June 10: Speaking for itself

An opinion piece can be either a well-reasoned thesis or a diatribe; I will let J Street chair Davidi Gilo’s column speak for itself.

Speaking for itself
Sir, – An opinion piece can be either a well-reasoned thesis or a diatribe; the former is characterized by the use of cold logic, while the latter is suffused with loaded, emotional terms. I will let J Street chair Davidi Gilo’s column (“Family and friends don’t stand idly by in the face of danger,” Guest Columnist, May 27) speak for itself.
First, Gilo clearly implies that he knows our situation better than we poor benighted simpletons do. His use of phrases such as “imminent danger,” “disingenuous” and our “intransigence” leading to “disaster” makes me wish I could feel as secure in my feelings as he does in his.
That said, it might contribute to his intellectual integrity if he exercised just a little bit of humility and not refer to our prime minister solely in ad hominem and insulting terms such as “bluster,” “pander” and the like.
Vitriolic verbosity is no acceptable substitute for clear reasoning.
Sir, – Davidi Gilo, chair of J Street’s board, blames the lack of progress in the peace talks on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “continued intransigence.” This refers to his refusal to let Israel be flooded with millions of Palestinian refugees, his refusal to withdraw to the 1967 “Auschwitz borders,” his refusal to transfer the Old City of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, and his refusal to negotiate with Hamas, a terrorist organization whose express goal is to destroy Israel.
Thank God for Netanyahu’s continued intransigence!
Sir, – Two sides are indeed served by listening, so Davidi Gilo, listen up! Israel has accepted a two-state solution. The Palestinians, however, refuse to acknowledge Israel, the Jewish state. Hamas continues to call for our annihilation. Israel’s calls for direct talks are met with Palestinian obstacles and preconditions.
If J Street is truly concerned with our well-being, it would do well to pressure the Palestinians to sit and negotiate, to stop teaching hatred and annihilation, to stop rewriting our history and to stop rewarding terrorists monetarily and on street signs.
In short, pressure the Palestinians to accept us!
SARA SMITH Jerusalem
Sir, – Davidi Gilo writes “Israelis and Americans have been talking since the 1990s about a two-state resolution of the conflict based on the 1967 borders with mutual land swaps and measures to ensure Israel’s security. Netanyahu knows this, yet chooses to pander to his far-right-wing base....”
Excuse me? Did Gilo actually listen to Netanyahu’s speech to Congress? The above formula, especially considering Obama’s clarification as to what he meant by “based on 1967,” is exactly what Netanyahu spoke about. What part of the prime minister’s speech does Gilo disagree with? Is it the part about creating a Palestinian state and ending the conflict once and for all? It’s time for Gilo and J Street (and Obama, for that matter) to internalize a very simple truth: The root cause of the entire conflict is not Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The root cause is the refusal by the Palestinians and Arabs to acknowledge that the Jewish people have a deep history and connection to this land.
Ya’acov Sir, – Davidi Gilo responds to a column in the same issue by Daniel Gordis (“In the tent, or out?,” Guest Columnist) by making the outrageous comment that Prime Minister Netanyahu should look around and see how many Israelis are clamoring for real leadership.
Where did Gilo get this information? All recent polls would show this comment to be nonsensical and reflecting an ignorance of the feelings of the man in the street, maybe because he resides so far away.
As to his claim, echoing those made by other J Street leaders, that the organization is strongly pro- Israel, this can best be answered by the comments of Congressman Gary Ackerman following their request to President Obama not to veto the Security Council resolution condemning Israel over east Jerusalem. He stated: “The decision to endorse the Palestinian and Arab effort to condemn Israel in the UN Security Council is not the choice of a concerned friend trying to help.
It is rather the befuddled choice of an organization so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.”
America really does need a smart, credible, politically active organization that is as aggressively propeace as it is pro-Israel. Unfortunately, J Street ain’t it.
Tel Mond
Sir, – The Jerusalem Post did its readers a considerable service by juxtaposing Davidi Gilo’s article with that of Daniel Gordis, which was based on his talk to a J Street mission here.
Lest your readers think that Gordis was being provocative, unfair or just plain wrong, they needed only to turn the page to Gilo’s piece and see how spot on he was.
Gilo probably thought he was writing a sympathetic, pro-Israel piece, much the same way as US President Barack Obama thinks he is pro-Israel in his pronouncements and policies. Yet the arrogance that so insinuates the progressive attitude toward Israel and support for Israel is not only unmistakable, but completely unselfconscious.
Of the many examples that suffuse Gilo’s piece, the accusation of intransigence is the most telling and damning. “Intransigence” is used by J Street and other self-appointed arbiters of wisdom and righteousness in the Middle East as a conclusory, self-evident statement.
A sympathetic perspective – a friend – as Gilo would have it, would never depict Israel as intransigent.
Doing so gives short shrift to the many overtures and concessions Israel has made, and completely disregards the inactions of the other side.
The inescapable conclusion is that “intransigence” is what you display when you don’t listen to J Street, when you just don’t get and see what it so clearly sees. To not see this is to “insist on a kind of mindless fealty,” as Gilo perceives the great unwashed who just don’t embrace his wisdom.
With family and friends like J Street, who needs enemies?
Rosh Pina
Those dunams matter
Sir, – Alon Ben-Meir (“Netanyahu’s stance jeopardizes Israel’s security,” Above the Fray, May 27) writes: “The area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is a mere 70 kilometers wide.... The inconvenient truth is that expanding territory by a few more dunams is not what will maintain Israel’s national security.”
Apparently Ben-Meir has not heard of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. Under that system, the farther a rocket is launched from its target, the more lead time it gives the system’s operators to track it, and hence increases the chances of interception.
So, when you are dealing with a defense system where every extra second is crucial, even a few dunams do matter.
Daniel Nicer is nice...
Sir, – As someone who spent his junior year abroad at Tel Aviv University in in 1971-72, I just loved Larry Derfner’s article (“The new, nice Israeli,” Cover May 27).
He’s spot on.
I’ve been serving in Sar-El twice a year for several years now. All three of our children spent a summer in Israel with Young Judaea, and one did the Young Judaea year course.
The Israel of today is not the Israel of 1971 that I knew (and loved). Moving from a second- to first-world country in less than 60 years has been a remarkable change for the better in all respects.
I do admit, though, to missing those raucous movie houses and spitting sunflower shells on the floor!
Highland Park, New Jersey .
..but has its cost
Sir, – I agree that the rough spots of the Israeli character have been softened. The shop-keeper-customer relationship has improved very much, with good help more available than before.
However, allow me to pose a few questions:
• When was the last time you got on a bus and a good part of the passengers were involved in a heated discussion of the burning topics of the day?
• How often does the bus get quiet and the driver raise the volume when the news comes on?
• It used to be that everyone was a savta, admiring babies and giving advice on how to dress them or quiet them. How often does this happen now? I feel that we have lost the sense of camaraderie that once existed – unless there is a national crisis.
Part of this is due to technology, where mp3 players and iPhones have replaced conversation. But I believe it is also because we are afraid of seeming too “personal,” of “invading” another’s “space.”
Even more sad is the degree to which the notion that we are all one nation, that all Jews’ lives are intertwined – not just through volunteerism or charity work but on a real, local level – has been lost. It may have been quite annoying when a well-meaning lady thought my baby was not dressed warmly enough (even in 30-degree weather), but that’s just it: She cared and meant well.
In short, I welcome more manners in society, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the warmth.