Letters to the Editor (March 19, 2012)

Reluctant ‘heroes’ of the south

They are thanking me, a resident of the south, for remaining strong in the face of the missile launchings. How did I turn overnight into the nation’s sweetheart? They say we stand firm in the face of the enemy, and courageously endure all the attacks; during his visit to the south, the prime minister asked the local council heads to tell the residents that he appreciates their courage.

I have spent a fair share of my days in a shelter. And I say: Thanks are superfluous. We don’t want thanks from citizens who are beyond the range of the missiles, nor the thanks from politicians trying to maintain their coalition quiet, and certainly not the thanks of journalists who want to present a portrait of a united and happy people.

Sderot residents needed seven years of missile barrages from the west and salvoes of thanks from the east until the state took significant steps. How much time will pass until the barrages of thanks from the north will stop and be replaced with action? What range do the missiles fired from Gaza need to reach before the polite manners are replaced with real action?

The government’s way of saying thanks to us is to add another Iron Dome system. This is nothing but opium for the southerners. Positioning another Iron Dome system is accepting an impossible situation, where southern residents continue to go into the shelters three times a day and stay at home instead of going to school, and in return there is a chance that one in three missiles will not land in their city. Investing our money in such defense systems is merely entrenching the abnormal situation in which we live in the south.

If you really want to, go ahead and admit it. Admit that you care less about the south. The residents of the south are good for what Kiryat Shmona residents were good for until the Second Lebanon War − stationary targets. And if you just sprinkle a bit of cheap and sticky patriotism on them, they will remain in this strange reality of theirs and not stream into the center ‏(heaven forbid‏).

We are not heroes, and even if we were, we wouldn’t want to be. The role of the soldiers is to be heroes; our role is to raise children and study in university. If I am being acknowledged as a hero then it means they have failed to protect me as a citizen.

Tamir Mendovsky

What the U.S. is doing to promote Internet freedom in Iran

In response to “Unleash the power of the Internet,” March 9

We agree with Gov. Sam Brownback, Michael Horowitz and Amb. Mark Palmer on the importance of a robust program to help the Iranian people exercise their universal rights to free expression, assembly and association online (“World can use power of the Internet to destabilize Iran’s regime,” March 9.)

Contrary to their assertions, the State Department is running just such a program. From 2008 through 2011, State and USAID have spent $76 million on Internet freedom programming, including significant financial support for projects and tools to help users in Iran.  Nearly half of all funds supported the development of updated and safer versions of the circumvention systems the authors advocate. More than a million people living under repressive regimes around the world use our tools to help them communicate safely and exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

This year, at a time when we are making significant budget cuts in many areas, we will spend $25 million in Internet freedom programming. The Obama Administration has also requested $27.5 million from Congress to continue these vital programs in 2013 – and as the Administration continues to evaluate ways to enhance these ongoing efforts, it will also continue to engage Congress on this important matter.

Michael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State

The ups and downs of UN-style justice

In response to “The 21st question,” March 15,

Who among us wouldn’t want “the world” or “the international community” to deal properly with Iran just as Ari Shavit would like or expect? And who knows a single Israeli who is not infuriated by the hypocrisy of “the world” and “the international community” in light of the slaughter going on in Syria? Behind the words “world” and “international community,” which on their own are devoid of meaning, lies a simple and clever world order that was determined after the end of World War II: Action against a state shall be taken by the UN solely on the basis of a Security Council resolution. And there the decision makers, as is well known, are the powerful in the world, and they receive unanimous backing. On the basis of conflicting and mutual interests of the big powers, the world has existed and on the whole flourished since then.

Therefore, in the matter of Iran and Syria any possibility of decisive action by “the world” is prevented due to the right of veto reserved for Russia and China. By the same token, thanks to the U.S. right of veto in the Security Council, the settlements cropped up and thrived in the West Bank. Thanks to the UN we were recognized as a state, and we also settled in the territories and because of this same Security Council, the Iranian threat also exists today. On an up day, justice is working; on a down day, the interests are at work.

Tzuriel Shivo