With regard to “Obama: I don’t oppose Netanyahu across the board” (August 11), is US President Barack Obama’s comprehension of the English language so lacking? One cannot admit that there are substantive disagreements between the US and Israel on the nuclear deal with Iran, and in the same breath say: “On a whole range of issues – particularly with respect to Israel’s security – we’ve been with Israel every step of the way.”
Were it not for the fact that the whole reason to oppose the nuclear deal is the damage it likely (indeed, almost certainly) will do to Israel’s security, there would be no opposition.
That it damages the security of the US itself is something for which Obama’s fellow American citizens should make their views loud and clear.
PETER SCHWEITZER Tel Aviv
There are those who have mistakenly accused President Obama of being an anti-Semite. He is not.
The problem is much more serious and dangerous.
The issue that Israel and people in the United States have with his policies is that he is opposed to western, Judeo-Christian civilization and perceives Israel as an outpost of that civilization in the Middle East. This has become evident during the six years of his administration, starting with his 2009 apology tour of Muslim countries, continuing with his lack of leadership in all international conflicts, and culminating in his recent linking of Republicans in Congress with the mullahs in Tehran and his decision to enable Iran, a terror-sponsoring state, to become a nuclear power.
Obama is neither incompetent nor stupid. He has consistently acted in accordance with his agenda to abdicate American leadership in the face of an existential threat to western civilization and to Israel, which stands on the front line of the battle to preserve that civilization.
JAY SHAPIRO Jerusalem Why stop?
Sherwin Pomerantz (“Netanyahu vs Obama: Time to stop,” Comment & Features, August 11) argues that it’s time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop speaking out against US President Barack Obama and the nuclear deal with Iran now before Congress. He lists the threats, intimidation, retribution and possible consequences for Israel and American Jewry should Netanyahu persist in publicly making his case.
Interestingly, Pomerantz mentions that there are merits to both sides of the argument, thus brushing aside two other opinion pieces appearing on the same date (“The IAEA’s Iran burden” and “Iran’s hall pass to nuclear warfare”) enumerating the weaknesses of the agreement and the inherent dangers it poses to the US, Israel and the free world.
By all accounts, this is a deal that empowers and enriches Iran, the rogue state that has threatened time and again to destroy Israel. Aside from an eventual nuclear empowerment, the lifting of sanctions will place billions of dollars in Iranian hands that can be used for terrorism and conquest.
Nuclear weapons are not necessary to overrun free states – superior arms, superior training and determination are sufficient.
Remember the Romans, Huns, Visigoths, Mongols and, more recently, the Nazis, just to name a few examples.
Netanyahu is the democratically elected prime minister of the State of Israel. As such, it is his express obligation to protect and safeguard the country and all its people.
In speaking out against the deal, he is pitting himself against the leader of the world’s strongest nation, thus demonstrating extraordinary courage and responsibility. Obama’s continuous ridicule and attacks against him are indicators of his success.
LILA LOWELL Jerusalem
Sherwin Pomerantz writes: “So the question then becomes what can Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expect to gain by the continuing direct assault on the president of our strongest ally (at least for the moment), and what is the risk to Israel if he continues to maintain his present pace of rhetoric against the deal? Frankly, it is difficult to see any further benefit to Israel by continuing to blast the agreement, which has become a cause which the president sees as the capstone of his presidency.”
I would say better that Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to cry out now in hope of thwarting this incredibly bad deal than having to cry later on, when things go wrong.
JOEL BLOCK Haifa
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long said that no deal with Iran would be better than a bad one. I agree.
But is the deal that was reached in Vienna bad? It’s certainly not terrific. It’s not even good. But when one compares it to the alternative of allowing Iran to continue its nuclear work unhindered, sanctions or not, the word “bad” doesn’t quite apply.
Let’s call it disappointing. Then let’s prepare ourselves accordingly – which will require good relations with Washington.
ARI BEN-SENDER Jerusalem Well deserved
With regard to “God is dead in Europe” (No Holds Barred, August 11), Shmuley Boteach writes: “I hunger for a return to the robust British spiritual life that once served as the very foundation of British idealism and influence.”
He also mentions the title Preacher of the Year he received while living and working in Britain.
During my time as cantor at Woodside Park United Synagogue in London, Rabbi Boteach was a guest preacher. I saw something I have never, ever seen with any other rabbi or preacher: His remarks and eloquence captivated the congregation to such a degree that everyone stood up in the middle of his sermon and applauded.
In my opinion, he deserved the title because he brought spiritual life to the fore.
MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya : The writer was cantor at the London congregation from 1956 to 2000.Like Pinchas?
“Police launch investigation into posters praising Gay Pride Parade stabbings” (August 10) states that one of the posters compares Yishai Schlissel, the murderer of Shira Banki, with the biblical figure Pinchas, “who stabbed an Israelite man and Midianite woman with a spear for having intercourse, which was believed to have ended a plague brought by God for improper sexual relations among the groups.”
Sometimes, God respects us for standing up to Him, as we see in the Talmud when Rabbi Joshua effectively tells God to butt out of his argument with Rabbi Nathan.
We are told that afterwards: “Rabbi Nathan met the prophet Elijah. He asked him, ‘What was the Holy One, blessed be He, doing in that hour?’ Said Elijah, ‘He was laughing and saying, My children have defeated Me, My children have defeated Me’” (Bava Mezia 59b).
Abraham stands up to God by advocating on behalf of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. The Midrash regards him as more righteous than Noah, who obeyed the voice of God by building the ark but did not advocate on behalf of humanity.
Pinchas wins the priesthood for himself and his descendants by killing the Midianite woman Cozbi at first sight – but perhaps he would have been even more righteous if he had stood up to God first. Pinchas was a Noah when he could have been an Abraham.
My response to these obscene posters: Yishai Schlissel, instead of murdering Shira Banki, should have stood up to God – or to the voices in his head that he mistook for the voice of God.
LEV HART Eilat CORRECTION
In “Lithuania’s chief rabbi: Community chairwoman desecrated Jewish graves” (August 12), the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (CPJCE) was erroneously linked with Israel’s Atra Kadisha organization.
The CPJCE has no connection with that organization.