Sweden and ‘Palestine’
Sir, – With regard to “Israel recalls envoy after Sweden recognizes ‘Palestine’” (October 31), our new, very incompetent government has been a joke since the beginning. It has two members who are not allowed to enter Israel because of anti-Israel actions in the past.
The government does not know history. It describes Fatah as a sister organization! It is a minority and has just 38 percent of the seats in parliament yet decides to recognize “Palestine” along with the terror organization Hamas. Yes, the entire package! “We want to show the way,” goes the argument. When did Sweden show the way when it comes to foreign policy, especially when it comes to the destiny of the Jews? It has been very easy to be neutral and go the easiest way when it does not cost anything.
I am ashamed and apologize, as a Swedish citizen, for the government’s decision.
The writer is a local politician from Sweden’s Christian Democratic Party
Sir, – Holding both Hungarian and Swedish citizenship, and being the son of a Holocaust survivor, I wish the Swedish government put in at least half the effort in finding out the fate of Raoul Wallenberg as it does in the Palestinian issue.
Sir, – With regard to “KKL-JNF splits from Israel Lands Authority, citing breach of treaty” (October 31), who in the world do the members of the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund board of directors think they are? The land that KKL-JNF claims it owns, plus what is on it, was all bought with donations. Simple example: My late father and I bought 1,000 trees in honor of my late mother’s 70th birthday; imagine that those trees do not belong to the state but to KKLJNF.
Recently, a wonderfully researched report on the holdings of KKL-JNF and how its money is used, as well as a description of how the chair of KKL-JNF lives, like a feudal baron in the lap of luxury, was not published in most Israeli papers.
In the US it was killed completely; JNF-USA made sure.
The land of the State of Israel, which KKL-JNF possesses, is being treated like a private fiefdom.
If the Knesset so chooses it can vote to take that ground for our country so that finally the control will be in the proper hands.
We, citizens of this nation, will finally be the beneficiaries of what Jews, dead or not living here, hoped their donations would purchase.
Jerusalem Abject failure
Sir, – The interview with Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella (“Cool European winds,” Diplomacy, October 31) demonstrates the abject failure of Israel’s diplomatic apparatus.
Vella refers to the “disproportionate” reaction of Operation Protective Edge. He seems unaware of the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians over the past years and shows no understanding of the true measure of “proportionality” under international law. He also talks about the disparity in death tolls, ignoring Hamas’s use of human shields and the possibility that many Gaza casualties were mischaracterized as “civilians.”
He brushes off the fact that Israel’s numerous cease-fire offers were rebuffed by Hamas.
Vella then implies that Israel attacked targets indiscriminately in spite of our “capacity to know where ammunition is.” Apparently, he is unaware that ammunition was stored in and rockets were fired from schools, mosques and residential areas.
When asked whether Europeans expected more from Israel than they would expect of themselves, he applies a double standard that some would suggest hints at subconscious anti-Semitism: He expects more from Israel because it “is the elder [son], the most intelligent....”
Vella appears to be an intelligent, sympathetic observer, yet time and again he is without the tools to make an informed judgment.
With a little bit of education, all of his mistaken observations on fundamental elements of the recent war could have been reversed.
We must conclude that our prime minister and foreign minister have utterly failed to convey Israel’s position to European leaders.
EFRAIM A. COHEN
The writer is a retired US diplomat now living in Israel
Sir, – The interview of Malta’s foreign minister is very revealing of the main points of contention that Israel has today with most of the western world.
First, Operation Protective Edge was a “disproportionate reaction.” How would George Vella have acted in order to cause fewer civilian deaths? That is a question our government should publicly ask all our foreign critics.
Second, Vella says “both [sides] are responsible.” Why? “Because the situation came to a point where this happened. I am not being judgmental. I am just looking at the end result.” I have tried hard to understand this explanation, without success. He is saying that because there was a war and victims, then both sides are to be blamed. With this type of logic, Germany and the UK are both to be blamed for World War II.
Third, he says, the world “possibly” expects more from Israel, because “it is more democratic, because there are more people who can be spoken to [and] because there is more stability....”
In other words, one should punish virtue and reward crime.
Besides that, this is racism of diminished expectations.
Sir, – Herb Keinon’s questions were spirited and pointed in his effort to elicit better solutions to the problem of Gaza. Yet Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella largely indicated that he had no answers to the hard questions of how to effectively deal with the situation that Israel finds itself.
When members of the public have no good answers to complex problems, that is one thing.
When members of the political class have no answers yet insist on giving only emotionally comforting responses, it creates nothing but further havoc.
Asking questions and pointing fingers is easy. Fixing problems is very hard.
New York Ask us first
Sir, – Melanie Phillips’s “The academic intifada” (As I See It, October 31) describes challenges on campuses in Toronto and bizarrely claims that virtually no one in the community is doing anything to support students.
Unlike Ms. Phillips, we work and study on Toronto campuses.
We are part of a team of Hillel staff and student leaders that supports and empowers approximately 10,000 Jewish students.
Along with our partner, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), we provide extensive resources and materials to fight boycotts, organize politically and host positive, pro-Israel events. We work closely with university officials and security to protect the rights and well-being of Jewish students.
And we benefit from strong and growing ties between Canadian and Israeli universities, and from the fact that not one North American university administration has endorsed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Ms. Phillips should consider consulting with Hillel professionals and student leaders who work on campus daily before alleging that Canadian universities face a “tsunami” of anti-Jewish activity.
The isolated acts of anti-Semitism she mentions are disgusting and unacceptable, and we must counter them firmly and strategically.
But they are exceptions that prove the rule: Jewish campus life in Canada is safe, thriving and increasingly effective in winning friends for Israel.
The writers are, respectively, executive director of Hillel of Greater Toronto and past president of Hillel at the University of Toronto