Best we can do
Seth J. Frantzman’s “Baghdad continues to threaten Kurds with more sanctions following referendum” (October 10) indicates that the US does not support Kurdish independence.
This is a shortsighted policy that is an unfortunate product of a tendency to seek a single panacea for the region.
Under former president George W. Bush, the monomania was democracy. All the evils of the region allegedly stemmed from rabble-rousing dictators who used hatred and violence to stay in power. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump correctly pointed out that the main beneficiary of Bush’s ambitious policy was Iran. That truth helped put the kibosh on the Republican establishment and nominate Trump.
Now President Trump has found his white whale in the form of ISIS. He has promised to hunt it down and kill it, and it would appear that we have another panacea. Nothing must get in the way of this endeavor, not even Kurdish independence.
Forget the fact that Kurdistan would actually mean an advance for real democracy and self-determination apart from an Iranian-allied Iraq. Forget our long-standing commitment to the pro-western and largely secular Kurds. Our obsession with evil ISIS has blinded us to the possibility of doing right by supporting a noble cause.
The panacea will fail again because there is no magic cure for a sick Middle East. The best we can do is nurture those people and movements that reflect our values and hope that the region will gradually improve.
Charleston, South Carolina
With regard to “Stuck in Tel Aviv” (Editorial, October 10), US President Donald Trump’s continuation of the waiver of the US Embassy transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem must be viewed in its historical perspective dating back more than two centuries.
In 1815, then-secretary of state James Monroe saw fit to dismiss Mordecai M. Noah as US consul in Tunis on the purported grounds that his Jewish faith rendered him an inappropriate person to represent the US to the Bey of Tunis. It must be noted that Noah’s diplomatic efforts as consul inter alia gained the release of American citizens held as hostages and slaves, and made successful inroads to control the depredations of the Barbary pirates, the Islamic terrorists of the day.
Moreover, the implication that the Muslim ruler of Tunis would be offended at the sight of a Jewish consul is given lie by the fact that the Bey of Tunis himself employed Jewish consular officers, most notably Aaron Nunez Cardozo as his consul in Gibraltar.
Long before John Foster Dulles, the State Department had an ingrained culture of antisemitism that today manifests itself in its adamant resistance to relocating the US Embassy.
KALMAN H. RYESKY
As one who lived in Canada for 30 years and witnessed soft or polite antisemitism from mainstream Canadians, I was not surprised by the attitude of the current government (“Canada to replace plaque at Holocaust memorial that ignored its Jewish victims,” October 9). As has been reported, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to the six million victims of the Holocaust when he unveiled Canada’s long-awaited National Holocaust Monument – but without any mention of its Jewish victims.
After criticism, Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said the plaque would be replaced.
But instead of the six million, Joly revised the number to include a further five million “other” people killed by the Nazis. She misses the fact that no other people (except perhaps for the Roma) was deliberately targeted for total extermination.
Her position is a revisionist reading of the definition of the Holocaust and can only be taken as Holocaust diminution.
At the dedication, Trudeau said the monument “honors the survivors who persevered and were able to make their way to Canada after one of the darkest chapters in history.”
I find this disingenuous statement upsetting in the extreme.
Any Jews who did manage to make it to Canada’s shores did so despite the best efforts of the Canadian government to avoid taking survivors. Canada’s actions at the time are only too well documented in the 1983 book None is Too Many
The title tells it all.
Total gratitude It is rare that an op-ed piece appears for which the reader feels a simple and total gratitude.
But that is the case with Shmuley Boteach’s devastating rebuke of Ron Rosenbaum for his shameless, ignorant and, one would almost want to say, evil attack on the character and life-work of one of the greatest moral voices of the Jewish people in the modern era (“A shameful attack on Elie Wiesel,” No Holds Barred, October 10).
Boteach deserves the highest commendation for being a true friend and defender of this great human being and teacher of humanity.
Jerusalem Laudatory piece
Greer Fay Cashman has done it again! In her laudatory piece on the group Women Wage Peace (Grapevine, October 8), she makes several statements that are disingenuous, to say the least.
Here are three examples: 1. The organization “continues to grow” and “is one of the largest peace movements in the Middle East, but one without a political agenda.”
Really? Name three other “peace movements” in the Middle East outside of Israel.
And how many members are from across the political spectrum in Israel – or is it, as I suspect, a front for Meretz and Peace Now? 2. “Palestinian women, just like Israeli women, do not want to lose loved ones to war or to terrorism.” How many times have we seen mothers of Arab terrorists glorifying their sons’ heinous acts of Jew-killing? 3. “The movement works tirelessly with established groups within Israeli society....”
Even if this is true, can she point to any equivalent movements working “tirelessly” within Arab society? Will Women Wage Peace be holding corresponding marches of Jewish and Arab women in Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah and elsewhere singing “Kumbaya” and calling on the Palestinian Authority to come to a peace deal with Israel? I think not – not if they want to carry on living.
It is Arab society and its mentality that have to change if there is ever to be an accommodation between two apparently irreconcilable identities and narratives. Until that happens, we should treat the so-called Palestinians as our implacable enemies and defeat them. Only then will there be any chance of peace, as when fascism was totally and finally defeated in Germany.
Netanya Greer Fay Cashman responds:
Perhaps Mr. Reefe should attend one or two events of Women Wage Peace so that he can see women from the settler movement, women from the Likud, religious Jewish women who cover their hair, as well as secular women from the Left and the Right, along with Muslim, Christian and Druse women – and Palestinian women, when they are permitted past the checkpoints – embracing each other. They are not negotiating anything.
What they’re asking for is an end to the bloodshed on both sides and peaceful coexistence.
There are several peace-oriented groups and movements, such as the Parents Circle, in which Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones have found their own modus vivendi for reconciliation. It would appear that Mr. Reefe comes within the category of “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”