letters to the editor 88.
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Israel's the obstacle...
Sir, - Why is Israel insisting that the Palestinian government agree to abide by previous agreements before negotiations can take place?
("Hamas's willful failure of gov't," Editorial, October 4.) Israel certainly isn't doing that. Withholding the Palestinians' tax money violates the Paris Agreement. Expanding settlements and building the wall violate the Road Map. Netanyahu reneged on the Oslo Accords.
Negotiations at Camp David and Taba never produced a written agreement.
If Israel simply withdrew to the Green Line, it could have peace.
A recent poll of Palestinians shows that they prefer two states living side by side over a binational state. If Hamas is not willing to commit itself to a two-state solution, submitting the two-state plan to the Palestinian people for a vote can get around that problem.
Recognition of Israel and a renunciation of violence will be the natural outcomes of a fair peace settlement. To insist that these conditions be met before Palestinians are offered a truly viable state is an obstacle to peace.
...no, it's simplism
Sir, - Your editorial made the very important point that the Palestinians' problems are caused by "the failure of the Palestinian Authority to establish the rule of law upon which any stable democracy must be founded."
I would go one step further and argue that the rule of law, together with the commitment and capacity to guarantee the essential freedoms - of speech, of the press and of beliefs - are intrinsic components of, as well as prerequisites for, democracy.
Failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and, much earlier, Algeria are the direct result of a simplistic approach in which a (relatively) free election becomes the only criterion for "proving" that a democracy has been created.
Asserting that Hamas constitutes a democratic Palestinian government is simply one more demonstration of the extent to which reality is being distorted by simple-minded slogans.
Sir, - How many Palestinians does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They sit in the dark and blame the Jews.
Reading 'Mein Kampf'
Sir, - Samuel Freedman ("From his own mouth," October 3) asks: "Would the world have been different if more Americans had read Mein Kampf in 1933?"
The answer may be found in Hillel Goldberg's review of Barnes & Barnes' Mein Kampf in Britain & America - A Publishing History (November 5, 1982): No unabridged English translation of Hitler's Mein Kampf was available until 1939!
"Western abridgements omitted reference to the rantings of the man who came to power to kill Jews and dominate the world." Furthermore, "American Jewish organizations successfully fought the wide distribution of Mein Kampf, resulting in even deeper ignorance of Hitler's intention."
In short - in 1939 much of the publishing industry, the courts, the reading public and Western diplomats still took Hitler to be a leader to whom the normal processes of law applied.
Goldberg concluded the review with a plea: that we should not have to wait 50 years for exposition of the definitive record of the publishing history of the PLO Covenant!
The beautiful game
Sir, - On Sunday, October 1, Ajax from Amsterdam played against Utrecht in Utrecht. The whole time the Utrecht soccer fans shouted "Hamas, Hamas, Joden aan het gas"; translation unnecessary.
Nobody did anything.
Teachers & critics
Sir, - Well, Mashiach is definitely close at hand: Avi Shafran employed Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach as a proof in "Is God with us?" (October 4.)
Who would have thought that Agudas Yisrael, which rejected and condemned Reb Shlomo, would so evolve! If it would only journey the whole distance toward Reb Shlomo's exalted vision of Hashem and Am Yisrael it could command the respect and affection to truly reach and touch all Jews with those authentic truths they do posess. As of now, it remains on the periphery unknown, ignored and without influence upon the larger Jewish community.
What a tragedy to be left as only a critic, when you could be a teacher.
RABBI MOSHE PESACH GELLER
Sir, - Re "King David's 'progeny' to meet amid revolution in Jewish genealogy" (October 3): As a descendant of King David, I was interested to read of the inaugural dinner of the Davidic Dynasty organization.
My family and friends will be curious that I have not mentioned my royal descent before. Quite simply, the reason is that it is most likely that virtually all Jewish people (except converts) are descended from King David, just as all Jews are descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is a matter of simple statistics.
Some years ago it was calculated that the majority of native-born Englishmen were descended from William the Conqueror. (Think how many children he had and how many children they had, etc., etc).
King David lived 2,000 years before William, so the arithmetic is easy to follow. The difference between me and those illustrious people claiming descent is that they may have records to prove it.
I wouldn't say no to a couple of tickets to the dinner; I believe my wife would also qualify.
Loyalty to royalty?
Sir, - To answer Axel Faye of Oslo ("Sympathy lost," Letters, October 1): I am confused. What exactly do the king and queen of Norway represent, apart from being titular heads of their country?
Judging by Mr. Faye's letter one might as well replace them with wooden effigies, at negligible cost, and direct the considerable financial savings toward a more worthy cause.
Sir, - Further to your correspondence on how a woman rabbi should be addressed: A few months ago I attended a bar mitzva at a Reform synagogue in Ra'anana. The lady who officiated was referred to as "Rabba" - a suitable title, I think!
Sir, - At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, I have a complaint about the custom of allowing children to ride their bicycles in the streets on Yom Kippur. I am sure it is great fun for the youngsters to ride wherever they choose, without concern for oncoming vehicles. And I am pleased that parents are ensuring that their children keep safe by wearing protective helmets.
However, what about another segment of the population, the elderly, who have difficulty with walking and seeing well? Going home from services in the dark with bikes careening everywhere is frightening. Bikers zooming down hills without a thought for people walking up them - happily showing that they are not using their hands to control their bikes - are a menace.
How about using this holiday to teach our children that while we do not wish to spoil their fun, there are others whose needs have to be considered.
How about teaching them a little of what Yom Kippur is about?