With regard to “PA prime minister to UK: Apologize for Balfour” (October 30), if the Arabs want an apology, let them first apologize for the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands and the confiscation of their abandoned property.
Apologize? My foot!ALIZA WEINBERG
As Barry Shaw (“The Balfour Declaration – some stories and anecdotes,” Original Thinking, October 29) points out, little words can have tremendous influence.
A Shaw writes, the original draft of the Balfour Declaration mentioned “‘the reconstitution of Palestine as a Jewish state.’ But by the time it had reached its final draft... this had been watered down to read ‘the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.’” So the little word “as” haunts us until the present.IDA SELAVAN SCHWARCZ
In light of everything that is being written about the centennial of the Balfour Declaration, it would appear that the importance of the declaration is overstressed.
The November 2, 1917, declaration was merely a suggestion made in time of war by an international statesman that if the western nations would defeat the Central Powers, which included Ottoman Turkey, the Ottoman Empire would be dismembered and a number of Arab states and mandates, including Palestine for the Jewish people, would be proposed.
While it might be considered the motivation, the significant dates, however, are April 25, 1920, when the leading victors agreed to the establishment of a Jewish Palestine, which was subsequently confirmed by the 52 members of the League of Nations in Geneva in 1922, with the important statement that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”
It would appear quite clear that what we should be celebrating are the recognition by the nations of the world of Herzl’s vision of turning the messianic dream into a political reality, subsequently endorsed by Balfour and agreed to by the nations of the world in the 1920s, challenged only in our own day by a resurgent Islam that goes unchallenged by a politically correct and enfeebled western society.BERNHARD LAZARUS
Tel Aviv View of an ‘annexee’
Now that the Jerusalem annexation bill is being postponed (“PM delays vote on J’lem bill after US indicates opposition,” October 29), maybe our Knesset members can take a step back and start considering those who would actually be affected by the bill: the “annexees.”
I only found out about this bill last week in the papers, and I currently have no idea what it means to be “annexed to Jerusalem.”
If the bill passes, would I have to start paying Jerusalem property tax? Where are my municipal services coming from – my locality or Jerusalem? Is annexation going to cost me more money? Will I be entitled to a Jerusalem discount card? Who’ll be my mayor – the mayor of Efrat or the mayor of Jerusalem? These are but a few of the unknowns.
The bill has a lot of local, practical implications that go beyond populism and international politics. Maybe it’s a great idea and maybe it’s not, but at least give us, the residents, the information to decide.
If our parliamentarians truly cared about their constituents, they would inform us of the details of the bill as it is being drafted, or maybe even conduct a favorability survey. This is a good example of why Knesset members need to be elected directly by, and held accountable to, their constituents.DAVID JACOBS
Foolhardy behavior Eugene Korn’s thesis (“Parshat Lech Lecha: Modern conflicts and an ancient text,” Observations, October 27) is that fanatical religious leadership on both sides prevents compromise.
His even-handed theory forces him to quote some anonymous rabbi in the exuberant post-Six Day War era to balance the daily rantings by clerics and secular leaders demonstrating undying hatred on the other side. He seems to support some kind of two-state solution to our conflict. With no small dose of fuzzy thinking, he concludes that such compromise is actually warranted on religious- ethical grounds.
Neither Abraham nor Lot “owned” Canaan at the time.
Even if by some stretch of the imagination you call their parting of ways “territorial compromise,” we can’t compare a family spat among clansmen in the Bible to the violence and deep-seated Muslim animosity Israel faces.
A less biased presentation would no doubt conclude that few Jewish religious leaders would oppose compromise if they could just be convinced that we won’t just be giving away our territory to an enemy who will be back for more tomorrow. There is nothing in Jewish ethics to support such foolhardy behavior.
Petah Tikva Anti-haredi sentiments
Reader Natalie Gilbert (“Stuck in traffic,” Letters, October 22) wrote that “the haredi community is quite happy to take all that is offered them by the government whilst giving nothing back in return whereas the rest of the country gives up their time, family and sometimes their lives to serve the country.”
Similarly, reader Judy Prager wrote in the same section to “suggest a very quick way to stop all these demonstrations: Anyone not prepared to do their national duty either in the army or other ways, such as driving ambulances, should not receive child allowance or other financial help from the state.”
I would like to suggest that their complaints would carry more weight if they were directed also at the Arab sector, whose non-enlistment seems to be considered entirely acceptable.
Also, reader Yehuda Gross (“Enough is enough,” Letters, October 23) says he doesn’t like “what the Jerusalem haredim are doing,” but would anyone “dare attack the handicapped people who are doing exactly the same thing, blocking the roads?” To paraphrase reader Asher Resnick (“Distortion of truth,” Letters, October 22), who was referring to another issue entirely, “maybe if we had a bit more common sense and respect for Jewish law, as opposed to marginalizing and ridiculing it, we could make some real progress in eliminating the terrible phenomena” of anti-haredi incitement.
MARTIN D. STERN
Time to go
Israel suffers from three things for which the time has come to do away with them. In no significant order they are: the turning of clocks back to “winter time,” the office of the president and the doubled Chief Rabbinate.
Time and money might be far better devoted to the many real needs of the nation.SIDNEY HANDEL
The statement in “South Africa’s ‘stop-gap’ ambassador” (Comment & Features, October 29) that during the Apartheid years, “blacks were not allowed to walk on the same pavement as whites. They had to walk around cars to get to wherever they were going. If they happened to step onto the pavement, they would be beaten up,” as well as similar statements, were paraphrased comments made by South African Ambassador Sisa Ngombane.
They were not the observations of the writer.