Letters to the Editor / August 20, 2012

An inappropriate use of "black flag"

As a civics teacher, I was amazed to read the advertisement entitled "Black Flag" that was published on August 10. Israel Prize laureates and winners of other awards, professors, writers, intellectuals and even the former education minister banded together to throw sand into the eyes of the public by firmly declaring that "the blackest of flags" waves above going to war against Iran.

A "black flag" is a unique expression minted by Judge Benjamin Halevy in a ruling that convicted soldiers and commanders accused of the massacre in Kafr Qassem of obeying a patently illegal order. Every time I study this topic with my students I am filled with pride at the fact that in the Israeli judicial system, which is based on the rule of law, there is a complex mechanism that mandates refusing to obey an immoral order. When asked how one can distinguish an illegal order, I reply that such an order is one whose immorality is unarguable.

On what are the signatories to the ad relying in their statement that the blackest of flags flies above embarking on a war against Iran? Embarrassingly, the answer is: on "a study of air force operations" and on a legalistic analysis of relations between the United States and Israel, the Jewish lobby and internal elections in the United States.

Is it possible that they are mistaken in their complex analysis?

When it comes to a "black flag," that is of no importance whatsoever. A "black flag" flies over an immoral action whose immorality is undeniable. It is not based on "a study of air force operations" or on an analysis of international relations.

The role of the concept "black flag" is to preserve the moral character of the state even during wartime. Using it for any other purpose, including legitimate opposition to an attack in Iran, undermines and desecrates it.

Amiad Meltzer


A rational approach to Iran

In response to "The Israeli right must stop Netanyahu's messianism," and "The hour of the warmongers," August 12

"When he talks about Iran he sounds the way false prophet Shabtai Zvi must have sounded," writes Yoram Kaniuk about the prime minister. "The neighborhood bully who thinks that every problem should be solved by force, also believes in his right and his ability to change regimes," writes Gideon Levy about the prime minister in a description of "pathological megalomania," as he puts it.

Both articles disregard the repeated declarations by Iranian leaders that Israel must be destroyed. An emotional examination of the situation, which is not without prejudice, is unworthy, either on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or on the part of Kaniuk and Levy.

It's impossible to sweep the Iranian threat under the rug. Those in the know must decide about Israel's technical capability for handling the threat. The two writers, like the rest of the general public, are not privy to up to date information about these technical and military considerations.

It's true that we should not embark on a war against Iran unless there is a good chance of success, because failure is worse than inaction. The probability of success can be judged only by someone who has the full information about Israel's capabilities.

At the same time we should recall how Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was warned not to declare the establishment of the state but rather to accept a (U.S. ) trusteeship, and the fact that the chief of staff at the time described the chances of withstanding the onslaught of the Arab countries at 50 percent. On the other hand, in 1956 Ben-Gurion looked for the allies, France and England.

There were similar warnings in 1967. On the other hand, there was the failure of the optimists of 1973 (who claimed that Egypt would not attack ). There are those who acknowledge the severity of the current problem, but say that dealing with it is America's job. However, it is true that the United States is operating on a different schedule than Israel is.

In short, most members of the public lack the information required to decide how to stop those who are arising to kill us. All we can do is urge our leaders to remember that thought should precede action.

David David


Home Front won't give us gas masks

The Home Front Command has decided to leave us without gas masks. My wife and I are aged 83 and 84, and we don't have the physical strength to stretch the rubber band at the base of the bardas (a protective gas mask hood, which we were given ) in order to pass it over our heads.

That's why we signed a form sent to us, requesting ordinary gas masks, and assuming full responsibility for any outcome (as though someone else were responsible for us ). We signed, and sent the request by fax - about a year ago.

This week, a secretary from the Home Front informed us that our request is impossible to grant, because of our age.

Professionally speaking that is absolute nonsense, because all that is required is to protect breathing. It turns out that the fact that we are being left without any gas mask we can use doesn't bother the bureaucrats, who think that they are protecting the population.

Dr. (of Engineering ) David Ashborn


Let them eat (expensive ) bread

Raising the price of bread and milk will bring more money into government coffers but so will extending daylight savings time. Which is better for the country? Which is better for the government?

Honey Stollman

Ramat Gan

Dichter's defection

Avi Dichter was and is a political opportunist in sheep's clothing. Twice he ran for leadership of Kadima and twice he was defeated. He wanted Kadima to join Benjamin Netanyahu's government and then he opposed its resignation from the government. The present government isn't a Likud-led one, but rather a government led by The General Staff's elite special-operations force.

Ken Kalcheim


A surgeon's real salary

In response to "Many Israeli doctors still unhappy with state reform, despite increase in pay," August 10

Presenting the net salary, as Dan Even does in his article about the salary of doctors, is erroneous. A senior surgeon's net salary of NIS 24,036, as noted, is a salary of NIS 45,000.

This is the salary we have to consider when comparing it to other salaries.

Zvi Gil

Petah Tikva