Sir, – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu knows that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denies there’s any Jewish connection to any place in Israel and intends to replace Israel with a Jew-free Palestine, yet Netanyahu continues with the dangerous charade of peace talks.
Now, as you report in “UN secretary-general to Israelis: Don’t despair about peace with Palestinians” (August 18), he has complained to Ban Ki-moon that the root cause of the conflict is the Palestinians’ “refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary,” and called on Ban to look into UNRWA camps in the Gaza Strip, which have been used to “instill the culture of hatred and the ideas of destroying Israel amidst Palestinian children.”
This is just idle chatter. We have been complaining about these and other issues for years, and for years these complaints have been ignored.
PHYLLIS STERN Netanya Fruitless exercise
Sir, – Your editorial “PA incitement” (August 16) indicates that while the so-called peace talks are being held under the baton of US Secretary of State John Kerry (whose views on the future of the West Bank are really little different from those of the Palestinian Authority) and under the tutelage of Martin Indyk (a venerable Bibi-basher), it seems very clear that the discussions will become a fruitless nine-month public relations exercise.
Does our prime minister really believe that the Israeli population will support another withdrawal of possibly 50,000 Jews from their homes? What has Binyamin Netanyahu entered into? He has nowhere to go.
Better he face up to the jointly orchestrated threats from the US State Department and the European Union. He should maintain a united domestic front by explaining why the talks are doomed rather than waiting for the entire world to condemn him as an “obstructionist” leader in a few months’ time.
The domestic implications of such a development would be fraught with danger.
ALLAN LEIBLER Jerusalem
Sir, – While your editorial decries Palestinian lies, it also displays that you have already swallowed and accepted one of their biggest swindles – that it is the Western Wall rather than the Temple Mount that is “the holiest relic to Judaism.”
The Western Wall is just the closest Jews can get to the Temple Mount on a regular and easy basis. It is not an “ultra-sacred prayer site,” having no intrinsic holiness in and of itself.
Until such a day comes that Israel finally finds the brains, heart and courage to assert its sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the Western Wall will stand for nothing more than “so close yet so far.”
MENACHEM G. JERENBERG Beit Shemesh Sharing Jerusalem
Sir, – Reading “Negotiating Jerusalem, negotiating peace” (Encountering Peace, August 15) by Gershon Baskin gave me the inspiration to comment as to why in the world our political leaders and pundits keep mum on such important issues.
Baskin writes that in 1949, “King Abdullah I of Jordan annexed east Jerusalem and the West Bank... and walls and barbed wire fences divided Jerusalem right through the middle of the city, cutting off the Old City of Jerusalem and the Jewish holy places from Israel and the Jewish world.”
Had the US, Britain, UN and the rest of the world turned dumb and blind? Why did these hypocrites not raise their voices then? Why did not the Palestinians call the Hashemite Kingdom “occupiers?” Our leaders and pundits should question these hypocrites and demand an answer.
N.E. SAMUEL Yavne
Sir, – Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran. That it was the location of the “farthest mosque,” the destination of Mohammad’s mysterious night journey, is a post-Koranic tradition that probably grew out of the political needs of the Umayyad caliphs.
Defining Jerusalem as the location of the “farthest mosque” gave legitimacy to their claim that they, and not rivals who controlled Mecca and Medina, were the successors of the prophet.
Jerusalem was never the direction of Muslim prayer; it was the direction that Mohammed chose to pray after he had fled Mecca, which was still a pagan city. Once he returned and established himself in Mecca, Jerusalem ceased to have any importance.
As for today, the belief that Muslim control of any part of the Old City might be equitable clashes with the facts of the effective control by Muslims of the Temple Mount today. Try taking a Jewish or Christian prayer book or Bible through security control at the one entrance to the Temple Mount that non-Muslims can use. Try saying a psalm or a blessing within sight of a Wakf official.
Try getting in touch with reality.
MAX BLACKSTON Jerusalem
Sir, – My question to Gershon Baskin: Why wasn’t there peace when the Arabs had total sovereignty over the Old City between 1948 and 1967? The futility, failure and folly of the notion of “land for peace” questions the sanity of those who remain obsessed with it.
IRA NOSENCHUK Jerusalem
Shift that attitude
Sir, – “Back to school – back to basics” (Comment & Features, August 18) is spot on! It should be translated and reprinted in every Israeli newspaper and given as a handout to be discussed at staff meetings at all schools here in Israel at the start of the new term.
Shalom Hammer writes so eloquently about the lack of respect shown by so many people here, toward others (in public and in private life) and toward the Land of Israel.
I am an olah of only two year standing, having come from the UK. The difference in attitude between the two countries is truly shocking.
SUSAN COHEN Netanya
Sir, – Having just returned from a trip to Amsterdam via Switzerland and Germany, I must say we can take lessons from the Europeans on how to manage and maintain small spaces and keep them green and clean.
I was amazed at the sophisticated recycling done in Holland and the other two places I visited.
Green was the “in” color and mentality. Holland especially impressed me, as the streets and public places were clear of rubbish and residential areas were spotless. That country is only a bit larger than ours.
I fail to understand why we can’t emulate these countries.
Our children would be healthier, and they would learn to respect their surroundings and each other.
Hopefully, they will be taught at home as well as in school that this country is theirs, and that it is a heritage for their children and grandchildren and should be respected and kept clean so we may all enjoy it.
A. WEINBERG Rehovot Words of wisdom
Sir, – After spending a year here in yeshiva and returning to America, Jonathan Norton has imparted to us his words of wisdom (“A pragmatic challenge to the haredi draft,” Comment & Features, August 15).
Norton feels that the haredi community makes enough of a contribution to Israeli society with its volunteer services and full-time Torah study without having to enlist in the IDF, with its accompanying immodesty.
He also seems to be very satisfied that others risk their lives for the Jewish people while yeshiva boys exempt themselves for no moral or halachic reason.
Norton believes that “heartfelt prayers and tears” win wars.
Maybe that’s why he returned to America.
MATTIAS ROTENBERG Petah Tikva