US erred on Egypt
Sir, – What the Obama administration belatedly recognizes –
after its initial, headlong rush to judgment regarding Egypt – is its error in
equating empowered Islamic extremism with democracy (“White House lauds
‘monumental change’ Mubarak has made,” February 8).
Democracy is not just
about counting noses; it is about establishing institutions of government and
society that are strong enough to enable free elections, and then durable enough
to withstand them.
Egypt appears to be far from such a
Jerusalem Some pride, please
Sir, – Why on earth
should Israel breathe a sigh of relief (“Dutch, Spanish FMs arrive today as
Israel exhales in relief over ‘mild’ Quartet statement on peace process,”
February 7)? An Israel in this context clearly has no Zionist
Quite clearly, and more so because of the current unrest in Egypt,
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not prepared to enter into
unconditional negotiations at all.
More appropriate would have been a
headline making it clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu should not be sending
concrete to Gaza until Gilad Schalit is released.
That the Quartet
ignores the soldier’s detention shows how morally bankrupt this body and its
adviser, Tony Blair, really are.
Sir, – No matter what the ostensible topic of Tzachi Hanegbi’s
too-frequent columns (“We all benefit from the rule of law,” Comment &
Features, February 7), the actual topic is Tzachi Hanegbi and how many important
positions he has held, how wise and influential he is, and how he did everything
in good faith and for the good of the country.
Why do you continue to
showcase his self-serving scribbling?
Sir, – I
have nothing but praise for Tzachi Hanegbi when he tells about the situation in
Israel concerning its politicians, and doesn’t try to leave himself out or find
excuses for his bad behavior.
I don’t necessarily have to agree with him,
but he tries to tell it as it is. It’s just unfortunate that we who live in
Israel have to endure so much wrongdoing on the part of our public
It’s nice to know that most of these politicos have served or
are serving time in prison for their wrongdoings, but wouldn’t it have been
better had they not erred so badly in the first place?
Edelstein was right
Sir, – Gershon Harris misstates the function and
responsibility of a newspaper when publishing readers’ letters (“…but Edelstein
was wrong,” Letters, February 7).
Harris criticizes Minister for Public
Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein’s complaint over a recent letter
in the Guardian
because Edelstein does not understand “the difference between a
newspaper’s editorial policy and its readers’ right to freedom of expression.”
Yet there is no absolute “right” to have a letter published.
opinions in letters may not always match a newspaper’s editorial policy, the
newspaper retains ultimate control – through both selection and editing – over
whether and how competing positions are expressed. At a minimum, editors have an
obligation to ensure that letters are within reasonable bounds of factual
correctness, and that they do not incite violence.
I trust that Harris
would agree that a newspaper violates journalistic standards if it publishes a
letter denying the Holocaust or calling for the violent overthrow of the Israeli
government, even if the newspaper claims these are solely the writer’s
The letter to which Edelstein objected alleged that Israel had
taken from Palestinians part of what the writer called “historic Palestine.” Had
it stopped there, it might have been defensible as an expression of opinion
(although it could be criticized on factual grounds). However, in asserting that
“the Palestinians have a moral right to terrorism… against neo-Zionism,” the
writer went well beyond the limits of acceptable discourse.The Guardian
was obligated to not print this justification of violence against innocent
civilians, and Edelstein had every reason to object to its
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Sir, – Gershon Harris is, of
course, technically right. There are disclaimers on letters pages, and Minister
Yuli Edelstein may possibly have had a more justifiable complaint had he
objected about one of the Guardian’s frequent slanderous anti-Israel editorials
or so-called “news” reports.
However, whether it is a reader’s letter or
a piece by a journalist, there should be no place in any democratic country for
providing someone with a platform to justify acts of terrorism and murder.
Therefore, Edelstein was absolutely right to protest against such evil ideas
being published in any form, and we must congratulate him for taking a stand
against this type of incitement.
Netanya Some ‘neutrality’
Sir, – I was astonished to read UNRWA spokesman Chris Guinness’s letter “Wrong
on UNRWA" (February 3).
I visited the Gaza Strip shortly after the Six
Day War and entered a school in an UNRWA camp, where I saw drawings on
blackboards, apparently done by children, depicting themselves killing Israeli
soldiers and children. One textbook for the third grade, titled Arabic Islamic
History, read: “The Jews... secretly plan to do evil; they fight only from
hidden places because they are cowards. We must purify holy Palestine from their
filth in order to bring peace back to the Arab homeland.”
JerusalemInflated ephemeral talk
Sir, – Responding to criticism that
it habitually indulges in inflated ephemeral talk with little substance, the
Reut Institute’s leaders, Gidi Grinstein and Omri Zegen, assert that in
governance, “size doesn’t matter; effectiveness does” (Right of Reply, February
But government size does matter. Size determines effectiveness,
usually not positively. That is why in the 1970s, conglomerates broke up after a
brief period of success.
Effectively, huge entities become
Its worship of clumsy academic shop talk, holy writ, makes
Reut ignore reality. It believes, like those who excused the failure of
communism and socialism, that the failure of government intervention, too, is
not innate, but merely a result of bad implementation.
Reut claims I
embrace its goal that “Israel’s national objective should be to become one of
the world’s 15 leading nations in terms of quality of life.” I do not.
do not believe that anyone can define “national objectives,” certainly not a
group of self-selected, self-serving elites. Nor do I believe in the government’s
ability to execute grand plans.
But this is vintage Reut: the use of
high-sounding phrases totally detached from reality.
Mevaseret Zion Go prove it
Sir, – I am very puzzled by the Ministry of
My sister is trying to start the procedure of becoming a new
immigrant. Her husband is Israeli. We were brought up as Jews. Our synagogue was
Orthodox. Our grandparents were extremely religious.
When my sister first
went to the ministry, she took her ketuba. Not enough! She was told to bring a
letter from the rabbi in England who deals with this. Not enough! A copy of her
birth certificate. Not enough! Go to the Jewish Agency in England and work it
out there! What on earth is going on here? Does Israel no longer want Jews who
are 100 percent Jewish to come on aliya?