LETTERS: What 'victories'?

Letters to the editor

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January 19, 2016 21:08
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What ‘victories’?

Unassailable evidence of a chronic dearth of oxygen in Washington is provided by President Barack Obama’s description of recent engagements with Iran as “diplomatic victories” (“US slaps ballistic missile penalties on Iran following massive sanctions lift,” January 18).

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This anti-rational and utterly unbelievable portrayal of events leaves us no choice other than to attribute it to the malign influence of atmospheric conditions. Surely, sound reasoning would view these events not as signs of victories, but as a continuing chain of shameful defeats.

One has every right to expect from a country being granted billions of dollars in sanctions relief along with full acceptance into the international diplomatic community that it dare not risk such extremely valuable prizes only a week before the agreement goes into effect. But instead of being careful, Iran does not hesitate to seize American sailors and then force the US into dealing for their release.

A genuine victory by the US could be claimed only if Iran politely informed it of the trespass of its ships and just as politely suggested that the vessels leave their territorial waters. Iran is spitting in America’s face, and America’s president insists on calling it rain.

Unfortunately, this is consistent with the whole tone of appeasement that the US has adopted toward Iran, and therefore cannot accommodate any claims by Washington of victories. It does, however, exponentially increase the anxiety level of many countries, because the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism has now been unleashed with increased strength and substance.

ZEV CHAMUDOT
Petah Tikva



As a former US Navy officer, I am disappointed with the capture of our two riverine boats and crews by the Iranians in the Persian Gulf.

I understand that one of the boats had a navigational problem due to a mechanical or human error, and that it wandered into Iranian waters. Why couldn’t the other boat tow it away? Furthermore, why wasn’t a warship accompanying them as they traversed waters in close proximity to an unfriendly country? Why didn’t the crews communicate their problem to a commanding officer, who should have been monitoring their transit from Kuwait to Bahrain? If they did communicate their situation, what were the instructions they received? It appears to me that both the personnel on the riverine boats and the command hierarchy viewed the movement of the vessels as a routine operation, and that they were caught off-guard and unprepared to conduct contingency operations. It reminds me of the capture of the USS Pueblo off North Korea many years ago.

This incident could embolden the Iranians and other unfriendly countries to test US military prowess.

DONALD A. MOSKOWITZ
Londonderry, New Hampshire

Diplomatic immunity?

With regard to “Bennett, diplomats make up after Liel furor” (January 18), while one cannot judge Foreign Ministry employees collectively, representatives of the ministry have vigorously undercut rightwing Israeli governments and essentially served as a fifth column against their policies for years.

The attack by ministry personnel against Education Minister Naftali Bennett is reminiscent of the strike by US air controllers in 1981.

Then-president Ronald Reagan threatened to fire any air controller who did not come to work – and that is precisely what he did.

Any employee of the Foreign Ministry who refuses to work with Bennett, to issue him a diplomatic passport, arrange the visits of his delegations and so forth, should be fired immediately for insubordination.

DANIEL ADIN
Ra’anana

Claims about GMOs

The January 18 letter from reader Isaac Eliyahu Holley (“Dangers of GMOs”) is full of unsupported claims. There have been no problems found with commercialized GMOs – only benefits.

The failure to use GMOs in much of the world causes unnecessary losses in food production, increases food prices, maintains the use of agrochemicals unneeded by GMO crops (such chemicals sicken farmers in developing countries), increases environmental pollution and contributes to soil degradation.

There is no “smoking gun.”

Mr. Holley says he is shocked at the disregard of species barriers.

However, nature itself transfers genes willfully. My colleague Jan Kreuze recently showed that the cultivated sweet potato carries active genes from the soil bacterium agrobacterium. This is very similar to many transgenic crops, and effectively makes it a “natural transgenic crop.”

Your reader worries about mutations in “normal DNA.” However, we are full of mutations – plants, animals, humans – natural genetic variations. That’s the way of life.

He quotes extensively from two authors (Don Huber and Arden Anderson) whose writings have very little scientific support. And despite his assertions, there is no connection between the increase in the use of GMOs and various diseases. Anderson, according to Mr. Holley, calls our immune system a “grand electromagnetic sensor system” that “looks” at gene sequences. Briefly, the immune system does many things very well, but does not check food gene sequences or attack them.

Your reader asks why there is no discussion of GMOs in Israel. The reason is that this subject is not of interest here, as 1) we have real problems to worry about, and 2) GMOs are not grown in Israel, as our main agricultural customers in Europe are against them, although for no good reason. (Of course, despite European prejudices against GMOs, countries there happily import large quantities of GMO maize and soya seeds from the US and South America for use as animal feed. We have always admired the Europeans for consistency.) Beware of the word “natural.”

The natural world is nasty and brutish, full of pathogens and discomfort.

Farming is not a natural process. By definition, it never was.

VICTOR GABA
Rehovot

The writer is a senior scientist in the Department of Plant Pathology at the Volcani Center in Beit Dagan.


Sweden and Israel

Several recent articles in The Jerusalem Post have complained about the accusation by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström that Israel is illegally killing Palestinians.

Personally, I was very much encouraged by her words. I noted with satisfaction that she did not mention – not even once – that Israel kills Palestinian children to use their blood in the baking of Passover matzot.

As the old saying goes, Cheer up – things could be worse!

NATHAN AVIEZER
Petah Tikva

Those of us who care should write letters of protest to the local Swedish embassy, canceling trips to Sweden, boycotting its products and generally showing our displeasure at the Swedish government’s lack of knowledge about the real problems in the Middle East, and its not-so-subtle anti-Semitism.

JEROME S. REICH
Miami

Reader Susan Addleman (“Readers weigh in on Wallström,” Letters, January 15) believes that because of the Swedish foreign minister’s anti-Israel haranguing, we should avoid buying from IKEA.

When companies invest here, they do so in defiance of BDS supporters and, in some cases, their own government. We should support and encourage these companies, not by boycotting them, but by shopping there. We don’t want them to disinvest.

RONNIE STEKEL
Jerusalem

Civil rights

In some countries, people are hated because of the color of their skin or because of their religious beliefs. In Israel, people are hated because of where they live.

If someone lives beyond the Green Line, he or she can be arrested at will and tortured, just because of that person’s place of residence.

This must stop! All Israeli citizens must have their civil rights, no matter where they live.

S. GREEN
Jerusalem

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