August 10: Agree to disagree

When it comes to our survival, only we can protect ourselves. And if we disagree with the US, that's not the end of the world.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Agree to disagree... Sir, - Although it's highly unusual for a diplomat to do what Nadav Tamir did ("Foreign Ministry incensed, embarrassed by Boston consul's sharp public criticism," August 9), there are a number of government officials who feel that we have to toe the line with the United States as if we were getting handouts without contributing anything. But if there were no Israel, who would stop the radical Arab states from taking over the whole Middle East? Egypt? Lebanon? Kuwait? Turkey? When it comes to our survival, only we can protect ourselves. And if we disagree with the US, that's not the end of the world. Harvey Matthew Har Homa ... or wake up! Sir, - Nadav Tamir must have a lot of nerve, or else he doesn't care much for his job. But he tells it as it is. Israel's leaders seem intent on greasing the skids for a slide downhill in Israel-U.S. relations. Surely Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman know what our relationship with the U.S. means to us. They'd better wake up. Leonard Zurakov Netanya Nothing new from Fatah Sir, - Defense Minister Barak says it is disturbing to hear the resolutions coming from the Fatah conference ("Barak: Fatah's rhetoric is unacceptable," online edition, August 9) as though we are hearing something new, and yet he continues to ask Mahmoud Abbas to come to the table to discuss an agreement. For goodness sake, there is no agreement to discuss. Edith Ognall Netanya We may not be perfect, but... Sir, - These last few weeks have seen a new spate of accusations that our soldiers often acted immorally in last winter's Operation Cast Lead. We want our army to be ethical. We want the Jewish people to be a "light unto the nations." And the Torah teaches us lessons of morality. But the Torah also recognizes that the ideal is frequently unrealized. It is for each one of us to strive toward achieving that ideal, but at the same time to comprehend that imperfect people often act imperfectly. This is not an apology for the alleged misdemeanors of our army. But it amazes me that the world, and some in The Jerusalem Post, almost always pick on examples of alleged Israeli misbehavior and impropriety. Even I, with all my high ideals of morality, prefer to risk the death of a Palestinian "human shield" than the life of even one of our soldiers. Are we at war, or are we playing games with our enemies? We may be far from perfect, but the world, in its expectations that we be more ethical than everyone else, is unfair and unjustified. Ron Belzer Petah Tikva Package deal Sir, - Regarding French President Nicolas Sarkozy's request to our prime minister ("A Misguided Appeal," Editorial, August 9), I think that Binyamin Netanyahu should be very forthcoming and promise to do his share to free the two French citizens who are presently incarcerated, Salah Hassan Hamouri and Gilad Schalit - in a package deal. HENRY SKIRBALL Jerusalem Appoint an envoy Sir, - Marilyn Henry argues that the State Department's special envoy on anti-Semitism position should be left vacant ("Obama: Don't sling more 'pork' at the State Department," August 9). She correctly objects to comparisons between Franklin Roosevelt's failure to take action against European anti-Semitism and Barack Obama's reluctance to staff this position. She notes that during her time in Eastern Europe, American Embassy staffs were vigilant in monitoring anti-Semitism even without a special envoy position. Unfortunately, Henry's own words regarding the false Roosevelt/Obama comparison - "That was then, and this is now" - apply equally to her misperceptions of the envoy's role and importance. She was in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, during a Clinton administration that was known for its pro-Israel stance. The envoy position (to which she objected) was created in 2004 during the even more supportive Bush administration. The situation has changed markedly since Obama's inauguration. Rightly or wrongly, the president is viewed in many circles as being substantially less supportive of Israel than his predecessors, and the State Department once again is showing signs of being an "Arabist" stronghold. Palestinian negotiators have hardened their stance on a range of issues, apparently believing that Obama will impose harsh conditions for peace on Israel without their having to lift a finger. Obama's failure to appoint a special envoy appears to confirm these notions. Perception is reality. It is therefore important that Obama appoint a new envoy immediately. That simple gesture will help to allay some of the doubts that are seeping into the Israeli and American-Jewish communities. Failure to do so sends a very dangerous signal. Efraim A. Cohen Netanya Giving pregnant women a full choice Referring to Judy Siegel's article "At the cutting edge of birth" on Cesarians by choice: The Israel Childbirth Education Center was created to lobby the health authorities to provide choice in childbirth. The vision of the organization is to provide education and counselling to pregnant women and their partners in order that they can make choices with solid evidence-based information. Most women fear childbirth and many, including those who come to our courses, express the wish to get it over painlessly in as short a time as possible, i.e. in the operating room. Unfortunately, in the attempts of medical practitioners to minimize fear for those women for whom Cesareans are medically necessary, they tend to create myths which minimize the risks and make a cesarean birth an attractive option for all. Cesarean birth is not a painless procedure because the pain after surgery prolongs the recovery time, and there is increased risk of infection and bleeding. In addition, lesions in the uterus can cause future fertility problems. If there are no risk factors, it is not true that it is safer for the baby because the natural process of pushing down the birth canal prepares him for his entry into the world and the pressure assists the first vital breaths. Instead of the baby being held in the mother's arms for that vital first eye contact, bonding and breastfeeding are delayed. If a woman understands the total picture then she makes her choice with full knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages. Whatever type of birth she choose, she would benefit from prenatal classes, not to be pressured by anyone to change their mind, but in order to learn tools and skills for giving birth in the safest way, whether that be by using totally natural unmedicated physical and psychological techniques or with the help of the medical technology provided. Because of the excessively high rate of Cesarian birth in Israel, both elective and emergency, every qualified childbirth educator prepares her clients for Cesarian birth and provides support for breastfeeding and parenting afterwards. However, women who attend good-quality courses will learn their options and be able to make their decisions based on correct information, rather than through fear and myths. Wendy Blumfield Hon. President Israel Childbirth Education Center A welcome history lesson Sir, - Bravo to Lenny Ben David ("The Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem," August 7). By reviewing, succinctly and accurately, the Arabs' lamentable record of murderous hostility to Jewish presence in Eretz Yisrael since 1920, Ben David reminds the reader that, fundamentally, Arab responsibility for their own actions have never really been acknowledged by them. For many of today's apologists for the chaos amongst the Palestinian Arab population, this recapitulation of a century of constant hatred and anti-Jewish mayhem is a much needed breath of fresh air. Yitzchak Ben-Shmuel Modiin