March 13: Clear messages

While the world media show images of an oppressive regime butchering its own people, world governments watch, talk and do nothing.

March 13, 2011 23:00
letters to the editor

letters to the editor. (photo credit: )


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Clear messages

Sir, – The refusal by the West, especially the United States, to get involved in any meaningful way in Libya sends some very clear messages (Gaddafi’s son: We won’t surrender to rebels even if West intervenes,” March 11).

It tells people in the region who seek regime change that they are on their own. It tells their governments that they are free to crush dissent, protests and rebellions as they see fit. It tells everyone that the rhetoric of the US and other Western nations about freedom, democracy and the will of the people is a sham.

It also tells us that no one will prevent Iran from pursuing, acquiring and using nuclear weapons; no one will come to Israel’s defense when it is attacked; no one will do anything about the widespread persecution of religious and ethnic minorities throughout the region; no one will do anything about the appalling treatment of women, children, gays and foreigners; no one will do anything to stop the export of hatred and violence.

Those are some messages, aren’t they?

Comox, Canada

Sir, – While the world media show images of an oppressive regime butchering its own people, world governments watch, talk and do nothing.

There is a lesson in this for us.

We must always ensure that responsibility for our safety and protection is in our own hands.


Sir, – Israel has a unique opportunity to capitalize upon the changes taking place in the Middle East and can present itself as a friend to soon-to-be republics.

The opportunities for partnership in agriculture alone should soften the hearts of even the most stubborn anti-Semites.

The prosperity that a partnership in technology could produce should seal the deal.

Israel must not wait to see what happens before assessing new situations. It must be proactive now in reaching the man on the street about the benefits of partnering with Israel for his good and the good of his fellow citizens.

This window of opportunity must not be passed over.

Mossville, Illinois

Keep on keeping on

Sir, – “Peace in a volatile region” (Editorial, March 9) misses the point.

Yes, Ben-Gurion Airport will be within range of shoulder-launched missiles once a peace treaty is signed with the Palestinians. And yes, Palestinian militants and terrorists will smuggle weapons into Judea and Samaria. But does this mean we should not sign a peace treaty or that we should not try to negotiate one? Your point about the disaster in Gaza also misses the point. As your newspaper has so correctly pointed out in the past, the disaster was Israel’s doing. By unilaterally pulling out, we handed a victory to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all the rest. By not negotiating an exit from Gaza, we allowed the terrorist camp to say it was the “resistance” that succeeded in dislodging Israel from Gaza.

If the “PaliLeaks” showed us anything, it is that negotiations have progressed to a point where a final settlement is within reach. Prudence should dictate that we not give up. Rather, we should be pushing the United States, the Quartet, the European Union and the United Nations to push the Palestinians to successfully conclude them.

The negotiations should include serious penalties for the Palestinians if they shoot missiles at planes flying out of Ben-Gurion, or if Katyusha or Kassam rockets are lobbed from Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron or Jenin. But the current Israeli position, of hanging onto every last centimeter of land in the name of security, isn’t going to bring peace.

North Miami Beach, Florida

Memory’s mid-ground

Sir, – Judy Montagu’s amusing and interesting column on memory loss (“Holiday of the Mind,” In My Own Write, March 9) misses an important point.

For several years it has been recognized in the medical community that there is a condition that is defined as Mild Cognitive Impairment or Disorder (MCD) that is intermediate between “normal” absentmindedness and outright dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. This condition is characterized by short-term memory loss and a degree of cognitive impairment.

MCD can be considered a longterm condition or one from which the patient can improve, or a way station to a frank dementia.

Recognizing it as a stage of development of memory problems in aging can help to understand and treat such progress.

The writer is a retired professor of pharmacology who has researched the subject of MCD

Four-day know-it-all

Sir, – In “Advice from a leading critic” (Diplomacy, March 4), Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says solving the Palestinian problem would enable Israel to make peace with Arab peoples, not just their rulers. Bildt spent four days here and in the Palestinian Authority. His expertise reminds me of a joke from the book Sarajevo: A Bosnian Kaleidoscope by Fran Markowitz: Two journalists meet up in the city. One asks the other, When did you arrive? Yesterday. When will you leave? Tomorrow. Why have you come? To write: Sarajevo: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.


Can of worms

Sir, – The Palestinian Authority recently reiterated its opposition to any agreement with Israel that leads to a state with temporary borders (“PA again refuses to consider state with interim borders, March 3).

“Our top priority is to end the occupation of our lands and a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, including east Jerusalem, and a just solution to the case of the Palestinian refugees on the basis of the Arab peace initiative of 2001,” the Palestinians say. No-one can say they are not consistent.

Over to you, Mr. Netanyahu. You opened this can of worms with your inability to withstand pressure from US President Obama. You have made concession after concession after concession, and it has brought nothing but condemnation and more demands. Try standing up for our rights and behaving like the prime minister of a sovereign state.


All-powerful tongue

Sir, – Open any Israeli newspaper and the employment ads are likely to read “Fluency in English and Hebrew required.” Most EFL (English as a foreign language) courses at university level, unfortunately, do not stress public speaking. Most classroom sessions are spent on reading comprehension and some writing.

These are, of course, two very important aspects of language learning, but in my opinion they pale when comparing them to the ability to express one’s self in the target language.

A few years ago, I was lucky to teach a speech class in my college program. The students were elated and felt confident when speaking in the target language. When one of my students, Amikam Levy, became ambassador to Vietnam, I realized even more than ever that putting an English oral communication class into a university curriculum is crucial.

Over 2,500 years ago, King Solomon understood the power of speech by stating his famous quote from Proverbs 18:21. “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Throughout history, this sentence has proven to be true.

The most recent example is the meteoric rise of Barack Obama, mainly due to his exceptional rhetoric skills.

I call on the Council For Higher Education in Israel to reprioritize and make an English communication class mandatory for receiving a BA. Let my people speak (in English)!

The writer is coordinator of a college-level English program

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