(photo credit: Courtesy)
He said it in verse...
Sir, - "British journalists call for boycott of Israel" (April 15) reminded me of this verse by Humbert Wolfe:
"You cannot hope to bribe or twist / (thank God!) the British journalist. / But seeing what the man will do / unbribed, there's no occasion to.
Sir, - Now that the British Journalists Union has shown evidence of its inability to maintain any professional standard of impartiality, shouldn't the relevant members be told they are no longer welcome to ply their biased trade from Israel?
...but it's worse
Sir, - How blind can you be? Iran kidnaps their soldiers, the Palestinians their colleague. British-born Muslims murder 52 of their fellow citizens. MI5 is monitoring, within Britain, 200 Islamic terror groupings, 1,600 identified individual terrorists and 30 known terrorist plots - but it's Israel they are boycotting.
Not only have these gentlemen of the press not read the works of Ibn Warraq, Bat Ye'or, Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic or Melanie Phillips, they apparently have no clue about their own history. They should start with Winston Churchill's The Gathering Storm: "How the English-speaking peoples through their unwisdom, carelessness and good nature allowed the wicked to rearm."
There's no Churchill to save them this time. Perhaps they are looking forward to reporting under Shari'a law?
Word to the naive
Sir, - In seeking to draw lessons for Israel and the Arab/Palestinian conflict from the "miraculous" new South Africa, Larry Derfner is being naive and simplistic ("Coming home from the land of miracles," April 12). He ignores two major, fundamental problems which make this kind of transformation well-nigh impossible here, certainly for the foreseeable future.
Those who struggled so valiantly against the apartheid regime were fighting for an honorable and equal place in South Africa. They were not fighting to replace South Africa. The Arabs, particularly the Palestinians, are determined to replace Israel, and say so loudly and constantly. (There are those, I am sure, who would prefer it done decently; the majority don't care, so long as Israel is removed.)
The great majority of those who led the anti-apartheid struggle were committed to avoiding attacks on civilians. There were exceptions, but the struggle was aimed at the underpinnings of the white regime - government buildings, electricity sub-stations and power lines. Above all, it was aimed at the agents of the regime, the military and the police.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, while certainly not reluctant to attack Israeli soldiers, have, as their target of choice, civilians - preferably in crowded malls, restaurants and buses. They are intent on inflicting maximum damage on Israel's civilian population.
The word "apartheid," until it was given its sinister overtones by a brutal regime, meant, simply, "separateness" - and it's what Israelis and Palestinians desperately need right now. Both sides are traumatized and bleeding, and we need time out from each other to heal and rest.
At some point in the future, with time to care for our societies and heal wounds, perhaps our children can play together. For now, to expect anything else is sentimental wishful thinking.
"Apartheid" has become the accepted, politically correct term of vilification of Israel. Its constant and inappropriate misuse cheapens the valiant struggle of the anti-apartheid fighters and instantly condemns the country so described to delegitimization and contempt.
For Mr. Derfner, as a Jew and an Israeli, to even hint at that word in connection with Israel is appalling.
Sir, - We were at the zoo in Jerusalem recently. It was filled with Jews, secular, religious and haredim, and Arabs: kids of all types, jumping and climbing, petting animals together.
Guess Larry Derfner missed that miracle. But then it wasn't a miracle, because we are not and never were an apartheid state, just an embattled one.
It is pretty amazing what happened in South Africa, but I feel sorry for Mr. Derfner, who has lost any wonder regarding the country in which he lives.
THE COOPER FAMILY
My right to criticize
Sir, - "Irish artists' call to boycott Israel meets with mockery" (April 8) misrepresented me. It quoted some of my open letter to the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, but omitted the core:
"I proposed the motion (in our artists' parliament, Aosd na) to which you took such exception, (a) because I am a Jewish woman and inspired by another Jewish woman, the late Tanya Reinhart, distinguished professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University, whose searing criticism of her own country and her support for an academic boycott brought upon her so much bullying and harassment inside the university that she was forced to leave Israel; and (b) because of my experience when I visited Israel last yearâ€¦ I have therefore a particular right to criticize youâ€¦ just as I have a right to criticize my own Irish government and call it criminal when it upholds illegal war by facilitating the USA at Shannon, corrupting our Constitution and betraying the Proclamation of 1916."
I just wish, as a citizen and as an artist, that artists outside Ireland would call for some sort of boycott to embarrass Dublin over the double standards inherent in the use of Shannon airport by American warplanes.
On the question of boycott, is it not a bit rich that not only Israel and the US, but also the EU immediately boycotted an elected Palestinian administration and withheld desperately needed funds because they didn't like the way the people had voted?
Sir, - A question: How can anybody deny the Holocaust when the Germans, who did it, confirm it? I am a Holocaust survivor and I get money from the Germans, as many survivors do.
Sir, - It should never be forgotten that had Britain not cheated on its sworn commitment of Trusteeship to the League of Nations in 1920, there would have been no Holocaust because the Jews in Germany and elsewhere in Europe would have had their own Jewish homeland to come to.
Sir - Re "Let there be light" (Letters, April 15): A fine for driving with only one rear light is a nice idea, and probably already a law, but it's only the tip of the iceberg. I have long touted a foolproof solution for both generating a huge amount of revenue and solving some of Israel's biggest quality-of-life problems.
It would include serious municipal fines, and specialized teams to collect them, for these infringements: smoking in non-smoking areas, not cleaning up after your dog, driving with small children in the front seat or unbelted, littering and - especially - obnoxious parking (blocking sidewalks, taking handicapped spots, etc.).
Think what a fortune the cities could make. Hopefully, with time, real social change would result. I believe this is how NYC got folks to adhere to "pooper scooper" laws in the late 1970s and into the 1980s.
NAOMI BLOOM WURTMAN