Sir, – In “Kuwaiti FM makes historic visit to Jerusalem, Ramallah” (September 15), you report that “an Israeli official said the visit shows that relations between the government and the Wakf [Muslim religious trust] are not as strained as people imagine.” You cite another Israeli official as saying that “since the Six day War in 1967 the holy sites have been open to ‘pilgrims of all faiths.’ When an Arab leader wants to pray at al-Aksa Mosque, we will facilitate that.”
Of course there is no strain. The Wakf is in full charge of the comings and goings to the Temple Mount – more comings, of course, for the Muslims and more goings for the Jews! And the statement that the holy sites have been open to “pilgrims of all faiths” perhaps needs to be qualified in order to differentiate between Christians, Muslims and those pesky Jews, to whom the whole caboodle belongs but for whom there are such rigid restrictions that if occurring in any other country would be decried as anti-Semitism.
But far be it from me to burst the illusory bubble.PHYLLIS STERN Netanya
The 8200 affair
Sir, – Regarding “The 8200 affair” (Editorial, September 15), perhaps the personnel recruited into Unit 8200 should undergo a course on the facts regarding the Green Line – i.e., there were never internationally recognized or negotiated boundaries between Israel and the West Bank. Even Abba Eban, considered pretty leftwing, described the Green Line as “Auschwitz borders.”
JOYCE KAHN Petah Tikva
Sir, – The solution is so obvious and so simple: Reassign these guys.
No more computer chores where they might invade the privacy of Palestinians; instead, assign them to the most dangerous fronts, where the bullets, mortars and mines are killing the real heroes of Israel. This will obviate any of their privacy concerns! CHAIM A. ABRAMOWITZ Jerusalem
Sir, – In “Herzog: Refusing orders only hurts Israelis” (September 14), one learns (to one’s surprise) that Maj.-Gen. (res.) Danny Rothschild, “who spent a large chunk of his career in Military Intelligence,” told a town hall audience that “the letter written by the conscientious objectors should not have been sent.” That’s all? Contrast this with Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog’s words: “Encouraging and calling to refuse orders and publicizing [the complaints] worldwide is harmful and we, the citizens of Israel, will pay the price.”
In this respect it is imperative to understand the difference between conscientious objection and collectively organized dissent.
Permit me to relate the language employed in a World War II report on the investigation of dissenters who called publicly for soldiers to lay down their arms: “Within very broad and generous limits, the supreme law [of the US] recognizes and provides for bona fide cases of conscientious objection to participation in war on the part of individual citizens. These limits are clearly transgressed by those who go beyond private conscientious objection and advocate sedition...
leading to wholesale demoralization within [the] armed forces and [the] home front.”
After acknowledged pacifist groups disavowed all formal connection with the movement in question, the report contended that there was no reasonable ground for permitting groups to translate their dissenting opinions into sabotage of the nation’s war effort. “It is the latter which the group has done, and to the extent that it has exercised any influence whatever, it has contributed to the enemy’s cause.”
KARL HUTTENBAUER Berlin Pistorius verdict
Sir, – While Alan Dershowitz concentrates on the assumption that there could have been armed intruders in the bathroom (“Pistorius judge was wrong,” Comment & Features, September 15), I would like his responses to the following: 1. If Oscar Pistorius honestly believed intruders were in the bathroom, being a reasonable person his first reaction surely would have been to awaken Reeva Steenkamp and maybe even ask her to call the police. Did anyone ask Pistorius if he at all verified that she was in the bed? He surely could have assumed that at his first shot she might come running.
2. After the first shot – and we know now that it was a woman’s voice that screamed out – surely he would have recognized it as her voice. Even if not, noting that it was a woman and that he must have at least wounded her after a second, unnecessary shot, would not a reasonable man pointing a gun insist that she come out with her hands up? Since there were no answering shots, he could have assumed that there was no one else in the toilet with her.
What leaves me extremely puzzled is that the judge, despite Pistorius’s behavior and some elusive answers, presumed that he was speaking the truth! I wonder: Would a black defendant have received the same acceptance? The unanswered questions above leave no doubt in my mind as to what the verdict should have been.
M. POPPER Herzliya On ‘hasbara’...
Sir, – Almost every day in The Jerusalem Post there are articles, opinion pieces or letters about Israel’s hasbara (public diplomacy) efforts and its diminishing image worldwide. Here is my humble opinion as to what could turn things around easily.
During Operation Protective Edge we showed extraordinary footage of what was happening inside Israel, like where our children were – safe in shelters, with teams of adults trying to keep them occupied. Then, when things got worse we showed how we moved the mothers and children to the Center and North, where they were free to enjoy the summer vacation. Only when the defense minister and chief of staff trusted Hamas’s bluff did these young families go back.
This mistake caused the death of little Daniel Tragerman. I say we should show all the video clips of Daniel; they eat into your heart. The world would see how down to earth and unspoiled the young families on these kibbutzim are and how the old-timers did not leave at all.
The era of the spokesperson is at an end. The only thing that will show Israel’s position to the world is a visual.
In addition, I agree with MK Nachman Shai (“Don’t give up on English-language broadcasting in Israel,” Comment & Features, September 4). To take away the IBA’s English-language broadcasts will be the death blow to our extremely poor hasbara.
YVONNE NARUNSKY Kfar Shmaryahu ...and English Sir, – I recently traveled from Tel Aviv to Warsaw and New York via LOT Polish airlines. Whereas the trip was pleasant enough, I was hit with a renewed insight: Once one leaves the comfort zone of Ben-Gurion Airport, the Hebrew language is almost non-existent.
Communication with airline officials and even other passengers is in English only.
If Israel wants to communicate with visitors, neighbors and friends from around the world, the English-language news remains the only vehicle. In addition, for making the Israeli point of view clear and coherent, this news should not be only a 10-minute segment but a fullblown, state-of-the-art broadcast.
MARION REISS Beit Shemesh/ Monsey, New York
Contrary to was stated in “The UN General Assembly opening” (Comment & Features, September 16), Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky has never suggested that Jews in Ukraine are threatened by official anti-Semitism.
Quite the opposite – he has repeatedly and publicly stated that there is no official anti-Semitism in either Ukraine or Russia although the vacuum of power formed by the current hostilities has created a general atmosphere of insecurity that has enabled individual prejudices to go unchecked.