December 22: Blind to reality?

Could it be that Israel’s most eloquent and passionate advocate, as writer Steve Linde describes Dershowitz, is as blind to the realities of the situation as those he criticizes?

Dershowitz inconsistent Sir, – Alan Dershowitz (“Charging his batteries in Israel,” Cover, December 9) wrote in his Hudson Institute article that Israel has the right to attack Iran’s nuclear reactors. Yet he continues to support Barack Obama, the president who has done everything he can to discourage an Israeli preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear sites, the only remaining option of self-defense left to Israel, with the mutually assured destruction doctrine inapplicable to Tehran.
Obama is even against the Menendez-Kirk amendment, which passed the Senate 100 to 0 and would make sanctions against Iran bite.
Although Dershowitz acknowledges that Obama has made “serious mistakes,” he continues to support the president, whose appeasement of Iran may cost the lives of millions.
This is a blatant inconsistency on Dershowitz’s part.MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC Beersheba
Sir, – The opening words of the interview with Alan Dershowitz describe him very accurately. He is, indeed, smart, sharp and savvy. In the face of those facts, I cannot understand how he can contradict himself when discussing what Israel must do in order to attain peace.
At one point, Dershowitz states that Israel can do nothing right as far as the Europeans and many UN members are concerned. Further, he laments the position of America’s secretary of defense, who holds Israel responsible for the lack of progress in the peace process.
He then suggests that Israel make a generous offer, “terribly painful territorial compromises,” and let the world see that it is ready to compromise. He even admits that it has already done this.
Could it be that Israel’s most eloquent and passionate advocate, as writer Steve Linde describes Dershowitz, is as blind to the realities of the situation as those he criticizes? BOB YERMUS Jerusalem
‘Fallen’ hero Sir, – The Shalem Center declared as its mission the transformation of Israel’s body politic and civic culture by focusing on political principle over short-term expediency. Discuss issues, debate them, disagree, but make ideals and ideas the driving force behind the current and future State of Israel, not just its founding.
Daniel Gordis (“The danger of the dangers,” A Dose of Nuance, December 9) is disturbed by the Knesset’s attempt to “tamper with the Supreme Court (one of Israel’s few well-functioning governmental bodies...).”
Does it matter if it functions well if it is, in its structure, a violation of principle? The old line about Mussolini – that at least he got the trains to run on time – is intended to disparage fascism.
It matters not if the ends are “well-functioning” if the means are abhorrent. This is the essence of principle.
The core principle of democracy is that all the branches of government draw their power from the consent of the governed and represent the people. The current system of judicial appointment in Israel is fundamentally anti-democratic, as the nomination is not proffered by a directly elected representative of the people, nor is the nominee vetted by directly elected representatives. As dysfunctional as the Knesset institution may be, it is still elected by the people.
Further, the Supreme Court recognizes no limits to its power, no concept of classical principles of standing and justiciability, and thus violates the separation of powers fundamental to good government.
Shalem’s quarterly, Azure, made its early name with classic articles by Evelyn Gordon and Hillel Neuer discussing the very structure of the Israeli Supreme Court, as well as the principles that guide it. Gordon and Neuer fully understand that even if the court functioned perfectly and its rulings were Solomonic, if it is not constituted in a democratic fashion it is, ipso facto, illegitimate and must be changed.
To see the president of Shalem defend expedience over principle, to question the right of the people through a democratic process to rein in government, whether for good or ill, is truly a loss.
How are the mighty fallen.AVI DEITCHER Modi’in
More to the story Sir, – With regard to the article on German Gen. Erich von Falkenhayn, who supposedly saved the Jewish population of Palestine from being massacred like the Armenians (“The irony of it all,” History, December 9), I would like to mention his even more amazing successor – Gen. Otto Liman von Sanders (1855- 1929), who was partly Jewish.
The general’s name was rather odd. His original family name was Liman. He was an Anglophile, so when he was raised to the peerage by the kaiser, he added the English name Sanders to the aristocratic von. He was opposed by many Prussian generals who used his Jewish ancestry against him.
Liman commanded the Turkish forces at Gallipoli. One of the officers he promoted there was Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
Allenby outmaneuvered the Turks in Palestine, outflanking them in Gaza by capturing Beersheba, forcing the Turks to withdraw up the coast. Although it was too late, von Sanders was sent to replace von Falkenhayn.
After Allenby’s forces won the crucial battle of Megiddo in October 1918, thus defeating the Turks and capturing all of Palestine, Von Sanders was captured in Istanbul. He returned to Germany, where he retired and wrote his memoirs.JACK COHEN Netanya
Roz has fans Sir, – How wonderful to find Roz Grossman in the Veterans feature of your magazine (“The Scrabble godmother,” December 9)! But Gloria Deutsch’s profile omitted the two places from where many US olim – myself included – fondly remember Roz: as the music teacher at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County and the music and drama director at Camp Morasha, in Lake Como, Pennsylvania.
Roz, if you’re reading this, I still remember the words to most of the songs you taught us (including an utterly ridiculous one about the UN being “the hope of humanity.” Good to know you’re still going strong! BRACHA OSOFSKY Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – I was very pleased to read the piece on Roz Grossman.
I (and, I imagine, hundreds of others) think of Roz as the legendary and iconic director of dramatics at Camp Morasha for the first 12 years of its existence. A brilliant director, translator, writer and pianist, Roz left an indelible impression on every person who worked with her. Her creativity was unmatched.
Thank you for the wonderful piece.LARRY WACHSMAN Jerusalem
The writer is a former head counselor at Camp Morasha.
The odyssey continues Sir, – Daniel K. Eisenbud’s “Roots” (Eisenbud’s Odyssey, December 9) was inspiring. More important, it was honest and heartfelt, and made me reflect on my own life.
As Eisenbud talked about his dad, I thought of my dad. His open, honest and sincere column seems to have been written with ease in the sense that I read it as though he were just laying it all out on the line. Loved it.
After my Czech dad and Hungarian mom (who both, after the Holocaust, landed in Palestine, fought in Hagana and got married) discovered a lost sister in Toronto and then built a corporate life in Canada, I, too, always felt disconnected yet close to Israel. I wish to thank Eisenbud for making the leap from feeling at home (my weakness) to being at home (his strength).BILL IZSO Ottawa
Sir, – Daniel K. Eisenbud’s “The art of the intellectual war” (Eisenbud’s Odyssey, December 2) is about 40 years late. The proposition that all Israel has to do is the “right thing” and the world will understand is patently wrong.
As Eisenbud writes, Israel must wage a far-reaching intellectual war, in part helped by the Diaspora. It should be added that special emphasis should be placed on the Arab and Muslim public. This is the minimum that can be done in the defense of Israel in the 21st century.JOSEPH GOTTFRIED West Palm Beach, Florida