April 6: Label libel

Judging by the storm, one would think Israel was the UK's major trading partner.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Label libel Sir, - "British gov't discusses new W. Bank labels" (April 3) clearly indicated that the UK government is intending to institute a political boycott of Israeli produce, first from Judea and Samaria (Yesha), then from Jerusalem, since both are not recognized by the UK as being sovereign Israeli territory. This is a deliberate attempt to appease the British Muslim community, which is using its numerical strength to force such issues. The blame rests on Ehud Olmert, who as minister of industry and trade acquiesced in UK demands to specifically label Yesha products. The practice was never implemented, but this acquiescence allowed it to be subsequently spearheaded by UK Muslims within the EU context. The Anglo-Jewish leadership failed to counter the effort. What is puzzling is that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is only concerned with labeling Israeli produce with its source of origin; while anybody who goes into a UK supermarket and inspects the labels on the vast majority of food products will find that the label states only where the product was packed, and not its country of origin. In some cases, fresh fruit and vegetables sold under the supermarket's own label does not give any details whatsoever! Imports of Israeli produce are a minuscule part of Britain's total food imports - though judging by the storm created, one would think Israel was the UK's major trading partner. COLIN L LECI Jerusalem Fighting words Sir, - Re "Oh, and was he wearing a tallit or a keffiyeh?" (April 5): Reading Andrew Silow-Carroll's op-ed on judging how words are put to use was interesting. We should test our own broadcasting authority, Channel 1, and its use of words: settlers or residents? West Bank, or Judea and Samaria? Settlement or village? and bear in mind that words are weapons MURRAY S. GREENFIELD Tel Aviv Norway's schizophrenia Sir, - The Jewish population in Norway is small, and Norwegians know very little about Judaism. Therefore, I believe anti-Semitism exists here, like any other fear of the unknown. However Norwegian society is quite schizophrenic when it comes to Judaism. On the one hand, we had anti-Semitic laws when the country got its independence in 1814. This was clearly based on ignorance and medieval intolerance. On the other hand, we had Henrik Wergeland, who got these laws changed and influenced society greatly with his ideas of religious tolerance. Wergeland is a national hero, and it is his view that defines what Norwegians wish to be about. Further, during WW2 we had those who were afraid to oppose the Nazis and did not help the Jewish population. But we also had the resistance, supported by most of the Norwegian population. Its best known symbol was Max Manus; also Gunnar Sønsteby (still alive). The Norwegian resistance helped to save 50 percent of the Jewish population (there is a tree planted for it in Jerusalem). The war between Israel and Palestine is very difficult for most Norwegians to understand and several people view the Palestinians as the underdogs and Israel as the strong side. However, others see a more complex picture and understand that Israel feels threatened too. To trust any European country would be hard, seen in the historic perspective. However, I think a large part of Europe genuinely loves and respects Jewish culture and history. I certainly do! Therefore I hope that Israelis do not feel alone in the future ("Norwegian Jews tell of 'troubles,' but tolerance, in Norwegian society," April 1). ELIN M. OFTEDAL Stavanger, Norway Untactful, but right Sir, - Avigdor Lieberman is not very tactful and talks too aggressively. However, he is right in making a distinction between Annapolis and the earlier Bush plan called the Road Map ("Who killed Annapolis?" April 3). The road map stressed that the Palestinians must first eliminate all the terror groups prior to the next step in the peace process. Annapolis no longer makes that a condition. It is unfortunate that the media does not stress this fact, as well as hardly ever mentioning (as your editorial did) that Lieberman is openly for a two-state solution, providing all terror groups are first eliminated. He also suggests that certain pro-Palestinian Arab towns now within Israel be transferred to the Palestinian entity in exchange for Jewish settlements - an idea well worth putting on the agenda in any peace talks, for it would largely solve the problem of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria and avoid what happened in Gush Katif. JOSHUA ADLER Jerusalem Day at the mall Sir, - How can we consumers "observe where security is mediocre and avoid... specific ill-secured malls"? If the guard is elderly we don't enter the mall? It is up to the authorities to inform the public about badly-secured malls, just as they do about unguarded beaches ("Secure our malls," Editorial, April 5). TAMAR H. KAGAN Jerusalem Pain is perceived Sir, - Goethe wisely said: "The cry of mankind is not for pleasure, but release from pain." The statement that chronic pain is "suffering for at least six months" is easily misunderstood. I offer this from 50 years professional experience, and as the author of Release from Pain. Suffering is distinct from pain. Pain is perceived; suffering is a choice. Pain becomes chronic when individuals view their lives through the pain experience. Basic functions are disturbed: sleep, appetite, general energy, libido. Depression is common. Sadly, too much of so-called chronic pain is iatrogenic - medically caused or allowed to persist when it need not be. Concerning the word itself, while "chronic" only means long-lasting, it is usually interpreted as a kind of death sentence virtually justifying depression. Especially with pain, as much clarity as is consistent with accuracy must be offered. No one is more important than the patient, and the patient's understanding as much as possible what is happening. From that, the decision to suffer can often be avoided ("Medicine is gaining on pain," Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, April 5). PESACH GOODLEY, M.D. Telz Stone Too close to the bone Sir, - The caption accompanying the picture of the Body World exhibit (Billboard, April 3-9) was in terribly bad taste. "Good fun for the whole family, both dead and alive" was not, by any definition, humorous. Skinned cadavers should have been treated a little more tactfully. AHARON GOLDBERG Hatzor Haglilit Flag it Sir, - Every year, as we approach Pessah, it is incumbent on us to proudly state why we are here. This nation did not come into being as the result of a vote among a group of countries some 61 years ago - that was merely the act of people and nations assuaging their consciences, which some have since come to regret. The people of Israel became a nation on the day of the first Pessah, when we were liberated from slavery and brought home to the land that a far greater power than the UN granted us. The free, united people of Israel should display the flag of our liberation at the start of our holy festival of redemption. DAVID STAR Ma'aleh Adumim CLARIFICATION Britain's Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has not openly called for recognizing Hamas, as stated in "Ending Israel's conditional legitimacy" (April 3).