Zionism and moral excellence, revisited
Sir, – In two main points Donniel
Hartman (“The future of Zionism depends on moral excellence,” September 26) is
definitely right: 1. We are – concerning our moral and political positions – not
negotiating only with the Palestinians but mainly also with ourselves.
The central question is not what the Palestinians and the international
community will allow us to do – but what we do by our own initiative to obtain
morally defensible positions.
But on the basis of these two assumptions,
Hartman develops a way of argumentation that has to be rejected.
accepts as absolute truth many assumptions that have to be examined carefully if
we want to judge the situation in the Middle East in a just way.
cite three examples: 1. The word “occupation” (used in the article again and
again) is full of the most problematic associations (also from the Second World
War) and it cannot be used in connection with the Israel-Palestinian dispute.
The areas now known as the West Bank and Gaza were explicitly designated for
Jewish settlement by the International Bodies (by the League of Nations in 1922
– and this right of settlement was later upheld in the UN Charter).
1967 these areas were taken from Jordan and Egypt which had seized and occupied
them in an act of aggression in 1948.
When Hartman uses the term
“occupation” in order to show the moral weakness of Israel’s position, he
undermines his own view. If these are “occupied” territories, we have to give
all of them back as stolen land, and that includes Ma’aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion
and Ariel – all places that should, according to Hartman’s vision, remain part
2. By rejecting any expansion of other existing settlements,
Hartman accepts without any criticism the assumption that in the future great
parts of the disputed areas have to be given to the Palestinians entirely
Judenrein. Is that morally acceptable? These settlements were established after
the Six Day War.
Could anyone have prevented Israel at that time from
going back to the historic places of its past – like Hebron, Beit El and Shiloh
– and renewing the Jewish presence there? Is it morally just to demand that all
Jewish presence in these areas be annulled and all Jews expelled for the sake of
peaceful coexistence? In Israel live more than one million Arabs with full civil
rights – and in a future Palestinian entity no Jews should be allowed to stay?
Abu Mazen went even further, stating that none of the UN soldiers that might be
posted in the area could be Jewish! Judenrein in the full sense of the word! 3.
The two-state solution is regarded by Hartman as the only moral solution for
peace in the area. The dangers of two entirely different nation-states living
together in a small area are enormous, and Hartman disregards
However, in the search for a viable peace, it must be stressed that
– as everyone knows but prefers to ignore – there is already a Palestinian
The classical Palestinian entity was divided in 1922. Over
75 percent of the territory (!) went to a newly formed state, Jordan, whose
inhabitants are, to all intents and purposes, Palestinians.
There is no
real difference between the Palestinians in Jordan and those in the West
So why create an additional Palestinian state instead of
incorporating parts of the West Bank in the existing Palestinian state and
perhaps add those areas of Israel which are populated mainly by Palestinians?
This would be a viable state for the Palestinians where they can develop their
culture, religion and social ideas.
This direction for a peace solution
seems perhaps outdated, but once you approach the Middle East dispute from a
moral viewpoint and take into account all factors that can bring peace to this
area – and real peace is a central ethical value in Judaism – this should be the
political and human goal we should pursue.GABRIEL H. COHN
Rapid response required
Sir, – Once again Israel hands its enemies a propaganda
coup when it was clearly Israel’s for the taking. Following the Silwan
self-defense killing of an attacker by an Israeli security guard who was
ambushed by hostile Palestinians, Israel announced that it took the guard into
custody, implying some guilt on his part.
No official mention was
initially made of an ambush.
In the interim Palestinian spinmeisters
accused Israel and Netanyahu of deliberately trying to scuttle the peace talks,
when it was Israel that should have immediately leveled that charge against the
Only the next day was it reported that
Jerusalem police chief Aharon Franco told reporters that “according to an
initial investigation, the guard encountered a preplanned ambush that put his
life in danger, prompting him to open fire” (“Tense calm prevails in
Jerusalem after death of Arab Silwan resident sparks riots,” September
In this media war being waged against it, Israel must develop the
ability to reflexively respond to its advantage, since it is the immediate
reaction that gets the headlines and thus shapes public opinion.
Huntington, West Virginia When the IDF says no to a son
Sir, – I am
writing on behalf of other Israeli mothers who have either been in my shoes or
now have tired feet from walking a very long and very lonely road.
I am a
native Canadian who moved to Israel over thirty years ago. With great pride, my
daughter served in the IDF in the air force’s entertainment corps.
was scheduled, in two weeks’ time, to enter the Israel Navy’s submarine
After a battery of tests, intensive four-day training, and hours
of psychological and physical examinations he was accepted into the
Last week, just three weeks shy of my son’s enlistment date, he
underwent a high-profile security check at Tel Hashomer under the auspices of
At the end of a long and gruelling day, he was told that he had
to undergo a polygraph, to which of course he agreed. He was told that, due to
unforeseen administrative problems and a long wait, his enlistment date would be
postponed until April, 2011 – seven months later than originally
My son was prepared to give up all hopes of entering the navy
and begged to be enlisted into any available unit in October.
response was negative, and he was told that April, 2011, was his only
However, “if he was able to somehow manage to get his name to the
top of the list in the polygraph admissions pile, then he could undergo a
polygraph as early as this week and be enlisted on October 10 as
And so it begins. Here is where not only the child but also the
mother learn the true meaning of the word “protekzia.”
After a whirlwind
of e-mails and faxes and phone calls to the navy, Tel Hashomer recruiting
offices, friends, neighbors and countrymen, I am, sadly, still in front of my
computer, wondering where I went wrong.
Not knowing where to turn,
shameful of my lame Hebrew vocabulary, I write this letter in the hope that
readers can give me advice.
Two years ago, we had the opportunity of
returning to Canada, and it was my son who stopped me in my tracks. In his own
words: “Mom, I’m going to the army. I want to serve my country. Don’t take that
away from me.”
The Israeli Navy and the submarine corps, who selected my
son from amongst hundreds of candidates, should be ashamed of their actions
during this last week.
If indeed there is a voice, then let it be my
son’s and not mine.
He is proud to serve. He is willing to