August 22: Topsy-turvy

The world is so topsy-turvy politically that we really can say we have reached the point where evil is vanquishing good.

Sir, – The people of Israel once again are going to be mocked and, even worse, resolutions will be passed by the group of socalled non-aligned nations that is now going to be led by Iran (“US Jewish groups to lobby for limited involvement in NAM while Iran chairs group,” August 20).
The world is so topsy-turvy politically that we really can say we have reached the point where evil is vanquishing good. Perhaps we should reconcile ourselves to an Iran-dominated world – even the United States wants Israel to wait until after the November elections before it does the brave and moral act of trying to save the world from the Iranians.
A critical point
Sir, – Regarding the Reuters item “Japan, China territorial disputes deepen with landings, protests” (August 20), the article missed one critical point: The disputed island chain Diaoyutais (Senkaku in Japanese) belongs to Taiwan and is therefore an inherent part of the Republic of China (ROC).
It has been the ROC’s consistent position that the Diaoyutais be returned based on the Cairo Declaration (1943), the Potsdam Proclamation (1945), the Instrument of Surrender of Japan (1945), the Treaty of San Francisco (1952) and the Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan (1952).
The ROC understands that all parties concerned hold conflicting standpoints and that this is the cause of long-standing disputes and recent tensions. On August 5 ROC President Ying- Jeou Ma called on all parties to: 1. Refrain from taking any antagonistic actions 2. Shelve controversies and not abandon dialogue 3. Observe international law and resolve disputes through peaceful means 4. Seek consensus on a code of conduct in the East China Sea 5. Establish a mechanism for cooperation on exploring and developing resources under the East China Sea Peace Initiative.
The government of the ROC looks forward to all parties working together to achieve the aims of the initiative as soon as possible so that the East China Sea can become one of peace and cooperation.
LIANG-JEN CHANG Tel Aviv The writer is representative at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Tel Aviv
The same mistakes
Sir, – Giulio Meotti (“Will America forsake Israel, again?,” Comment & Features, August 20) eloquently makes the point – “If Israel is unable to change the US’s red line on Iran and Jerusalem capitulates to Washington’s appeasement, Iran will be soon armed with atomic bombs.
And the Jews? They will be psychologically weaker and totally dependant on others’ help.”
Unfortunately, even with the facts staring us straight in the face we are unable to accept that those we believe to be friends are not. We also need to be reminded about the lack of help given Europe’s Jews before, during and after the Shoah.
We are repeating the same mistakes by giving in to enemies who are sworn to our destruction.
Clinging to the mentality that we are unable to survive without America must stop.
A president’s place
Sir, – According to Jeff Barak (“Peres and the voice of reason,” Reality Check, August 20), our president “is to be applauded for both his courage in publicly demolishing the prime minister and defense minister’s words in favor of an Israeli strike on Iran and for his cogent analysis of the limits of Israeli strength.”
Shimon Peres was not elected by the people of Israel. He is a figurehead with no political power whatsoever, like the Queen of England.
Even if one were to acknowledge Peres’s past experience as a political leader, one must be aghast at his ineptitude – he opposed the 1981 bombing of the Iraqi reactor, initiated the 1993 Oslo Accords (the “new Middle East”) and supported the unilateral 2005 withdrawal from Gush Katif.
Regrettably, Barak’s faith in Peres’s “cogent analysis” is not justified by historical facts.
Sir, – With regard to “Likud MKs: Peres should stay out of Iran business” (August 19), Yitzhak Navon did not distance himself completely from politics during his presidency, and from then on no president has completely resisted the temptation to swing the weight of his supposedly ceremonial office onto one side of the political scale or the other.
Of course, former politicizers of the presidency, when consulted, see nothing wrong when Shimon Peres politicizes the presidency. Line-jumpers at the supermarket see nothing wrong with line-jumping either. But the presidency was conceived as a symbolic office personifying the Israeli consensus, not as a fourth branch of government with carte blanche at the microphone.
If a president can intervene politically on occasions when conscience calls upon him to do so, conscience will call every day because everything in politics matters to a man of conscience. If he can’t leave that call unanswered, he should resign and let a calmer person take his place.
Making things harder
Sir, – Thanks go to Martin Sherman (“What’s wrong with the Right – Part I,” Into the Fray, August 17) for asking: “Why should Palestinian independence be conditioned on good governance and democracy and not that of Algeria or Afghanistan? Why should Palestinians be held to a higher standard than, say, Somalis or Sudanese?” Irrespective of how Sherman answers, these are good questions and they do show a double standard.
It is said so often that the Palestinians won’t recognize any of Israel. Yet the Israeli Right won’t recognize any of Palestine.
In the same way, if the world won’t recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital till there is peace, the Israeli Right won’t recognize east Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital either. Unfortunately, there won’t be peace until the two sides recognize each other’s country and its reasonably chosen capital.
The issue seems as much delegitimization against Palestine and east Jerusalem as it does against Israel and west Jerusalem. Delegitimizers on both sides are busily at work, and peace is obviously hard enough to get without them.
JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts
Just like you
Sir, – I had the pleasure of reading the article by Hirsh Goodman about his great, last-minute Greek holiday (“On the beach, PostScript, August 17).
I have never been to Israel and cannot judge the problems he describes. But I live half the year on the Greek island of Aegina, which unfortunately is very close to the metropolis of Athens and therefore suffers from the same ills that Goodman says afflict Israel’s beaches and holiday zones.
Unfortunately, Greece is not the small paradise he describes. It has the problems, trends and changes of every modern society, even if some small relics of idyllic scenes remain.
Verbal altercation
Sir, – With regard to “Ultranationalist group verbally harasses Rabin’s granddaughter” (August 15), Noa Rotman loudly accused me of being part of the group that killed her grandfather. I never was part of any such group and it was her outrageous statement that led me to shout that she became wealthy as a result of the memoir she wrote after his death.
Also, the Rabin Center is in Tel Aviv, and not in Jerusalem, as your report erroneously said.