April 3: The Arab spring

When will the time come for an Arab leader to say to the world – especially to his own population – that the fault for the Arabs’ terrible existence lies within themselves?

The Arab spring
Sir, – Regarding “Breaking silence, defiant Assad blames country’s turmoil on ‘Israeli plot’” (March 31), it is so easy to blame the United States and Israel. This is why the Arab and Muslim nations remain in feudal darkness.
When will the time come for an Arab leader to say to the world – especially to his own population – that the fault for the Arabs’ terrible existence lies within themselves?
Sir, – I must confess that I am quite disappointed in the address given by President Barack Obama to the people of the United States.
If he deems his policy toward Libya to be valid and in US interests, why does he feel it is time to turn leadership of the anti-Gaddafi coalition over to NATO? Moreover, why did Obama not state that policy changes are most urgent in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen? He did not even mention Saudi Arabia. Anyone listening to the news knows that there are rebellions taking place in all these countries for the same valid reasons they are taking place in Libya.
Sir, – The Middle East is host to a bizarre theater of the absurd. Neither America, France nor Britain, nor any other country anywhere, especially in NATO, is being attacked, and yet NATO has taken it upon itself to side with the Libyan rebels – although no one knows who they are.
The rebels have risen up against a stable government (no matter how oppressive to its own citizens) that until lately was courted by the West, mostly because of its oil. The most modern air forces are bombing government forces, and in the meantime killing innocent civilians in an attempt to achieve... what? The UN has not convened an emergency session to discuss the matter. Richard Goldstone has not been brought out of his hiding place to investigate “crimes against humanity,” not a peep out of Human Rights Watch or any of the knee-jerk anti-Israel demonstrators or protesters. And yet if Israel dares try to stop rockets being fired indiscriminately against its citizens from the Gaza Strip, the world is up in arms.
Beit Shemesh
Who’s more Zionist?
Sir, – One cannot help but share Michael Freund’s enthusiasm as he describes the outpouring of love and support as expressed by the pro-Israel Christian community (“Missionaries to the church,” Fundamentally Freund, March 31).
One need not deny that we differ with our Christian supporters on basic theological assumptions, but in view of their abstention from missionary activities, I cannot help but feel that our commonality of goals is larger than our differences.
Ironically, their strong sense of vision stands in sharp contrast with our own leadership’s shortsighted and response-driven behavior.
It is a sad state of affairs that although they occasionally mention our historical ties to the Land of Israel, almost none of our leaders allude to the realization of the Biblical prophecy of the return to their land by dispersed Jews from all over the world. The phenomenon of landless Jews maintaining their identity through two millennia is remarkable in itself, but that it is written in the Bible defies claims of coincidence.
If our leaders would speak more in these terms, it would only help our public relations in the world forum where we are so demonized.
Democracy or not
Sir, – Regarding “IDF chaplain to be full member of rabbinate council” (March 30), the legislation was passed by a vote of 10-1, or nine percent of the 120 members of Knesset.
Why is a law passed by less than 10% of its members? It is not the what, but the how that bothers the voting public, which pays the Knesset members’ high salaries plus their more-than-high perks.
Voter feelings mean nothing to MKs. It is time that elections for Knesset be changed to either the British parliamentary system or the US congressional system, where each lawmaker is subject to his or her constituency’s vote.
Israel is considered the only democracy in the Middle East. But is it?

Crocodile tears
Sir, – Having just read Julia Chaitin’s article (“Seeking a responsible adult,” Comment & Features, March 30), I must answer her ridiculous claims and criticisms.
Chaitin equates Israel’s response to non-stop rockets and terrorists fire as if they were equally bad.
What utter rubbish! She knows, as all normal-thinking people, that if Gazans stop firing on us there would be no retaliation from the IDF.
She cries crocodile tears for the poor besieged Gazans who can only import goods (and arms, secretly) for a few hours a day.
Shame! What other country would allow anything to cross its border into Gaza, which is defined by Israel as a hostile entity? We should close the border completely and throw away the key.
Let Gazans use the Egyptian crossings for their imports. They have no grudge against Egypt.
Petah Tikva
Love me or else
Sir, – Shmuley Boteach, in “Can love exist without hate?” (No Holds Barred, March 29), hits the nail on the head. However, I would add to his analysis of Jesus and Christian love the following observation: Even if turning the other cheek is meant to be taken literally, the idea of love existing without hate or vengeance is contradicted by the New Testament, which says that those who do not accept Jesus will go on to eternal suffering in hell. Is this love or hate? Unconditional love, which Boteach and the Torah seem to reject, is also rejected by the New Testament if it says sinners are to be punished with eternal torment.
Do it for yourself
Sir, – Judy Montagu’s “The ring of truth” (In My Own Write, March 30) is admirable in that the writer tries so hard to take no moral stand. What a pity that at the end she had to spoil it and use the word “delightful” in her assessment of a Mark Twain essay on lying, which includes the line “to lie for others’ advantage and not our own.”
Everything we do, whether it be telling blatant lies, white lies, deceiving by omission, stealing or donating our time and money to charity at every given opportunity, is done purely for selfish reasons. There is no such thing as a selfless act.
Ayn Rand espoused “the virtue of selfishness,” and Shakespeare got it right when he wrote “to thine own self be true.” Applying the latter to understand the former is also to understand our every motivation and that the only person one can ever possibly betray is one’s self.

Hebrew nuance
Sir, – Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (“Reigniting burnt-out doctors,” Health, March 27), in her presentation of a Hebrew-language book about returning genuine caring to medical practice, writes that Mashiv Haruah, the first two words of the title, “come from the start of the daily Jewish prayer for rain during the winter that refers to bringing back the wind followed by rain.”
This is not accurate. The word mashiv, from the Hebrew root nashav, means to blow; the phrase means “He causes the wind to blow.” It has nothing to do with return. She confused this word with that from the root shuv, meaning to return.
The authors of the book apparently were aware of this difference; therefore, on the cover of the book they vocalized the word to inform the reader that the title is a play on words.