(photo credit: Courtesy)
Warning that wasn't
Sir, - I was dismayed to hear that my kids were missing school ("Local Authority 'warning' strike to begin today," September 13). Who are we warning, what do they care, and who really loses?
This strike will hardly be noticed, and our children are the losers because we are teaching them that we protest by denying them education. Rather than any positive message, they hear "Good - we don't have school." I'll bet they can't wait for the "We-really-mean-it-this-time" strike.
Perhaps the organizers will reconsider and do something meaningful.
Sir, - Further to Efraim Cohen's September 13 letter about Sweden and Aftonbladet, the Swedish government has, according to the BBC's Web site, moved to shut down a far-Right political party's newspaper website over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. So much for the the pretense that, constitutionally, it cannot interfere in what the Swedish media publishes and therefore cannot condemn Aftonbladet's blood libel against Israel.
As Mr. Cohen so aptly comments, applying a double standard to delegitimize or demonize the Jewish people is the classic hallmark of anti-Semitism. No wonder Foreign Minister Carl Bildt knows that a representative of the Swedish government won't be welcome in Israel. The guilt is visible for all to see.
Can't criticize Europe
Sir, - One TV channel here commemorated 9/11 by showing three movies: Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11, Oliver Stone's W, and the multiply-directed 11,'9â€š"01 with episodes by Yousef Chahine, Amos Gitai and nine others. The choice underscores a European mood that falls little short of sympathy for al-Qaida.
Yet how, alas, can Americans criticize Europe for its attitude when the "blame America first" world view has, since 2001, been accepted by the majority of US academics, at The New York Times, and now in the White House?
A simple question
Sir, - Re "UN chief: Continued settlement construction contrary to int'l law" (September 9): Ban Ki-moon is referring solely to Israel and its construction activities as per previously ratified plans in areas in or around Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria. UN Resolution 242 makes no such stipulation - but let us, for the sake of argument, assume the secretary-general is right.
Why, then, is he not making the same demand of China, which is continuing massive urban construction projects throughout Tibet, including the forcible exchange and resettlement of populations with the aim of diluting the proportion of ethnic Tibetans in their own homeland?
It's a simple question, really. Is all settlement activity contrary to international law - or only activity carried out by Jews?
The Oslo mirror
Sir, - Douglas Bloomfield's claim about the Oslo process should not be allowed to pass ("Oslo succeeded more than most will admit," September 10). From Oslo, Israel reaped the second intifada: a Palestinian war which took over 1,000 innocent Jewish lives in five years.
Operation Defensive Shield put the lid on the Oslo coffin, with IDF troops going back into the PA-held territories and taking effective measures to halt the terrorism.
No Israeli in his right mind sees anything but horrors in the Oslo process, or would dream of a repeat performance. The only parties that cling to the remains of Oslo are the likes of Mahmoud Abbas & Co., for whom Oslo created the Palestinian Authority - a dead man walking if ever there was one.
JONATHAN ADAM SILVERMAN
Chatham House's 'balance'
Sir - A representative of Chatham House, Keith Burnet, challenges my assertion that the institution "has long had a reputation for its anti-Israel disposition" ("Chatham creativity," Letters, September 6).
In November 2007, Chatham House gave a platform to Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer to launch their The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, a book of which Geoffrey Paul wrote in the Jewish Chronicle: "This cunningly nuanced piece of writing has about it a distinct whiff of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with its subliminal message that there is a group of Jews plotting to control the world for their own ends." There was no one on the platform to rebut the book's many errors.
In January 2009, Chatham House held a discussion on Gaza with Ahmed Khalidi and Michel Massih, QC, which I attended. There was undiluted Israel-bashing, and no attempt at balance.
In July 2009, Chatham House held a conference on "Financial Developments in the Middle East" without a single mention of Israel - it was as if the country had been wiped from the map.
If Chatham House is "politically independent," why has the Israel Embassy's membership been suspended for some months?
No doubt former Chatham House analyst Robin Shepherd will tell his own story - but why was his card marked after he wrote a pro-Israel op-ed in The Times in January 2008? And why are almost all speakers about Israel and Israeli researchers at Chatham House on the Left? That is not representative of the country. Why does the library reportedly take Ha'aretz, but not The Jerusalem Post?
Chatham House is the UK's foremost international relations think-tank and Mr. Burnet rightly stresses that "Our reputation depends upon us being, and being seen to be, thoughtful, analytical and politically independent."
The Zionist Federation feels there is sufficient doubt to justify a published report by Chatham House Board into its Israel discourse.
Ham on Yom Kippur
Sir, - The Kabbalah Center's Karen Berg believes that "if you want to eat ham on Yom Kippur, that's your business." Perhaps she should recheck with her husband. If "the rav" confirms it, I would be a mite skeptical about his rabbinical ordination.
I concur that "it's more important what goes out of our mouth than what goes into it," as per the prohibition against lashon hara, but would note that Ms. Berg's phraseology appears to have its source in Matthew 15:11 ("Popular mysticism," September 10).
GERSHON G. GUBBIO
Between burkas and bikinis
Sir, - It was probably Julia Roberts playing Erin Brockovich who popularized the fashion - still around - of showing bra straps outside a T-shirt. Fashion after fashion, year after year, the aim is to abolish female privacy.
Women's covering moves between burkas and bikinis, and while there are voices against the Islamic veil, viewed as a religious archaism or symbol of women's subservience to men, no one complains about the clothing of Western women.
What greater subservience to a male can there be than to allow him, for no reason at all, a view of thighs, shoulders, navels and breasts while walking down the street, thus provoking an unprecedented surge of male lust? Not to mention the show on the beach, where women parade topless, to the embarrassment and resignation of all others there.
There is a middle way between exhibitionism and self-effacement. It is up to us to choose it ("Niqabs and burkas - the veiled threat continues," Daniel Pipes, September 2).
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