Yaakov Katz (“The Syrian moral dilemma,” Editor’s Notes, October 7) cites Menachem Begin’s decision to accept Vietnamese refugees as an example of the proposition that Israel and Jews have a greater moral obligation to assist those in need because of what the Jewish people suffered during the Holocaust.
This argument is often used to justify support for African refugees entering Israel after transiting other countries that refused them assistance. In essence, the assertion is that Jews must allow themselves to be victimized again because they were victimized in the past.
The argument for greater responsibility also carries a danger: If Israel adopts this position and then fails to act sufficiently, the rest of the world might reasonably excuse its own apathy by asking: How can we possibly be blamed for not acting when Israel did so little? Israel has an obligation to act compassionately based not on the Holocaust, but on a broader moral code. It already does in such areas as assisting international disaster relief, avoiding civilian casualties during military conflicts and providing medical treatment to wounded Syrians.
Begin’s decision was the right thing to do, but was unrelated to the Holocaust. The countries that victimized us or stood idly by as our people were murdered during World War II are dutybound to prove that they have learned from their sins. Israel and Jews have the right to charge that their indifference makes a mockery of their promise never again to allow masses of innocent people to be slaughtered, as happened to us.
Israel must do whatever it can to help, but it has neither the resources nor the responsibility to be at the forefront of the effort.
It seems that the US electoral system is highly flawed and has thrown up two candidates from the major parties who are equally flawed.
The Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has shown himself to be a shallow man unsuited to high electoral office, and the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, is beset by numerous cases of at least bad judgment, if not criminal actions that deserve jail time. I propose a balanced solution: Substitute for each one a candidate chosen by their party peers.
For Trump, I would suggest Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a young and energetic conservative, and for Clinton I would suggest the next in line, Vice President Joe Biden. Both would be preferable to the current candidates.
I am afraid, however, that this option might be too late, so fellow Americans, hold your noses and vote for the least objectionable candidate, the lesser of two evils.
In his October 6 letter (“Trump vs Clinton”), reader Gary Taustine wonders why his fellow Jews support Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. A primary reason is the nature of Donald Trump and the Republican Party that nominated him.
Unlike other presidential election years, when editorials were roughly balanced between support for the Republican and Democratic candidates, this year, newspapers and magazines – including those that generally support Republicans or seldom, if ever, make a presidential endorsement – are overwhelmingly supporting Clinton, generally with extremely harsh criticism of Trump.
As just one example, the Atlantic magazine, which made only two presidential endorsements in its 159-year history, endorsed Clinton, claiming that Trump is “the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency” and calling him “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing and a liar.”
During the Obama administration, the US has consistently supported Israel at the UN. And according to Israeli experts, strategic cooperation between the US and Israel has never been better.
Those are just two reasons to support Clinton and other Democrats.
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ
Shoresh A man, a plan
The political uproar over Israelis extending settlements in the West Bank (“US slams government intentions to build 98 new homes in Shiloh,” October 6) is unfair and one-sided.
There are Muslims living in Israel proper as citizens, and we don’t hear calls for exiling them.
But when it comes to Jews, we can’t have any living in the West Bank, according to world opinion and the Palestinians. Also, a two-state solution with a Palestinian state next to Israel is only going to lead to further conflict down the road.
The first step for peace is to have the world recognize the Jewish state of Israel in its pre- 1967 boundaries. Then, there must be a new confederation of nations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights comprising Jews, Muslims and Christians living together. Call it the United Nations of Jerusalem (UNJ).
Each religious group in the UNJ would have a national government consisting of a president and parliament. The Jewish nation would be known as Judea, the Christian nation Samaria, and the Islamic nation Palestine. For any law to pass in the UNJ, it would require the approval of two of the three nations.
Internal security would be under the control of the three nations. External defense would be under the control of Israel.
Citizens of the UNJ would be allowed to enter Israel only with permission from Israel, and such individuals could be allowed to live in Israel as resident aliens. In addition, western nations would need to invest funds in the new territories to expand the economy, which would create hope and prosperity.
This plan would benefit everyone and bring about true peace.
Green Valley, Illinois
US President Barack Obama is no fool. But let’s be honest: He is a foreign policy failure, governed by unrealistic ideology. As such, he has endangered the whole Middle East.
Obama created a military vacuum in Iraq. Al-Qaida and Islamic State filled it, bringing destruction and attempted genocide.
His error allowed Iran to further its political and military hold on its neighbor.
In Syria, Obama failed to stop the butcher Assad, literally allowing him to get away with murder with chemical weapons and horrific aerial bombardment. He tried to substitute diplomacy for the punishing force of the US Navy, having been outmaneuvered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who takes every opportunity offered by Western irresolution to advance Russian reentry into the Middle East.
The feckless US president, badly in need of a foreign policy success to enhance his legacy, spurned military action against Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons.
Iran, aware of the obvious – Obama’s need was as transparent as a belly dancer’s veil – led the Americans by the nose, causing them to surrender to one demand after another, resulting in an agreement guaranteeing Iran a path to an atomic bomb.
The West and Israel are now faced with a future that will witness Russian expansion – even domination – in the eastern Mediterranean, secured by bases in Syria that are well protected by the latest air defense systems (“A new threat to regional security,” Analysis October 5). They also face the strong possibility of an Iranian/Shi’ite arc across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, meaning an Iranian-Hezbollah-Syrian-Iraqi alliance strengthened by Russian area-denial capability, which could limit Israeli aerial activity.
Having weakened America’s military and the US position in the world, Obama, so full of self-esteem, will leave Washington with the delusion that he has been a success.