Letters: June 17, 2011

Arthur Goldreich’s brave and gallant deeds for the peoples of South Africa were actions of a South African who happened to be a Jew.

letters (photo credit: JP)
(photo credit: JP)
Goodbye, Goldreich
Sir, – Regarding “The life and times of a freedom fighter” (Cover, June 3), the Jews of South Africa see themselves as Jews who are South African by birth, unlike, for example, American Jews, who are first and foremost American citizens who happen to be Jewish.
Arthur Goldreich’s brave and gallant deeds for the peoples of South Africa were actions of a South African who happened to be a Jew. As the mission of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies is to concern itself with the well-being of South African Jewry, the SAJBD could not be expected to shout its support for Goldreich from the rooftops. But to accuse the SAJBD of adding to the bounty (“When I escaped they offered to pay additional money for the reward on my head”) is absolute rubbish, to put it bluntly.
Sir, – How can anyone praise and eulogize Arthur Goldreich, a man who slandered the Jewish state by repeating propaganda lies against it? It is quite extraordinary to give such a report cover publicity.
We are informed that in 2006 Goldreich wrote a two-part feature in the Guardian newspaper, where he described Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as amounting to “brutality and inhumanity.” He defined Israel as an apartheid state and evoked the Holocaust to condemn it. By reinforcing Arab propaganda in the British press he only added to the hatred of the Jewish state and of Jews worldwide.
Arthur Goldreich cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as “a Zionist” who “loved his country.”
Sir, – The cover of your June 3 issue declares that Arthur Goldreich was “a human rights advocate,” but he was not. As your article mentions, he was a communist, and communists routinely ignore the human rights abuses of communist states.
According to your article, Goldreich traveled to East Germany and Czechoslovakia, homes of two particularly repressive communist regimes, but we can safely assume that he never protested the gross violations of human rights in either of those states, or in any other communist state.
Goldreich obviously was an anti-apartheid advocate, and is entitled to recognition as such, but this alone did not make him a human rights advocate.
JEFFREY I. ZUCKERMAN Silver Spring, Maryland
Behind the scenes
Sir, – “Marlene Venig’s life story thus far sounds like the stuff of pure screenplay,” goes the opening sentence in “The Belz of drama” (Feature, June 3) by Barry Davis, who proceeds to make the rest of the article also sound like screenplay.
We are told that talented Marlene Venig, 31, expecting her seventh child, is a member of the Belz community, has a master’s degree in theater from the Hebrew University, a PhD in theater, music, dance and cinema, and to top it off has just published her first book, Orthodox Cinema. Kudos to her, a role model for haredi women.
There is no mention in this article or even the slightest hint of who fathered her offspring (immaculate conception?) or who takes care of them while she is performing. Possibly, haredi modesty prevented her from referring to a stay-at-home husband, behind-the-scenes grandparents or household caretakers who should be credited with helping to make her accomplishments possible.
I hope she finds time to read the article and will want to tell inquisitive readers the missing information about her off-stage life.
Know-it-all arrogance
Sir, – That Jeremy Ben-Ami and I stand on opposite ends of the political spectrum in this country does not bother me.
What does, though, is his perceived monopoly on morality and truth (“Saving the tent,” Guest Columnist, June 3).
From where does he presume to know that his solution is the solution? The only way to achieve peace is for Jews to be removed from their homes? Concessions to the enemy have already proven fruitless, so why would we continue with a medicine that not only does not work, but has been shown to result in side effects? I also do not understand how Ben-Ami can actually imply that the majority of the country shares the opinions of Kadima leader Tzipi Livni simply because Kadima is the largest single faction in the Knesset.
Did he not notice that there are more right-leaning parties than there are left? I, like virtually everyone else living here, have some ideas as to how to proceed in our continuing war for independence.
Will they work? I honestly cannot say for sure; my speculation as to how things would play out is no more accurate than anyone else’s. What is clear, to anyone paying attention, is that what has been tried so far – land (and weapons and money) for peace – has been unsuccessful.
If we are really in the same tent – the one that says we want what is best for the people of Israel – maybe a little open-mindedness and not know-it-all arrogance is what is required.
BOB YERMUS Jerusalem
Sir, – In his great wisdom, Jeremy Ben-Ami provides us with a vision that totally ignores history.
First of all, “international forces on its borders to ensure against arms smuggling and terrorism” was already tried on the Gaza-Egypt border in 2005, with the international forces lasting all of one week before they ran away. After the Second Lebanon War, UN peacekeeping forces completely failed in their task of preventing arms smuggling, resulting in a situation in which Hezbollah now has more and better rockets then ever before, and pointed at Israel.
I would also like to thank Ben- Ami for stating that “the State of Israel has the right and the duty to protect its citizens and to defend itself within reasonable limits.” But it is these “reasonable limits” that have endangered my life and those of my comrades-in-arms without logic or moral justification. When, instead of bombing a building, we send in troops to clear it out to prevent civilian casualties, we risk our lives to save Palestinian lives.
When I made aliya and joined the IDF, it was to defend and save Jewish lives, and not to risk the lives of my family and my friends’ families in order to save our enemies’ lives. At the end of the day, I prefer to be condemned by fools but attend fewer funerals.
ARIE HOLTZ Jerusalem
Sir, – I find it quite baffling that Jeremy Ben-Ami doesn’t bother to address the subject of Israel’s numerous withdrawals and rejected proposals, with their very negative results. Does he consider them steps in the right direction, just not far enough? Also lacking in his “vision of a solution” is any mention of the attitudes, intentions and actions of the other side, even the so-called moderates, let alone the radicals.
He talks about a “wait and see” approach to the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Isn’t he aware that the Islamists again nixed negotiations with Israel immediately afterward? If, as Ben-Ami says, Israel is headed for a cliff (God forbid), maybe it’s the cliff of too much appeasement.
Forget the tent. What’s with these J Street guys?
Refreshing take
Sir, – Let me congratulate Amotz Asa-El on the best satirical article I have read to date relative to Palestinian historical revisionism (“Literary breakthrough in Ramallah,” Middle Israel, June 3).
Undoubtedly, Asa-El makes Mahmoud Abbas appear in a light few contemporary leaders have achieved. Never have I been enlightened to such an extent by such a refreshing take in which a new thread embellishes on all that is known about this world. It is as though Abbas shows us the raison d'etre for all of humanity.
Of particular interest is the explication for Palestinian dominance over Israel: How can Israeli hasbara ever compete with such convoluted reasoning?
YOEL NITZARIM Skokie, Illinois
Myths debunked
Sir, – Sarah Honig deserves to be congratulated for debunking the myths of Mahmoud Abbas (“The owners of history,” Another Tack, June 3).
Anybody who denies Jewish historical rights to the Land of Israel de facto denies the Bible. As such, how was it possible for President Shimon Peres to meet with the man after Abbas made such public remarks? Not only does the president bring disrespect to his office, but he lacks both pride and dignity.
Has Peres forgotten the disastrous results of his behind-thescenes manipulation that led to the Oslo process?
COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem