Teller’s corollary

Sir, – Regarding “Facing defeat, Israel hopes to minimize impact of PA’s UN bid” (November 29), some 36 nations represented in the UN General Assembly, not all of them Muslim, do not recognize Israel. I would guess that all 36 voted in favor of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s motion to redefine Palestine as a non-member observer state in the world body.

I trust these nations appreciate that the corollary of recognizing Palestine as a state within the pre- 1967 borders is recognizing Israel outside these borders. There is now no justification for any rejectionist government not to immediately open diplomatic relations with us.

NEVILLE TELLER
Beit Shemesh

No getting around it

Sir, – I find it difficult to understand Shelly Yacimovich when she says she doesn’t want a “leftist” party (“Yacimovich wants ‘balanced’ list, not one that’s leftwing,” November 29).

To my mind (and that of everyone I know who is a Labor person), “Labor” and “Left” are synonymous.

One cannot believe in the party’s principles without realizing that they are almost entirely on the left of the political picture.

Anything else would not be “Labor.” There’s no getting around it.

LEONARD ZURAKOV
Netanya

Citations, please

Sir, – It might have been more academic if Shmuley Boteach had supplied references to his conjectured column “David Petraeus and the lessons of Jacob and his two wives” (No Holds Barred, November 29).

I have not found any reference that Jacob sought to impress Rachel; after all, he did not know at the time that is was Rachel! Boteach appears to know exactly Jacob’s manner in his behavior toward his wives, such as having no passionate connection with Leah, the “functional” wife for whom no romance or passion is to be found. To sully the images of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs by a comparison with David Petraeus’s promiscuous behavior makes me think that if ever Rabbi Boteach becomes known by an acronym, it might be “RBSH.” Choose your own vowels.

I am still searching the Torah for any reference to “half of the month [will] be devoted to passion and sexual fire.” I really do not understand why Boteach’s next book is to be called Kosher Lust. Was this a spelling mistake? Perhaps it should be Kosher List, where such books cannot be found.

LEONARD E. BOOK
Ashkelon
The writer is a rabbi

Bouncing facts

Sir, – In his plea to fellow Arabs (“Why I disagree with the Arabic media’s demonization of Israel,” Comment & Features, November 29), doctoral candidate Ahmed Abdel-Raheem writes: “As a general finding in cognitive science, if a mental framework doesn’t fit the facts, the facts will bounce off and the framework will stay.” To paraphrase, facts that don’t support a particular view are rejected.

Honest, secure people seek explanations for inconsistencies.

Too many variances require the development of a new “mental framework,” a new paradigm, a process elegantly described by Thomas Kuhn in his landmark work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. However, when no amount of facts can change a framework, there is a severe problem.

This, of course, is the foundation of racism and prejudice.

Some people are so invested in demonizing Israel that no claim, be it the deliberate targeting of children, Israeli culpability for 9/11 or sharks serving with the Mossad, is too outlandish. While I am no cognitive scientist like Abdel-Raheem, it seems to me that such a mindset cannot but impair one’s ability to think rationally about other subjects.

The determination to blame Israel for literally everything, no matter how absurd, obviously makes any kind of peace process impossible, but more importantly it probably reinforces flawed mental processes that impair a society’s ability to progress.

DANIEL CHERTOFF
Jerusalem

Look it up

Sir, – Ehud Barak said he is leaving politics (“Barak announces his retirement from political life,” November 27). He followed that by stating that he might be available to serve as a “professional” defense minister.

No wonder we cannot get our ideas right in this country if we can’t get the words we use correct.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “political” as: “Of or relating to the government or public affairs of a country.” What else is the portfolio of defense in a government? What hypocrisy! More to the point, what an error!

MICHAEL BRUNERT
Modi’in

Back our nature

Sir, – In his interview with The Jerusalem Post, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) chairman Efi Stenzler states that environmental concerns will be a decisive issue in the upcoming elections and that the environment is the most important thing for the next generation (“KKL head: Protecting environment takes care of the next generation,” November 27).

While I think these are overstatements, the issues are very important. I hope that Stenzler’s words will be put into practice and that KKL-JNF will fully support our plan to turn the Mitzpe Neftoah hill near Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood into a nature park and community forest.

This area is one of the last remaining havens of untouched yet accessible nature in Jerusalem, with an abundance of wildlife and biodiversity.

Nonetheless, planning authorities and contractors want to build 1,600 residential units there.

KKL-JNF and other organizations for whom the environment is important should give full backing to our plan.

AHARON CASSEL
Jerusalem
The writer is a member of the Association of Ramot for the Environment

Fluttering leaf

Sir, – Peretz Darr (“President Obama, break the Israel-Palestinian impasse by taking a leaf from Harry Truman’s book,” Comment & Features, November 27) looks to the US to provide Israel with a double-barreled panacea for its middle-term and long-term strategic anxieties: a security guarantee and a mutual defense treaty.

The problem with a security guarantee is that it would give the US veto power over Israel’s decisions as to what constitutes a sufficient threat to its security.

This is the fallacy inherent in security guarantees. Only the potential victim should have the right to call for the fulfillment of the guarantee, not the guarantor.

Witness the differing assessments by Israel and the US regarding the Iranian nuclear threat.

As to a mutual defense treaty, while it might be emotionally comforting, in Does America Need a Foreign Policy Henry Kissinger says, regarding the deployment of American forces in defense of Israel: “An Israel no longer able to defend itself will sooner or later be submerged in the tide of its neighbors’ hostility.”

Furthermore, as Darr dreams of a mutual US-Israel defense treaty along with a two-state peace agreement with the Palestinians, he would do well to consider a further insight of Kissinger’s from The White House Years: “What is a binding agreement among sovereign nations when one of the attributes of sovereignty is the right to change one’s mind.”

Has a more cynical appraisal of the reality of international relations ever been confessed – by a political science professor and professional diplomat, no less! The lesson for Israelis is to welcome help, military and diplomatic, from wherever it comes, as long as its principal resource continues to be its own independent faith, courage, strength, wisdom and cleverness.

AVRAHAM FEDER
Jerusalem

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