Efforts and words

Sir, – Although I do not expect anything positive to come of it, I believe US Secretary of State John Kerry should be commended for his efforts in seeking an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

However, his recent comments regarding a boycott of Israel if such talks fail were totally inappropriate and should be corrected.

I assume he misspoke, but the words cannot be defended as fair-minded.

Furthermore, “Three cheers for John Kerry” (Comment & Features, February 7) was not helpful. Barry Leff’s statement – “Accusing Kerry of anti-Semitism for saying such things would be like saying a parent who tells a child, ‘Put your hand on that hot stove and it’s going to get burned,’ is encouraging child abuse” – clearly demonstrates that Leff does not understand the issue. A correct analogy would be: “Put your hand on that hot stove and our neighbor is going to punch you in the mouth.”

A burned hand must be a consequence of putting it on a hot stove. A boycott of Israel does not have to result from failed talks.

MARTIN GERSTEL Jerusalem

Sir, – It was the optimization of chutzpah by US Secretary of State John Kerry when, in speaking to the Israeli public, he stated that he had been shot at by real bullets, not just by verbal bullets.

What does he think will be fired at our children and grandchildren because of his misplaced ideology and his beliefs that the Palestinians know how to live in peace? Has not Islam, be it Sunni or Shi’ite or Alawite, proved itself in Lebanon, Gaza or the classic case of Syria as being unable to live in peace with another form of Islam? Maybe it is about time that Justice Minister and chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni looked at the facts of Islamic morality and life and explain them to Kerry. If she is not capable, maybe Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should find a negotiator who can.

YISRAEL (IAN) LAST Kiryat Ata

‘Narrow-minded’ MK

Sir, – My wife and I sent the following email to MK David Rotem (“Rotem: I didn’t say Reform isn’t Jewish,” February 7): We are emailing you because we found your comments that Reform Jews are “not Jewish” and that we belong to “another religion” self-righteous and narrow- minded.

We recently made aliya from the United States as Reform Jews. Your comments as chairman of the Knesset Constitution Committee really make us feel not welcome in our long-awaited home of Israel. According to you, we are second-class citizens in this country due to our religious affiliation.

Your self-righteous apology is not satisfactory to us, and we recommend that you step down from office.

Maybe we need to rethink our decision to immigrate. As my family has given thousands dollars to the State of Israel, I will be informing our Reform synagogue back in the US about your comments, and I will also recommend it rethink directing future donations.

ANDREW and JANICE COHEN Jerusalem

Sir, – It is high time that our cabinet ministers and MKs learn to talk less and do more.

My wife had a saying when our children were young: Put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion. Our politicians could well learn from her.

KURT SIMON Jerusalem

Protecting Israel Sir, – In “Will NATO pacify the Mideast?” (Foreign Affairs, February 7), Amotz Asa-El, a supposedly expert commentator on Israeli affairs, displays a surprising lack of understanding of the consequences of the role of United Nations forces deployed on Israel’s borders.

In trying to justify his position that NATO could play a constructive role in policing parts of the Jordan Valley, Asa-El mistakenly points to three “better peacekeeping experiences”: UNDOF in the Golan Heights, UNIFIL in Lebanon and the MFO in the Sinai.

On the Golan Heights, Syria chose to keep the peace for decades, but with things heating up in the Syrian civil war in recent years, the Philippine contingent, which comprised onethird of UNDOF, announced a pullout, followed shortly by the Austrians. In Lebanon, despite UN Resolution 1701, which called for disarmament by Hezbollah, that terrorist group is now reputed to have over 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel.

And in the Sinai, al-Qaida-inspired groups have totally infiltrated the peninsula, blowing up gas pipelines on several occasions, firing rockets into Eilat and causing El Al to cancel some flights to the southern resort.

Israel can only rely on the IDF to protect its citizens, and for Asa-El to champion a foreign troop presence to defend Jewish lives displays a naiveté that is surprising from a veteran observer of Israel and the Middle East.

FRED EHRMAN Ra’anana/New York

Sir, – The very fact that an international military force of any kind might be necessary to keep the peace between a Palestine and Israel begs the question: What kind of peace is being negotiated that necessitates an armed force to maintain the peace? If the parties are sincere about establishing peace, no army should be required at all. Hence, these negotiations are going nowhere.

URI HIRSCH Netanya

Yummy column

Sir, – That was a delicious column by Liat Collins (“Recipes and disasters,” My Word, February 7).

I love the way she spiced it up with clever ingredients. She served up a gourmet masterpiece that was tasty and fun to read.

Yum!

DONNA TZINAMON Aseret

Victory in study

Sir, – With regard to “Bayit Yehudi: Lapid will fold on imposing criminal sanctions for haredim who avoid army service” (February 6), maybe somebody can explain something to me.

One of the arguments given by the haredim against going to the army is that the Torah they learn protects us from our enemies.

So I ask you: If learning Torah can protect us from our enemies, surely it can protect them from a puny finance minister and his little plot to draft them into the army! Accordingly, instead of leaving their studies to stage violent protests, haredi students should stay put in their yeshivot and learn all day long without a break. Then Lapid would be roundly defeated on the merit of their Torah study! They don’t seem to believe what they say about the protective power of Torah study. Or, maybe there is something holy about attacking Jewish policemen but something very, very scary about attacking an enemy soldier.

YEHUDA GELLMAN Jerusalem

Different image

Sir, – With regard to “Red Cross stops giving tents to displaced Palestinians in Jordan Valley” (February 6), Israel, the country that sends humanitarian aid and its finest medical teams all over the world to help people who are victims of both human and natural disasters, will not allow humanitarian aid to reach the very people whose homes, possessions and livelihoods it has destroyed. There can be only one reason – its desire to rid the Jordan Valley of all Palestinians by making their lives unbearable.

This is not a question of security.

It is a blatant attempt to rid the area of Palestinians.

We who are members of Machsom Watch have witnessed and documented demolitions and the denial of humanitarian aid to Palestinians. The picture here at home is quite different from those the world sees when Israel delivers aid during international disasters.

MARCIA GREENMAN LEBEAU Jerusalem

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