December 6: More views on E1
It’s time to think even more creatively about how to civilly engineer space for two peoples in one land.
Letters Photo: REUTERS/Handout
More views on E1
Sir, – I wish to thank Tovah Lazaroff for reporting Mayor Benny
Kashriel’s important words, that building in the E1 area next to his city,
Ma’aleh Adumim, in no way would make contiguity impossible between the northern
and southern parts of the proposed Palestinian state (“Ma’aleh Adumim mayor to
EU ambassadors: Visit E1 to see that it does not harm peace,” December
The facts on the ground confirm that building there need not preclude
contiguity, even if it requires a valley or tunnel, like that which exists
between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.
The US government, in the letter from
president George W. Bush to prime minister Ariel Sharon, stated that
America would view favorably Israel’s retention of major Israeli settlement
blocs in the West Bank.
The same umbilical thinking that inspired that
letter surely also applies to E1.
It’s time to think even more creatively
about how to civilly engineer space for two peoples in one land.
Sir, – At a time when Israel should be doing everything
possible to express its appreciation for America’s support during Operation
Pillar of Defense and cultivate further support for the inevitable confrontation
with Iran, the government announced plans for 3,000 new housing units in the
disputed territories – a move Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must have known
would deeply offend President Barack Obama (not to mention several European
Netanyahu’s clarification – that this was only an approval for
planning, not for actual building – is a weak distinction that will go entirely
unrecognized by the world community.
Netanyahu acted recklessly and
precipitously when he could just as easily have delayed the announcement for a
few weeks in order to determine the Palestinian Authority’s true intentions
following the UN vote on Palestinian statehood.
The spotlight of
disapproval is now squarely on Jerusalem rather than on Ramallah, where it
Netanyahu ignored a fundamental rule of international relations:
Even when you have the right to do something, it may not be the right thing to
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Sir, – The world is again telling
Israel that it is knocking a nail into the peace process by authorizing home
units. Let’s mix our metaphors and say it’s barking up the wrong
The issue is not the so-called settlements, but human
The peace process has to start in people’s hearts and minds.
If nations want to be helpful, let them persuade human beings to dream peace,
think peace, talk peace, learn peace, teach peace and hold out the hand of
Sir, – As a British Jew expected to
unconditionally defend Israel’s political and military decisions, I must
question the current government’s playground politics.
recent UN success was predictable. And the recent announcement of the freezing
of Palestinian tax revenues and the approval of plans for building in E1 have
predictably elicited international condemnation.
Why do this now and so
publicly? Does Israel desperately need this money? Are there not vast swaths of
uncontroversial, empty land elsewhere to build on? It is obvious that Israel
wants neither a two- nor a one-state solution to the Palestinian problem, and
seems to simply hope it will go away. It will not. The rise of Islamic
fundamentalism and the marginalization of moderates has made the problem more
Making peace with your enemy doesn’t have to make him your
friend, and childish games of tit-for-tat often have undesirable
Sir, – In
“Yacimovich reveals economic policy, pledging to increase expenditure” (December
4), we are presented with the Labor party’s alternative socioeconomic policies
formulated by a team of 50 professionals (whatever that means).
components are rather cleverly described as “foundation stones.” This enables
the professionals to avoid specifying the details, and therefore avoid the hard
work of assigning costs.
As to paying for these goodies, no estimation of
revenues from a second list of borrowing and tax increases is provided. What
will happen if, as I suspect, the revenues will not come even close to covering
the costs? Nor are the economic, as opposed to the pure budgetary, consequences
of further borrowing and tax increases, such as their impact on investment,
trade and employment, even mentioned. So what is the ratio of social benefits to
social costs? So much for informed policy discussion in the run-up to
Change the talk...
Sir, – In
“Iron Dome diplomacy” (Sinai Today, November 30), the chief rabbi of South
Africa, Warren Goldstein, rightly reinforces the extreme importance of a
strategy to promote the belief that “the Jewish people and the Jewish state have
morality on our side.” He explains this in detail as a matter of “pikuah nefesh
– the mandate to save a life....”
Goldstein says that this can be
achieved if Israel’s “disproportionate contribution to human development [is]
spoken about and expanded upon.”
There are a several organizations and
individuals that understand this concept and the fact that it could radically
alter the perception of Israel – especially with people in key positions of
influence and those who haven’t yet been incited to hate the Jewish
The Israeli government has fallen woefully short in its
responsibility to put out positive messages, and I doubt this situation will
change. What it can do, however, is show its support to the private sector and
non-profit organizations in their attempts to make a dynamic impact and change
the conversation about Israel.
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...or the ideology
Sir, – Classical Zionist thought plays into Hamas’s
goal of destabilizing Israel. Classical Zionism advocates havlaga (restraint) as
a means of preventing the abandonment of the Jews, which is the Zionist
explanation for the Holocaust.
This is why Israelis worry about
international recognition and opinion ad nauseam.
In A Place Among the
Nations, Binyamin Netanyahu wrote that “without a campaign to secure
international approval even the most formidable accumulation of military or
economic power is simply insufficient to assure enduring support.” It is this
sentiment that is the philosophical root of Israel’s unwillingness to decisively
win a war and defeat its enemies once and for all.
A proper political
system, which represents geographical districts instead of unaccountable party
lists, surely would not tolerate a “weakness as virtue” policy. Since Sderot
lacked political representation, no one cared about its situation except for the
minority who lived there.
To paraphrase a Holocaust-era statement, when
they attacked Sderot I did not advocate a harsh Israeli response because I did
not live in Sderot or Ashdod or Ashkelon; but when they attacked Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem it was too late because our restraint and appeasement had allowed
Hamas to gain the upper hand.
Israel has the military power to ensure
security for its citizens, but it lacks the will and proper philosophical
premises to do it properly.