Sir, – In “Protecting civilians” (Comment & Features,
March 20), Navi Pillay, UN high commissioner for human rights, engages in moral
relativism when she compares the sovereign democratic government of Israel to
the terrorist Hamas government in Gaza and the illegal Fatah government in the
She compares their treatment of civilians and does not take
account of the fact that, according to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas, Hamas illegally carried out a coup in Gaza during which it summarily
executed hundreds of Fatah supporters.
The PA itself is an illegal
government, having cancelled elections that should have taken place in early
This is moral relativism, in which she treats the terrorists
equally with democratic countries and hopes no one will notice.
course, if Pillay wants to keep her job, she has to ignore actual human rights
and support the “rights of the Palestinians,” irrespective of the reality of the
situation, and pretend that nothing is awry. For example, she writes: “My visit
brought me face to face with many large-scale human rights violations stemming
from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”
Wait a minute. Where is this
“Palestine” that Israel is occupying? It may be that Israel is occupying parts
of the West Bank, disputed territory at best, but as far as I know there is no
entity and certainly no state called Palestine.
She also writes: “At the
conclusion of my visit I stressed that transferring civilians into occupied
territory is plainly and unequivocally illegal.” But what has this to do with
human rights? It is not, in and of itself, a human rights issue – it is a
political issue, and in this she is taking the Palestinian side. As UN high
commissioner of human rights she should be neutral.JACK COHEN
Sir, – Nowhere did I find Navi Pillay write about Israeli human rights. Her
half-page article was filled with the abuse of Arab human rights.
committee is quite upset about large-scale human rights violations stemming from
Israel’s occupation of “Palestine,” settlers’ attacks against innocent
“Palestinians,” and Israeli enforcement activities at checkpoints.
course her heart bleeds for the Gazans. Even the rockets being fired from Gaza,
which she called illegal and unjustifiable, worry her in that the Arabs there
are playing into the hands of those who wish to maintain the Israeli
My suggestion is for Pillay to educate herself as to where the
terms “Palestine” and “Palestinian” came from and why they are used. She also
can try living in Israel, ride on a bus that might or might not blow up, and
also ride the new light rail in Jerusalem, where an Arab recently stabbed a
Jewish woman soldier.
She also can pretend she is Israeli and try driving
through a hostile Arab town without protection.
It would also be a good
education for her to live down south, where 300 missiles recently
She can believe there is a ceasefire and then hear the siren and
run to the nearest shelter.
No visits. Come live here,
Ms. Pillay.BARBARA GINSBERG
Ma’aleh Adumim British resolve
Jamie Slavin’s “A British Jew in AIPAC’s court” (Comment & Features, March
20) features his impressions of AIPAC’s Policy Conference and notes the
undoubtedly different environment in which British and American advocates for
Indeed, he lauds the confidence and success with which
AIPAC and its supporters approach this task, and while he was expressing his own
views, nothing he wrote was intended to be or should be read as criticism of
AIPAC in any way. On the contrary.
The Board of Deputies, along with the
Jewish Leadership Council and BICOM, now make it a point to attend AIPAC’s
conference every year. The sheer energy and can-do attitude of our American
counterparts is infectious and helps us strengthen our resolve for another year
of campaigning in an often challenging environment in the UK. But even more than
that is the professionalism and thoroughness of AIPAC and its staff, which has
been invaluable, for example, in helping us refine the steps we need to be
taking in the UK to ensure that our politicians appreciate the very real threat
that Iran poses to the world, and not just to Israel.
The response by the
UK government is widely acknowledged to have been among the most robust of all
AIPAC well understands the different circumstances
in which we operate and clearly appreciates that this requires different
But we, too, appreciate all we can still learn from it – that
lobbying, motivating and empowering grassroots support and having that can-do
attitude are vital tools in advancing the case for Israel and peace for all in
the region.JON BENJAMIN
London The writer is chief executive of the
Board of Deputies of British Jews
Sir, – I followed the British media and that
country’s official Jewish establishment during the height of the intifada.
Jewish people in Israel were being blown up on a daily basis, and the response
of the official UK Jewish leadership to some of the virulently anti-Israel media
reports there was incredibly pusillanimous.
There is only one
disagreement I had with the title of Isi Leibler’s March 8 Candidly Speaking
column “Anglo Jewish leaders and ‘trembling Israelites’”: I would have used a
more apt description (please forgive me for my lack of proper British reserve) –
“cowardly Israelites.”HERMAN SCHVARCZ
New York Shocking priorities
– In “Don’t shut the switch” (Encountering Peace, March 20), Gershon Baskin goes
to great lengths to deplore the lack of electricity that the Palestinians have
in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.
One wonders why he doesn’t deplore the waste
and danger of firing rockets from Gaza into Israel proper or why terrorists stab
Israelis in Jerusalem? It would seem that for Baskin, hatred for Jews is less
troubling than the supply of electricity.
One has to wonder what his
priorities are.MATTIAS ROTENBERG
Petah Tikva Location, location
Regarding some of your readers’ responses (“Quest for symmetry,” Letters, March
20) to my letter of March 18 (“Further asymmetry”), I always think it’s ironic
that Israeli right-wingers play the fallacy card of “location” by accusing
liberals in the US of not knowing what it’s like in Israel or not having to live
with the consequences.
They never complain that American conservatives or
rightist Christian Zionists don’t know what’s going on and don’t have to live
with the consequences.
And in their eyes, habitation in Israel doesn’t
seem to validate the views of liberal Israelis.
An interesting double
Cambridge, Massachusetts Let Cabel run
Sir, – As a
member of Labor, I strongly protest party secretary-general Hilik Bar’s action in
warning MK Eitan Cabel not to run against the chosen one, Ofer Eini, as head of
the Histadrut (“Labor could punish MK for Eini challenge,” March 20).
much prefer to have someone else, in this case Cabel, be my candidate. I believe
that Eini had his chance and failed. Thus, there is every reason to let someone
else try to do the job. If MK Amir Peretz (who spent a number of years in that
position himself) feels Cabel should have a shot, I’m with him.
some petty boss trying to tell all of us what to do and how to handle a slippery
Let Cabel have his chance. I’ll vote for him.
try to have an honest Histadrut election.LEONARD ZURAKOV