December 10: Mourning Mandela

Mandela could see that it was unreasonable for Israel to leave territory without realistic guarantees.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Mourning Mandela
Sir, – With regard to “World mourns death of anti-apartheid hero Mandela” (December 8), in April 2000, Nelson Mandela addressed a special meeting of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in London. He devoted part of his speech to the hopes for peace in the Middle East.
After referring to recent meetings with various national leaders, Mandela declared that in his opinion, Israel should cede territories gained in the Six Day War, but that equally and crucially, Israel could not be expected to withdraw from the territories it legitimately conquered when the Arabs wanted to wipe it off the map.
Therefore, the Arab states must make a clear and unequivocal declaration that they recognize the existence of the State of Israel within secure boundaries, and must establish diplomatic relations that reflect real peace, not a cold peace.
Mandela could see that it was unreasonable for Israel to leave territory without realistic guarantees.
He also understood that the whole Arab world was involved, and it was not what is too often described as the “Israeli-Palestinian dispute.”
He looked forward to a time when Israel would “play an important role in transforming the economies of the Middle East,” and “use its skills for the entire region.”
Sir, – Not to be outdone with all the accolades for Nelson Mandela, during the years after Mandela’s release, my pharmacist husband, Bernard, held the fort in the Johannesburg city center for a cousin named Basil.
One day, Bernie found himself face-to-face with the man, who had come in solo to pay his account.
Mandela held out a wad of notes and said, “Good morning, please take what I owe Basil.”
Bernie counted out some notes and started writing the receipt.
Mandela brushed it off, saying, “Don’t worry. I trust you.” And off he went, smiling at all on his way out.
So be it. A blessed memory.
What’s not said
Sir, – US President Barack Obama’s appearance on TV with US-Israeli media tycoon Haim Saban (“Obama: Diplomacy better than military action with Iran,” December 8) added nothing new to enlighten my mind.
One of the most important questions that should have been put to Obama was: Why did not the Palestinians claim for the land or their independence before the 1967 Six Day War? We all know they would have been butchered by the ruling Jordanians (similar to what we witness in practically all Muslim countries), and that the world would have been silent.
Taking in children
Sir, – The legislation on foster care in Israel (“Knesset passes bill regulating foster care system in Israel,” December 8) is a welcome change to a system that, while well intentioned and staffed with amazing people, needs some fixing. The additional value of this bill lies in raising awareness of the need for foster parents who will continue to open their home to the many children who need support and love.
As parents of both biological and foster children, we have been blessed with the love and warmth that each brings to a home. While it has not always been easy (and working with the system can be frustrating at times), the rewards clearly outweigh any bumps along the way.
We encourage anyone with the ability to be a foster parent to take advantage of the resources they can offer to those who are less fortunate. As is always the case with love, it is a gift in which you get so much more then what you are giving, and yet what you give is so precious.
Honesty in quotes
Sir, – It is most lamentable that Thomas L. Friedman and The New York Times, for which he is the Middle East sage/poster boy, cannot avoid anti-Israel vitriol even in a column that otherwise provides objectivity and good sense. I refer to “The other Arab awakening” (Comment & Features, December 8), in which he avers that the winds of evolution – as opposed to revolution – are blowing in countries such as Saudi Arabia and various other Gulf states.
In it Friedman alludes to leaders who are trying to be judged by how they help their citizenry rather than how they “resist Israel.”
Resist? What, is Israel waging aggressive war against the Gulf? Is it undermining Saudi Arabia? Is it hanging Arabs in public squares? Would not the word “vilifying” or “hating” have been more accurate? Or, at the very least, could not Friedman or the Times have exercised basic intellectual honesty by putting resist in quotes? JAC FRIEDGUT Jerusalem We’re your neighbors Sir, – Reader Jonathan Danilowitz (“Louts and noise,” Letters, December 8) must not realize that 41 percent of Tel Aviv’s residents are under 30. Many of us pay municipal taxes, just as he does, and deserve services that cater to our interests, too.
My wife and I, along with our friends, live in the center of Tel Aviv because we are interested in night life and culture.
And yes, I call it “culture.”
Whether one likes electronic music or not doesn’t make it a less legitimate form of music.
The idea that the municipality should care only about the writer’s demographic strikes me as selfish. The event was on a Friday afternoon, probably out of respect for Shabbat, allowing religious and secular residents to enjoy the music together and targeting more than one group in Tel Aviv’s diverse population.
As for noise and mess, when my wife and I walked to synagogue a few short hours after the party ended, all of the litter had been cleared. It was the same kind of litter one sees after any outdoor event, like the Nike Night Run. When I took part in the run last month, there was loud music and litter everywhere, yet the event seemed to be universally praised in the press.
Finally, the idea that one can tell which people are from out of town just by looking at them sounds elitist and exclusionary.
Perhaps my kippa would make Mr. Danilowitz think I’m from Gush Etzion, although I’m actually his neighbor.
Who’s sorry now?
Sir, – I was impressed by the Norwegian Christian leaders who are headed here to make amends (“Norwegian group coming to ‘apologize for Oslo,’” December 4).
Perhaps now the Israeli perpetra tors of the Oslo Accords will have the moral courage and integrity to acknowledge their disastrous mistake, apologize to the Israeli public and ask for forgiveness.
Such an apology is long overdue.
Yet I feel sure it will not happen.
The hubris that characterizes those who were behind Oslo will not permit them to admit they were mistaken and that their actions were detrimental to the State of Israel and its citizens.
Smart game
Sir, – What Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is doing in his ongoing Iranian fixation is actually a very smart political strategy.
He is using the same strategy that even US presidents have used when domestic conditions are not the greatest. He is diverting the public’s attention from very serious issues, such as the ever-increasing cost of living, unaffordable housing (even for people earning a decent wage), the economic downturn spearheaded by a measurable fall in exports, the threat that labor strikes will begin spreading, continuing strife between the secular and religious, and the wave of gangland activity, including numerous car bombings.
Netanyahu is actually playing a smart political game. The question is, how long can the act last before the curtain falls?