All mixed up
Sir, - The US says it is good that Jews living in Gaza were forced out, and accepts that the infrastructure left behind to allow Gaza's Palestinians to work could be destroyed by them as a "feel-good" factor. Now US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says it is bad that Israel isn't allowing Gazans, who no longer have jobs, to come into Israel to work ("Rice urges Israel to open Gaza crossings," October 26). Perhaps my understanding of good and bad is confused, but it doesn't sound right.
JACK DE LOWE
Sir, - I think it was Edmund Burke who warned against looking too closely into the origin of things. In his informative and stimulating "How to build a conspiracy" (October 26) Evan R. Goldstein has not made that mistake, but perhaps he should have. After all, most articles on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion focus on peripheral issues such as its Tsarist links, Maurice Joly's version and Eugene Sue's role.
At bottom there is little reason why Jews should not run the world, except the folly of attempting such a thankless task. But the "Protocols Plan" for world mastery by Jews is a recipe for disaster. I thus find it hard to agree with Goldstein that concocting an effective conspiracy theory is an art form, even a bad one. As the implied aim of conspiracy theories is to save the world from listed conspirators, they are more like protection systems designed for general comfort.
Support the States
Sir, - In "No way out?" (October 24) Elliot Jager seems to have overlooked a very important factor. Any premature withdrawal of American forces from Iraq - or even a hint of withdrawal - before a stable government was in place would raise the price of oil to over $160 a barrel (a very conservative estimate). It would destabilize the entire economy of the free world. Difficult as the situation appears today, in the long run it is probably a lot better than if Saddam had been left in power.
We will never really know if America entered the war because of the fear of weapons of mass destruction, oil, human rights violations, simple revenge, or a combination of these things. The solution of this massive problem lies with the Americans, and the least Israel can do is give the US all the support it can.
Sir, - Elliot Jager's essay constitutes the kind of coherent criticism of the war we should have had, but have seldom heard, from the Left. Instead of excusing or glorifying the insurgents Jager tackles the anti-war argument pragmatically, explaining the cultural difficulties of establishing democracy in the Mideast and questioning the war's tactics and effectiveness in defeating al-Qaida. His witty observation that Iraq, after US withdrawal, could become a chaotic "Islamist roach motel" makes a case for the strategic benefits of disengagement.
If the Democrats could ever get it together enough to argue like this they could be in the White House.
Has to be done
Sir, - I have just seen a press report of the president of Iran calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map," with the hope that a new Palestinian intifada will crush Israel. Now I know this is not necessarily new rhetoric. But when the new president of a major, nuclear Islamic country calls for the destruction of a neighbor, it is scary. As soon as they get that bomb, Israel will be targeted. So as a huge supporter of Israel, and a Jew, when is Israel going to take out the Iranian nuclear reactors? Clearly there will be international flack, but I believe there is no alternative.
Sir, - While taking strong exception to the attack upon Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern at the Western Wall, I felt it remiss that in covering the incident, including your interview with Stern ("No remorse over withdrawal," October 21), no reference was made to a major factor in the hostility many religious Zionists feel toward him. A few months ago, in his capacity as head of IDF Manpower, he proposed disbanding the hesder yeshivot in an obvious attempt to minimize the yeshiva heads' influence over their students vis-a-vis disengagement.
Since these yeshivot are so successful and their students are among the finest and most idealistic youngsters in the country, bitterness toward Stern on account of such an outrageous scheme is to be expected.
Where are the secular Zionists?
Sir, - I am a religious Zionist and have an easy relationship with secular Zionists, who are friends, acquaintances and colleagues. I respect them for having been the driving and maintaining force of the State of Israel. There were religious Zionists too, but the major initiative was secular. And I admire the original zeal, idealism and caring humaneness their forefathers displayed. But I have questions.
Here we have fellow Zionists from Gaza uprooted from their homes and still afflicted with uncertainty over where they are going and what they will do ("Time runs out for Gaza evacuees," October 16). From what I read in the papers all the compassionate hospitality has been provided by religious dormitory high schools, religious colleges and religious charities. Where are the secular Zionists? Have they lost the humanity of the founding fathers?
I personally think the expulsion from Gaza was a political, strategic and moral mistake. But for argument's sake, let us say it was essential for our security. What about some compassionate caring for the settlers as human beings? As fellow Zionists?
Prior claim? No
Sir, - I found myself agreeing (amazingly) with almost everything written by Jack Cohen of Netanya ("Prior claim vs power," Letters, October 26), until I reached the final paragraph. I must very strongly disagree. We have no legitimate prior claim to the "Land of Israel," as most Righties fondly seem to believe.
There is nothing in historical fact that can back up this claim and the sooner all those who hold this false belief realize that, the sooner we will arrive at a situation where we can live in peace with our Palestinian neighbors.
Sir, - There have been a number of well-thought-out and well-written letters in the Post recently. But James Adler's letter ("It's Zionism, stupid," October 24) was not well reasoned; for example, his suggestion that had Jews not resettled in "Palestine," the local Arab "Palestinians" would have lived in health and happiness in their own land, in their own state.
This area was previously controlled by the Turks, and then the British. Upon the termination of the British Mandate in 1948 the most likely scenario would have been Egyptian control of Gaza and the Western Coastal Plain, Jordanian control of the West Bank and Jerusalem, and Syrian control of Galilee and the Golan Heights. There would have been no talk of Palestinians or a Palestinian state, period.
View from Spain
Sir, - Though no great fan of Michael Freund ("Forgotten at the White House," October 19), I was deeply affected by James Adler's naivet .
According to him, "If the Zionist movement had never taken place there would never have been conflict. Instead the Palestinians would be peaceably enjoying the land, of which they had been the basic inhabitants for centuries, from the coast to the Jordan river, in pleasant, deep and richly-deserved quiet."
I do not know how things look from Cambridge, Massachusetts, but here in Spain I have the north of Africa right in front of my window - and, sorry, there is no Zionism here to blame.
And by the way, the Palestinians can't have been "the basic inhabitants for centuries" because centuries ago there were no Palestinians. There were no Palestinians before Yasser Arafat; and there was no way for an American or European to freely express anti-Semitic views before the Middle East conflict.
IGNACIO RUSSELL CANO
Less than a...
Sir, - Re "JNF severs ties in tiff with UK branch" (October 20): During the early 1990s I was head of information for the Jewish National Fund in London [JNF-UK]. At that time they were brutal with staff cuts, and eventually I myself was asked to leave. They then operated with a skeleton crew of fund-raisers, out of a very shabby old building in Kingsbury, and hired some people in senior positions who had no experience of Israeli concerns, did not speak Hebrew, and had otherwise little knowledge of the country and its needs.
JNF World Chairman Yehiel Leket is right and should be applauded for speaking out forthrightly.
Market Rassen, UK
Sir, - Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael [JNF], under its present management, is a disgrace to Israel and it is highly unlikely either that the Anglo-Jewish community will be persuaded to channel its funds through it, or that the organization will gain legal charitable status through the UK to enable it to collect funds.
The Jewish National Fund is a shining example of Zionist commitment, integrity and efficiency, and the best step the Jewish Agency could take would be to replace Chairman Yehiel Leket with Gail Seal, president of JNF-UK.
MICHAEL GROSS MBE
Sir, - Hannah Brown's clear and incisive film reporting, always a pleasure to read, enables her readers to make an informed decision as to whether or not a film is worthy of today's cinema prices - a valuable service indeed.
She is a great asset to your newspaper. Long may she reign.
DAVID S. ADDLEMAN