Letters to the editor: Dec. 22, 2014

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Outstanding piece
Sir, – As a consistent reader of The Jerusalem Post for the past 66 years, I must compliment you on your choice of contributing journalists.
What an outstanding piece by Lior Akerman (“Bad Choices,” Observations, December 19).
Here’s hoping our politicians get to read this honest and excellent article, and with wishful thinking, another David Ben-Gurion or Menachem Begin is brought to light!
Ramat Gan
Different perspective
Sir, – I began to read “UNRWA – a different perspective” with some trepidation and ended up shaking my head. There were many assertions and few verifiable facts. But two points really raised my eyebrows.
First: “Meanwhile, you hear almost nothing in the media about our proactive programs to promote UN neutrality in the...Middle East.” Here, I agree with Chris Gunness, but surely the reason is that there is not really any UN neutrality to report! Second: “...or the Israeli occupying authorities in the case of the West Bank and Gaza.” Since Mr. Gunness is based in Gaza, must we assume he knows something we don’t? Who are these Israeli authorities? Does he interact with them on a daily basis or did he just miss the fact that Israel left the entire area years ago? With disinformation like this and the increased efforts of the Palestinians to have a state recognized by the UN, I very much hope Israel has a contingency plan for the “day after.”
Should the UN recognize and therefore create a state of Palestine, it would surely absolve Israel of the obligation to provide services to such an area. From that point in time, the PA would have to fend for itself.
Tel Aviv
Sir, – Instead of the acerbic but honest words of Sarah Honig in your December 19 Observations section, we were treated to half-truths from the pen of Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA.
While Gunness mentions the 30,000 loyal staff members employed by UNRWA to serve the unique Palestinian refugees – unique because they are the only refugees who can bequeath their status to future generations ad infinitum – he fails to point out that the other UN organization that deals with refugees, UNHCR, has a staff of 6,351 serving 21 million people in 117 countries.
Not surprisingly, he also fails to mention that Hamas itself confirmed that many UNRWA employees are members of that organization, that there is impartial evidence confirming Hamas’s presence in UNRWA schools in Gaza, and that UNRWA school books are inflammatory and biased, to say the least.
Meaningless canard
Sir, – In his excellent critique of the BBC’s refusal to call a spade a spade (“BBC’s world without terror,” Comment & Features, December 18), Raphael Cohen-Almagor suggests that its misguided attempt at neutrality might be based on the belief that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
That canard (to which Cohen-Almagor does not subscribe) is meaningless. Terror is a tactic, not an ideology. A freedom fighter who resorts to terrorism to advance his goals is also a terrorist, however laudable his goals might be. Think of Menachem Begin as leader of the Irgun.
US president George W. Bush’s “war on terrorism” was a somewhat misleading description of the conflict. The real war was (and is) against radical Islam, an ideology that uses terror as its primary mode of battle.
Bush could use shorthand to identify the enemy because in the wake of 9/11 people knew instinctively who the world’s arch-terrorists were.
Now that it is essential that we explicitly identify the enemy by its real name, those who do so unfortunately are accused of Islamophobia.
It is simple to demonstrate that ideology, not tactics, is at the heart of the struggle for world supremacy. ISIS and Hamas (among others) are rightly reviled for their terrorist tendencies. Imagine that they suddenly developed armies strong enough to confront Western militaries in conventional battles. Their change in tactics would not make them any less dangerous to our way of life. We would still do everything possible to destroy them.
If modern democratic values are to prevail, we must be willing not only to condemn a particular tactic, but to state explicitly who the enemy is.
Zichron Ya’acov
The writer, a former US diplomat, is a fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism
Say what?
Sir, – With regard to “Irish group reverses ban, permits mentioning of Israel at Shoah event” (December 15), I was at the 2014 program.
Yanky Fachler, the emcee, did mention Israel on several occasions.
How could he do his job otherwise? For instance, he referred to Yad Vashem as “Israel’s” Holocaust Authority and he introduced the “ambassador of Israel” to the podium.
More importantly, a theme of the 25-minute keynote address given by the Irish minister of justice, Alan Shatter, was that Israel today is under threat of a second Holocaust from its enemies. The minister also mentioned that of the six million citizens of Israel today, many are descendants of Holocaust survivors who went to live in Israel.
As far as I know, the real issue was that the emcee, in his penultimate closing remark, wanted to say that “we must prevent the memory of the Holocaust being [used] to deny the State of Israel a past and a future.” The organizers insisted on “the Jewish people” being substituted for “the State of Israel.” Hardly a ban on mentioning Israel.
As for the 2015 ceremony, if a similar closing remark is to be used by this year’s emcee, I am in agreement that “the Jewish people” is a more appropriate phrase in that context than “the State of Israel.” On the other hand, when it comes to the invited speakers, I expect Israel, the survivors, their children and grandchildren to feature prominently.
Tweaked narrative
Sir, – Zionism has the narrative that the Jews were in exile for 2,000 years and returned in the modern era.
This story was successful in the past, as important world figures were familiar with the biblical story of “exile and return” and were sympathetic with a modern version. However, with knowledge of biblical stories currently being quite low, this narrative has the problem that it appears as if the Jews had abandoned their homeland, presumably to the Palestinians. To many it will appear as if the Jews have no right to claim what they abandoned.
However, the UN has declared that indigenous peoples maintain their basic rights in such a situation so long as they maintain continuity in their homeland, even if they become a powerless minority. As long as the Israeli government does not emphasize the continuity of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and the rights that this might give the Jewish people, it seems the world will give no credit to the Jews.
One might envision the goal of the Israeli government to convince the world of the continuity of the Jewish people it its homeland, that even the Arabs/Muslims/ Palestinians will have to agree that the Land of Israel never ceased being a Jewish possession, where the Jews had the rights that the UN has declared for indigenous people.
Although one might speculate that most Israel supporters are fond of the “exile and return” narrative, perhaps most would agree to a change if it led to greater acceptance of the State of Israel.