May 30: Fallout from DC

Given the antagonism toward Israel made plain in Obama’s State Department speech, Netanyahu made a very supportive, appreciative and gracious speech to the president.

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May 29, 2011 23:27
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Fallout from DC

Sir, – In “Worlds apart” (Editor’s Notes, May 27), David Horovitz suggests that even when a US president like Barack Obama is misinformed, badly advised and probably hostile toward Israel, it behooves us as the dependent partner to work even harder to protect the relationship. This is correct up to the point where Israel’s essential security interests are compromised.

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But Horovitz did not see fit to address this issue seriously. Instead, he took up Obama’s narrative of the land-for-peace issue and criticized Prime Minister Netanyahu for not wholeheartedly supporting the president’s initiative. Horovitz blamed Netanyahu’s opposition to Obama’s plan on local coalition politics and Greater Land of Israel ideology rather than the security dangers presented by a unilateral withdrawal from the remaining post-Six Day War territories.

And this is where I believe Horovitz, who should and probably does know better, and Obama, who doesn’t have a clue, both made their most egregious error.

They both seem to believe, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that the Palestinians continue their conflict with Israel over the issue of a Palestinian state in these territories.

By now, after the Oslo disaster and the Sharon disengagement catastrophe in Gaza, most Israelis and most honest Middle East commentators understand that the Palestinians continue their conflict with Israel as a way to put an end to the existence of Israel itself.

I believe that given the antagonism toward Israel made plain in Obama’s State Department speech, Netanyahu made a very supportive, appreciative and gracious speech to the president, the American people and the Israeli public when he appeared before US Congress.



Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel and must tread a careful line between guarding its real security interests and protecting its citizens while at the same time worrying about alienating our most powerful and reliable patron.

In his speech to Congress, I believe he did this and much more.

KENNETH S. BESIG
Kiryat Arba

David Horovitz notes: I would direct Mr. Besig’s attention to my front page comment on May 22, in which I dealt at some length with Obama’s “failure to internalize that Israel, in any borders, is regarded as fundamentally illegitimate by much of the Palestinian leadership and public” and to “the president’s evident incapacity to appreciate the uncompromising Palestinian refusal to countenance Israel’s legitimacy.”

Sir, – Having read Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks before the US Congress – which you so kindly reprinted (May 25) – certain things stand out.

I would not describe myself as the prime minister’s biggest fan, but I was thrilled to discover that in Washington, DC, an Israeli leader would defend our absolute right to live in our own land and reject unequivocally the line-in-the-sand terms presented to us by the Palestinians and their allies.

The amazing response Netanyahu received from the members of Congress showed that he was on the right track in speaking so forthrightly. I only wish that he were as fearless a leader as he is a communicator.

FRED CASDEN
Ma’aleh Adumim

Sir, – As a pre-1967 resident of Israel, I feel affronted by President Obama’s proposal that our borders be renegotiated, starting at the cease-fire lines of 1967.

A frequently heard comment here prior to the Six Day War was “All Israel is one border.” Wherever you traveled you bumped into a fortified line or encountered the ubiquitous sign “Caution: Frontier Ahead.” Jerusalem was cut up like a jigsaw puzzle –there were demarcation barriers across streets and even rooftops, with anti-sniper walls everywhere.

No, we are not going back to those horrors, not even in theory.

JACK CARLIN
Jerusalem

The whole story

Sir, – I want to inform readers that a wonderful book by Diane Ackerman has been written about the Zabinskis, the righteous couple mentioned in connection with the small museum dedicated to their heroism (“Warsaw gets museum to righteous couple,” News in Brief, May 27). It is called The Zookeeper’s Wife.

LINDA STERN
Kiryat Shmona

It’s unconstitutional

Sir, – Regarding your May 27 editorial “No to a ‘brit mila’ ban,” the US Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....”

It would thus be unconstitutional to prohibit the free exercise of the Jewish religion, of which male circumcision is an integral part.

How, then, do these San Francisco crusaders obsessed with the intact foreskin expect to pass a law banning circumcision?

MARCELLA WACHTEL
Jerusalem

Results of inaction

Sir, – Regarding “Jerusalem seeks ‘critical minority’ against unilateral statehood bid by PA” (May 26), the Palestinian Authority began its international lobbying efforts for statehood two years ago, exactly when Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman entered office.

I have examined the issue to the best of my abilities and find no evidence that the present government did anything to counteract Palestinian lobbying. Now the chickens are coming home to roost and someone must answer for this.

YONATAN SILVERMAN
Tel Aviv

Where’s the hero?

Sir, – In “West Bank cities dropped from Jewish Agency website promoting aliya” (May 26), Ruth Eglash reports that the agency, headed by former deputy prime minister Natan Sharansky, does not fund programs over the Green Line.

This seems a sad, even tragic end to the Sharansky story. A founder of the Russian refusenik movement in the Soviet Union of the 1970s, he became a hero of the Jewish people, having served nine horrifying years as a prisoner of conscience in the Soviet gulag. His strength, courage and refusal to quit despite overwhelming odds became an inspiration to a generation of Soviet Jews.

Then he had the persistence and strength to build a political career here, where his courage was obvious – remember, this is the man who resigned from the government because of then-prime minister Sharon’s decision to vacate Gaza.

Now, as head of the Jewish Agency, he presides over decisionmaking that deletes two Israeli cities, Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel, from promotional material for aliya. Why would the man who stood up to the Soviets do that? Surely, Sharansky has the courage to correct his error.

TUVIA BRODIE
Ma’aleh Adumim

Some ‘professional’

Sir, – Last week, my husband and I, while on a brief vacation, drove down a one-lane winding road from Kfar Blum to Tiberias. I was at the wheel while my husband navigated.

Arriving in Tiberias, a bus pulled up along side us as we stopped for a traffic light.

“What kind of driver are you?” the driver bellowed. “Have you any idea how many times I almost drove into you?” I had been driving according to the speed limit and also kept a respectable distance between myself and the car ahead.

The carnage on our roads will continue until all drivers, especially those of buses, trucks and tractors, are required to take refresher courses with an emphasis on safety, along with periodic exams for re-certification.

LILA LOWELL
Jerusalem

CORRECTION The May 27 Billboard incorrectly highlighted the date of the Enrique Iglesias concert.

The correct date is June 1.

We apologize for the error.

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