More is less
Sir, – Reporter Herb Keinon is right-on with his perceptive reporting from Rome (“PM tells Kerry: Imposed deal will endanger Israel,” December 16). The Obama administration has clearly been agonizing over whether to cast a veto in the UN Security Council over a resolution for a Palestinian state with a date fix.
Such resolutions are worse than deceptive because they don’t deal with the main question (what kind of state?) and are meant mostly for local consumption, whether on French streets or in the Palestinian-administered territories.
France, the main champion of such a resolution, should not seek to wash its Islamist-tainted laundry in UN chambers.
Clearly, any UN diktat would be harmful to peace, as it would give good reason for the Palestinian Authority to continue to stonewall on negotiations – a disincentive to its making essential security compromises. The central issue, therefore, is not so much whether a Palestinian state should come into existence (based on the Oslo Accords, one already exists) but what degrees of sovereignty it should have.
Likewise, issues of territory and contiguity are of secondary importance. Rather, the overriding issue is what uses will be made of this territory. The example of the “state of Gaza” is illuminating, and by more than the rockets’ bright glare.
Given the current renewed wave of irresponsible Palestinian incitement, the West, with America’s lead, should send one firm message to the Palestinian Authority and the world: “More incitement, less sovereignty.”
Sir, – With a vote in the Security Council while our government is split, full of backbiting and completely unable to rule with one voice, I have some thoughts that might just help us move together in the right direction.
1. A factual report needs to be presented to the United Nations containing the following information, set out as concisely as possible.
• The total number of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, their countries of origin and the countries in which they were killed. This might remind hostile European UN members about their responsibility
• The total number of Jews who fled or were evicted from Arab countries following the establishment of the State of Israel, with their countries of origin
• The total number of Jews who came to Israel from the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe following the fall of communism.
We have many sources of definite information, notably the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Yad Vashem and a great stock of literature.
But with comparatively few survivors left, we are leaving the way open for more Holocaust deniers to raise their heads.
2. The leaders and representatives of all UN-member countries need to be made aware that both Hamas and Fatah, who between them control the Palestinian people, have never repudiated their intentions to destroy the State of Israel.SIDNEY HASS
Simple but wrong
Sir, – Aidan Fishman’s “Electoral reform that works” (Comment & Features, December 16) follows a long line of such proposals.
The basic problem is that we use the electoral system to achieve two incompatible and often contradictory ends – democratic representation and a stable government.
Fishman’s “deceptively simple solution” to award 15 bonus Knesset seats to the party that attains the largest number of votes is simply wrong. It exacerbates the current distancing of representatives from the represented by awarding the winning party even more power, and emphasizes even more the indebtedness of MKs to their party rather than the voter.
The bonus MKs would be even more in thrall to the party – hardly a boost to democracy. And they will probably be nonentities who couldn’t succeed in getting a winnable position on the party’s list. Fishman’s example of the 2009 election, where Tzipi Livni’s Kadima was apparently cheated out of power, only proves the point. Is there anyone who thinks this was a bad thing? More of the purported benefits of the Fishman proposal could be challenged, but he is basically right in favoring the encouragement of larger parties over the menagerie with which we are currently afflicted. Such parties would have to comprehend a wider and more coherent policy platform and would come closer to governing in their own right without having to bargain away their policies in coalition-building.
In effect, the coalitions would tend to be formed within the bigger parties and presented to the voters pre-election.
I see, however, no way in which this could come to pass given that the only ones who could effect the necessary fundamental changes are the elected MKs, who owe their positions to the current, faulty system. Unfortunately, the required altruism is exceedingly rare.MERVYN DOOBOV
Editorial on TAU
Sir, – Your editorial criticizing Tel Aviv University for backtracking on the Hebron Hills Artist’s exhibition (“TAU’s intolerance,” December 15) is right on.
This act of self-censorship to appease anti-settlement elements at TAU is even downright hypocritical. Or have these unnamed academics and staffers forgotten that TAU and Ramat Aviv are themselves “settlements,” built upon the ruins of Sheikh Munis, a town that had a population of roughly 2,000 Arab residents? While I do not subscribe to the erroneous leftist view that Jewish settlements are illegal according to international law, I do note their selective memory and presumed higher morality.
The post-Six Day War “borders” are no less legitimate than the post-War of Independence “borders.” As concerns Samaria and Judea, as well as the Golan Heights, both were cease-fire lines, not international borders.
It is time for the TAU and Ramat Aviv “settlers” to step out of their rarefied atmospheres and get a whiff of reality. Either fess up if you think settlements are illegal, or shut up. You can’t have it both ways.GABE GOLDBERG
Sir, – Even as your December 15 editorial argues a convincing point, the sloppy presentation does not help.
Daniel Barenboim is a great, world-acclaimed pianist and conductor.
But what makes you introduce him as a composer? And there isn’t – nor can there be – “the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra’s version of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde....” Only one version of the opera exists, and orchestras and opera houses performing it use the same musical score.EMANUEL KRASOVSKY
He was there
Sir, – With regard to Israel’s first rugby game (“Keeping the ball in ‘touch’: South Africa’s contribution to Israeli rugby,” Sports, December 15), I’m prompted to write because I hooked for the team and wish to offer a few details.
The year was 1952 and the game was played at Tzrifin, then called Sarafand, a base unavoidably bequeathed to us by His Majesty’s retiring forces. That’s how we had a real rugby field to play on.
Leo Cameron (then Kaminsky) was the referee. I’m not aware that the opposing team was made up of paratroopers. As to the “shoe wrapped in a towel,” I’ve heard of it but suspect it’s a bit of mythology – the game at Sarafand was a real game played with a real ball.
Among the players I can remember were Rubin (“Jube”) Sher (at the time in the air force and later returning to South Africa to attend medical school); George Katz (ex-Rhodesia) and Reubin Narunsky (Kfar Shmaryahu), both of El Al; and “Migdal” (Tower) Tepperson (also of Kfar Shmaryahu).
A team photograph appeared in the SA Zionist Record and might be available from its archives. Mine has been lost.BARNEY WAINER
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