Listen up, Obama...
Sir, – With regard to “What we’ve got here is a
failure to communicate” (Analysis, October 5), the next US presidential debate
will focus on foreign policy.
Mr. Obama, if you’re listening, please
offer us words of reassurance that you’re not simply an ally of Israel, but
rather Israel’s greatest ally. I want you to focus on dispelling all the spin
that you’ve been a disaster for Israel, and to say that if you win a second term
and won’t have to worry about being reelected, you won’t place undue pressure on
Israel to make concessions that will jeopardize its security.
relationship is at a crossroads, Mr. President. Like the Spike Lee movie, do the
...and you too, Erekat
Sir, – With regard to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat’s comment that “a
culture of hatred and racism...has become mainstream among Israelis” (“‘Price
tag’ graffiti desecrates J’lem convent,” October 3), I wish to say to Erekat:
You will never get what you want vis-a-vis Palestine and the Palestinian people
if you and your colleagues continue your hateful and libelous rhetoric and
demagoguery against Israel and the Israeli people.
It is you and your
people, Mr. Erekat, who have been pursuing and disseminating a mainstream
policy of defamation and hatred against Israel in your textbooks, films,
magazines, and now in your libelous presentation of events in the news. It is
you, sir, who is consumed with hatred, not us. If we were, your people would not
benefit, for example, from the medical care they receive at our
If anyone should be held accountable for hatred it is those
who controlled the West Bank and east Jerusalem before the Six Day War and
denied universal free access to the holy places in Jerusalem.
to you, sir, is to change your attitude and present events as they are, without
twisting them to your hateful political ends. Speak the truth.
only then will the Palestinians reap all you feel they deserve.
Good of the country
Sir, – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
(“Embarking on early elections,” Politics, October 5) should forget about
records and consider not what is best for his party and its partners, but what
is best for the country. The reasons are critical.
• It is pretty clear
that despite sanctions, Iran will have the bomb in the coming months, and we
can’t afford another surprise like in 1973. To preserve their tottering regime,
Iranian leaders will, like Syria’s Bashar Assad, do anything to
• It is not going to be easier to pass the budget after the
elections. The critical economic problems will still be there.
We need a little time and to be on our guard to see how we go with Egypt. Cairo
is playing around with Sinai. It does not look as though it has a way to quell
the terror that keeps spilling over into Israel.
• Syrian rebels have
made it clear that if they win, we are their next target. Whatever happens there
is likely to be a huge escalation of civil war, much larger than at present, as
the Alawite regime fights for its life.
• There are signs of unrest in
Jordan that could easily escalate overnight.
• The West Bank under
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is bankrupt. It continues to prop
up the Gaza regime with half its budget, but does not have the slightest say in
what happens there. There’s no chance of an agreement with Hamas, and even less
for agreeing on elections. Donor countries are not paying up. The explosive
situation in our backyard cannot remain peaceful.
Internally we have
serious problems, but we cannot afford to be in a situation where our enemies
take advantage of an interim government that can’t plan ahead, take any
initiatives or make decisions vital for our survival.
Right on Barak
Sir, – Hurrah for Hirsh Goodman (“Time for Barak to bolt,”
PostScript, October 5). As Goodman states, Ehud Barak had his chance – more than
once – and the time has come for him to leave the stage.
Barak was a
great soldier and, for a time, a pretty good politician.
But that time
has passed and he is no longer needed. As of late he has hung on by making Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believe that he can’t do without him. But that time
So let’s end this charade. In fact, it would probably be a good
thing if both Barak and Bibi left the stage. Now!
Everyone knows what Ehud Barak is like. He has consistency in two things:
failure and the fact that no one matters except Ehud Barak.
mistake is made again and Barak manages to remain defense minister, he will have
his bag of excuses and blame everyone else for his failures before any buttons
are pressed, whether they are for Iran or anywhere else.
Sir, – In “Freedom in theory” (Letters, October 3), reader Jalil
Mortazavi accuses supporters of Israel of not practicing freedom of speech. He
overlooks the fact that free speech is subject to limitations. It does not give
one license to endanger lives, for example, by shouting fire in a crowded cinema
when there is no fire, or by indulging in libel or slander.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has advocated the destruction of a member state of
the United Nations, thereby infringing UN principles.
It would therefore
be completely reasonable for the US to refuse him admission, and for the UN to
refuse him the right to address its General Assembly.
Israel were on solid ground in advocating this.
Sir, – I was flattered that my course, “Harry Potter and the
Holocaust,” was motioned in Adina M. Yoffie’s “Jewish studies, once and in the
future” (Comment & Features, August 29). However, I was surprised that
Yoffie saw in the title of the course “a sign that standards are low and getting
With due respect, why does Yoffie assume this is not a serious
course? Did she look at the syllabus and the ideas presented in it? Did she
glance at the reading list for the course and the various topics it covers? Is
Yoffie at least aware that there is a serious field of children’s literature, as
well as scholars who take children books, such as the Harry Potter series, very
seriously? Does she know that the Harry Potter books have inspired a great deal
of serious scholarship in a number of fields? At the very least, is Yoffie aware
of Prof. Ann Curthoys’s serious academic article in History Australia, “Harry
Potter and Historical Consciousness: Reflections on History and Fiction,” which
discusses the topic of Harry Potter and the Holocaust?
The course that I teach
covers a variety of issues, such as imagism and modern poetry, modern Jewish
history, the Holocaust and children’s literature. And, yes, it is very
I do agree that academic studies must aspire to a certain
degree of elitism. But this must not be elitism that is based on ignorance and
sloth. If Jewish studies are to have a future, people like Yoffie should stop
stifling new and original voices and let new ideas flourish instead of
cultivating old, stale and cowardly pedagogy while wailing that students (for
some strange reason) do not seem interested.
The writer teaches in the Department of Languages,
Literatures and Cultures at the University of Florida.