Letters 344476

A selection of letters from our readers around Israel.

Letters (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, – Michael Freund’s interview with Nebojsa Radmanovic (“Bosnia in flux,” One on One, February 21) reminded me of the BBC interviewing a Palestinian spokesman – feeding him loaded questions and then allowing the resulting flow of half-truths and selective history to go completely unchallenged.
The principle of “my enemy’s enemy” deserves better scrutiny by Israel when it involves pursuing friendships with such a dubious entity as the Republic of Srpska. This was, after all, the international community’s reward for Serbian aggression against the other Yugoslav ethnic groups, which included one of the most notable atrocities in modern times – the extermination by Serbs of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica over five days in July 1995.
Bosnian Muslims fought on all sides during World War II, and were killed by all sides. Their main motivation for forming an army division under German command was self-defense against attacks from Croats and Serbs. When part of this division was instead sent to serve in France, its members rebelled, shot their German officers and joined the French resistance.
In truth, more than they sinned, Bosnian Muslims were sinned against. They lost over 8 percent of their population during the war – second only to the Jews.
In a year in which we commemorate the centennial of a war that was triggered by the bullets of a Serb assassin, surely it behooves us to look more critically at who our latest “friends” are.
Sir, – It is unfortunate that a beautiful story on the Jewish presence enriching two Croatian cities over many centuries (“Split and Dubrovnik,” Travel, February 21) included some falsities and distortions related to Croatia’s modern history.
While rightfully addressing the terrible crimes of the Ustashi collaboration regime during the Second World War, the article fails to acknowledge the existence of an ultimately victorious Croatian resistance movement, one of the strongest in occupied Europe, thus ignoring the building block of a defining importance for present- day Croatian statehood. Croatia is today a member of both the EU and NATO, with friendly and extensive relations with Israel, standing for values of freedom, democracy, tolerance and truth.
In the 1990s, liberated from the yoke of Communism, Croatia had to defend its emerging democracy and territory, and gain its independence fighting an onslaught of the Serbian paramilitary forces and the Yugoslav Army spearheading Serbian expansionism. Yes, a Yugoslav Army that had been shelling Dubrovnik, as the article mentions, but no, not a Yugoslav Army that “swept in to separate the warring Serbian and Croatian factions,” as the article contradictorily claims as well – because there was no such Yugoslav Army.
Tel Aviv
The writer is the Ambassador of Croatia to Israel.
Sir, – With regard to “Talking two states in Ramallah” (Cover, February 21), I don’t know what Mati Wagner was told in English to make him say that Jibril Rajoub and Mahmoud al-Habbash “support a twostate solution,” but he should have first checked what they’ve said in Arabic.
Two examples from Rajoub: On Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV on April 30, 2013, he proclaimed that if the Palestinians were in possession of a nuclear weapon, they would use it on Israel. On Palestinian Authority TV on May 17, 2012, he said, “Under no circumstances will there be normalization [with Israel]. No Jews, no Satans, no Zionist sons of bitches.”
And religious leader Habbash? Referring to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah of 628 CE, where Muslims supposedly agreed to a 10-year peace with the Meccans, he said: “In less than two years, the Prophet returned and conquered Mecca. This is the example, this is the model [for a treaty with Israel].” And on Palestinian TV on June 29, 2012, he said that even if Israel continues to “burn our fields, cut down our trees, burn our mosques, destroy our homes, arrest and kill – we will remain here and they will depart; they will leave. Upon this land, the chaff [like Israel] passes with the wind.”
Those, Mr. Wagner, are hardly the words of supporters of a two-state solution.
Sir, – “Talking two states in Ramallah” contained a passage on water issues that was exactly the same text that appeared in the editorial “Water concerns” in the daily Jerusalem Post of February 14. It places the blame for Palestinian shortages on Israel, but this can be answered by the 2012 report by Haim Gvirtzman, professor of hydrology at the Hebrew University.
The text omits that per-capita use of fresh natural water (excluding desalination and recycling) per annum is equal – for 2012 it was 150 cubic meters for Israel, and 140 cu.m. for the West Bank.
Secondly, much Palestinian water goes to agriculture, for which Israel uses mostly recycled water.
The Palestinian Authority has refused recycling projects for Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarm, Ramallah, Jenin and elsewhere, because it involves cooperation with Israel. Your text blames Israel for this failure.
Thirdly, Palestinian leakage is 33%, a detail omitted entirely.
Wagner claims that Israelis do not know or understand the realities on the Palestinian side, but given the many errors just in this short passage, one wonders whether it is in fact Wagner whose understanding is deficient.
Mati Wagner responds: Regarding the first letter, I will be exploring Rajoub and Habbash’s problematic statements in future articles. I asked them what they meant by them and they provided me with answers. In conversations, they say they support a two-state solution. Obviously, they would prefer not to be forced to compromise; nobody likes to do that.
Regarding the second letter, for my analysis of the water problem I rely on a combination of personal testimony by many Palestinians who say they suffer regularly from water shortages, and information provided to me by Friends of the Earth Middle East, which, I am told by reliable, objective sources, is an even-handed and reputable NGO.
Moreover, I mention the problem of leaky pipes in my article, which I note seems to be primarily the result of Palestinian negligence. I also mention the problems that Palestinians, donor countries and Israel have run into while attempting to coordinate the building of sewage treatment plants. From what I was able to ascertain, Israel shares at least some of the blame.
Sir, – Reuven Hammer’s outstanding discourse regarding the question of equal army service for all males (“Sharing the burden equally,” Tradition Today, February 21) should be translated into Hebrew and sent to all haredi rabbis and heads of educational organizations and institutions in Israel.
Working, studying the Torah and serving in the IDF are sustainable and essential for our existence in Israel. Our religious heads and educators, not politicians, must lead the way in finding a solution to equality in this major issue.
Kiryat Ono
Sir, – Regarding the reader’s letter about the intermarriage rate among non-Orthodox Jews (“Blathering column, February 21), Jonathan Rosenblum responds by saying that if four out of five marriages are intermarriages, the intermarriage rate is four out of six Jews (two of the Jews marry Jews), which is 67%, not four-fifths or 80%, as one would normally suppose.
This discrepancy between the intermarriage rates based on the number of marriages or number of Jews is negligible near the extremes of zero and 100% intermarriage. It is a maximum where, for example, if one out of two marriages is an intermarriage, it gives a rate of 50% in terms of marriages and 33% in terms of Jews.
Both methods give a correct result, but whichever method one prefers, I suppose most people would stick with the simple “four out of five marriages equals 80%” formula.
Kiryat Ono
The writer is a mechanical engineer.
CLARIFICATION: Readers interested in the Bartrz start-up benefiting the Ko-Swazi village in Zimbabwe (“A start-up with a conscience,” Start-up Spot, February 28) should go to www.bartrz.com