A worrying plan
Sir, – White House senior adviser Dennis Ross, together with
Middle East expert Fred Hoff, met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose
influence on Netanyahu is reportedly on the rise (“PM set to unveil diplomatic
plan in Washington in May,” March 4).
We know Barak’s influence is on the
rise, as was shown when soldiers recently went to war against their own people
at Gilad Farm, something that could not have happened without Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu’s approval.
That in itself is worrying enough until we
read of the distinct possibility that Netanyahu’s plan entails a reiteration of
the goal of two states and the announcement that the IDF will turn over all the
major cities in the West Bank to the PA, giving it control over some 90 percent
of the Palestinian population; the IDF would no longer operate inside the cities
except in extraordinary circumstances.
Are we now ready to accept that
the prime minister of the sovereign State of Israel is prepared to abandon us
and our historic and legitimate land? For an encore, we can guess what our
so-called friends will be calling for next. The sad thing is we chose a long
time ago to ignore facts that were staring us in the face.
Sir, – It is my hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not announce any
new peace plans when he goes to Washington. He should simply state that Israel
has never walked away from a conference relating to peace, that Israel is not
busy inciting against its Aran population or the Arab world, and that all Israel
has ever wanted is an open dialogue without pre-conditions.
state its case and make it clear that it was the Palestinians who walked out of
the negotiations. It is high time the truth is spoken.
Jerusalem Wrong line of work?
Sir, – Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says
“Israel might consider peace risky, but the absence of peace is even more risky”
(“Advice from a leading critic,” Diplomacy, March 4).
The word “peace” is
used in two very different ways in his two-part statement. No Israeli thinks
real peace is risky, while many do think that a peace treaty with the
Palestinians would be very risky. This is because the Palestinians could go back
on their word (as Arafat did over and over again), they could lose control of
the West Bank to Hamas (as they did in Gaza), they could have an internal
revolution (as in Egypt), they could annul previous treaties, or all of the
A foreign minister who cannot realize these all-too-real
eventualities should either stop offering us ill-considered advice or find
himself another profession.AVIGDOR BONCHEK
Look who’s talking
Sir, – Several times in recent days, reference has been made in the Post to
criticism by German Chancellor Angela Merkel directed against Prime Minister
Netanyahu for not taking a single step to advance peace.
Before so doing,
would it not have been more appropriate for her to examine what steps the EU has
taken against the Palestinian Authority’s campaign of hate against Israel in
schools and the media, and the campaign by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to
delegitimize Israel? Thank goodness there are those in the US Congress who are
prepared to say publicly that the PA has done nothing to prepare its people for
Only when she has done her part should Merkel be allowed to attack
Israel’s alleged shortcomings.
Sir, – In his address at the recent J Street conference, Ron Pundak
expressed his wish that the Israeli populace, like that in Egypt, rise up
against its government (“Too kind to the Israelis?,” Analysis, March
Did the Israeli pubic not rise up in the last election and choose its
government? And will it not rise up again at the next election, which is bound
to be free and fair, unlike that of our neighbors? SIDNEY HANDEL
Sir, – The leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish
Organizations recently met with President Barack Obama and discussed a number of
very important issues regarding the Middle East (“What exactly did Obama mean
when he said Jewish areas will stay in Israeli hands?,” March 4). They had
prepared to ask him to finally release Jonathan Pollard after more than 25 years
in prison, however, they did not question the president on this
Only Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National
and the International Council of Young Israel, was able at the end of the
meeting to give Obama a letter urging him to free Pollard and let him go home to
Israel. Rabbi Lerner has continually been at the forefront of the humanitarian
need to free Pollard.
Perhaps at this time all Jewish leaders should make
the Pollard issue primary when they have meetings with Obama and other
administration officials. People should realize that enough is enough – 25 years
in an American prison is far longer than the crime ever warranted.
Etymology of blue
Sir, – Regarding “The color ‘techelet,’”
(March 4), some years ago I was on a tour of Cyprus.
Our group visited
the House of Dionysos, a building containing beautiful mosaics. One of the
mosaics was of a blue peacock.
The guide said the origin of the
relatively dark blue mosaic stone was unknown.
I told the guide about
techelet and, upon our return to the hotel, I showed her the verses of tzizit in
an English bible. The guide told me the next morning that she had had dinner
with a history professor who said the probable origin of the blue mosaic stone
was a fish from the Mediterranean that is no longer identifiable.
aside, the Talmud mentions the blue of the hilazon fish washed up on the beach.
Perhaps that is the derivation of the Hebrew word for blue, i.e., k’chol, which
means “like the sand.”
Sir, – Ray Hanania alleges that “American politicians put their sights
on [Iraq’s] oil and squeezed it for every penny possible through Halliburton,
run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president” (“Freedom, democracy and
ulterior motives,” Yalla Peace, March 2). Those charges are utterly
As an American diplomat, I was directly involved in designing and
implementing the UN’s “Oil-for- Food” program during the mid- 1990s. Iraq was
allowed to sell a limited amount of oil, with all proceeds held in an
international bank and used to buy humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi
The price was set by a group of independent experts relying on
the prevailing world oil market.
The US had no access to Iraqi oil other
than through private companies competing with foreign companies for purchase
America received not a penny from the sales. Had its primary
goal been to increase its own oil supply, the best method would have been to
close its eyes to the threat Iraq posed, work to have UN sanctions lifted, and
allow Saddam to sell as much oil as he wished.
I also served in Iraq
after the Second Gulf War. During my time in Baghdad I participated in several
high-level meetings regarding efforts to rebuild and protect Iraq’s oil
industry. Not once did I hear anyone say that our goal was to increase US oil
Our efforts were aimed entirely at helping the Iraqis utilize
their resources to rebuild their country.
Hanania says most Arabs view
the war as having been “a move to grab Iraq’s oil resources.”
are simply wrong.EFRAIM A. COHEN
The writer served as an
American diplomat for nearly 25 years.