September 23: European hypocrisy

Once again Catherine Ashton illustrates her naivety and incompetence in foreign affairs and in particular her contempt for the only bastion of peace and democracy in the Middle East.

September 22, 2013 22:18

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )

European hypocrisy

Sir, – Once again (EU angry at Israel for ‘mistreating’ its diplomats in West Bank on Friday, front page, September 22) Catherine Ashton illustrates her naivety and incompetence in foreign affairs and in particular her contempt for the only bastion of peace and democracy in the Middle East.

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Clearly, these so-called diplomatic EU activists connived with the media to harass Israeli soldiers coping with the violation of a court-enforced action to remove illegal settlers who had been given notice of their eviction over a period of time and offered various alternatives, which they had consistently rejected.

Under Ashton’s leadership the EU has declined to intervene in its own backyard where the Roma population has been so callously abused, rejected, evicted and continue to suffer interminably to this day.

Suffice to say, hypocrisy reigns supreme within the corridors of power on the European continent.


Building in Gaza

Sir, – In the September 20 front-page article “Israel plans to allow 70 truckloads a day,” referring to building materials let into Gaza, it is noted that “the move follows a massive crackdown by the Egyptian military on the smuggling... via the tunnels near Rafah.”

The Egyptian military is finally succeeding in destroying the tunnels into Gaza that we were unable to destroy. Can you explain why we are now undermining their praiseworthy and strategically important efforts?


Sir, – Building materials and other things have been entering Gaza from Israel. (“Israel plans to allow 70 truckloads a day,” front page, September 20). I wonder if Gaza pays for these and for the other things shipped there in the past. If Gaza does pay, what currency is used? Shekels, dollars or euros?


From Russia with irony

Sir, – It’s a sad irony of history that the present leader of Russia Vladimir Putin is lecturing us the Jews on what does or does not make us “a target.” (“Israel’s nuclear weapons just make it a target,” News, September 20) We lost 6 million undefended Jews “targeted” in the Holocaust.

The Red Army helped in defeating the Nazi war machine so that Jews wouldn’t be targeted anymore. Russia can be proud of this and its army rightly deserves its memorial here in Israel.

Yet, now that we have our own Jewish state, it is the most threatened country on earth, simply because it is a democracy – the only one in the Middle East – and it is Jewish.

With this in mind, it is not a nuclear arsenal does that makes us a target. We know far too well what does. If any country needs nukes it’s us. I don’t remember anybody threatening to wipe Russia off the face of the map and Russia has enough nukes to destroy the planet several times over.


Belgian anti-Semitism

Sir, – This letter relates to the article “Anti-Semitism in the guise of Holocaust education?” Jewish World, September 20.

Rhetoric within the bounds of civility is an important part of political discourse. If Israeli politicians use the label “Nazi” without much being said at home to condemn it, why be surprised and so disturbed by its use in international rhetoric abroad?


Sir, – Your article “Anti-Semitism in the guise of Holocaust education?” Jewish World, September 20, refers to a shocking cartoon and accompanying comparisons between Israel and the Nazis, published on a dedicated website for teachers in Belgium.

It was with great dismay that the various Belgian authorities learned about this material put online by an individual. It was immediately taken offline upon its discovery. Moreover, as mentioned in your article, the Special Committee for Remembrance Education in Belgium has made it immediately very clear that they “will not support any Israel-hatred or Jews-hatred lesson practices.”

It is regrettable when I see my country being accused of anti- Semitism. Belgium takes an uncompromising stance on anti- Semitism and on all other forms of racism and discrimination. On the legal level, preventive and repressive measures are being applied at every possible level.

Belgium’s commitment to upholding the memory of the Holocaust and passing it on to the younger generations is unwavering and exemplified in many ways.

To give just a few recent examples: In 2012 Belgium chaired the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; in May 2012, Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo visited the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp accompanied by Belgian students; in November 2012, on the initiative of the Flemish government which financed the works, the Memorial, Museum and Documentation Center on Holocaust and human rights was inaugurated at the Kazerne Dossin, the place from which many Jews were deported to the concentration camps.

And last but not least: Every year Belgian teachers participate in a one-week seminar on the teaching of the Holocaust organized by Yad Vashem.

JOHN CORNET D’ELZIUS Ambassador of Belgium Tel Aviv

Judaism’s live side

Sir, – Your editorial on this subject (“Intermarriage,” Frontlines, September 20 ) supports the fight against intermarriage and suggests stronger ties with Israel as an important element.

In the same issue we also peddle guilt and punishment for non-observance – yet we expect to win adherents. For secular, modern Jews in the US and elsewhere in the Diaspora, these threats are meaningless and of no interest. They want to be Jewish by being part of a viable culture without synagogue attendance as a sine qua non other than (perhaps) on the High Holy Days.

I do not detract from the validity of rabbinical exegeses, but if we want Judaism to survive and win secular adherents, intelligence must prevail: Let us assist the transition by demonstrating the live side of Judaism.

Tel Aviv

To tase or not

Sir, – While I am sure that on occasion the Taser has been improperly used by the Israel Police (“Knesset: Taser use by police is rising,” News, September 16), I am by no means convinced that this non-lethal method of subduing violent criminals and demonstrators has been abused.

Except for extreme circumstances, Israeli policemen are not expected to be heroes or to endanger their lives and health on a routine basis. Yet there are instances where Israeli citizens use physical violence to avoid arrest, or to prevent the arrest of others as during demonstrations or protests, or even attack policemen who are simply trying to control a crowd. I am convinced that the use of a non-lethal, and usually harmless Taser is far preferable to clubs or firearms which can be quite dangerous and even lethal, or tear gas which punishes the innocent as well as the guilty.

I am amazed that our police officers show as much decency and consideration as they do when confronting hostile, violent, physically and verbally abusive crowds of angry and self righteous Israelis, or violent law breakers willing to seriously injure a police officer to prevent their arrest.

I feel it would be a crime itself to so restrict the use of Tasers that Israeli policemen would have to use far more dangerous forms of crowd and individual control.


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