Letters to the Editor: True best friend

Of all the clichés that continue to bedevil Israeli diplomacy, the one that really spoils my breakfast is that “Israel has no better friend than....”

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
True best friend
Of all the clichés that continue to bedevil Israeli diplomacy, the one that really spoils my breakfast is that “Israel has no better friend than....” So here we go once more (“PM to Dempsey: You’ve been a great friend,” June 15).
I respectfully ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu how he thinks the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, would feel about Netanyahu’s pronouncements to the outgoing chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, having been told the same – and deservedly so – some months previously.
Netanyahu, like all Israelis, knows that at the hands of US President Barack Obama, he and our country have been belittled, insulted, ignored and treated as a nuisance. The Canadian government, on the other hand, has shown itself to be invincibly committed to Israel and has even gone so far as to adopt legislation to combat anti-Semitism in Canada.
So I ask: Who is really Israel’s best friend in the world?
Fighting BDS
Of course, we, the collective body of world Jewry, must fight the BDS movement. Yet nowhere in “We must fight BDS in the name of human rights” (Observations, June 15) does Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks refer to the circumstances in which the western world, through its political failings, allows the BDS movement to gain a foothold.
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Under President Barack Obama, the US seems to have retreated from its role of promoting and defending global freedom. In the case of Europe and the UK, where Lord Sacks does have a voice, prominent figures, such as Denmark’s ambassador to Israel, Jesper Vahr, publicly declare that Europe should apply a double-standard to Israel. Small wonder that the BDS movement is growing in Europe.
Lord Sacks refers to the risk of European Jews feeling that they are being forced to make a choice between supporting Israel or living in Europe. Surely he must realize that not only is this an entirely false choice, but one of the objectives of the BDS movement is to engender guilt feelings among Jews.
If Israel has become divisive among young Diaspora Jews, as Lord Sacks infers, it is simply because they have not been taught by their parents and communal leaders why Israel has rights in the West Bank.
I support Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. I do not support the occupation or the Jewish- preferred laws within Israel. I don’t advocate on behalf of BDS, but I do encourage friends and family to avoid purchasing goods and services produced beyond the Green Line.
Will MK Yinon Magal’s proposed law, reported in “PM to Meretz: Pull West Bank product- labeling bill” (June 9) bar me, an American and Australian citizen, from entering Israel? Will it prohibit me, a Jew, from immigrating under the Law of Return? Stop the occupation and I’ll have no reason to boycott anything, nor will anyone else. Pass Magal’s law and I, and thousands more like me, will question our support of a Jewish, undemocratic state.
JUDY BAMBERGER O’Connor, Australia
The Zivotofsky case
Two comments appearing in The Jerusalem Post regarding the recent decision of the US Supreme Court in the Zivotofsky passport case warrant some reflection.
In your June 10 editorial “Jerusalem, Israel,” you state: “The right thing for Obama to do... is to... recognize Jerusalem – at least those parts that are inside the 1949 Armistice Line – as part of Israel.” The same theme is repeated in the final paragraph.
I doubt that Israel is interested in recognition of its sovereignty in west Jerusalem only, for this could imply that Washington is free to recognize east Jerusalem as subject to a different sovereignty.
It should be recalled that in 1980, the Knesset adopted a law confirming that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
In “On the US (Supreme) Court jesters and Jerusalem” (Fundamentally Freund, June 11), Michael Freund rebukes the Jewish justices on the US Supreme Court for failing to take into account the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
We need to remember that justices of federal US courts are sworn to judge faithfully in accordance with the US Constitution; no other factor, political or religious, should enter into their considerations. Anything else would be a gross violation of their oath.
The writer is James G. McDonald Professor of American History, emeritus; former chairman of the Department of American Studies in the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and author of Jerusalem in America’s Foreign Policy.
I was surprised that Michael Freund was afforded so many column inches to level spurious criticism against US Supreme Court justices.
The court made no decision on whether or not Jerusalem was in Israel; it was required only to rule which branch of government under the Constitution was invested with power to recognize a foreign state – the executive or legislative. End of matter.
Eilat’s tragedy
Malcolm D. Sinclair’s piece “The tragedy that is Eilat” (Comment & Features, June 11) missed one important point.
For many years, until the mid 1990s, humorous and enticing advertisements appeared regularly on British TV proclaiming Eilat as the “place where the sun takes its winter holiday” – just the kind of message to attract frozen and bedraggled Britons in the midst of wet and cold winters. There was also a similar message displayed on a huge board some 10 meters long at the side of a busy platform on a central London rail station.
Both these adverts disappeared and did not return.
I do not know whether these were just isolated ventures or whether there were similar examples in numerous other places around the world, but without constant campaigning, people abroad simply do not know about Eilat and certainly will not visit in preference to the more glamorous venues of Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, the Maldives and even Sharm e-Sheikh, which are constantly paraded in the face of sun-seekers, divers and general tourists.
Malcolm D. Sinclair elicited nostalgia of our many visits from the UK to Eilat with our four children over the past 35 years.
May I suggest that despite service in the hotels not always being of top level, it is the lack of discipline and consideration shown by young families nowadays that deter European tourists from returning.
Being faced with a couple in the next room, often with three or four noisy children, and then being seated in the dining room among screaming babies and children running riot, is enough to spoil anybody’s vacation.
Our children were taught to behave, but I am told the times have changed! JOY COLLINS Tel Mond
Hardly encouraged
Your article about the panel on anti-Semitism at the recent Jerusalem Post Conference in New York (“Cotler: Anti-Semitism did not die at Auschwitz,” June 9) incorrectly characterized part of my remarks.
I did not say that I was “encouraged by large protests against anti-Semitism.” On the contrary, I am hardly encouraged.
In my speech I said, referring to European anti-Semitism: “It would seem that when civil society owns this problem and, to take but one example, the rally against anti-Semitism in Berlin is led and attended by non-Jews in huge numbers, that will be a mark of progress.”
SARA J. BLOOMFIELD Washington The writer is director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.