Sir, – US President Barack Obama’s former national
security adviser believes our dispute with the Palestinians lies at the center
of the Middle East’s problems and that solving it would “make the world a better
place” (“James Jones: Israeli-Palestinian strife still core of regional ills,”
What did Israel have to do with the eight-year Iran-Iraq
war, which cost a million Muslims their lives? Or the 15-year civil war in
Lebanon, which cost 300,000 their lives? Or the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which
involved the US military? Is Jones saying we Jews are responsible for all this?
CHAYIM SEIDEN Jerusalem Sir, – General Jones’s comments at the Herzliya
Conference give clear insight into what is wrong with the present American
administration. How overly simplistic, something like a oneline commercial
jingle, and not a serious political statement.
According to Jones’s
theory, if only that pesky, democratic Jewish state would make peace with the
Palestinians, the despotic rulers of the Arab world would disappear; the
gigantic sums of oil-money now funding sumptuous palaces and ostentatious second
and third homes in choice European and American spots would suddenly be funneled
into education; corruption in governance would cease so that public figures work
for the masses and not solely their own betterment.
Come off it! These
ills are not in their stars but in themselves.
Islamists have a mindset
that’s a thousand years old. They want to cut off the hands of thieves, stone to
death adulterous women (but not men), and kill anyone who leaves the Islamic
Are these ills simply going to vanish if Israel and the
Palestinians make peace? JOE FRANKL
Sir, – The United States has truly
lost its perspective on what makes for peace and stability in the world.
Countries that do not have a true understanding of what it is to be democratic
and what it is to provide a decent life for their people cannot be counted on to
make peace and love their neighbor.
All that will be achieved in the near
future by concentrating on Arab-Israeli peace negotiations will be the
postponement of real peace.TOBY WILLIG
Jerusalem ...or perhaps three?
Sir, – Much has been written about the two-state solution, and even the
one-state solution. So to throw a wrench in the works, has anyone yet considered
a threestate solution? The reality is that Gaza is a separate entity, financed
almost entirely by the United Nations as a way of keeping international aid
agencies in business. It serves no purpose whatsoever to link the enclave to a
future Palestinian state on the West Bank.
Gaza is a piece of territory
that no one really wants. Under Egyptian administration until 1967, its
inhabitants were barely allowed to travel, and the only notice Egypt took of the
area was military purposes.
In fact, one wonders whether the Palestinian
Authority really wants it. Certainly, Israel doesn’t need the problems that come
from the jihadists running Gaza, and the UN could fulfill its true mandate in
It’s far more likely that Israel and the PA in the West Bank
can come to some agreement as long as they don’t have to worry about the
festering sore called Gaza.
So let Gaza become a freetrade area under UN
In this way, the UN would be responsible for law and order, the
aid agencies could go on pouring in valuable resources, and the PA would be rid
of most of its main rivals. As a free-trade area, construction would take off,
providing employment to those lacking the skills for the commercial activities a
free-trade area requires.
In the spirit of helping their brothers, the
oil-rich sheikdoms would be able to split their economic activities between the
emirates and Gaza. And with business booming, Cairo would be in a position to
colonize the Sinai, bringing relief to Egypt’s overpopulated areas.
it’s just a pipe dream, though.JONATHAN BEROLD
Cape Town Look homeward,
Sir, – Unlike what James Jones said at the Herzliya Conference, I think
Barack Obama is the last person God would appear before. But if He should, I am
quite sure He would tell Obama to look after his own country, which he seems
unable to do.JUDY GOLDIN
Kiryat Ono Refreshing read
Sir, – How
refreshing to read Dalia Itzik’s article (“Toward a dead end,” Comment &
Features, February 8) advocating changing the electoral system, something many
MKs seem unwilling to consider since it could lead to the loss of their
A major obstacle to good governance in Israel is the number of
small parties, which could easily be corrected by raising the electoral
threshold. “We are told that we need to let all sectors have a voice,” Itzik
says, but I would suggest going a step further and allowing every individual
voter to have a voice.
Instead of voting for a party list of candidates,
we should adopt the UK constituency system, whereby voters cast their ballot for
an individual candidate.
As things stand in Israel, to whom do you turn
for help with a problem? There is no guarantee that a letter written to a
current MK would even generate a response.
UK parliamentarians are first
and foremost there to help their constituents and are thus dependent on them for
retaining their seats. Every letter received from a constituent there guarantees
an acknowledgement and a referral to the relevant department or
MPs hold weekly “surgeries,” where constituents can meet them
personally to find a solution to a particular problem. And yes, MPs have also
been known to make home visits to solve a difficult situation, for example
between neighbors! This means that, regardless of political affiliation,
parliamentarians are sure to provide constituents with help – otherwise, they
might very well find themselves out of office at the next
Netanya What’s this ‘we’?
Sir, – I have always
had great respect and admiration of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s consistent adherence
to high standards and the way he tries to imbue America’s Jews with proper
values. Because of this, I found his February 8 column (“Israel is missing an
historic opportunity to support Arab freedom,” No Holds Barred)
It seemed like an idealistic, naive rant rather than something
a solid, long-time champion of Jewish values would write.
In one of his
closing paragraphs he used the word “we.”
Is that the same “we” expressed
by an Israeli when he writes, “we are now concerned about our southern flank”?
J.W. KRASNER Jerusalem Gilbert’s agenda Sir, – In his many books on the subject,
Sir Martin Gilbert (“The silver lining,” Comment & Features, February 8) has
made a speciality of the history of powerless Jews. But the Jews of the State of
Israel are different: They are empowered. They have their own land, sovereignty,
government, currency, army, and maybe even nuclear weapons. That is what Zionism
is all about.
The many periods of “mutual tolerance, respect and
partnership” in Muslim-Jewish history to which Gilbert hopes we can return were
predicated on Jewish powerlessness. Is that what Gilbert is really proposing? It
took the Catholic world more than a millennium to grudgingly accord Jews the
status of “brothers.” It might well take as long for the Muslim world to change
its attitude, too.JEREMY I. PFEFFER