Letters to the Editor

Expensive education Regarding It is good to die for their country by Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, September 3:

Akiva Eldar proposes a moral symmetry between the Israeli War of Independence (1948-1949) and the current intifada. Despite this and Uri Avineris advertisements in Haaretz, the analogy is flawed. In the War of Independence, Israel lost 1 percent of its population through a war that was imposed upon it by Arab states, which did not accept the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which divided the land west of the Jordan into Israeli and Palestinian states. In contrast, Palestine Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat had the opportunity to have a Palestinian state in the Camp David negotiations with former prime minister Ehud Barak. Instead he chose violence.

In stating the reasons for his rejection of further negotiations, he cited personal danger.

It is certainly possible that Arafat could be assassinated by a Palestinian extremist. However, after the Oslo Agreement, Arafat made no effort to educate the Palestinian street to the inevitability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Thus he could not accept any compromise.

Arafat or his successor must educate their people that all of their demands will not be fulfilled, just as most Israelis no longer expect an Israeli state on both sides of the Jordan. The current year of violence shows that lack of education is very expensive, especially for children.

Herbert Kaine Berkeley,CA

Defending rights Regarding A public relations failure at Durban by Yair Sheleg, Haaretz, September 5:

In his op-ed piece, Yair Sheleg accuses Bat Shalom and Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) of taking part in the anti-Israel bashing and not raising our voices in Durban. Our responsibility as an Israeli human rights organization is to speak forthrightly about violations of human rights, whether they be the rights of Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, foreign workers or Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the truly anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic atmosphere at Durban prevented a serious discussion of these issues. Clearly, the Durban conference will serve as a fig leaf for those who want to avoid dealing honestly with our own human rights shortcomings.

At the same time, I want to clarify that RHRs representative at Durban, Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, actively voiced our criticism of the inflammatory rhetoric and Israel-bashing. His remarks on this matter were covered in the South African press.

It should be superfluous to note that, on principle, we refused to sign the concluding NGO document. Here and abroad, RHR will continue to uphold Jewish traditions red line between our legitimate rights and the violation of the human rights of others, who, like us, are created in G-ds image. We will continue to support our right to defend ourselves against those directly attacking us and oppose the collective punishment of innocent civilians.

Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman Executive Director Rabbis For Human Rights