March 4: An exception

The reference to Hollywood’s failures regarding the Holocaust are, in general, correct. However, there is an exception.

March 3, 2013 22:07

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )

An exception

Sir, – I read with interest Sarah Honig’s column on Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. (“Movie musings,” Another Tack, March 1). The reference to Hollywood’s failures regarding the Holocaust are, in general, correct. However, there is an exception.

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A film with Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, Once Upon a Honeymoon , filmed before Pearl Harbor and released in January 1942, makes direct reference to the deportation of Jews and German cruelty. There is a scene with Grant and Rogers awaiting deportation, having been mistaken for Jews. This was because Rogers’ character gave up her US passport to a Jewish maid.

Interestingly enough, it was a production of RKO, which was co-founded by Kennedy. It is a film well worth seeing.

Ma’aleh Adumim

Hear your neighbors

Sir, – As a J Street representative at the Gush Etzion luncheon featured in “‘Settlers’ out to lunch with US Congressional delegation” (View from the Hills, February 27), I am grateful to Josh Hasten for engaging in a rewarding and respectful exchange. And I admire his stat- ed desire to coexist with his Arab neighbors.

There have been many promising instances of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in recent years.

But the ultimate goal will always be two states for two peoples.

Both Israelis and Palestinians overwhelming reject the idea of one state, and no collaborative project in Gush Etzion can extinguish the deep desire by Palestinians for a homeland of their own. That is what we heard in meetings with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and other Palestinian leaders.

If we do not negotiate with this partner – which has recognized Israel and renounced violence – it will be disastrous for the fragile peace that Hasten sees in his community, not to mention for Israel’s Jewish and democratic future.

Perhaps it is time for him to actively listen to his neighbors.

Evanston, Illinois

Off-target editorial

Sir, – Your February 28 editorial “Italy’s elections” castigates Israeli voters for their “recklessness,” asserting that they vote “for the trendy and unfamiliar as a hoot.” But government leaders do not have an absolute right to our vote simply because they are already in power. If this were the case, succeeding elections would be unnecessary, and Mahmoud Abbas could rightfully claim to be Palestinian president for life.

Those in power must prove through on-the-job performance that they deserve to retain their exalted position.

The editorial correctly points out that Israel is surrounded by dangers that “involve our very physical survival.” But I and many other voters searched for a reason to support the party already in power. In the process, we concluded that Israel was no closer to resolving the ongoing dispute with the Palestinians or to stopping Iran’s headlong rush toward nuclear weapons than we were when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took the reins of government four years ago.

We made a reasoned decision to vote for parties that recognized both Israel’s serious internal problems and the international threats.

Watching Netanyahu’s recent actions – e.g., selecting as justice minister and head of any future peace negotiations the leader of a minor party who was a failed foreign minister, while refusing to come to terms with the two parties that won as many seats as he did – it is clear that we were right.

The current prime minister seems focused on retaining his personal grip on power, while the two newcomers stand on principle and remain true to the promises they made to the voting public. There is no question who is more deserving of the public trust in these difficult times.

Zichron Ya’acov

Sir, – Your editorial juxtaposes the Italian elections with our own and makes a number of good points. But I think it miss- es the main point.

Israelis don’t take voting light- ly, and as the numbers show, they want to make their voices heard. Whether it’s Lapid or Bennett or any of a dozen other candidates, Israelis carefully study the platforms of each party and decide what suits their view of Israeli life.

You might think that the Arab Spring or Iran or the Palestinian Authority trumps all other considerations, but Israelis concerned with the economy, the relationship of Jew to Jew, even army conscription are entitled to choose the person they think will best represent them and solve what they believe are the country’s woes. After all, professional politicians can be the least likely to carry out their platforms, so perhaps the new guys on the block are just what we need.


Sir, – I beg to differ with respect to your viewpoint that it is “time to own up that no change in our electoral system could cancel out the carelessness with which too many Israelis treat their ballots.”

I would speculate that voters would unequivocally internalize and participate more seriously in elections if they trusted the politicians not to cynically pursue their personal agendas, evade their responsibilities and recant on promises made while electioneering.

The citizens of Israel have no decisive input with regard to issues that affect them, and thanks to a flawed electoral sys- tem, no means of direct repre- sentation with which to influ- ence the status quo.


End Begin

Sir, – In the February 26 article “200 Beit Safafa residents protest against highway extension,” you paraphrased Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, who oversees the municipal planning portfolio, as saying the neighborhood’s residents were “taking advantage of the political situation to turn a local concern into an international story.”

Actually, the reverse is true. It is the political/sectoral dimension of the story that has deflected attention from the real issue: Is the extension of the Begin Highway truly necessary or desirable, whether from an economic point of view or in terms of sustainability and good urbanism? Cities around the world are getting rid of their freeways, whose damage to the urban fabric has been acknowledged for decades. Highway capacity expansions have long been known to induce demand for car travel and increase, rather than relieve, congestion in the long run.

Particularly illogical is Tsur’s assertion, again as you para- phrase, that “the Begin Extension is part of a transportation master plan to ease access into and around the capital, before extending the light rail in the next decade.” Since when do municipalities extend and expand highways as measures preparatory to the improvement of public transit? Highways compete with transit.

It is odd that Tsur has demonstrated against plans to run a multi-lane highway through the Jerusalem Forest, but cannot sympathize with Jerusalemites who want to keep their community human-scaled and walkable. Environmentalism and good urbanism ought to be two sides of the same coin.

It is also odd that a city official who very recently, and publicly, criticized the Israeli infatuation with the automobile (“The road not taken: Why Israel’s transportation policy is a contradiction in terms,” Comment & Features, February 10) would treat the Begin Extension as a project of obvious and self-evident value. Tsur attributes the trend toward two- and three-car households to the ubiquitous Israeli practice of puffing up pay slips with “car expenses.” While this practice certainly doesn’t help, wouldn’t the construction and expansion of highways that compete with transit be a more likely culprit?


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