May 5: Proximity peace

Proximity talks should lead to proximity peace, without preconditions.

May 4, 2010 20:23

letters 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Proximity peace

Sir, – Proximity talks should lead to proximity peace: They will have theirs, and we will have ours (“Obama to PM: US commitment to Israel ‘unshakable,’” May 4). Nothing should or will be solved unless we talk face to face, with no conditions.


The problem with our hasbara...

Sir, – Top White House official Dan Shapiro is quoted in Tuesday’s Jerusalem Post as saying that the United States does not believe a solution between Israel and the Palestinians “would cause Iran to end its unacceptable pursuit of nuclear weapons” (“Shapiro: No solution can be imposed,” May 4). However, on Page 1 of the same paper, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer says that “the Egyptians understand that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue is ‘key’ to tackling other regional issues such as Iran.”

This is the perfect example of what’s wrong with Israeli hasbara.

Our government has justifiably been trying very hard to show that what happens on the Israeli-Palestinian front, whether it’s building homes in Jerusalem or other “sensitive” issues, has no bearing on Iran’s desire to destroy us. And then one of our own ministers comes along and shoots those efforts in the foot.

Only by sending out a clear and unified message will Israel succeed in making a dent in our hasbara efforts. If one of our top leaders is not on board with that message, then his authority to speak on our behalf must become restricted.


...and Lag Ba’omer bonfires

Sir, – As a resident of Jerusalem, I must convey my disgust at the aftermath of garbage and damage by the unruly participants of the recent Lag Ba’omer festivities (“Fanning the flames,” Photo, May 2).

It desecrates the honor of the occasion. It violates Gan Sacher, the largest and one of the few green spaces for relaxation and exercise in Jerusalem. The drunken louts and vandals celebrated the occasion by leaving the park in a condition that can be only described as a filthy eyesore of broken bottles, food scraps and plastic containers.

Do the taxpayers need to be penalized for the cost of the garbage collectors needed to pick up this refuse, when there were sufficient dumpsters and rubbish containers available? Who will pay to repair the damage left by the bonfires, which melted the asphalt of the sidewalk – or will it be left as it is, an uneven surface of dangerous potholes?

In my opinion, this is another act of environmental terrorism, which is continually repeated at the park and, I observe, throughout the city.

Where is the municipality enforcement of rules and regulations for this area? Gan Sacher needs to be nurtured and protected against these selfish, uncaring individuals, whose behavior lacks pride and respect for one’s surroundings.


Haredi education

Sir, – The suggestion by Kadima Party council head Haim Ramon that haredi youth should be totally exempt from IDF service so they can enter the workforce at enlistment age is worthy of serious consideration (“Haredi MKs rail against TA mayor’s comments,” May 4). It may well be a solution to what has become a social problem, namely that those with no real aptitude for full-time Torah study continue in it nonetheless, at least nominally.

The advantages to the economy would more than outweigh any potential shortfall in IDF enlistment – after all, these men generally do not serve in it at all under present conditions.

Salford, England

A different cover-up

Sir, – If found guilty, all those who benefited illegally from building the Holyland monstrosity in Jerusalem should be made to pay for Christo to cover the buildings up – permanently (“Cover art,” May 4).


No laughing matter

Sir, – Cory Franklin’s sense of humor leaves much to be desired (“It is possible to laugh at Adolf Hitler,” May 3). There is nothing funny about the originator of the Holocaust and initiator of a world war that cost an estimated 60 million lives (40 million of them civilians).

Franklin misguidedly cites the Three Stooges’ You Natzy Spy (1940), Charlie Chaplain’s The Great Dictator (1941), Jack Benny’s To Be or Not to Be (1942), and a wartime Daffy Duck cartoon as examples of laudable – and Jewish – satire of Hitler. The epitome of this genre is supposedly Mel Brooks’s The Producers (1968).

What Franklin ignores in this facile cinematography is that the three movies and cartoon were made before the Holocaust, when satirizing a mere dictator was perhaps the boldest move of which Hollywood was capable in defense of democracy. It took many decades after the war for the film industry to come to terms with the satirized dictator who became the perfecter of genocide. The Producers did not target Hitler, but used him as a plot device in the scheme devised by the lead characters.

The YouTube parody that Franklin defends – and any similar unthinking attempt to make light of a person who was responsible for so much human suffering – does not only trivialize the Holocaust, but reveals a basic lack of ethical values, if not common sense. Franklin’s decision to conclude his apology for “Hitler humor” with a pathetic attempt at a joke about would-be Jewish assassins places him solidly in the company of Daffy Duck.


A little good news?

Sir, – I imagine that I am far from being the only person in this country who is profoundly distressed, disturbed and depressed by the unending daily fare of horrific violence and sadism offered on the local news and media, and which for past year or more has become our staple news diet.

We seem at times even to be outdoing Sodom and Gemorra in the torrent of criminal deeds of members of our society who run the whole gamut of wrongdoing from teenage gang-rape (“Police arrest four Bat Yam teens for allegedly raping 12-year-old,” May 4), pedophilia, murder (“Oshrenko family murder trial begins in Beersheba,” May 4) and child-abuse, to more mundane misdemeanors such as high-level corruption (“Might Ehud Olmert be indicted yet again?,” May 4) and drunk driving. No sector of Israeli society seems free from infection.

We have to stop and ask ourselves: Is this the society that Herzl envisaged? Is this the society prevailing in a Jewish state? What has happened to our vaunted Jewish values? Where are the religious and lay leaders setting an example to stem the tide of lawlessness and violence? What is wrong with our society? Is it weak education? Is it the difficult economic situation that turns the young and unemployed into criminals? Is something wrong with the Jewish-Zionist ethos itself? Is it the arrogance of freedom run riot?

I do not know. But I do know that I often cringe with shame when listening to the local horror news, and switch it off. We all know that this country is capable of far better things, of many noble and selfless acts and great achievements, but the telling of this is largely confined to days such as Independence Day. Perhaps the news media should realize that drowning us in exposure to our sins is only lowering the individual and national morale. Because this is not the society we came here to build, and the sooner the Almighty sends the messiah to halt our self-destruction, the better!


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