Average Brit favors Jews
Sir, - There is much talk at the moment about anti-Semitism in the UK. Fully substitutable by anti-Zionism, it exists strongly among the pseudo-intellectual elite, specifically the left wing, including publications such as the Guardian and Independent and media organizations like the BBC. As these organizations speak loudly, the problem often seems much bigger than it actually is, particularly from abroad.
Unlike people in France and Spain, for example, the average Brit on the street is quite favorable to Jews and doesn't care one way or the other about Israel. The problem is whether the alliance of left-wing and Muslim extremists will influence the wider population. Historically this has not been the case in the UK.
For example, during the Cold War in the 1950s, over a third of Labour MPs visited East Germany to show support for the regime; and yet the British population, by and large, were staunchly anti-communist. I hope this general cynical attitude prevalent in the UK will apply to the new left anti-Semitism as well. If it doesn't, the Jews had better leave.
Bravo, Ed Koch...
Sir, - Ed Koch's underlining of the hypocrisy Lord Rogers showed in retracting his active support for boycotting Israeli construction firms and punishing all Israeli architects, as advocated by the Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, was timely ("When an apology isn't enough," March 9). Coming from a person of Koch's stature and reputation the revelation of Rogers's way of protecting a lucrative contract should cause the good lord to bury his head in shame.
MONTY M. ZION
...and Elwood McQuaid
Sir, - What an eloquently written op-ed piece that was - the best, most rational argument for Christian Zionism I have ever heard or read ("Bulldozing Caterpillar," March 9).
MARC D. WAGMAN
South Plainfield, New Jersey
Sir, - Uri Dan assures his readers that if Ariel Sharon were in office he "would make sure to honor his public commitment: 'There will be no further unilateral disengagements'" ("This is not Sharon's policy," March 7).
Apparently, Mr. Dan has forgotten past public commitments by Prime Minister Sharon: "Netzarim is the same as Negba and Tel Aviv. The evacuation of Netzarim will only encourage terror and increase the pressure on us" (April 24, 2002); and "The members' referendum [of May 2, 2004] will be binding on all representatives of the Likud, me above all" (March 30, 2004).
It is also worth noting Sharon's words in a September 17, 2001, interview with The Jerusalem Post: "For me, yes is yes, and no is no. I mean what I say, and I say what I mean."
APN: For the record
Sir, - Jonathan Tobin's "The Jewish Left repeats its mistakes" (March 6) mischaracterizes the position that Americans for Peace Now has taken on the issue of US aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. Tobin wrote, "Spokespeople for groups likeâ€¦ the persistent Americans for Peace Now want foreign cash to keep flowing to the PA to give Hamas a chance."
Not so. APN's statement on this issue is very clear (and posted on our Web site www.peacenow.org since January 26):
"In general, Israel should negotiate with anyone who recognizes its right to exist, is willing to talk peace with it, and rejects violence and terrorism. This is currently not the case with Hamas. In light of Hamas' anticipated dominance of the next Palestinian government, the international community (including the US) must make a concerted effort to pressure Hamas into recognizing Israel's right to exist and to end violence directed against Israel, which could include an extension of the current cease-fire.
"This should be a precondition for any direct international aid to the new Palestinian government. At the same time, international aid to non-governmental organizations for humanitarian purposes should continue with appropriate monitoring and supervision to guarantee that the funds are not used for terrorism."
APN's position on this issue is consistent with the stances of such radical outfits as the governments of Israel and the United States. This may not be satisfying for someone like Tobin, who seems hell-bent on the collective punishment of a Palestinian people that actually cast most of its votes against Hamas candidates in the last election and, yes, still supports the peace process.
So be it. But it's a responsible position that seeks to send a message about the need for Hamas to change its positions, while trying to prevent a humanitarian crisis from erupting in the West Bank and Gaza, a crisis for which Israel, as the occupying power, may be seen as bearing ultimate responsibility under international law.
Americans for Peace Now
Sir, - I just want all to know that many friends of Israel like myself are continuing in prayer with regard to the situation of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, and terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hizbullah and al-Qaida, which threaten Israel. I have supported Israel for over 35 years and pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem and all of Israel.
I am in my 50s, but if I could I would travel to Israel and join the IDF, if that was what was needed to help protect Israel and her people. I am proud to be your friend.
CHAPLAIN BILL HERRMANN
Ladson, South Carolina
Bad for you, bad for me
Sir, - Thank you for printing my very angry letter ("Yigal Amir's baby," March 9). You know, I wrote that letter with tears in my eyes. Only someone who truly loved Israel could say those words and really mean them.
I only want good for the people of Israel, because my family and I are a part of them. When something bad happens to Israel, something bad also happens to every Jew, and vice versa.
Smoking: Start enforcing the law
Sir, - It's a good idea to want to reduce smoking ("US expert: Israel can kick the smoking habit," March 7). It's an even better idea to actually do something about it. As long as the government does not enforce non-smoking laws, Israeli smokers will continue to think smoking is acceptable. People smoke underneath no-smoking signs in malls, and nobody does anything about complaints.
I recently moved to Rehovot and had to argue with a man to just take his smoking out of the small city parking office and move outside. No government employee helped me.
Until government offices enforce the law, why should anyone care? Until restaurants, malls and stores are heavily fined, what incentive do they have to enforce it?
It's one thing for the government to talk about the dangers of smoking, quite another for it to actually do something to protect us. When it finally does, not only will those of us who don't smoke be safer and healthier, smokers will have more incentive to quit.
Sir, - Even if the fines for smoking in public places were high, I don't believe it would make the slightest difference.
I was a very heavy smoker for more than 30 years, and my greatest victory was when I quit in 1982. Last week I went to a place for coffee and was surrounded by smokers. Of the 12 persons around me, eight were smoking - nonstop!
I couldn't smell the coffee, but I did inhale all that stinking smoke.
Sir, - When regional elections are not an option, governance is devoid of accountability and the quality of leadership can become dubious.
Due to Israel's military needs, compulsory conscription is required to defend our freedom. Since our democratic system does not include the direct election of our leaders, this distortion can lead to an absurd reality.
Ehud Olmert is running for the office of prime minister as head of his party. If Kadima wins the elections we will have a prime minister who has two healthy children who chose not to serve in the IDF, and children living abroad. Is this a leader who can be appreciated and respected? Can he be expected to contribute to our Zionist dream, to lead our nation by example when he failed his own family? This is what can happen when the public is not free to choose its leaders.
Waste of money
Sir, - The mind boggles at the thousands of dollars spent on electioneering. Think of all the good that could be done with that kind of money. Poverty could be reduced enormously, not to mention help for hospitals and raising the minimum wage.
Recently I heard an election pundit saying that over 90 percent of the population has already decided whom to vote for. In his opinion only about 4 or 5 percent may possibly be affected by all this needless effort and waste of money, so badly required elsewhere.
Sir, - Can we all hope that when the elections are over, Israelis can pull together to face the difficult time we all know lies ahead? Let's bury our differences and remember that that which unites us is far greater than that which separates us.
Paramus, New Jersey
A strong cabinet
Sir, - International Women's Day prompted me to suggest the following candidates for the best cabinet Israel is ever likely to have:
Caroline B. Glick as minister of defense; Evelyn Gordon as minister of justice; Judy Siegel-Itzkovich as minister of health; Greer Fay Cashman as minister of trade and welfare; Ruthie Blum as minister of arts and science; Orly Halpern as foreign minister; Sarah Honig as minister of internal security; Barbara Sofer as minister of education.
And just to demonstrate my bona fides, Binyamin Netanyahu as minister of finance.