Slap in the face

Sir, – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has disqualified not only himself as an effective seeker of world peace, but the United Nations as well (“Deaf to US and Israeli appeals, Ban to attend Tehran NAM meeting,” August 23).

By breaking the international community’s sanctions regime against Iran, which is aimed at causing it to cease its headlong rush to develop nuclear capability, Ban has chosen to side with this pariah state. Not only has he denigrated Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who implored him not to attend, he has expressed his disrespect for US President Barack Obama, who also urged him not to attend.

This public show of disrespect for the UN’s largest funder demonstrates in the clearest terms the depths to which Obama’s leadership has caused the US to tumble, a situation that is a very serious threat to the peace and stability not only of the Middle East but the entire world.

Hopefully, the American electorate will recognize that a change in leadership is crucial for the continued stability of the world and act accordingly.

Israeli-Americans who are eligible to vote in the November elections must, and hopefully will, take the lead.

HARVEY SCHWARTZ
Jerusalem

The attempted lynch

Sir, – Nariman Julani (“Mother of the Jerusalem lynching victim says she has pity on attackers,” August 23) says that many residents of her neighborhood, Ras el-Amud, are staying away from west Jerusalem.

“No one wants to live in fear and be on edge all the time,” she says. “How can we live like that?” Well, let me tell Nariman it is not easy when Jews are frightened to walk in Ras el-Amud or Silwan, pass near the Damascus Gate or enter any Arab neighborhood.

They are frightened that they will never walk away in one piece or even alive.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it hurts.

BARBARA GINSBERG
Ma’aleh Adumim

Sir, – Concerning the attempted lynch of an Arab youth in Jerusalem, there are usually two sides to every issue.

On the one hand, where is our humanity in that we can raise our children in such a hideous fashion, to hate Arabs to the point where they would physically harm a boy hanging out in Zion Square, looking for a good time? On the other hand, let’s see a Jewish youth go into Ramallah for a good time and what happens to him.

BERNARD LITWIN
Jerusalem

Sir, – I don’t understand how any God-fearing Jew can condone the attack on the Arab boy, given the “provocation” mentioned (that he insulted someone’s mother).

This is not the Jewish way to respond – unless physically attacked. But even then, as a mob? That lowers us to the Arabs’ level, where attacking Jews just because they are Jews is okay.

We may never know the whole story, yet as it stands something is lacking in these kids’ education.

Where are the parents? Why are such young children wandering around like that?

BATYA BERLINGER
Jerusalem

Obama and Israel

Sir, – I am rather puzzled with regard to “Over 600 rabbis declare support for Obama” (August 23).

With Israel, the land is one of the key cornerstones of Judaism; it is not even listed on Obama’s reelection website as an issue.

I have a question: Is the record of the current president of the United States on opinions, interactions with and policies toward the State of Israel not an important issue to these rabbis? If it is, where does that support for Israel fall within their voting priorities alongside social justice, individual freedoms, government healthcare, etc.? Israel’s future: It’s important to me!

YITZCHAK ANDERSON
Ma’aleh Adumim

Sir, – Notable on the list of rabbinical supporters on US President Barack Obama’s campaign website is a prominent Reform campaigner, Rabbi Felicia Sol.

Curiously, Rabbi Sol was actively involved in the successful campaign to terminate Glenn Beck, the irreplaceable Israel advocate on Fox News!

KARL HUTTENBAUER
Berlin

Riotous sentence

Sir, – As justification for the outrageous sentence of three years in jail passed by a Russian court on members of the band Pussy Riot, Seth Frantzman (“Freedom and spectacle,” Terra Incognita, August 23) cites an extensive US judicial history of supposedly similar protection of private property from the encroachments of free speech.

Frantzman, however, conspicuously omits the fact that this protection is part and parcel of a democratic system that concomitantly protects the right of free speech in the public sphere and which accordingly offers ample avenues for the expression of political views. Putin’s Russia, with its musical-chairs government, trumped-up legal cases against journalists and industrialists, and frequent beatings and arrests of peaceful demonstrators, including Gary Kasparov, a leader of the democratic opposition, provides no such avenues.

The band’s protest against the Putin regime, particularly in a venue of the Russian Orthodox Church – viewed as one of the president’s prime supporters – is therefore understandable in the context of free speech and does not by a long shot warrant the disproportionate punishment meted out by the court.

IRVING WIESEN
Jerusalem

Back-to-front

Sir, – As usual, Gershon Baskin (“Obama, don’t let us do it!,” Encountering Peace, August 21) has the whole problem back-tofront.

He says that “the best way today to prevent the impending Israeli strike [on Iran] is for the US to stop beating around the bush and to put its foot down and publicly state... that an Israeli strike at this time... is not acceptable.” He should call for the Americans to put the other foot down and unequivocally and threateningly tell the Iranians not to pursue atomic weapons! Baskin also suffers from a very belated case of the “what-ifs” when he says what if 5,000 or 50,000 Israelis are killed in retaliatory attacks by Iran. How many does he think would die in an atomic attack on our teeny country? Where were all his “what-ifs” when he negotiated the catastrophic Schalit deal? Does he know there are now unrepentant killers roaming the world, proclaiming they would do it again and telling others to follow their example? Since the bill hasn’t yet been paid, I suggest that Baskin refrain from bringing us any more of his advice.

THELMA JACOBSON
Petah Tikva

Hat tip to drivers

Sir, – The letter about Egged drivers (“Those bus drivers!,” August 21) came from the Jerusalem area, and I do not know if the newer Metroline company operates there. My problem is with Metroline’s Route 29.

This is a very busy route and the bus itself is not a “userfriendly” design, as anyone traveling on it will agree. When there is standing-room-only and there are baby buggies, shopping carts and youth who insist on keeping their back packs on, it makes for an uncomfortable ride.

Kudos, though, for the installation of the solar-powered signs that indicate the arrival times of buses from Egged and Metroline.

These are more helpful than the huge maps within the bus stops that are entirely in Hebrew (and not helpful for tourists, except for the small arrow that says, “You are here”).

And the drivers of both companies are generally pleasant and stop for late passengers. They do not have an easy job and generally do well as they have to contend with busy traffic and customers, usually at the same time.

SALLY SHAW
Kfar Saba

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