April 13: Smarter Now

I commemorated my birthday in Jordan but could not celebrate alongside people who would hate me unabashedly if they learned my true religion.

Smarter now
Sir, – I used to share Dan Kaiman’s idealism about the transformative power of dialogue and cooperation with Palestinians and Muslims (“A new type of engagement: American rabbinical students and Israel,” Comment & Features, April 11). Then I studied in Amman for half a year, became fluent in Arabic – and understood the writing on the wall.
Most Arabs of Palestinian descent there and on our side of the river want nothing less than the expulsion of all Jews in Israel, or at least their subjugation as dhimmis to Islamic supremacy.
They feel historically wronged and see a violent resolution to the conflict as the only honorable way to achieve their warped sense of justice.
The only reason there is any cooperation on their part is because under Jewish sovereignty there is respect for minority self-expression and peaceful dissent. If the tables were turned, coexistence and discourse would be nonexistent, and Jews would be returned to their historical second-class status.
I commemorated my birthday in Jordan but could not celebrate alongside people who would hate me unabashedly if they learned my true religion. I recommend that Kaiman will learn Arabic during his rabbinic studies and wake up to smell the cardamon-laced Arabic coffee of this region’s realities.
NOAM IVRI Jerusalem
Guns blazing
Sir, – Kol hakavod to Tzachi Hanegbi for his insightful piece (“Not ‘Cast Lead II’ but ‘Defensive Shield II,’” Comment & Features, April 11 ) about our future in the south.
We have been picking and choosing here and there in Gaza, trying to answer specific problems.
What we really need to do is go in with all guns blazing and really let them understand what we are capable of doing.
Hanegbi has it right this time.
His foresight and experience are sorely missed. Hopefully, his stint in the “wilderness” will make him a better and more thoughtful politician when he eventually returns.
Damage lives on
Sir, – I enjoyed Liat Collins’s “And justice after all?” (My Word, April 10). She correctly points out what most commentators missed: The true tragedy of the Goldstone Report was not so much its onesided and erroneous conclusions, but the fact that it gave outright encouragement to Hamas (and others) to continue and strengthen their struggle against Israel.
Hence, even if the good judge is now revising his views on the legitimacy of Israel’s actions during Operation Cast Lead, the harm initially caused by the report will live on. The irony of it all!
Sir, – I read with some regret Allen Weiner’s letter (“More on Judge Richard Goldstone and his reversal,” April 7) in which he took offense at my constructive criticisms of the Stanford debate (“Richard Goldstone’s legacy,” Comment & Features, April 4).
I believe that my criticisms were well placed, and it is unfortunate that rather than respond to them substantively, Weiner mischaracterized my criticism as opposition to a format in which “equal time is given to the participants.”
As I wrote, the number of participants and the time constraints that applied equally to all made it impossible to engage in the topic at any great length or depth.
Additionally, the debate did not give equal time. It was a debate about the Goldstone Report that featured three proponents and two opponents, and in which the chief proponent (Goldstone) was granted the privilege of avoiding direct debate. I would have been delighted had the format truly given equal time to both sides.
Finally, as Weiner noted, the debate was sponsored by the International Law Society, as well as by Jewish and Muslim student associations. This would have been quite balanced without inviting an organization calling itself Students Confronting Apartheid by Israel, whose presence as a co-sponsor was offensive and constituted a lapse of judgment, as I said at the debate.
Weiner observed that it was important for universities to provide a “forum for reasoned and balanced discussion of the substantive issues.” It is precisely for this reason that it is important to criticize forums that fall short of this standard.
I thought Weiner did a fine job as moderator in the debate. I am sorry that his letter did not live up to the standard he set for himself.
AVI BELL Ramat Gan
True qualification
Sir, – The primary evidence provided in your April 8 editorial “How not to build a state,” that Palestinians are not “ready for statehood,” is the murder of politically controversial film actor-producer Juliano Mer-Khamis. Setting aside the fact that neither the motive nor the murderer has been identified, you really cannot be serious.
If a politically motivated killing were a valid cause to prevent statehood, then what about a state whose prime minister was assassinated for political reasons in the nation’s 47th year of existence? Should that nation forfeit its statehood? Or what of a country that has seen four of its presidents killed for political reasons, and at least 10 other assassination attempts, as well as the “political murders” of presidential candidates, office holders, civil rights leaders and doctors who perform abortions? Why on earth should such a nation be permitted to maintain its charter? I submit that a political killing, should it indeed be proven, is irrelevant to consideration of statehood.
If anything, it appears to be a qualification.
He had it easy
Sir, – Regarding “The imperative of Jewish sovereignty” (Observations, April 8), David Ben-Gurion was not afraid to remind the world that our right to the Land of Israel was based on the Bible.
However, he did not have to contend with media that were after his skin, or with a left-wing, anti-religious “elite” that says “the Bible is not a real estate deed,” and which would have a fit if Israel wrote “In God We Trust” on its currency.
Ben-Gurion also did not have to contend with supposedly religious politicians who themselves ignore biblical precepts.
Image is the issue
Sir, – Unlike Yonatan Silverman (“No hand-wringing,” Letters, April 8), I attended the two-day Bar-Ilan conference on Israel’s image crisis. Knowing the dire situation regarding our image in Europe, I would stress that this is the most important international issue for Israel to resolve.
The 40 speakers at the conference represented leaders in politics, the military, academia, media, hi-tech, manufacturing, culture, business, marketing, communications and NGO advocacy. They all knew the goal – stop the delegitimization of Israel before it is too late.
Unfortunately, the political leaders didn’t appear to know how.
They had poor vision, confused strategies, flawed plans and limited resources. In light of all this, any “solution” would only be a tactical maneuver better known as “crisis management.” (Yes, Israelis are good in times of crisis – but only when they work together.) Also, the religious perspective was not represented. Religious Jewish leaders are viewed by most of the aforementioned groups as part of the problem, and were therefore deemed to have nothing to contribute. Two of the speakers proudly stated that Israel successfully markets to China as the “nation of Einstein” rather than the “nation of Moses.”
Without any religious perspective, we are contributing to our own delegitimization.