December 17: It ain’t good

Sitting back and watching the charade of the peace talks, I can’t imagine what US President Barack Obama and his friends are up to.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
It ain’t good
Sir, – I hope Erez Winner’s “Open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry” (Observations, December 13) came to Kerry’s attention.
Sitting back and watching the charade of the peace talks, I can’t imagine what US President Barack Obama and his friends are up to. But one thing is for sure: It ain’t good.
Winner said it exactly as it is. I volunteer to take him on a speaking tour, maybe to synagogues and churches in the US so the people there can understand the harm Kerry is causing.
Thank you, Erez Winner. You are a winner. And thank you, Jerusalem Post, for printing this.
Grammatical baggage
Sir, – I assume Martin Sherman thinks he is being cute or clever with his insistence on alliteration (“Wacko in Washington,” Into the Fray, December 13). Instead, it detracts from his message and makes reading his columns quite unpleasant without even considering the worth of his assertions.
Please, Mr. Sherman, just give us your views without the grammatical baggage.
Needing Mandelas
Sir, – While I am accustomed to Uri Savir’s columns criticizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, his latest (“We need Mandelas,” Savir’s Corner, December 13) reaches new heights of vitriolic condemnation.
Devoting approximately 180 words to his anti-Netanyahu diatribe, he applies fewer than 40 words in describing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in hardly a critical vein. He also ignores historical truths when advising that our prime minister address the Palestinian parliament, not commenting that Netanyahu has repeatedly stated he would meet with Abbas anywhere, including in Ramallah.
Savir further states that the prime minister should prove in deeds that he forgives the Palestinians for their episodes of violence by the release of former terrorists. Has he forgotten that Israel has agreed to release, and has commenced releasing, over 100 terrorists, most of whom were guilty of the murder of innocent civilians, including infants and children? Savir’s dislike of Netanyahu is in sharp contrast to his apparent appreciation of Abbas.
Sir, – In praising Nelson Mandela, Uri Savir is not alone in recognizing a unique statesman who fought for the liberation of his country. But making comparisons between the South African and Israeli narratives is tricky and, in this case, a politically incorrect analysis.
Mandela opposed a tyrannical racist regime that ruled immorally.
Israel has defended itself against internal and external enemies from its very beginning.
The two have no connection.
Savir, in his almost hysterical condemnation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies, suggests that Mandela’s gift for reconciliation and forgiveness would be the answer to our own conflict. Unfortunately, there are too many historical facts that repudiate such naiveté. One should also not conceal the truth that Mandela allied himself with most of Israel’s sworn enemies.
By distorting the man’s true greatness as an African patriot into a “Jesus” or “Moses” figure for solving Israel’s perpetual conflict, Savir does the cause of truth and Israel’s survival great harm.
Sir, – It would be more in keeping with Uri Savir’s philosophy to rephrase the headline of his latest column to “We need mandalas,” in his naïve attempts to prescribe the future for Israel, the Middle East and the world.
Explain that
Sir, – In his column “They got it right; they got it wrong” (Encountering Peace, December 12), Gershon Baskin writes that it’s simply up to the area’s leaders to sign an agreement.
He omits the fact that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been in office illegally for the past few years and brooks no opposition of any form. There is no freedom of speech or press in the PA.
Undoubtedly, Baskin would be more than willing to overlook these deficiencies for any agreement.
The problem is, it won’t work, regardless of what he says.
Let us also remember that since the murder of the Fogel family at Itamar in March 2011, 44 Israelis have been murdered in acts of terror by Palestinians.
How does Baskin explain that away?
Petah Tikva
Disingenuous claim
Sir, – Yisrael Medad and Eli Pollak (“The ignorant fear of the haredim,” Media Comment, December 12) are being disingenuous about the right of people to live wherever they want.
In discussing the inaugural broadcast of Channel 2’s investigative program HaMa’arechet, which addressed the “housing crisis” (Medad and Pollak’s words) of haredim who often take over entire neighborhoods that hitherto were secular (my words), they write: “Don’t we live in a free society where anyone, Jewish, Arab, haredi or secular, can choose freely where to live?” Are they serious? They wouldn’t mind if haredim moved in large numbers to their very neighborhoods? How about next door on both sides and in homes directly across the street? I won’t even ask how they’d feel if it were Arabs.
In principle it’s wrong to exclude people from neighborhoods, but it’s done all the time. Where differences are vast and difficult to bridge, people prefer to live among their own.
The writers should be able to admit this.
Justice or cruelty?
Sir, – With regard to “Pollard’s nightmare” (Comment & Features, December 12), some months ago US President Barack Obama visited Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela had been incarcerated for 27 years, to pay homage to a great man and to the injustice he underwent.
It would be an ordeal of colossal proportions for any man to be cut off from the world and freedom from the age of 44 until to his release at 71. By any account, 27 years is not a short length of time.
Let us not forget, then, to give Obama exclusive credit for ensuring that Jonathan Pollard’s incarceration continues at 29 years, with no hope of release or freedom.
Is this justice, or is it just plain cruelty?
Housing solution
Sir, – Regarding “Finance Committee approves doubling property tax on ‘ghost apartments’” (December 10), the solution to the housing problem is not for the government to discourage investment in Israel by Jews from the Diaspora – who could get more for their money in Florida or in Mediterranean countries facing economic meltdown. Instead, it should encourage investment in long-term rentals for people, young and old, who are unlikely to ever have the down payment necessary to buy a property.
My first job over four decades ago was as in-house lawyer to a property company that owned hundreds of blocks of apartments in England, the rent for which was periodically reviewed by a government rent officer, ensuring that the landlord received a fair return on his investment and the tenant paid a reasonable rent and also had the security of tenure for life.
With low interest rates, the time may well be appropriate to launch such a scheme in Israel, initially through local authorities that could finance their investments by selling bonds to pension funds, insurance companies and the public.
The government should release land within commuting distance of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba. There would be more jobs for skilled and semi-skilled construction workers, electricians, plumbers, civil engineers, architects and project managers.