A 'normal' day
Sir, - At the risk of being flippant, today's front page of The Jerusalem Post (November 3) gave me the feeling that at last I am living in a "normal" country. It was devoted entirely to horrendous murders, which have overwhelmed the country. Even the items inside the paper were not connected to the "conflict."
Oxfam works within the law
Sir, - The Jerusalem Post published on Monday an article ("Oxfam International accused...") in which it relayed accusations by an Israeli group which claimed that Oxfam was "involved in illegal Palestinian construction and agriculture activity in the West Bank," and that Palestinians had illegally siphoned water "with the assistance of Oxfam."
Such information is not only inaccurate but misrepresents our mandate. Oxfam International has been working in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since the 1980s. Our work includes supporting poor farmers in the West Bank who struggle to make a living under difficult circumstances with limited access to the resources they need. In 2008, Oxfam helped West Bank farmers improve their farmlands and carry out more productive farming. Oxfam has no involvement in diverting water.
Oxfam is an impartial humanitarian and development organization which strives all over the world to help people suffering as a result of natural disasters, climate change, conflict, injustice and poverty. In the programs it supports worldwide, Oxfam is committed to working within the law. We are registered in Israel as an international aid organization, and work in partnership with both Israeli and Palestinian civil societies. We work to help those who are most in need, whatever their race, creed, religion, ethnicity or nationality.
A shameful attack on 'religious settlers'?
Sir, - Shame on the Post for the November 3 editorial "On Jewish terrorists."
Although the editorial appears to be commending, in general, the "settler community" for widely condemning the alleged crimes of Ya'acov Teitel, also imbibed is a subtle attack upon religious settlers, a minority of whom, the editorial claims, have "broken away from mainstream Zionism; their allegiance is no longer to the state." This, to me, sounds like incitement against people who even remotely look like "religious settlers."
In addition, with all due respect to the State of Israel, the state actually turned against the very people who have consistently been its most loyal citizens, who regularly pray both for the IDF soldiers and Israeli security forces and for Israel's heads of state, and who generally are some of the most motivated and excellent soldiers. I refer to the expulsion of Gush Katif and the Northern Samaria Jewish communities (and plans to destroy more such communities in Judea and Samaria). How could loyal soldiers, who actually lived in these places, be put in the position of being part of an army that would cynically be used to expel them and their families, and destroy their homes, and basically, their lives?
It is a wonder, in spite of this horrible "mistake," that religious Zionists who are either supporters of the settlement communities, or who are settlers themselves, still volunteer for the most dangerous combat units in the IDF, because, in spite of it all, they love and would die for the State of Israel.
Should all Russian Israelis do some soul searching because of our latest Russian mass murderer? Should all secular Israelis soul search when Friday night drinking turns into brawls and sometimes murder?
The struggle is almost won
Sir, - I appreciate David Horovitz's recognition, in "The fragmenting of US Jewry" (October 30), that "the Obama-Meretz-J Street philosophy .... falls within the Zionist rubric." My dissents are friendly and reluctant.
J Street seems at least as much like Kadima, as shown by the steps Kadima would have taken in negotiations, and by the greetings sent my Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and its former MK, now President, Shimon Peres to the J Street conference.
J Street and Obama also surely accept "1967-plus." President Obama is trying to help Arabs to face-saving acceptance by not making it appear like an American diktat. And it is Horovitz himself who quotes Obama that not only should Israel revisit just how much "plus" it requires, if that degree stops peace and intensifies antagonism, but also that the Arabs revisit "1967-exact" after 40 long years and all the changes on the ground. This philosophy seems similar to president George W. Bush's.
Horovitz also repeats the common idea that the J Street vision "sits uneasily alongside the fact that the Arab world sought the destruction of Israel from 1948-1967, when there was no 'occupation' and no 'buffer'." But this misses precisely the point. Times have now changed - to today's Arab League plan of universal recognition and peaceful relations. The plan certainly requires further intensive negotiations, including against the"right of return" of refugees. But the upshot is that Israel has almost won her struggle for recognition, peace and security - if only she could admit it and act upon the good news of her own victory.
Who failed the Struma?
Sir, - Moshe Arens, in "From Balfour to a Palestinian state," informed readers that the Struma sank because of the intransigent policy of Perfidious Albion: Hence British culpability in respect to the tragedy is manifest. Not a word about Turkish responsibility!
The 180-ton cattle boat Struma left Constanza, Romania, on December 12, 1941, with 765 Jews bound for Haifa. Despite engine problems, the ship reached Istanbul - where landing privileges were refused. The Struma was quarantined in the harbor for 10 weeks. On February 23, 1942, the Turkish police cut the Struma's anchor and towed it into the Black Sea, where it was set adrift without a working engine. A torpedo from Russian submarine SHCH-213, commanded by Lt. Col. Isaev, sank the Struma six miles from shore early the next morning. It was the largest maritime loss of civilian life during World War II. More than 100 children perished.
Novelist Olivia Manning, on the deck of a British Royal Navy ship cruising around Istanbul harbor in January 1942 espied a wretched ship. "The ship was the Struma," she later wrote. "However, in the harbor of one of the world's largest cities, a place teeming with diplomats and journalists, the panorama of Jewish suffering was visible to anyone who cared or dared to look."
Taking stock with Derfner
Sir, - One has to hand it to Larry Derfner. One may not necessarily agree with him, but his basic principle of the necessity of taking stock of oneself is commendable. It can only enhance Israel's image of her coming of age and looking at herself squarely in the eye ("Rattling the Cage: Some victims we are," October 29).
DR. RACHEL BIRATI