Sir, - As an Israeli scholar of US foreign policy, I wish to respond to "Dershowitz raps biased study" (March 23). I am pleased that Alan Dershowitz has decided to challenge the contention by Profs. Stephan Walt and John Mearsheimer that the US government has succumbed to administering in favor of the Israeli national interest rather than its own, but I wonder whether it is really necessary to make such a fuss about what they say.
After all, Mearsheimer, serious scholar or not, has been dead wrong in the past. In August 1990, in the wake of the end of the Cold War, he wrote, "One dimension of the New European order is certain: it will be multipolar. Germany, France, Britain and perhaps Italy will assume major-power status" (The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 266 No. 2 p.35-50). These words, widely quoted and imbibed by a decade of students, today ring out so hollow that I am led to assume the current article under discussion will ultimately land up on the same rubbish heap of political analysis.
DR. LILY POLLIACK Hebrew University
Nail on the head
Sir, - In "Stuck in Iraq, can the US now take Iran?" (March 21) Yaakov Katz quoted Prof. Uzi Arad, a former Mossad officer: "Israel was also at fault for the US's wrong list of priorities."
My, my, my, but doesn't this sound like a lot of Israeli influence and control over American foreign policy? It looks like the recent article "The Israel Lobby" by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt hit the nail on the head. If Alan Dershowitz plans to refute Mearsheimer and Walt, he sure has his work cut out for him.
Israel does exert too much influence on US policy, and sooner or later the American people must pry Israel's hands off our government and out of our wallets. I think the tide is going to start to turn now, ever so slowly.
Beyond our Ken
Sir, - London's mayor needs to read his own official blurb before he opens his mouth to attack Jews. It says the mayor wants London to be "a fair city showing tolerance and abolishing all forms of discrimination, where neighborhoods and communities have a say in their future" (emphasis added - C.L.).
Unfortunately, before he was first elected, the majority of Jewish Londoners ignored this man's anti-Israel stance, to their peril ("Mayor Livingstone, unrepentant, renews anti-Jewish slurs," March 23).
COLIN L. LECI
Sir, - Many responses to Ken Livingstone's latest outburst contain statements like "anti-Semitism is endemic in England." But where's the evidence? "Livingstone was elected," I'm told, "and he therefore represents the people who elected him."
In truth, Livingstone was elected primarily on the issue of London's failing public transport system. Israel and the Jews were the last things on Londoners' minds when they voted.
Then there are those who claim that they have lived in England for X years and encountered discrimination and prejudice at every turn. Well, I have been married to an Indian woman for 15 years and we have never experienced a single instance of racism toward us. That doesn't stop people insisting, often to our faces, that racism is "endemic" in England.
The bottom line is they are not speaking from experience, simply parroting what they've read, heard or been told. If people said or wrote only what was true in their own experience I believe there would be, overnight, a 95% drop in the number of claims of racism and anti-Semitism.
Sir, - After reading your front page of March 23, the following political cartoon formed in my mind: Barnyard scene with odiferous dung heap in the center. Caption: "Ken Livingstone, go back to where you came from!" I readily concede the rights to this idea to any British publication, Jewish or otherwise. May any ensuing fatwas fall on my head.
Right to exist = right to defense
Sir, - While Palestinian success in making the world focus on the 'occupation' is a problem, a greater problem is our own inability to respond in a way that would justify our policy.
"The 'occupation' is the problem" is no exception (March 23). Arthur Cohen's op-ed tries to justify the occupation in terms of Jewish historical entitlement, a grave error that only reenforces Palestinian claims of Israel's expansionist ambitions.
A far better argument is to point out that the occupation resulted from a unilaterally declared, ongoing war by Arab nationalists against Israel that began the moment the state was created, over half a century ago. If Israel has the right to exist - something the world community claims to acknowledge - it must also have the right to defend itself. Without the latter, the former is hollow hypocrisy.
And if Israel does have the right to defend itself, it must also have the right, in its defense, to occupy enemy territory until the end of the conflict.
Ultimately, given the length of the struggle, the same right of defense may also provide it the right of outright annexation of some parts of the occupied territories.
Sir, - Arthur Cohn's op-ed was a terrible condemnation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's misuse of the word "occupation."
MURRAY S. GREENFIELD
Where's the logic
Sir, - "Mofaz to 'Post': These will be Israel's borders" (March 22) suggests we will be giving away more land and not getting anything in return. My question to Defense Minister Mofaz and Acting Prime Minister Olmert, who says he plans more disengagement is: When did Israel lose the war?
Yes, we made a terrible mistake after the 1967 war. At the time we should have said, "These are Israel's new borders," and not called them "Administered Territories." After that it was "strategic depth" that saved us following the Yom Kippur attack on us in 1973. Now we have enemies proclaiming they want to wipe us off the map, and "no partner for peace," yet our leaders appear willing to give up more and more of our land. Where's the logic and smart planning, not to mention moving more Jews out of their homes?
Sir, - Evelyn Gordon is quite right when she says that the National Union can be counted on to stop the establishment of a PA state west of the Jordan ("The case for Likud," March 23). Her concerns regarding Zvulun Orlev are thankfully unfounded since the NRP, as part of the merger with the NU, signed a legally and halachically binding agreement not to split off for at least two years.
The NRP mandates are therefore solidly in the anti-withdrawal camp, and the NU-NRP is the only party whom everyone trusts has red lines that are far, far away from the Green Line.
Teach Jewish pride
Sir, - Michael Freund got it right in "Prove Israel cares about world Jewry" (March 22). His analysis hit the bullseye for this Diaspora Jew.
For the past 13 years, certainly, and for most of the past 35, it feels like the main purpose of the policies and pronouncements of the Israeli government has been to make Jews in the Diaspora feel ashamed and frightened, and feel that Israel has dubious legitimacy as a nation. Stop retreating and start teaching Jewish history and Jewish pride!
A great Jew
Sir, - "American Jewish Committee at 100" (March 20) could hardly do justice to the AJC's long, proud history - nor to its great, long-time chairman, Louis Marshall. So, some pertinent additional items:
In 1929, shortly before his untimely death, Marshall negotiated the "Pact of Glory" with WZO President Chaim Weizmann, enabling non-Zionist support for a reorganized Jewish Agency. He had also been instrumental in the founding of the Joint Distribution Committee, begun to provide aid to World War I-torn Europe. Postwar, as a delegate to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, his was a particularly important role in formalizing minority civil rights in the newlyemerging states of Central and Eastern Europe.
At home, and in marked contrast to today's interdenominational bickering, Marshall, though a Reform Jew, was pivotal in the revitalization of the Jewish Theological Seminary, then Orthodox, later to become the flagship of the Conservative movement. Louis Marshall was at once the preeminent American Jewish leader of his time and a major figure on the New York City, state and national political and legal scenes.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Marshall's birth in Syracuse, New York. Over the weekend of November 3-5, the Syracuse Jewish community will celebrate his extraordinary life and enduring legacy with multiple events, including an academic conference featuring leading scholars. It promises to be a fitting, if necessarily insufficient, tribute to one who played such an important role in shaping the modern Jewish world.
HERBERT ALPERT & RICHARD WILKINS Co-Chairmen Louis Marshall Sesquicentennial
Syracuse, New York
Sir, - Re Sherwin Pomerantz's comments regarding USY and Camp Ramah: As a young teenager I travelled with my parents, who led USY On Wheels across the US and Canada. This program exposed high school students of the late '60s to the idea that you could be a religious Jew anywhere and have fun. Imagine finding Bernstein's kosher salami in the middle of Salt Lake City!
I was very involved with our local chapter of USY (Highland Park, N.J.), which encouraged the love of Israel and keeping Shabbat. While in college I was privileged to be part of the Camp Ramah Tikva program, which integrated special-needs teenagers into the regular summer program. Another summer I was a staff member of USY Israel Pilgrimage for teens. No doubt about it: One of the contributing factors to my aliya was my wonderful experiences in USY ("What conservative Judaism conserved," UpFront, March 17).
Priority is given to letters that are brief and topical. Letters may be edited and shortened, and must bear the name and place of residence of the writer. email@example.com