January 18: Double Standard

If the home-front of any other country in the world was attacked with thousands of unprovoked bombs and terrorist border infiltrations, there is absolutely no question that it would have the right to defend itself.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Double standard
Sir, – With regard to Ambassador Gérard Araud’s statements on French protests over last summer’s Gaza fighting (“French envoy to US: Attacks on Jews nothing to do with Israel,” January 15), his claim that it is legitimate to oppose Israel’s war of self-defense is in itself anti-Semitic.
If the home-front of any other country in the world was attacked with thousands of unprovoked bombs and terrorist border infiltrations, there is absolutely no question that it would have the right to defend itself.
The fact that “the majority of France” holds Israel to this incomprehensible double standard is plain, old-fashioned anti-Semitism.
It is a double standard that is being held up as legitimate by the governing powers in France.
No sense of humor
Sir, – Yisrael Medad and Eli Pollak (“When satire is bullying,” Media Comment, January 15) ignore the fact that satire is always directed at a current government’s failings. While Motti Kirschenbaum of Nikui Rosh received an award for his satire against the left-wing government of the time, the program was rapidly closed down when the Likud took over since it continued to make fun of the party in power.
In general, right-wing administrations are much less tolerant of satire, labeling it “unpatriotic” or “undermining national unity.”
The writers should note how President Barack Obama is viciously attacked by the rightwing media in the US, or how, for example, Prime Minister Gordon Brown suffered in Britain. This is usually the fate of all politicians who claw their way to the top.
Fears of crime
Sir, – One could not but chuckle when our president welcomed French immigrants to come to Israel out of love and not fear. But what makes me scared is the fear that we have from living in Israel.
I am not talking about the Arab terrorism – I am talking about the escalating violence in our society against women, the weak and animals, and specifically the ever-strengthening hold that organized crime has over the country (“Violence feared as mob boss Domrani released from prison,” January 12).
If we do not understand that we have a real problem on our hands and fight against this phenomenon, it will swallow us whole. It is already an accepted institution and a fait accompli.
Jabbing ‘The Lancet’
Sir, – The purpose of “NGO Monitor claims anti-Israel bias at UK medical journal ‘Lancet’” (January 11) by Benjamin Weinthal is clearly an attempt to press The Lancet to withdraw the open letter to the people of Gaza by Paola Manduca and co-workers. In my opinion, that is an attack on freedom of expression. It stands in glaring contrast to the opinion of most people after the recent horrific killings in Paris.
It also seems that the purpose is to discredit The Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA).
LPHA is a research network of Palestinian, regional and international researchers committed to the highest scientific standards in describing, analyzing and evaluating the heath and care of Palestinians, contributing to the international scientific literature and developing local evidence-based policy and practice. It was established after the publication of a series of papers in The Lancet in 2009 (“Health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”). It is welcome that there are plans for a similar country series from Israel so that its story can be told.
The University of Oslo established collaboration with Hebron University and Birzeit University 20 years ago, and slightly later with the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. Our ambitions have been to improve in close partnership the health of the Palestinian people.
The number of series published in The Lancet is nothing less than a great contribution to peace and reconciliation. Health is both a determinant and an outcome of peace.
The writer is a professor at the University of Oslo’s Institute of Health and Society
Sir, – Benjamin Weinthal’s excellent piece draws attention to an excellent and hard-hitting study describing a long history of inappropriate pro-Palestinian political content in one of the world’s most prestigious scientific publications.
Six months ago, The Lancet published a vicious anti-Israel and anti-Semitic letter. With an online petition, over 4,100 Jewish and non-Jewish academics and doctors from the Diaspora have called on its editor, Richard Horton, and publisher, Reed Elsevier, for a retraction. Missing at present is evidence of support for this protest action from the Israel Medical Association (IMA) and other leading Israeli professional and scientific organizations.
The IMA and other groups need to challenge the Reed Elsevier board of directors to see if it has the moral courage to confront the fact that part of its fat profits arise from publishing blatant anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments.
Melbourne, Australia
Letters about letters
Sir, – Reader Barney Kaye (“Protests insufficient,” Letters, January 14) should not blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for participating in the Paris anti-terrorist march with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He should blame French President Francois Hollande, who insisted on having Abbas present.
It was not a question of Netanyahu lowering himself to the “lowest common denominator.”
If European leaders want to be serious about combating terrorism, they know perfectly well their own responsibility for it due to their failure to confront Abbas’s incitement to terrorism and their blind funding of the PA.
Prime Minister Netanyahu had the opportunity to try to bring the French president and other EU leaders to their senses, something that would have been lost by his absence.
Sir, – On reading “Those cartoons” (Letters, January 14), I was reminded of the famed French journalist, Emile Zola.
Zola wrote in the January 13, 1898, edition of L’Aurore the inflammatory open letter addressed to the French establishment and boldly headlined “J’accuse,” protesting the injustice of the conviction of Alfred Dreyfuss, the Jewish army captain falsely accused and eventually exonerated of treason.
The power of the press was evinced by the reaction to “J’accuse,” which became a rallying cry for the cause of justice.
It is interesting to note that the aftermath of the recent unity rally in Paris was reported in The Jerusalem Post on January 13, 117 years to the day of the publication of “J’Accuse.” In both cases the cry of freedom of the press was linked to a cause of injustice against Jews.
The outcry against the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish victims at the kosher supermarket was the latest link in the importance of the press in maintaining a free society.
Beit Shemesh
Sir, – Reader Malcolm Finn, a self-described secular Jew, suggests that the appropriate response to the Paris murders should be that western countries “make it illegal and punishable to publicly mock, belittle or slander any religion...” (“Readers react to last week’s Paris bloodshed,” Letters January 12).
I, an observant Jew, would not want to live in any such country, which would, by the nature of such laws, soon become a tyranny.
A religion is a set of beliefs and as such cannot be offended. All religions, ideas and belief systems should, in a free society, be open to criticism, opposition and even ridicule in the public domain. If not, a country ceases to be free.
It is human beings who are deserving of respect, not abstract ideas, in whatever guise they present themselves.