Sir, – 2014 has been a bad year, with the summer abductions and murders of teens, mass deaths of Gazans, mass rockets from Hamas and currently more violence (“Kerry: Calm must be restored in Jerusalem,” November 14). Now, in this 25th anniversary period since the end of the Berlin Wall, it should be noted that while the Soviet Union occupied eastern Europe for 44 years, Israel’s occupation has lasted three years longer.
East Berlin revolted in 1952, Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia, somewhat more peacefully, in 1968. Inequality of rights in South Africa created constant unrest and thousands in jail, including Nelson Mandela for 27 years. It did no good.
In Western-aspirant societies, occupations can’t last. Just when Gorbachev invoked Western- style Glasnost, the Soviet occupation fell. When will the Jewish state elect a Gorbachev or de Klerk? Israel will never have a more peaceful Palestinian leader or cooperative Palestinian Authority security force than with the humiliated, pressured 79-yearold Mahmoud Abbas. Modern history suggests that these conflicts worsen if they are not ended.
It is sameness rather than change that threatens Israel’s security, as seen in the contrast of the celebrations in Berlin and the violence in Jerusalem.JAMES ADLER
Sir, – With regard to “The great ego clash” (November 14), it was Effi Eitam, if I am not mistaken, who warned many years ago based on the IDF’s experience with the tunnels under the Philadelphi Route between Egypt and the Gaza Strip that tunnel building could be used as a way to attack Israel.
The current clash between the heads of the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) is very regrettable. But what is much more important is to be able to check out the truth – and Hamas claims that since the cease-fire it has resumed building tunnels under Gaza.
We know that the army has had a unit to deal with tunnels, but it seems that a major project going on for many years was not discovered by the Shin Bet or the Mossad.DAVID GOSHEN
Losing its mind Sir, – Let me understand this: The Knesset approves a bill banning the free distribution of the newspaper Israel Hayom (“Knesset approves ‘Israel hayom bill’ in preliminary reading,” November 13) the day after Marwan Barghouti, in jail for murder, is permitted to freely publish a letter that calls for armed violence against the citizens of Israel? Has the government totally lost its collective mind? IRVING WIESEN
Sir, – Regarding “If we had a real leader” (Encountering Peace, November 13), shouldn’t such a plaintive cry be coming from a peace-loving left-wing Palestinian? While some of Gershon Baskin’s criticisms of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be well placed, his unbalanced evaluation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is unbelievable. At the very same time the PA leader shouts venomous and poisonous lies about Netanyahu, Israel and the Jews, denying even our smallest claim to this land, Baskin berates our premier by saying Bibi “has constantly engaged in direct and aggressive de legitimation of the Palestinian leader... never even attempting to engage him directly, in public or private. Netanyahu has turned down every single appeal from Abbas over the years to meet directly.”
I shudder to think what kind of peace we would have if Mr. Baskin headed our government! NAOMI FEINSTEIN
Sir, – Sometimes I have the feeling that Gershon Baskin lives on another planet. Why put all the blame on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Two years ago I had a bitter exchange on Facebook with a Palestinian family that lived near Bethlehem before emigrating to the US. They did not mince words and told me that I had stolen their property.
It does not make a difference – partition plan, 1967, 1973 – in their eyes we, the Zionists, have no right to be here. They want it all. But it takes two to tango.
Sir, – I am truly shocked by Jeff Barak’s “Avoid controversial moves in the capital” (Reality Check, November 10).
It is incredible to me that some Jews are so self-hating that they call upon their fellow Jews not to bother the Arabs too much by walking on the Temple Mount. Does anyone stop to think how racist that is? Why does our very presence bother the Muslims so much? Why are they so threatened? Even if we wanted to build a place of worship on the Temple Mount, why couldn’t we do that? There should be room there for more than just Muslims.
Why do we need to keep the status quo if the status quo negates the rights of an entire people? Can one imagine if the Israeli government made a law that Muslims couldn’t pray in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron because it bothered the Jews too much and might incite them to be violent? Israel would never tolerate such a lack of respect for another religion, but somehow Jews are expected to tolerate such disrespect and racism against themselves.
The Cave of the Patriarchs is set up to accommodate both Muslims and Jews. Why can’t that be the situation on the Temple Mount as well? I find it offensive that the idea of freedom and civil rights, so rightly defended by liberal Jews around the world and especially in the US, won’t stand up for Jewish civil rights in Israel. What is so ironic is that people like Barak, who claim that Jews shouldn’t incite the Arabs by walking on the Temple Mount, would probably be outraged if African-Americans were asked to sit in the back of the bus or not enter certain neighborhoods because of the threat of white supremacist violence.
When it comes to others’ civil rights, Jews are on the front lines standing up for what is morally and ethically correct.
When it comes to Jewish civil rights, Barak’s’ attitude is one where we put our tail between our legs and cower in the face of evil. It’s as if we are used to racism against us and don’t expect any better from those around us.
Jews here are living with a very sad and intolerable situation.BATSHEVA RUBACK
David and Goliath
Sir, – As long as Israeli politicians and military figures play Goliath, bragging arrogantly about Israeli power, invincibility and prowess, we will get little international sympathy and lose the public relations war.
Our representatives have to explain that the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system saved Israeli civilians from annihilation although our enemies are constantly upgrading and we don’t know how long the system will effectively protect us. They have to repeat time and again that we are fighting for our existence. They have to talk about the Palestinian Authority’s double message: In English it claims it wants peace and in Arabic it incites its people to kill the Jews.
The families of imprisoned Palestinian terrorists are supported financially by the PA, and terrorists who have been killed are lionized as heroes and martyrs.
Palestinian schoolchildren are indoctrinated into martyrdom.
Their civilians, including babies, are used as human shields.
We must reverse the image that has systematically, deceitfully and malevolently been propagated by the Arabs – that they are David and we are Goliath.LILIANE BRONNER