Sir, - Despite my great respect for former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, I must side with those opposed to his proposal ("Israel should launch own probe of Gaza war, Cotler advises," October 22).
While there is some validity from a legalistic, judicial standpoint, that is the problem. Such considerations are not the issue here, rather hypocrisy and (dare I say it?) anti-Semitism. That is what motivates some of the actors in this tragi-comedy; war strategy motivates others.
Such an inquiry would more than likely open an immense Pandora's Box of demands for absurd commissions of inquiry into each instance of a policeman stopping a suspicious-looking Arab wearing a heavy coat on a Tel Aviv street in July.
The more we try to prove our truly humane efforts in the face of cynical enemy ruthlessness, the angrier we make the above actors and the more absurd their demands become.
I have a terrible feeling that these "Goldstoners" would be much happier had we killed tens of thousands of Gazans - for that would have given them something solid to sink their teeth into.
Sir, - To ignore and condemn Goldstone is morally correct, but tactically it will lead to the International Court. I suggest Israel turn the whole circus on its head.
A distinguished International Commission should be set up - under the auspices of a UN-accredited human rights organization, for example the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with a distinguished international jurist such as Prof. Alan Dershowitz at its head - tasked with investigating the Goldstone Report, as Israel is charged to do.
This commission, I would estimate, would take one to two years to complete its task, after which - if anyone then remembers this whole sick joke - Israel will be able to use the findings to explode the hateful hypocrisy of the UN and bury the issue.
Beware J Street...
Sir, - The J Street phenomenon is pretty dangerous to the State of Israel because it claims to be pro-Israel. This is a mystery, making one wonder what an anti-Israel group that differs from the pro-Israel J Street would be like.
We have yet to see what J Street's pro-Israel agenda is. The group is supported by such organizations as Peace Now and the New Israel Fund. Wherein does it differ from these groups? We hardly need more organizations with their agendas ("Why make a fuss about J Street?" by Isi Leibler, and "'Die, J Street, die!'" by Larry Derfner, both October 22).
...but it's not the enemy
Sir, - Kol hakavod to Colette Avital for her "Why knock the new kid on the block?" (October 22). Her approach to J Street is enlightening. She takes the gentle road, not the harsher one of Larry Derfner, though he says roughly the same things.
J Street is not the enemy, as so many try to make you believe. Despite Ambassador Oren's weak-kneed approach - refusing to attend the J Street Conference - the numbers that will attend are large enough to make us wake up.
I personally know many J Street members who proudly display their Zionism and Jewishness. Some are of my generation, some are of my children's, and many are of my grandchildren's. All are committed Zionists, all love Israel. Give them a chance.
About dual loyalty
Sir, - Your editorial worries about dual loyalty of American Jews ("No more Pollards," October 21). I'll tell you a secret: We all have dual, triple and quadruple loyalties. In a democracy, a citizen is free to be loyal to his faith, his family and other groups and ideals.
I once asked a group of Christian clergy at an interfaith meeting: Are you Christians or Americans first? They all answered, without hesitation: "Christians first." The motto of the Boy Scouts, a very patriotic group, is "For God and Country."
We are in the age of dual citizenship, and the US and Israel allow their citizens to be citizens of each other's country. Of course, they have to obey the laws of the countries whose citizenship they hold - for example, they may not engage in spying. But what is citizenship, if not loyalty to a country you are citizen of?
Would be nice to see
Sir, - Just before Rosh Hashana, I read an op-ed in the US press by an Israeli political scientist. He was not writing about research he had done but to ask the international community to impose sanctions against Israel as the only way, in his opinion, to create positive change in the region.
It's a pity this professor didn't take his position to heart and show us a little bit of homework, because from what I have read, the facts on how Middle Eastern countries have materially aided the actual people living on the ground in the territories - as opposed to their corruption-loving, hard-partying, plane-destroying "leaders in exile" - stack up rather well in Israel's favor.
It would be nice to see, for example, precise numbers of jobs Israel provides Palestinians, compared with the number provided by neighbors such as Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt or "mother Syria." Cross-border trade would also be an interesting statistic: What is the export volume of Palestinian products to Israel versus the other countries in the region?
Dollar for dollar, it would be nice to know how much foreign aid has been lost to corruption by the PLO and the PA. It was not too long ago that Israel rescued the PA from bankruptcy by handing over funds it had safeguarded when a staggering sum (How many billion was it? Ninety?) went "missing" from PA coffers.
Comparing aid lost to corruption to the Israeli agricultural or logistical budgets would be quite telling - while the people in the territories have been suffering, how many times over could homes, streets, sewers and schools have been built for them, using the Israeli government's cost scale?
The numbers I have seen are encouraging, but clearer data would be very useful in putting to rest the fallacy of "Arab brotherhood" as far as ending Palestinian suffering is concerned, and in anything other than Israel-bashing, really.
It is clearly the case that Arab states prefer to work toward the destruction of Israel rather than toward the establishment of peace for the Palestinian people; so it's time to call them on it, using the hard data, for all the world to hear ("Trip by Saudi royal unlikely to herald radical change," Jonathan Spyer, October 8).
ELISHEVA A. LAMBERT
Hot & cold
Sir, - My gut feeling tells me that it might not be such a healthy thing to put Israel's water faucet, or even part of it, in the hands of Turkey. When it comes to us, they seem to blow one day hot, one day cold.
If they became our major source of sports cars or exotic pets, I could live with that. But water? ("Importing water from Turkey," October 20.)
He's a lord
Sir, - Ilan Evyatar's "A fireside talk" (October 22) was an excellent article about George Weidenfeld.
Just one point: The subject of the article is no longer called "Sir Arthur George Weidenfeld" but has since 1976, when he was raised to the peerage, been known as Lord Weidenfeld of Chelsea - a true friend of Israel in the House of Lords and the British press.