Sir, – It was enlightening for me, as a former Indian, to
read Arvind Gupta’s article “India- Israel relations: A mutually beneficial
relationship” (Comment & Features, January 9). What was well known for
somebody like me, who has kept abreast of the blossoming relationship, has now
been stacked with facts and figures regarding trade, tourism, research
I would like to take issue, though, with what Gupta
calls “India’s principled stand on the Palestinian issue.”
As a youngster
growing up in India I was always taken aback by the rabid anti-Israel, pro-Arab
stand taken by successive Congress governments at all international forums,
including the UN. It seemed to me farcical that a movie like Exodus should be
banned in India for fear of “hurting” Arab sentiment. As a leader of the
“Non-Aligned” group of nations, it appeared nonsensical to me that India should
outdo even Arab countries in its anti-Israel sentiments and voting patterns on
the international stage.
Israel of course understands the true reasons
for the Indian approach – the country’s large Muslim population, its much larger
trade with the Arab bloc, its dependence on Iranian oil and so on. In fact,
India’s former defense minister, George Fernandes, on his visit here several
years ago aptly pointed out that India and Israel were “two islands of democracy
in a sea of Islam.”
Israel has had more than its fair share of Islamic
fundamentalist terror. India is no stranger to such terror, either. Isn’t it
about time that India adopts a truly principled stand that would inevitably mean
a drastic U-turn when it comes to support of the Palestinians and their
sponsors, the Iranians and the Saudis? That may be political suicide, but at the
very least one would expect the adoption of a neutral, non-aligned
A nation that produced a Gautama Buddha and a Mahatma Gandhi
should refuse to side with a culture that glorifies terror and encourages
children to become suicide bombers and wantonly kill innocent women and children
so as to be able to consort with virgins in nirvana.KEENAN JOSEPH
Jerusalem By any other name
Sir, – I object to your use of the word
“infiltrator,” even if you put it in quotation marks, when reporting on African
migrants (“250,000 foreigners live in country,” January 8).
definition of “infiltrate” is “surreptitious entry with evil intent.” While the
entry of these migrants may be surreptitious, there is no proof that their
intent is evil. Do you call an American Jew who overstays his visa an
“infiltrator?” What this type of language amounts to is a not-so-subtle form of
racism. It would be better and more accurate to say that these people are in the
country illegally, without proper papers or awaiting a decision on their request
for political asylum, as the case may be.ALAN GROSS
New York Proud he’s
Sir, – It broke my heart to read Teddy Totimeh’s “Home away from home in
Israel” (Comment & Features, January 8).
He relates his experiences
as a black man who is performing an important and complicated medical internship
in Israel. All goes well with his studies when he is within the protective walls
of the institution. However, out on the streets of Tel Aviv things are not often
very nice. He relates that he has visited many Western countries but has never
been more conscious of his “blackness” as he is in Israel.
I wish to
apologize to Totimeh for those Israelis who foolishly single him out in a
disparaging way, and ask him to count me as one of his family who is very proud
to have him studying in our country.THELMA BLUMBERG ABRAMOWITZ
Who is Obama?
Sir, – Aaron David Miller, a brilliant analyst and probably one of
the key State Department analysts of foreign policy, took great pains to speak
about the mindset of US President Barack Obama with regard to Israel (“Bibi and
Barack,” Comment & Features, January 8).
Obama evidently grew up in
an environment where there was no or very little mention of Israel. His college
and intellectual friends never indulged in pro- Israel thinking or activity of
any sort. Israel was alien to him since he evidently had very little education
in the Bible or contact with ministers who were biblical scholars and lovers of
He has no gut feelings about Israel. He never thinks of Israel
and Jerusalem except in cold, practical terms where he buys into the Arab
thinking that Israel does not fit in the Middle East.
I believe that this
knowledge must factor into our own thinking about Obama.THELMA SUSSWEIN
Jerusalem Own worst enemies
Sir, – Hirsh Goodman writes that Israel’s response
to delegitimization is incoherent (“Time to get smart,” PostScript, January
While this may be true, I refer Goodman to an interview Alan
Dershowitz gave to Channel 1 in which Dershowitz noted disparaging remarks about
Israel and Zionism made by Israeli figures such as Uri Avnery and a plethora of
He asserted that strident rhetoric of this type
provides strong ammunition for those hostile to Israel and makes it most
difficult for the country’s defenders even to highlight simple
While Israel is a democracy and criticism of the government is
legitimate, it should be done with circumspection, as criticism is a powerful
weapon in the hands of those who strive daily to discredit Israel.HENRY
Sir, – To counter “delegitimization,” Israel should
respect international law first and foremost. Doing so will do more for its
image than any hasbara campaign.ESTHER RILEY
Fairfax, California Incorporate!
Sir, – I would like to addend the comments made by Jeff Broide in
Nadav Shemer’s “Specialist: Tax reforms make starting a company less attractive”
(Business & Finance, January 6).
It is still attractive for US
citizens living and working in Israel to incorporate.
If they work as
self-employed individuals they will be subject to the US social security tax, as
well as to Israeli National Insurance Institute payments, which is a double tax.
By incorporating, they can avoid paying the US social security tax.DON
The writer is a certified public accountant
Sir, – In the second part of “Is Israeli society unraveling?” (Our
World, January 3), Caroline B. Glick undoes the constructive contribution she
makes in the first part.
Glick calls for unity but then slips into
typical right-wing demonization of the Left. Also, her attack makes no sense.
The fact that a political camp may benefit from a protest movement does not mean
that there are no real problems.
However well women are doing, are we
supposed to ignore little girls being harassed, or segregation on sidewalks? If
a housing problem exists, are young couples supposed to ignore it? It is
unfortunate that Glick’s partisanship prevents her from calling on all political
camps to join in addressing these issues.
The recently unearthed Second Temple-period
administrative seal (“Archaeologists discover Second Temple seal,” December 26)
was found near the north side of the Shiloah Pools in the City of David in
debris that had been excavated elsewhere.