Failure to understand
Sir, - In Dennis Ross' typically disingenuous article "Too confused to surrender" (July 3), we find some unbelievable claims: that if the international community funded a security force of 10,000 men, President Mahmoud Abbas could stabilize the PA, or that if the UN Security Council passed a resolution delegitimizing all attacks from Gaza against Israel, such attacks would stop.
But, most incredible is the statement that "even in terms of the Palestinian narrative, there is no conceivable justification for attacks out of Gaza once occupation had ended." Where has the author been? Israeli occupation of Gaza ended a year ago, yet attacks have continued.
Ross fails to understand the "Palestinian narrative" that drives such attacks, namely their basic belief that Israel should not exist, that Israel has "occupied" Palestine and that it is an illegitimate state.
Sir, - The report that at long last the spelling of place names using Latin characters is to be reviewed is welcome ("Welcome to Petah Tiqwa... or is it Petah Tikva?" July 2). Maybe we will then see the grammatically impossible double "y" in "Herzliyya" on all the highway signs disappear, and even some (completely ignoring how Theodore Herzl spelled his surname) that also have an extra "e" - "Herzeliyya." It is almost as though the sign-painters were paid per letter.
Sir, - When the language experts complete their work on names of places, I suggest that they start on restaurant menus, especially if Israel wants to attract English-speaking tourists.
In Tel Aviv recently, I sat down in a steak joint for a quick meal. On the menu was an item called "bay-tsay-shor." When I asked the waiter to describe what this was, he responded with a rather vulgar gesture with his hand.
It was only when I got home to Brooklyn that my next-door neighbor, an Israeli expatriate, explained to me that "bay-tsay-shor" are bull's testicles.
I vowed privately that on my future visits to Israel I shall stick to old-time favorites, like felafel and shakshuka.
Sir, - Yossi Beilin claims his approach to politics is equally applicable to sociology and religion. He contends that by changing the definition of "peace" so as to allow for the continuation of belligerency, you can achieve a viable peace treaty("Whose partner," June 30).
Using this same logic, he proposes to solve the problem of America's dwindling Jewish community by redefining who is a Jew ("The American Jewish community isn't shrinking," July 2). He contends that by relaxing or entirely eliminating the requirements for Jewish parentage or conversion, the size of the American Jewish population can be kept stable.
This approach has untapped application in other fields. In economics, we could wipe out poverty just be lowering the definition of the poverty threshold. In education, the percentage of students passing matriculation exams could be raised significantly just by lowering the passing grade.
Sir, - With all the recent difficulties Israel is facing, it was truly heartening to learn from Yossi Beilin that American Jewry is not shrinking after all. He suggests that anyone demonstrating a "bond" to Judasim could be considered Jewish. Should we include anyone who takes a Jewish history course or likes gefilte fish?
We don't need more Jews in America, but we desperately need more Jews to live their Jewishness. The only effective answer to the scourge of assimilation is to bring Torah and authentic Judaism into the lives of millions of US Jews who have no connection to Judaism or Israel.
Ties with Africa
Sir, - I was intrigued by David Kimche's argument for fostering better relations with Africa with which I agree wholeheartedly ("Rediscover the lost continent," June 30).
He mentions that Africans posses a liking for Israel because of their knowledge of the Bible and its being so meaningful to them. His remark is really ironic because for many Israelis the Bible - and the fact that it is the foundation of our being here - is relegated to the realm of folklore and is dismissed as being irrelevant to modern Jews and the State of Israel.
Sir, - Brian Haill should open his other eye (Letters, July 2). I am from Toowoomba in Queensland and have been visiting friends here, including a trip to Sderot and Ashkelon. I can only say that even though Israel has hit the Gazans hard, it is much less than any other country - including Australia - would do in retaliation for months of rocket attacks and kidnappings. And all this after Israel evacuated Gaza, an action which nearly nearly split the country.
No mate, you're wrong when you say you are disgusted with Israel. This is a gutsy country fighting for its existence and deserves our full support.
Sir, - The disastrous PR for Operation Summer Rains, that it is being carried out solely in response to the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, naturally results in the kind of letter written by Brian Haill of Melbourne, Australia. He says that our "totally disproportionate response"... "revolts the world at large" and "reveals Israel as the bully boy of the region." "Australians," he concludes, "are disgusted with Israel today."
What we should be saying to Haill and the world at large is: Not even a year ago Israel pulled out of Gaza completely, a traumatic and risky act for us. Since then, the Palestinians have produced or smuggled in more weaponry, right under the noses of the international observers, than had been used in six years of intifada. They have also elected Hamas and sent hundreds of rockets crashing into Sderot and other nearby Jewish communities.
Isn't all this a convincing enough declaration of war? What would your country have done?
Sir, - Re Geoff Clein's letter ("O Canada," July 3), a number of significant factual errors must be corrected.
Jerusalem Post readers should know that the Islamic "preacher of hate" from the UK was refused entry to Canada following representations by the Canadian Jewish community. It was not the largest union in Canada but a provincial branch of a public service union which voted a boycott. This vote has been strongly condemned across the political spectrum and by leading voices in the Canadian media. The United Church of Canada is not the largest church in Canada - the Catholic Church has the greatest number of adherents.
Finally, as a Canadian and an Israeli, I celebrate both national days proudly and urge Clein that one does not have to slam Canada to prove that one loves Israel.