April 30: Israel and gas

Time and again Israel has signed such [gas] treaties, only to see the other side violate the terms with no reaction or sanction.

Sir, – Your editorial “Egyptian gas” (April 27) provides an excellent review and critique of Egypt’s abrogation of the gas deal with Israel.
I would suggest that the most serious consequences, however, are not the material costs being imposed on Israel, even though, as has been pointed out, the government has been complicit in minimizing them. Rather, they are the lessons to be learned about concluding international treaties that have an inability to enforce agreed-upon terms.
Time and again Israel has signed such treaties, only to see the other side violate the terms with no reaction or sanction from the bodies, individual nations or multinational organizations that coerced it into making such agreements. And all too often, our own leadership has simply looked the other way.
In no small measure the fault lies with us. We continually exchange tangible assets (land, water, physical capital) for vague promises of good behavior or, in the case of Egypt, a legal trade agreement. We also engage in unilateral steps (withdrawal from Gaza, Lebanon, etc.) based on a naive hope that the other side will act contrary to all the evidence and make its contribution to advancing the mythical peace process.
I, for one, would be happy to forgo the material benefits of the loss of Egyptian gas if our leaders would learn once and for all that any agreements without teeth and which we ourselves cannot enforce are worthless. I am encouraged that at least The Jerusalem Post is willing and able to hold them accountable.
Sir, – Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comment about reserves that “will turn Israel into one of the world’s largest exporters of natural gas” (“Jerusalem and Cairo play down gas crisis,” April 23) are not commensurate with the facts.
Currently, Israel’s known gas reserves from the major offshore fields are of the order of 955 billion cubic meters. According to the latest available international statistics relating to 2009, international trade in liquefied natural gas (LNG) by sea was 185b cu.m., with 73b. going to Europe and the US, and 112b going to the Far East. Gas pipeline exports to Europe amounted to 558b. cu.m., making a total of 743b. per annum.
By 2015 the LNG tanker capacity will be 380b. cu.m., comprising 362 LNG carriers in service and 44 committed to be built by this date. Even if we were to export part of our known reserves over a 25-year period, and assuming we consume approximately 6b. cu.m based on the 2009 trade figures, we would only be exporting 4 percent of the world’s consumption
Given that international consumption of natural gas is rapidly expanding, there is no way we can claim we can become be a major exporter. We don’t need the prime minister’s spin to once again mislead the public
COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem
It just looks bad
Sir, – Martin Sherman’s “Excoriating Eisner: Egregious or ethical?” (Into the Fray, April 27) puts plenty of blame on everyone – Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner’s commanders, the media, the politicians – everyone, that is, except Eisner, who actually performed the detestable action.
Sherman goes into the provocation he says preceded this action and the kind of organization the protester belonged to.
What he seems to have missed is the awful damage Eisner’s action did to the country by giving fodder to anti-Israel and anti- Semitic groups.
As a commanding officer, Eisner carried a lot of responsibility, not only to his troops but to the citizens of Israel. He now must take the consequences of his mistakes.
It doesn’t much matter what the background of the story is.
What matters are the graphic pictures the world saw. We can definitely do without this type of publicity.
Make them Jews
Sir, – While reading Jay Bushinsky’s April 27 column (“Integrate the Africans in Israel!,” Observations) I could not but help realize the overwhelming problem that Israel would face in a massive influx of tens of thousands of African immigrants, something that should be handled by the international organizations set up to deal with refugee issues
However, as there exists in Israel thousands of such people with children born in Israel who attend our schools and speak only Hebrew, might I suggest a rather unorthodox solution? Since there are already immigrants here whose Jewish roots are questionable and who have been made to undergo conversions, can we not offer the same to these migrants? I’m not suggesting a blanket amnesty, rather an option for those who have children born here or any of those willing to convert. Wouldn’t that be better than deportation?
I. ELLIOT Ma’aleh Adumim
Regulate talkbacks
Sir, – Hirsh Goodman (“Talkbacks and responsibility,” Post- Script, April 27) is certainly right in pointing to the abusive, irresponsible character of much talkbacking. But in wholly condemning the practice in the name of traditional journalism he misses important points.
Talkbacking gives an opportunity to many interested readers who otherwise would be unable to participate in a public discussion.
Often, their views add new insight. Second, talkbacking fits in with the general process of the democratization of discourse, which has come with the Internet revolution. There is no going back.
The correct policy should be for each media source to have a talkbacks editor who screens out abusive, hate-filled and irresponsible comments. Also, each talkbacker should be required to use a real identity, and that identity should be checked. If a person wants to criticize someone publicly, that person should have to own up to who he or she is.
In short, the answer is not in eliminating talkbacks but in regulating them in a responsible way.
Criticism is okay
Sir, – Sarit Catz of CAMERA (which does some good work) criticizes Peter Beinart and other good Jews for daring to be critical of the policies of the democratically elected Israeli government (“The wicked sons,” Comment & Features, April 17).
Catz attacks this group of critics as “a small fringe camp of Jewish pseudo-intellectuals.” What chutzpah! Perhaps she is in the fringe camp of the “Israel-right-wing-can-do-no-wrong” anti-intellectuals.
For her, pro-Israel means only a right-wing pro-Israel. Former stalwart Likudniks Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Tzachi Hanegbi should be erased from history. Can she begin to imagine what made these people change their views? For her, they ceased to be pro-Israel. They are wicked sons! I am not sure that boycotting West Bank products is the best way to express criticism of Israel, but it is certainly legitimate to criticize Israel, something that does not delegitimize its existence.
JACK COHEN Jerusalem
No cakewalk
Sir, – I differ with my fellow- Australian Isi Leibler (“Personal musings on aliya on Independence Day,” Candidly Speaking, April 26), who never regretted settling in Israel. He glossed over the major aggravations and frustrations that concern many people who have made aliya, regardless of the suicidal mentality of Israeli drivers and the mind numbing bureaucracy.
Especially mentioned should be the urgent reform of the dysfunctional, flawed and undemocratic Israeli political system, which I believe is the cause of the ongoing social unrest here and affects one’s way of life and standard of living.
JACK DAVIS Jerusalem