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Letters


Israel’s path to destruction

Just for two Israeli soldiers being kidnapped by the Hezbollah on July 12, the Israelis have retaliated by killing over 1000 Lebanese civilians, injured another 3000, displaced a million more and bombed and damaged seaports, airports, power stations, oil storage tanks, bridges, roads, buildings, and targeted ambulances and vehicles carrying civilians moving away from the war zone.
Israeli action has been condemned globally. Israel has flagrantly broken all international laws and conventions governing war fare. Some countries have demanded that Israel be indicted for war crimes. Never in history has war been declared for the loss of two soldiers! Israel has followed their doctrine of disproportionate response to the utmost. In an utter, state of paranoia, panic and frenzy her aims change daily; to destroy Hezbollah, to disarm them, to drive them out of South Lebanon.
The more the war continues, the clearer it becomes that these changing aims are not realistic. The Lebanese ruling group does not represent anybody but a small and rich corrupt elite. The Lebanese Army cannot and will not fight Hezbollah. The new security zone will be exposed to guerilla attacks and the international force will not enter the area without the agreement of Hezbollah. With the swagger and bluster of Ehul Olmert and his Israeli government, the Hezbollah cannot be vanquished. Most important of all the flow of Hezbollah rockets cannot be halted.
There is a visible contrast to how Hezbollah is conducting the war as opposed to how Israel is doing it. Firstly Hezbollah has remained steadfast; secondly it has managed to absorb the Israeli strike; thirdly it is moving to the stage of taking the initiative and fourthly, to offer some surprises, which it has promised.
In the field Hezbollah is still managing the battle calmly, slowly, quietly, and without any emotional reaction. There are no unnecessary threats and no random rhetoric. Hezbollah is following her war strategy very judiciously. It is not surprising since Hezbollah is imbibed with goals such as martyrdom, resistance, jihad, wounded, steadfastness, confrontation, liberation, freedom, glory, dignity, pride and honour. Hezbollah has about 5,000 regular soldiers, 15,000 reservists and is based in 75 areas of the whole of Lebanon. Hezbollah holds 14 seats in the Lebanese parliament and two ministerial portfolios.
Israel despite being better armed with more soldiers is conducting the war in a very haphazard manner. The priority should have been to concentrate and target Hezbollah only but in a paranoid and schizophrenic frame of mind with bellicose rhetoric and threats, Israel has unwisely attacked civilians and civilian targets in all of Lebanon earning the outright condemnation of the whole world except the US and Britain.
Being unable to stop the rocket barrage from Hezbollah, the Israeli people are now questioning the wisdom of the Olmert government war strategy. They are claiming that Ariel Sharon would not have done what Olmert did. They claim that Olmert, a non- military man was by his actions trying to achieve military glory. A wise move they say would have been to negotiate, a prisoner exchange when the two soldiers were captured on July 12.
Even the latest thrust into southern Lebanon by the Israel army is fraught with great danger as Hezbollah a classic master guerilla group is awaiting for such a move by the Israelis to mine the area, ambush the tanks with explosive fire and laser guided anti-tank missiles to surround the soldiers and decimate them. If the Hezbollah become victorious as in May 2000, the myth of invincibility that surrounds the Israel armed forces would be breached.
The Israel people will start losing confidence in Olmert’s government and the armed forces, triggering a political crisis in the country. A war that Israel thought could have been finished in a few days will continue indefinitely; the US will be compelled to bailout Israel, but US intervention in Lebanon will meet more fierce resistance from Hezbollah.
It is very unlikely that Hezbollah will accept any UN resolution for a cessation of hostilities without the withdrawal of Israel forces from Lebanon. It is most likely that Hezbollah will fight on till it evicts all Israel soldiers from Lebanon like in May 2000. Meanwhile Hezbollah’s popularity is soaring in the region and Iran its backer will enjoy immense prestige, influence and respect and be the principal player in the region, not the US.
Saybhan Samat
Rajagiriya.

***

Draconian laws at elite social clubs

Two of Colombo’s elite social clubs have introduced laws under the guise of a minimum charge, ostensibly to increase revenue.
The irony of this draconian law is that it has been passed by a small number and not the general membership. An attempt made by a member to put this to a vote at the AGM was brushed aside on the flimsy excuse that due notice was not given, although seven days clear notice in writing was given. This law requires a member to spend a minimum of Rs.1500/- per quarter or pay up.
A classic example of the application of this law is the case of a member who spend Rs. 51,000/- in the first quarter and was billed for a shortfall of the minimum charge in the second quarter, as he could not visit the Club for personal reasons, whereas, any member who spends Rs. 6,000/- per annum at the correct time is exempt. Now where is the justice fair play and equality of these clubs? Is this not discriminatory and a subtle form of extortion?
In the past these clubs were run by a host of honourable gentlemen and ladies who gave numerous concessions and subsidies to the membership, and would not in their wildest dreams resort to such practices to induce revenue, or strangle-hold the membership to ransom.
It is up to the membership to abolish this law of a few in the hierarchy, so that they could with dignity exercise the freedoms and privileges they hitherto enjoyed, at their will and pleasure.
L.L. Silva
Dehiwela

**8

Physical stature and happiness

If Mother Nature does not provide a man or woman with a specific height and weight, such a person will have to face untold problems.
The world’s tallest man Leonid Stadnik is 8 feet 4 inches in height and facing many inconveniences in his life. Born in a small village 1300 miles away from Ukraine, the man mountain at 33 years of age says that he does not want to enter the Guinness Book of World Records, because he is still growing.
Doctors believe that the non­stop growth of Leonid Stadnik is due to the brain surgery he under­went at the age of fourteen; in this surgery the pituitary gland was made to function faster. However, a man living now in Tunisia has claimed the Guinness record with a height of 7 feet 9 inches, though Leonid is 7 inches taller. The Guinness book records that a man named Robert Wadlow from Illinois, America, who died in 1940 was the world record holder with a height of 8’, 11”.
Leonid Stadnik resides with his mother Helena in a small house and has to join two beds when he goes to sleep. He has to bend his body sharply to enter the entrance of his house and when he stands up, his head touches the ceiling. He says his height is a punishment given by God. Then there is the problem of transport and dress. Week by week his clothes become smaller and he is unable to travel out of his village because there is no vehicle to accommodate this human bulk of extraordinary height and weight. Recently because of a dreadful pain in the knee, he fell and fractured one of his legs. Three years ago he worked in the veterinary surgery division of a dairy farm in this village. The work involved was out of doors but he had to resign from the job due to an injury to his foot as he did not have proper footwear. A businessman who heard about this spent 200 dollars and got him a pair of shoes stitched. His shoe size was 17 inches.
Thereafter, Leonid looked after his cattle and pigs, and grew flow­ers to eke out his livelihood. He says. “I can’t find my life par­tner. I like to go round the country and see but it’s only a dream. I’m imprisoned in my house.”
On the other hand the world’s shortest men are twins, from Florida, America. They are less than three feet in height but are two successful businessmen. They told Leonid that they are happy in the world because one’s physical stature will not influ­ence one’s happiness and advised Leonid to be happy.
A. F. Dawood

***

Harassing the tax payer

I am constrained to write this letter but circumstances compel me to do so. I am a tax-payer whose income is based on my employment. I have submitted my returns for 2004/2005 before the due date i.e. November 30, 2005, wherein I was entitled to a refund.
I have attached all relevant documents pertaining to my refund. I was instructed to furnish further documents which I did almost five months ago. I have being to the department concerned a number of times, to see about my refund payment but I have still to receive any intimation of the refund due to me.
I do not wish to go in to details of the happenings of the Department of Inland Revenue since “Brevity is always appreciated”.
I presume there are many tax payers who are subject to this harassment. Hope the authorities try to expedite the refunds.
A tax payer

***

The winds of change

It was reported in The Nation of July 30, 2006, that the JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe had asked whether the President was the same Mahinda Rajapaksa who carried out the Mahinda Chintanaya campaign to win the election.
So the question itself underlines that the President has changed. If he has changed, it is so much the better for the country. A person particularly the head of a country, if he does not change with time and events, he is dogmatic, rigid and undemocratic. Of course, the change must be for the better.
The Mahinda Chintanaya is a document of convenience for various forces to get together on a common platform for the election campaign. It is another election manifesto just like any other. The defeat of Ranil does not mean an outright rejection of his election manifesto just as the victory of Mahinda does not mean it a lasting document with outright acceptance. The fact is that hardly anybody reads an election manifesto.
Of the people who voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa, less than 5% would have read the Chintanaya. People voted for Mahinda placing trust in the SLFP in general and in Mahinda himself in particular. People always have greater faith in man than in any document prepared to serve a particular purpose because nothing harmful could come from an honest man. The other parties who supported him had no alternative but to support him or else they could have contested on their own and lost their deposits or would have supported the UNP.
The JVP became acceptable to the people as a part of the administration, only because it allied with Mahinda and therefore, nothing adverse could come from them.
There is nothing strange in Somawansa seeing a change in Mahinda. Even Somawansa himself has changed from who he was in the early 1970’s. In fact the change in Somawansa is drastic. With age and maturity people change.
One does not change if he is a figure-head or is insensitive to new developments around him.. Even the Mahinda Chintanaya should not remain static and it also should change. The Buddha said that all component things are subject to change and the Mahinda Chintanaya too, is a component thing.
E.M.G. Edirisinghe
Dehiwala