March 25: Moral compass? Rubbish!

The UK never had a moral compass in foreign affairs.

letters pink 88 (photo credit: )
letters pink 88
(photo credit: )
Moral compass? Rubbish!
Sir, I write to complain about your editorial concerning the expulsion from Britain of an Israeli diplomat (“British morality,” March 24).
First, the omissions. The UK foreign minister argued that he was taking this action partly to protect British citizens abroad, but the recent documented upsurge in anti-Semitic activity in the British Isles is evidence that the UK government does not protect its citizens’ rights even within its own borders. There are, of course, plenty of words, as one would expect from the country that produced Shakespeare, Scott, Dickens and others. But words are not action.
Second, there are many people in influential positions in the UK who indulge in anti-Semitic smears, and some are even ennobled.
But the most serious complaint that I have with your editorial is the suggestion that Britain has lost its moral compass. Rubbish! The UK never had a moral compass in foreign affairs.
Its policy over the centuries has been governed by self-interest alone – and that includes the Balfour Declaration.
Our Foreign Ministry should remind its counterpart in the UK that while it has every right to define its policies by self-interest, other countries have exactly the same right – and if they don’t like that, tough!
    ALBERT JACOB    Beersheba
Fair play
Sir, – How brave are the British, standing up to Israel (“Israel blasts UK for expelling diplomat over Dubai killing,” March 24)! Perhaps they have been inspired by US President Barack Obama and his noble precedent of boldly castigating, on the world stage, the leading democracy in the Middle East.
And to think, by expelling the Israeli diplomat, the British are putting in jeopardy the upcoming season’s Dead Sea skin care products sale at Brent Cross and other malls across their green land. If Israel chooses to respond in kind, the British may find themselves facing Dead Sea Bath Salts hitting a $100 a barrel.
But the British have this particular quality they call “a stiff upper lip,” and “fair play” is a national aspiration. Integrity, before all else, is the chief motivating factor at the Foreign Office; they cannot be influenced by considerations of commodities – no matter the negative consequences come bathtime.
It is for this reason, that we must trust their word about the compelling evidence they have gathered that Israel tampered with British passports. Requiring proof, although a quaint custom, seems a shallow request.
    DIANA LEONIE    Jerusalem
Sir, – It is true that the practice of stealing and faking passports doesn’t comply with the rules of playing cricket, but I think it is a perfectly acceptable violation when it is practiced in order to save innocent lives.
    SMOKY SIMON     Herzliya Pituah
Don’t wait for moderates
Sir, – The op-ed “Hillary Clinton’s unfortunate mistake” (March 24) explains how the PA was primarily responsible for the renaming of a Ramallah square after a terrorist. This correction ought to provide a wake-up call to the State Department, but the fact is, our entire Middle East policy is based on overblown hopes for the triumph of moderation when the reality is otherwise.
For example, in Afghanistan, the Taliban official responsible for blowing up the Bamiyan Buddhas is now a member of parliament. And two Afghani men were recently sentenced to 20 years in jail for mistranslating the Koran.
In Iraq, the persecution of the Christian minority is out of control.
The idea that we can impose a democratic infrastructure and correct the extremism and intolerance in the Mideast reflects a fundamental misreading of the cause of what could be termed the global jihad.
The problem is not the lack of democracy; the Mideast has been undemocratic for centuries. Rather, it was the formation of OPEC in 1973 that provided trillions of dollars to the Islamic regimes, which enabled and globalized long-dormant jihadist ambitions.
While we are counting on phantom legions of frustrated Mideast moderates to miraculously materialize, the Saudis have funded about 80 percent of the mosques in America, infusing them with a radical brand of Islam. In Europe, thousands of similar mosques financed by petrodollars have also sprung up.
If we truly want to defeat Islamic extremism, the money spigot will have to be turned off.
    DAVID KATCOFF     Jericho, Vermont
Those who cover for the guilty
Sir, – Addressing the Catholic Church sex scandals, reader Paul Kokoski states that “a very small percentage of priests are actually sex abusers” (“The sins of a few,” Letters, March 23). While this is probably true, the fact is that quite a few others were involved in covering up for the guilty, and these must share in the guilt. They enabled the guilty to continue in their misdeeds. Some of these were pretty high up in the hierarchy.
    HAROLD FRANK    West Orange, New Jersey
Distorted ‘tours’
Sir, – In the controversy over the removal of information on Ir Amim’s “tours” from the Jerusalem Municipality Web site, it is important to better understand this non-governmental organization (“Officials protest removal of Ir Amim info from municipality Web site,” March 23).
Ir Amim is a political advocacy group, funded primarily by European governments, which presents a largely Palestinian narrative that distorts the complexity and details of Jewish history in Jerusalem. This NGO’s officials condemn what they refer to as a process by which “government powers are being handed over to the settler organizations” and make the tendentious claim that “archeological digs have become an important tool in the fight for control of [the area around the Old City].”
Last year, Ir Amim produced a series of short films, Jerusalem Moments, which purported to “courageously confront the delicate and charged issues… about the complex reality in Jerusalem, between East and West.” Instead, as Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz wrote, the series was “an exercise in the bludgeoning documentation of Palestinian victimhood and of allegedly mindless Israeli cruelty and aggression.”
Ir Amim also routinely minimizes the security threat to Jerusalem’s Jewish population. Its leaders refer to the security barrier around Shuafat, which has been a major source of terror threats, as a “demographic wall.” While individuals may have legitimately differing views on each of these issues, one can understand why the listing of Ir Amim’s politically charged “tours” on the Jerusalem Municipality Web site was seen as inappropriate.
    YISHAI HUGHES     NGO Monitor    Jerusalem
A lasting love
Sir, – We enjoyed Judy Montagu’s latest article very much (“When joy comes knocking,” March 24). It reflected parts of our lives as well.
We met on my husband’s 71st birthday, January 31, 1995. We were engaged a bit after my 66th birthday in June, 1996, and married in August. His three children and five grandchildren live in the USA; my daughter lives in the USA, and my son, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren live in Jerusalem. He was “saba” to my grandchildren from the day they met.
We have traveled all over together: United States from coast to coast;Argentina, where he grew up; Brazil; Uruguay; Hungary, where he wasborn; Czech Republic; Italy; Spain (twice); and all over Israel. Therehave been ups and downs, of course, with surgeries and illnesses as wehave matured, but we love each other and are happily ensconced in thebeautiful gardens of Ganei Omer, a senior community near Beersheba.
We wish Jacob (whose letters to the editor we read with interest) and Dolly many happy and healthy years together.