Stop chasing peace
Sir, – Israel has been chasing peace since before its inception (“‘Talks won’t stop until we achieve breakthrough,’” March 9).
If you chase a butterfly and cannot catch it, just sit down and turn your thoughts to other things, and the butterfly will come and rest on your shoulder.
I think that it’s time for all of us – Right, Left and Center – to turn our thoughts to other important problems, of which Israel has no shortage. Maybe then the Palestinians will come to realize the need for peace without constantly being chased. HENRY TOBIAS
Sir, – Which of his two conflicting statements does Defense Minister Ehud Barak expect us to believe and accept – “‘Talks wont stop until we achieve breakthrough,’” or (on the same day) “Barak unfreezes 112 settler homes” (March 9)?
Does he really think the public is that stupid? No wonder former MK Ophir Paz-Pines laughs at the two Labor rebels who claim they are returning to the fold – at the same time their supposed leader is playing games with us. LEONARD ZURAKOV
Sir, – The government seems to have stumbled into a double trap (“On eve of Biden’s arrival, PA agrees to ‘proximity talks,’” March 8). First, instead of dealing with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel will be negotiating with the US. Here we are the weaker, not the stronger, party, and the Palestinians are free to terminate their participation at any time, since they have not given up their “preconditions.”
Second, at the end of the moratorium on construction, Netanyahu will be faced with the very difficult choice of extending it at danger to the coalition or having the whole world, including and especially the United States, blame us for Abbas walking out of the proximity talks.
More accurate would be to call it a proximity fuse. SIDNEY HANDEL
Tel AvivPainless loyalty
Sir, – Ajami co-director Scandar Copti’s remarks dissociating himself from Israel may come from anger, as Hannah Brown suspects (“Equal representation,” March 9), or they may come from fear.
As its protagonists suffer, the film casts little if any blame on the Israeli establishment, but depicts an Arab community powerless to break out of its own societal backwardness. If the production team had been entirely Jewish, Ajami would doubtless have been widely condemned as hostile and condescending. Certainly it serves up less anti-Zionist fodder than some award-nominated Jewish-made films do.
As an Arab lionized by Israel, and especially as a non-Muslim Arab, Copti may have been under pressure to demonstrate his loyalty to the Arab cause, despite the film’s social commentary, and a sound bite expressing alienation from Israel is a painless way to do that. MARK L. LEVINSON
Herzliya‘Apartheid’ does not apply
Sir, – Rowan Somerville of Ireland insists that Israel is an apartheid state (“Color-blindness in Israel,” Letters, March 8). As evidence, he asks if the 45,000 people of Kalkilya have freedom of movement (prevented, as they are from freedom to invade Israel with their suicide bombers, grenade throwers, and garden-variety terrorists). Those who have peaceful business in Israel can enter, and they should know that the reason there are checkpoints is that some people can’t be allowed in. The wall is there for a reason, and statistics show that it has cut down tremendously on the mayhem.
In any case, the people of Kalkilya are not Israeli citizens, but Palestinians. The term “apartheid” does not apply.
I wish Mr. Somerville could take off his blindfold and see this “profoundly segregated” society at work in hospitals, museums, theaters and public parks, as well as many places not so visible to tourists.
Segregation means, “This bench is for Jews only. This restaurant serves only Jews. This doctor must treat Jews only. This public washroom is for Jews only.” Mr. Somerville, you don’t know what segregation is. MARCELLA WACHTEL
Sir, – Mr. Somerville seems somehow to have confused the liberties of citizens and residents of Israel with the freedom allowed to residents of a neighboring enemy political entity to enter and move freely within Israel.
As the mother of one of those dedicated doctors and nurses who treat everyone, even terrorists wounded in the course of murderous sprees, I can answer his question about how they feel being used as “decoys for... human rights abuses”: They don’t feel that they are being used as decoys for human rights abuses. NAOMI SANDLER
JerusalemTaiwan and climate change
Sir, – In response to Al Gore’s article “We can’t wish away climate change” (March 7), I would like to point out that now is the time for Taiwan to participate in the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
In respect to the numerous natural disasters that have recently occurred in several countries as a result of climate changes and global warming, I would like to note that Taiwan is excluded from participating in the UNFCCC, and as well as its specialized agencies.
Climate change is a major threat to Taiwan as well. As an island in the Pacific Ocean, it is imperiled by rising sea levels and the ravages of extreme weather. The devastation left in the wake of typhoon Morakot last August is a case in point: The storm triggered massive landslides and flooding that claimed many lives and caused untold amounts of property damage. Even though Taiwan has yet to be accepted to the UNFCCC, it acts vigorously to combat climate change by developing green energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As the 18th-largest trading economy with the fourth-largest foreign reserve in the world, Taiwan has a highly technologically advanced and prosperous economy. Taiwan’s solar energy sector has already achieved significant market presence in the world with its impressive innovation, and the government encourages the development of renewable energies by legislation.
As these facts prove, Taiwan has both the incentives and the means to combat climate change, and I call on the UNFCCC to consider Taiwan’s participation in the organization’s meetings and committees. This will not only help the 23 million Taiwanese to defend themselves from the next typhoon, but also benefit all citizens of the world who will be able to use Taiwan’s meaningful contributions to research on climate change and dealing with its consequences. SIMON C. HSIEH
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
Tel Aviv Why buy H&M?
Sir, – Considering the fact that more and more Israelis go abroad, it is difficult to understand why, on their return, they cannot wait to spend hard-earned money in the international chains that operate here in Israel (“H&M’s prices have locals guessing,” March 9). Their eagerness to rush to buy is the main reason why chains like H&M and Ikea sell many of their products here at inflated prices.
In Ikea’s case, a price comparison will show that many items are well
over 50 percent cheaper in the US and Europe than they are here. If
there were buyer resistance to inflated prices, the international
chains would be forced to come into line with other international
branches. Many of the international chains here make a big play of the
fact that some few items are even cheaper in Israel than abroad. These
are the very items that make Israeli shoppers lose all sense of
reality. The Israeli owners of the stores must be laughing all the way
to the bank. EDGAR ASHER
Petah TikvaShed light on the world – don’t flash it
Sir, – Without wishing to draw further attention to Spencer Tunick’s
tomfoolery and the adulation of our tourism advisers, how can anyone
describe this man’s work as “art” (“Too much information? ‘Yediot’
story may foil mass nudity photographer’s visit,” March 9)? It is
nothing more than outright sensationalism. Do we really need to join
the rest of the world in promoting such exhibitionist rubbish?
I always thought Israel was supposed to be “a light unto the nations.”
Rejecting Mr. Tunick could be a perfect opportunity to shed that light. DAVID ALTMAN