February 7: Doing good

"With the predictable collapse of discussions in Geneva between Syria’s warring parties, there are far more effective and important actions that we can and should take for humanitarian reasons."

February 6, 2014 22:02
3 minute read.

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )

Doing good

Sir, – Israeli doctors and hospitals commendably provide medical assistance to wounded Syrian civilians brought to their doors (“Israel has found itself enmeshed in complex Syrian refugee crisis, February 2). In addition, Yossi Melman, a leading national security analyst, suggests that “Zionism would not collapse if we accept 200 refugees.”

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Who can argue with that? Yet I would suggest that with the predictable collapse of discussions in Geneva between Syria’s warring parties, there are far more effective and important actions that we can and should take for humanitarian reasons, to say nothing of our vital interests.

For example, Israel should impose a no-fly zone over parts of Syria. I am not an expert on international relations, but I have no doubt that other powers would feel an imperative need to stand and show their true colors.

Hezbollah would be caught trying to decide the pros and cons of unleashing its missiles on Israel, and the Lebanese government would display a fair dose of ambivalence.

Al-Qaida and the legitimate opposition in Syria would understand that their lease on life would be limited by future arrangements with Israel. Iran and its allies would bluster with diatribes and threats, providing the impetus for the Western world and Arab countries to clarify their own positions with regard to Israel’s participation.

And Erdogan of Turkey would probably rearticulate his objections to the Israeli “attack” on a fellow Muslim country.

Yes, Israel should take in wounded Syrian children and their mothers to the full extent of its capability.

Whatever the price, I venture to say it would be much less than if we don’t take the initiative now.

In all events, it would modify our relationships with our neighbors as well as the rest of the world.


Tough out there

Sir, – Regarding Hershey Friedman (“The man with the Midas touch,” Business & Finance, January 31), one of the reasons people here have a “difficult life” is because young people with average salaries have been priced out of the real estate market by people who don’t live here. Do we really need a tower for the elite and the who’s who? While Mr. Friedman certainly has the right to build whatever pleases him, I would respectfully suggest that the people of Israel about whom he cares would be better served if he used his Midas touch to build gorgeous housing for the not-so-elite and for the simply “who?”

Alon Shvut

Do it together

Sir, – The January 13 headline “Israel to spend billions on Jewish Diaspora initiative” had me jump for joy – and worry. We need a plan and an agenda before we talk money.

We need a round table of wise men and women from the entire Jewish world. Israel would be an important member, but not one to give orders to the Jews of the Diaspora.

Let us find what to do so that we are one people, responsible and knowledgeable.

Let us upgrade Hebrew and Bible studies. One annual international Bible quiz is nonsense. Let us put tragic Auschwitz next to the contributions to the world by Jews throughout the centuries.

Let our people be proud of their heritage.

If we do it together the money will be well spent.

Alone, Israel is a small spot on the globe. But whatever we do, we must do it together.

Tel Aviv

The writer joined the Foreign Ministry in 1948 and is a former ambassador to Denmark and consul-general in New York.

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