June 19: Misguided lovers

There are Jewish elitists in America today who despise Israeli democracy and believe the Israeli people don't know what's good for them and that only they have this knowledge.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Misguided lovers Sir, - The phenomenon described by Isi Leibler in "Bogus 'Zionist' Israel-bashers" (June 10) is not a new one. In the 20th century, there were many elitists who despised democracy. They believed that the people didn't know what was good for them and that only they knew what was good for the people. Whenever they could, they seized power by revolutionary means and imposed a ruthless dictatorship which they called a "People's Democracy." There are Jewish elitists in America today who despise Israeli democracy and believe the Israeli people don't know what's good for them and that only they have this knowledge. They wish to dictate to the Israeli people by persuading their president to force their policies on us. No doubt there are many sincere but misguided lovers of Israel, just as there were many sincere and misguided liberals in the last century who supported Communism in the belief that the communists were building a just society in the Soviet Union. Interestingly, those who finance the kind of organizations Mr. Leibler writes about, ostensibly out of love for Israel, have never invested a cent in Israel - neither built a hospital, nor donated money to any charity here. DAVID STEINHART Petah Tikva Still on sufferance Sir, - In response to Daniel Gordis's "Obama is right - it's time for honesty" (Upfront, June 12): Here's honesty: Since the destruction of the Second Temple, we Jews have lived on the sufferance of others. In the Diaspora we made ourselves useful, curried favor and learned (except in the Holocaust) to survive. We have thrived especially in post-WWII America and Israel; but until our War of Independence, the term "Jewish warrior" would have been considered an oxymoron. The Six Day War finally gave Jews stature as fighters. Yet despite its military, economic, scientific and moral strength, the Jewish State of Israel still lives on the sufferance of others. Israel's "red lines" (whatever they may be) may not correspond to the exigencies of world politics. Our "vision" (whatever it may be) is not what we will get unless it dovetails with what the US wants or feels it needs. A coherent, manageable party system in Israel will not change this underlying reality. So let's not kid ourselves: • Israel needs the good will, trade and support of the US government and people. • Economics, not morality, usually drives Western behavior. Oil is economics. • "Our bomb" may not be a deterrent to Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. • If we really want to know who we are as Jews and Israelis, the question is not "What can we do?" in the World of Obama. It's "How can we act without fear of losing the support of the US?" • Israel has nothing to offer today that will alter the core desire of Arabs/Muslims to eradicate Israel as a Jewish state. • Even if there is a religious/political reformation in the Arab-Muslim world, it will take a long, long time for Israelis to believe that the Arabs-Muslims have abandoned their evil intentions toward us. We need to keep defending Israel as best we can - by recognizing that we still need to make ourselves useful, curry favor and try to be a light unto the nations, however blind they may be. At the same time, the world needs to know with certainty that we will not go peacefully into the night. GERRY MANDELL Omer 'Eisenhowever' Sir, - Re "Obama and Eisenhower: Some parallels" (Yoav J. Tenembaum, June 9): When Dwight Eisenhower succeeded Harry Truman in the 1950s, he announced an "evenhanded policy in the Middle East" and dispatched his friend, Gov. William Scranton of Pennsylvania, to the region to announce his new program. Scranton went to all the Arab capitals, then came to Tel Aviv for a press conference. As a correspondent for American radio networks, I attended. After Scranton's speech, my fellow foreign correspondents posed a few innocuous questions. Then I asked Scranton if the US intended to deal equally, evenhandedly, with democracies and dictatorships. Scranton was puzzled by the question. I asked him if he could name a single Arab democracy in the Middle East. This infuriated Scranton,and he stormed off the platform. Immediately fellow correspondents fell upon me: "How could you insult the president's emissary? What nerve!" I told them they were a flock of sheep, and that they should have asked the question. In Israel we called him "Eisenhowever." He could never make an independent decision and relied on "Dullest" to guide him. Will Obama follow in the footsteps of Eisenhower, influenced by Bill and Hillary Clinton and the State Department? ELIEZER WHARTMAN Jerusalem Beautifully batty Sir, - I've just finished reading Diana Barshaw on bats, either the second or third of her contributions that I've had the pleasure and privilege of sharing ("Going batty," Upfront, June 5). As a frustrated animal behaviorist, I'm completely gobsmacked by her ability to convey her profound knowledge of the animal world in a language that is easily assimilable by lay people like me. Add to that an elegant pen, and you have a jewel that should be treated accordingly. I'll go further and say that it seems, at last, that you have come close to replacing the irreplaceable, late and still much-lamented D'vora Ben-Shaul. Let us have more of Ms. Barshaw. MARK COHEN Ra'anana