February 10: Two-State penacea...

Obama’s former national security adviser believes our dispute with the Palestinians lies at the center of the Middle East’s problems.

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February 9, 2011 23:19
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Two-state panacea...

Sir, – US President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser believes our dispute with the Palestinians lies at the center of the Middle East’s problems and that solving it would “make the world a better place” (“James Jones: Israeli-Palestinian strife still core of regional ills,” February 8).

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What did Israel have to do with the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, which cost a million Muslims their lives? Or the 15-year civil war in Lebanon, which cost 300,000 their lives? Or the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which involved the US military? Is Jones saying we Jews are responsible for all this? CHAYIM SEIDEN Jerusalem Sir, – General Jones’s comments at the Herzliya Conference give clear insight into what is wrong with the present American administration. How overly simplistic, something like a oneline commercial jingle, and not a serious political statement.

According to Jones’s theory, if only that pesky, democratic Jewish state would make peace with the Palestinians, the despotic rulers of the Arab world would disappear; the gigantic sums of oil-money now funding sumptuous palaces and ostentatious second and third homes in choice European and American spots would suddenly be funneled into education; corruption in governance would cease so that public figures work for the masses and not solely their own betterment.

Come off it! These ills are not in their stars but in themselves.

Islamists have a mindset that’s a thousand years old. They want to cut off the hands of thieves, stone to death adulterous women (but not men), and kill anyone who leaves the Islamic fold.

Are these ills simply going to vanish if Israel and the Palestinians make peace?



JOE FRANKL
Savyon

Sir, – The United States has truly lost its perspective on what makes for peace and stability in the world. Countries that do not have a true understanding of what it is to be democratic and what it is to provide a decent life for their people cannot be counted on to make peace and love their neighbor.

All that will be achieved in the near future by concentrating on Arab-Israeli peace negotiations will be the postponement of real peace.

TOBY WILLIG
Jerusalem

...or perhaps three?

Sir, – Much has been written about the two-state solution, and even the one-state solution. So to throw a wrench in the works, has anyone yet considered a threestate solution? The reality is that Gaza is a separate entity, financed almost entirely by the United Nations as a way of keeping international aid agencies in business. It serves no purpose whatsoever to link the enclave to a future Palestinian state on the West Bank.

Gaza is a piece of territory that no one really wants. Under Egyptian administration until 1967, its inhabitants were barely allowed to travel, and the only notice Egypt took of the area was military purposes.

In fact, one wonders whether the Palestinian Authority really wants it. Certainly, Israel doesn’t need the problems that come from the jihadists running Gaza, and the UN could fulfill its true mandate in other areas.

It’s far more likely that Israel and the PA in the West Bank can come to some agreement as long as they don’t have to worry about the festering sore called Gaza.

So let Gaza become a freetrade area under UN mandate.

In this way, the UN would be responsible for law and order, the aid agencies could go on pouring in valuable resources, and the PA would be rid of most of its main rivals. As a free-trade area, construction would take off, providing employment to those lacking the skills for the commercial activities a free-trade area requires.

In the spirit of helping their brothers, the oil-rich sheikdoms would be able to split their economic activities between the emirates and Gaza. And with business booming, Cairo would be in a position to colonize the Sinai, bringing relief to Egypt’s overpopulated areas.

Guess it’s just a pipe dream, though.

JONATHAN BEROLD
Cape Town

Look homeward, angel

Sir, – Unlike what James Jones said at the Herzliya Conference, I think Barack Obama is the last person God would appear before. But if He should, I am quite sure He would tell Obama to look after his own country, which he seems unable to do.

JUDY GOLDIN
Kiryat Ono

Refreshing read

Sir, – How refreshing to read Dalia Itzik’s article (“Toward a dead end,” Comment & Features, February 8) advocating changing the electoral system, something many MKs seem unwilling to consider since it could lead to the loss of their seats.

A major obstacle to good governance in Israel is the number of small parties, which could easily be corrected by raising the electoral threshold. “We are told that we need to let all sectors have a voice,” Itzik says, but I would suggest going a step further and allowing every individual voter to have a voice.

Instead of voting for a party list of candidates, we should adopt the UK constituency system, whereby voters cast their ballot for an individual candidate.

As things stand in Israel, to whom do you turn for help with a problem? There is no guarantee that a letter written to a current MK would even generate a response.

UK parliamentarians are first and foremost there to help their constituents and are thus dependent on them for retaining their seats. Every letter received from a constituent there guarantees an acknowledgement and a referral to the relevant department or ministry.

MPs hold weekly “surgeries,” where constituents can meet them personally to find a solution to a particular problem. And yes, MPs have also been known to make home visits to solve a difficult situation, for example between neighbors! This means that, regardless of political affiliation, parliamentarians are sure to provide constituents with help – otherwise, they might very well find themselves out of office at the next election.

JACKIE ALTMAN
Netanya

What’s this ‘we’?

Sir, – I have always had great respect and admiration of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s consistent adherence to high standards and the way he tries to imbue America’s Jews with proper values. Because of this, I found his February 8 column (“Israel is missing an historic opportunity to support Arab freedom,” No Holds Barred) shocking.

It seemed like an idealistic, naive rant rather than something a solid, long-time champion of Jewish values would write.

In one of his closing paragraphs he used the word “we.”

Is that the same “we” expressed by an Israeli when he writes, “we are now concerned about our southern flank”? J.W. KRASNER Jerusalem Gilbert’s agenda Sir, – In his many books on the subject, Sir Martin Gilbert (“The silver lining,” Comment & Features, February 8) has made a speciality of the history of powerless Jews. But the Jews of the State of Israel are different: They are empowered. They have their own land, sovereignty, government, currency, army, and maybe even nuclear weapons. That is what Zionism is all about.

The many periods of “mutual tolerance, respect and partnership” in Muslim-Jewish history to which Gilbert hopes we can return were predicated on Jewish powerlessness. Is that what Gilbert is really proposing? It took the Catholic world more than a millennium to grudgingly accord Jews the status of “brothers.” It might well take as long for the Muslim world to change its attitude, too.

JEREMY I. PFEFFER
Rehovot

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