patient appointments between the public system and the hospital's private medical service (the sharap system ).
Why don't they investigate the benefit the public system obtains from the funds transferred to it by the sharap system, the hugely important other side of the coin? Why don't they investigate why patients from Gaza seem to be able to jump the queue for treatment in Israeli hospitals even during times of war and constant rocket fire on Israelis?
They might also investigate who is paying for that treatment - and they might not be surprised if it turns out to be the public at large. In short, much needs investigating, not just one dogmatic issue half covered.
Don't impede Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas has said several times he wants peace with Israel. As we all know, the Palestinians have two governments, one that is moderate and relatively sane, and one that is bloodthirsty and crazy. Via diplomacy, the efforts to achieve a cease-fire could evolve into a peace agreement based on the principle of two states.
Abbas should not be impeded in his appeal to the United Nations to upgrade the status of his people. This move is opposed by Hamas, Iran and unfortunately the Israeli government.
If Abbas gains a majority at the UN General Assembly (and this seems very possible, even if the Israeli government continues to oppose it in its PR campaigns ), no Arab refugees will be able to demand that they "return" to Israel, because they will then have a state of Palestine. Only there will they have the right to return.
After such an arrangement, Hamas will, under international law, have no pretext for attacking Israel, and Israel will be free to deal with any renewed threat from Gaza.
Retired Foreign Ministry official
The assumption that the worse Hamas is to us, the better things will be has not passed the test of history. The proof is in the term "rounds," which contains the notion that at the end of each episode (Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense ), the seeds are there for the next round.
But some people can see the failure of the one-fell-swoop and eye-for-an-eye approach and believe that the solution is to talk. Not to kill the mosquito, but to try to dry the swamp.
It's a revolutionary change in perception, and it's hard to believe that our current leaders will adopt it (even though they went to talks in Cairo to negotiate a cease-fire ). Is there a chance the Benjamin Netanyahu-Ehud Barak duo will act as the Henry Kissinger-Richard Nixon duo did during the Vietnam War, or as Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin did during the time of the Oslo Accords? Will they do a 180-degree turn? I doubt it.
I doubt they would make such a move, or reach that point the hard way after enduring several more rounds.
It's also hard to imagine that they would grasp that the same disgust they have for Hamas is what we felt about the PLO 20 or 30 years ago - and look what has happened in the meantime.
There are no guarantees for opting to talk, just as there are none for any other option. But if we try talking, one thing is certain: Our standing around the world will improve immeasurably.
Let's make our position clear
Anyone who says there should be no clear statement on what Israel is willing to give Mahmoud Abbas in return for peace, arguing that we're in the middle of negotiations, is misleading the public. After 45 years in the territories, the time has come for the government to state its positions on the matter.
It seems Israel seeks to drag on the negotiations for five or 10 more years in the hope that the dog will die, the master will die, or both will.
The time has come to tell the Israeli public what we are willing to give in return for peace. Perhaps the difference between this and the Palestinians' demands is smaller than we think.
But it's a well-kept secret. We're not allowed to say anything. We're in the middle of negotiations.