Sir, – Let nobody accuse US President Barack Obama of
hiding his true intentions.
In what he apparently describes as an act of
“honor[ing] the tradition of celebrating the Passover meal” (“Passover at 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue,” March 8), we are told that Obama substituted “Next year in
the White House” for “Next year in Jerusalem” at the Seder during his 2008
campaign, putting his career ambitions above the hastening of the Messianic
Apart from contorting the meaning of the words “honor,” “tradition”
and “Passover,” he displayed a breathtaking combination of patronizing disregard
for the true significance of the Seder, as well as overweening
Even if one were prepared to forgive him a private joke behind
closed doors, the fact that the world’s press is invited to cover this mockery
leaves no room for misunderstanding.
We find ourselves wondering how the
world would view the Israeli prime minister inviting Catholics to celebrate mass
with him, in the course of which he declares that the wine and wafer symbolize
the eternal right of the Jewish people to dwell in and rule the whole of the
Land of Israel.BERNICE and DAVID BROWNSTEIN
Ma’aleh Adumim No poem at
Sir, – Günter Grass (“Grass defends poem attacking Israel for planning to
‘extinguish the Iranian people,’” March 8) claims that Israel is trying to wipe
out the Iranians. But that is not correct. No member of the Israeli government
has ever uttered such a threat, while by contrast the leaders of Iran have been
threatening to wipe out Israel.
Grass’s poem is not a poem at all. It is
merely an anti-Semitic diatribe, the kind of thing actor Mel Gibson blurted out
when he was drunk and that numerous liberal reporters have written but then were
forced to retract. Why bother with him? JACK COHEN
Sir, – Alfred Nobel,
in his final will conferring prizes to outstanding individuals, specified that
the prize for literature go to the person “...who shall have produced in the
field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal
According to these words, Günter Grass, a former member of
the Nazi Waffen SS, may indeed deserve the Nobel Prize he received. However, can
anyone imagine that Nobel would have thought that the “ideal direction'” was to
criticize and lie notoriously about one of the world’s most peace-loving
nations? True literary intellectuals should express their disdain for Grass’s
ignorant and reprehensible comments.URI HIRSCH
Sir, – Recently
in the UK, a once-prominent banker was stripped of his knighthood for conduct
that was unbecoming.
Perhaps for the same reason, the Nobel Prize
committee might wish now to consider revoking Günter Grass of his Nobel
literature laureate? JACKIE ALTMAN
Netanya Time for a change
Sir, – Meir Dagan
(“Dagan warns of dangers of current political system,” April 8) is absolutely
right, but my concern is that little notice will be taken of this.
dual nationality (British and Israeli) and can vote in both countries. In Israel
I vote for a party, as individual MKs do not stand for election. In England I
vote for an individual, whom I can meet personally, as can any constituent. If
he is unsatisfactory I can vote for somebody else at the next
The other great problem here is that the Israeli electoral
system has produced close to 30 ministers. In the UK, with some 650
members of parliament, this would mean about 150 ministers. Here in
Israel each minister has a car and a personal guard. In the UK only some
ministers have these.
In England I was for many years a leader in local
government – without pay, using my own car and accessible to all constituents.
It may well be that self-interest encourages MKs to preserve the present
arrangement, but surely the public interest is far more important.
has been talk about electoral change for many years, but nothing happens.
Perhaps Dagan may be able to establish a following that will make us a genuinely
NEVILLE C. GOLDREIN
Jerusalem A heated Hebron
Thank you for so eloquently stating your position on Hebron (“The Hebron
hullabaloo,” Editorial, April 8).
You would think it the normative
position of any pro-Israel politician to embrace the return to our historic
lands, yet today our “leadership” has become so mired in what will look
acceptable to the world that we appear to be thieves trying to keep as much
booty as we can.
We are so willing to make compromises over territories
we gained when the Arab world tried to “throw the Jews into the sea” that, 45
years later, people – even our own – somehow believe that we were the
Sir, – As Jews around the world
celebrate the exodus from slavery to freedom, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
chooses to take away the freedom of living in the oldest Jewish city:
Barak’s reason for the eviction is that these people are a threat
to public order. Who gave Barak this power? What did these people do? Did they
attack their neighbors? Did they stone people or shoot at them? The only thing
they did wrong was to be Jewish and not ask permission from His Holiness to live
in their new home.
Barak will have a lock on the defense portfolio as
long as Prime Minister Netanyahu is in power. Thus, this is also a blemish on
the prime minister’s integrity.JONATHAN SURASKY
Sir, – Your
editorial takes Ehud Barak to task for criticizing the settlers in Hebron. But
surely, one can acknowledge the city’s religious and historic importance to the
Jewish people without kowtowing to one of the most extreme and provocative
Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
It is simply misleading to say
that “The power to arbitrarily ban Jewish residence confers in Barak’s hands
clout the voters didn’t grant him.” That power rests with Barak because he is
defense minister and the Jews in Judea and Samaria are living in disputed,
So yes, he does have that power
because Israel has seen fit to house its citizens in those
Right-wing politicians and commentators frequently ignore the fact
that east of the Green Line there is a different legal and political situation.
They often condemn American and European leaders who make a distinction between
“Israel proper” and the settlements, but these condemnations are little more
than propaganda and undermine the credibility of those working to defend Israel
from its detractors.
This is not something I expected to see in an
editorial of this newspaper.PAUL GROSS
Sir, – As a resident of
the Hebron area I deeply appreciated your thoughtful, sensitive and informed
In my opinion, the eviction of the Jewish residents of Beit
Hamachpela served the interests of no one – not the Palestinians, not Israel,
and not even the political status of Ehud Barak.
Worse, Barak, by acting
in such an underhanded manner (having promised to delay the eviction and then
going back on his word), has lost all credibility with Jewish residents of the
territories and further damaged their already fragile relationship with the