April 5: Some ‘initiative’

Israel can never agree to these terms. So much for illusions of the Saudi initiative.

Sir, – The article “Israeli-Palestinian group presents economic benefits to Saudi Peace Initiative” (April 3) distorts the “refugee” clause of the Saudi initiative, as if it simply calls for a “just solution” for Arab refugees and descendants lingering in transient UNRWA facilities since 1948. However, the words of the initiative were different: “a just and agreed solution to the refugee problem on the basis of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 1948. If Israel agrees to these terms, the Arab states will consider this to be the end of the conflict and will establish normal relations with Israel.” Israel can never agree to these terms.
Prof. Itamar Rabinovich, then-president of Tel Aviv University and a prominent figure in the Israeli peace camp, revealed the actual contents of the refugee clause of the Saudi initiative in real-time. On April 7, 2002, he wrote that “the relatively flexible formula on the right of return issue that was in the statement read out by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa was neutralized by the explicit demand for the right of return” in the final draft. Rabinovich also noted that “in order to obtain the support of the rest of the Arab world, the simplistic formula had to be waived.... The conference published a concluding statement that emphasized... that Israel must allow Palestinians to achieve all their rights, including the guarantee for the right of return... on the basis of principles of international law including General Assembly Resolution 194.”
So much for illusions of the Saudi initiative.
No longer amusing
Sir, – I once regarded the Neturei Karta’s self-styled “foreign minister,” Moshe Hirsch, sitting in the Palestinian parliament, as a sadly comic figure.
After all, any lunatic can grow a long beard, don a shtreimel and kapote, and present himself as a rabbi. However, such antics are no longer amusing (“Eldad to AG: Investigate Neturei Karta’s Lebanon visit,” April 3).
By collaborating with Hezbollah and maintaining that “Israel is doomed to extinction,” these despicable wretches have ceased to be just a “fringe ultra-Orthodox sect.” They are now anti- Jewish propagandists of the worst kind.
Like the wicked son of the Passover haggada, they have excluded themselves from the community of Israel and every effort must be made to bring their pernicious activity to an end.
We got goombahs
Sir, – So we’re like New Jersey (“Netanyahu touts Israel’s similarities with NJ at meeting with Governor Chris Christie,” April 3). I wonder who’s going to get the production rights to the next great TV series: The Kosher Sopranos?
Keep ’em down...
Sir, – As I thumbed through your April 3 newspaper that morning, there was an attempt to read something cheerful, something that would brighten the day. Although the sun was shining, there was something sorely lacking to reinforce the way it enlightened the earth with positive rays.
All the headlines portrayed negativity, with notes on delaying the evacuation of settlers, for example (“PM appeals to Barak to delay evacuation of Jewish families from Hebron building”).
Why can’t the Israelites live on their land? Hasn’t anything been learned from the experience of Gush Katif? Another negativity had to do with “PA soccer star, Red Crescent workers part of cell planning to attack IDF.”
In the second section of the newspaper was the article “Iran’s narrative for the Arab uprisings.”
The editorial “Palestinian responsibility” was a farce because the Palestinians have none and just want to get rid of Israel.
The reader’s thinking is oppressed by constant negativity throughout the communication industry. The nation is suffering from national depression caused by its so-called leadership, which finds nothing positive to tell its citizens and exhibits no positive behaviors to exemplify to its citizens.
Its capitalistic ideology has brought much hardship and sorrow to many people. Other political parties lack any ideology.
The nation lacks positive goals for its people.
It seems that the best way to keep people from rebelling is national depression brought about by negative news, negative pictures and no positive thinking. The press does a great job fulfilling those negative goals and ambitions.
AL MANN Jerusalem
...and wake ’em up
Sir, – If a picture is worth a thousand words, then welcome back, Dry Bones and Yaakov Kirschen! For years, when I’ve opened the newspapers there is little new under the sun. For example, what have we learned from the Holocaust? Thirty years ago, a well known rabbi wrote that we have to fear for our children.
Today, he reiterates that we now must fear for our grandchildren.
Years have passed since Israel left Gaza. Except for brief intervals, the rockets haven’t stopped. Threats of retaliation repeatedly ring in our ears and are written in our newspapers, but to no avail.
The March 30 Dry Bones (“Wake-up call”) sums it up: The nightmare of Jews being attacked in the 20th century is a recurring nightmare. When will we act to stop it?
Gone a courtin’
Sir, – Contrary to Geoffrey Alderman’s statement that “Livingstone has never courted the Jewish vote” (“Red Ken redux,” Comment & Features, April 2), one must ask why, when Ken Livingstone first ran in the mayoral elections in 2000, London Jewry, from the Orthodox United Synagogue to the Liberal and Reform communities, all opened their communal halls to him during the hustings. The same was repeated in 2004 and four years later despite not affording this opportunity to the other candidates.
Livingstone’s anti-Israel views were well known before 2000, but to its disgrace the Jewish community turned a blind eye in order to ingratiate itself with him. What did it expect to gain?
COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem
‘Right conduct’
Sir, – Uri Savir bemoans the “dangerous erosion in the education of universal humanitarian values and an emphasis on nationalistic ones,” as if those values are mutually exclusive, citing as an example the new government-sponsored school trips to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron (“On the importance of education,” Savir’s Corner, March 30).
Savir’s disdain for reintroducing Israeli youth to their forefathers and foremothers, the exemplars and progenitors of the values he is espousing, is just odd.
Thinking like an educator, my profession for 31 years prior to my aliya, I could imagine a lesson plan on the universal value set known as “right conduct” that should be right up Savir’s alley: Bring students to Hebron, and Rachel’s Tomb along the way, to pay homage to their illustrious ancestors and thereby model respect for parents, elders and teachers.
Is it not plausible that the decades of “moral corruption,” which Savir misattributes to the veneration of particularist Jewish values and history, are more likely a by-product of decades of educational de-emphasis? If so, a mindful renewal of those should be welcome rather than rejected in knee-jerk fashion.
JEFF DAUBE Jerusalem The writer is director of the Israel office of the Zionist Organization of America