APRIL 19: A unique relationship with Israel?

Over the 'uniqueness' of US President Barack Obama's relationship with Israel, business as usual is preferable.

‘Unique’ administration
Sir, – US President Barack Obama’s relationship with Israel is unique (“US Jews support Obama, but oppose Jerusalem concessions,” April 18). Why? Because during his short time in office the following, which hasn’t happened in any previous US administration, has taken place:
He made an overt attempt to reach out to the Muslim world by going to Cairo and making a speech.
He publicly threatened to link progress in US efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons to Israel’s willingness to make huge concessions to the Arabs.
Even though Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map, he’s told Israel not to strike Teheran.
He stopped a shipment of bunker-busting bombs which were to be delivered to Israel.
He demands Jerusalem be divided.
He threatened to abandon the long time policy of vetoing anti-Israel UN resolutions
He has treated Prime Minister Netanyahu as if he were a hostile enemy instead of our most ardent ally.
He is considering imposing a “solution” to the conflict.
I never thought I’d live to say this, but given this type of “uniqueness,” I prefer business as usual.
DAN CALICSan Ramon, California
Tel Aviv tourism...
Sir, – It was encouraging to learn about plans to stimulate tourism to Tel Aviv (“Industry, government aims to double tourism to TA,” April 16).
However, the meeting and press coverage completely missed some important challenges: to clean up the city, to improve the infrastructure, to teach better language skills to the service sector, to improve traffic and road access, to improve road signs, and to teach cab drivers how to provide nicer service.
We could do a lot with few financial resources to become a far more attractive international tourist destination
...and Temple Mount tourism
Sir, - While Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat admirably opposes the Kotel’s ban from a tourism ad campaign (“UK regulator bans Kotel from Israeli tourism campaign,” April 15), saying that the ASA’s statements “reflect historical ignorance” regarding the Kotel being “the heart of the nation,” he himself displays an historical ignorance that is all too common nowadays.
The real “heart of the nation” is the Temple Mount, located beneath the Aksa Mosque; the Kotel is the closest to it that Jews can freely come in large numbers, and thus, over the years, it has accumulated an aura of“holiness” that is misplaced.
Sir, – Is it biblical or just ironic? One day, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) bans an Israeli travel ad and rejects the Temple Mount as part of Israel. The next day, all commercial jet flights in Britain are grounded because of volcanic ash. I vote for biblical.
NORMAN GLASERHuntington, WV Smoking on the platform
Sir, – I take the train from Modi’in to Tel Aviv and back each day. I get on and off at Tel Aviv Hashalom. I am a non-smoker, and I have lung problems (chronic bronchitis).
Every day, I am faced with constant cigarette smoke filling the air. There are people walking by smoking, people who come up and stand next to you smoking, and people who just feel they need to blow smoke in your direction (“After Jerusalem terminal, now Tel Aviv bus station in line of fire of smoking-prevention lawyer,” March 1).
Tel Aviv Hashalom is a long, narrow platform, and as a non-smoker, I do not understand why there isn’t a separate smoking area there. Why should I have my life and health endangered because others want to ruin theirs by smoking?
Since I started working in Tel Aviv and taking the train, I have begun feeling quite sick when I arrive home due to the smoke I have to inhale.
I am originally from Canada, and you cannot smoke in public areas such as train stations. Israel is a country known for protecting and defending its citizens. Why is it allowing people to endanger the health of others this way?
If there is someone in the Health Ministry who can do something about smoking in public/non public places such as train platforms, I ask that they please take action.
The definition of ‘victim’
Sir, – I would like to take issue with Larry Derfner, who has, in the past few months, written two articles, the main theme of both being that Israel, without any rational motivation, continues to cling to “victimhood” 60 years after the establishment of the State of Israel.
He asserted in his article a few months ago that the State of Israel has never been a victim in the 60 years of its existence (“Some victims we are,” October 29). The definition of victim in the Oxford English Dictionary is “a person (country) attacked, harmed, injured or killed as a result of a crime or accident.”
In 1948, the newly established State of Israel was attacked by five Arab states. During that war, 6,000 Jews were killed in a conflict that was, in fact, a fight for survival, initiated by the Arab attackers. Israel, in terms of the definition, was without doubt a victim – as it was in the ensuing wars forced on the country by those seeking its destruction. That Israel succeeded in overcoming these attacks does not make it any less a victim.
During the intifada, manifesting in violence and suicide bombings on buses, restaurants, hotels and other public places, the people of Israel were most certainly victims of criminal attacks by terrorists who killed and wounded many innocent civilians.
In actual fact, contrary to Derfner’s assertions, the way in which Israel has fought over the years so fiercely against those intent on its destruction, and its establishment of a strong army, air force and defense system, is proof that despite its being continually victimized, it has done everything in its power to move away from “victimhood.”
This latest article charging that Holocaust Remembrance Day (“Victimhood Forever Day,” April 15) was used as a political tool “for rousing the nation with the liberating power of victimhood” once again completely disregards the gravity of the threats to Israel’s existence and the lessons of history.
As a recent olah, I find that the trivialization of the very real dangers inherent in the hatred-inspiring propaganda prevalent in so many countries today is not only childishly naive, but totally irresponsible. We do not commemorate the Holocaust to “assure us that we’re no different from the Jews of 1930s Europe.” We commemorate the Holocaust (however strong the country may be now) so that we may fully understand how possible it is, through extremist propaganda, to turn the whole world against us.
What Holocaust Remembrance Day should do for all of us is spur us into action against the lies, the propaganda and the demonizing of Israel throughout the world.
Larry Derfner writes: When I wrote that Israel has never been a victim, I meant it has never been helpless and powerless, not that it’s never been attacked.
Independence Day emblems
Sir, – Every year around this time, the same old question crops up: How do you get rid of old national flags (“Fly the flag, fry the felafel,” April 18)? Not the little plastic ones on strings, but proper flags.
I can’t throw them in the garbage – that is sacrilege. For the samereason, I can’t cut them up and throw them away. I believe they have tobe buried, but where and by whom?
Can any of your readers give me an answer?
Sir,– How refreshing in these troubled times to find the offers in theIsraeli newspapers of free emblems of Independence Day. Even though theT-shirts are made in Turkey and the flags in China, this should not bean issue, and all Israelis should enter into the spirit of our hard-wonindependence.