December 20: Indefensible actions...

David Rubin mistakenly calls perpetrators of recent violent attacks against the IDF “young idealists.”

Sir, – David Rubin (“Creating tension to expel Jews,” Comment & Features, December 18) mistakenly calls perpetrators of recent violent attacks against the IDF “young idealists.”
In fact, the actions of these young people are an attack on all law-abiding Israelis and threaten to do serious harm to the country.
Defenders of Israel seek world support for the one vibrant democracy in the Middle East.
The essence of democracy is an acceptance of the will of the electorate. In exchange for the right to voice their opinions freely and elect their government, members of a democratic society take it upon themselves to forswear violence if the majority votes against their wishes.
These “young idealists” have rejected the very basis of this contract. They believe they have the right (some say duty) to use violence when the state’s elected leaders act in a way that does not meet their parochial standards. This is a direct challenge not only to the IDF but to the social fabric of the entire nation.
Rubin is also wrong in citing the supposed offenses of elected officials as if they explain why these youth have been brought to what he calls “the brink of misguided conflict.”
Regardless of what he thinks of the policies of Defense Minister Barak or Prime Minister Netanyahu, the violent actions are indefensible. They must be stopped before they lead to anarchy.
EFRAIM A. COHEN Zichron Ya’acov
...but understandable
Sir, – In response to Thelma Susswein’s claim that the young instigators of violence against the IDF are motivated by fervent patriotism (“Terrorists or not...,” Letters, December 18), I would beg to differ.
These youth, in fact, act in despair of having their voices heard in a system that has repeatedly negated democratic means of expression. They need to learn that while their frustration is understandable, violence in this context is inexcusable and very counter-productive.
It should also be stressed that the number of participants involved in this behavior is extremely small. By juxtaposing reports of several hundreds of youths protesting the evacuation of a settlement with the acts of violence, the media have tried to suggest that they were also complicit in the violence, which is simply untrue.
The acts of violence were committed by an isolated few.
Yes, these youth need to learn a lesson that living in a democracy, even when the cards are stacked against them, requires abiding by the rules.
No other response (and surely not violence) can achieve an alternative. It is the same lesson that Yigal Amir would have benefited from. But if the media are intent on generalizing and categorizing right-wing activism as terrorism, this lesson will never be learned because the right will be too busy defending itself against incitement.
Be proactive Sir, – I find Martin Sherman’s analysis “Note to Newt (Part I): Uninventing Palestinians” (Into the Fray, December 16) compelling, indeed convincing. But as someone who made aliya from Britain only last summer, I am sure it would cut little ice with the great majority of opinion- leaders in the UK.
Public opinion in Britain has little truck with arguments that rely on historical facts or opinions voiced more than a year or two back. Disastrous educational policies pursued for some 50 years have resulted in a generation pretty well cut off from its own historical roots and with little understanding or patience for causes based, however logically, on history.
What moves the majority of the British public is what it believes it sees being played out before its very eyes: a dispossessed people struggling to assert its identity against a power that is far stronger and denying them their rights.
My own inclination would be to redouble the so-far inadequate efforts to put Israel’s case positively and convincingly before the world. To my mind, the glaring omission is our failure to launch a 24-hour English- language TV news channel based in Jerusalem.
With the many sources of funding available throughout the world to support Jewish causes, how is it that Israel’s voice has gone virtually unheard for all these years in the most important mass medium of all? Surely there is sufficient enterprise as well as cash out there to make this happen.
Beit Shemesh
Wrong equation
Sir, – Aaron Katsman nailed it in “Power + Populism = Plunging stock market?” (Business & Finance, December 15).
Nowhere in history have people been taxed into prosperity.
Once again, Prime Minister Netanyahu has left those who voted for him scratching their heads as he continues to abandon principle after principle.
Neve Daniel
Flailing ninja
Sir, – Kudos to Ray Hanania (“Look who’s talking about ‘invented’ peoples!,” Yalla Peace, December 14).
Clever journalist that he is, Hanania took on the role of a flailing ninja with a sword in each of his numerous arms, slashing at, besides Newt Gingrich, the American nation, American Jews, the historic right of Israel and the Christian Evangelical movement, senselessly ignoring the real target of his attack: that “the Palestinians are an invented people,” bringing as proof a picture showing the Hanania family in Jerusalem in 1919.
Did the Hanania family call itself “Palestinian?” Did any self-respecting Arab at the time? When the British enlisted members of the Jewish community to fight in World War II in a special unit, calling it “Palestinian,” the Arabs refused, explaining, “Only Jews are Palestinian; we are Arabs.”
For the sake of brevity I am attaching only one of many citations from Arab leaders to indicate their intent for inventing the Palestinian label: “It is for tactical reasons that we carefully stress our Palestinian identity for it is in the national interest of the Arabs to encourage a separate Palestinian identity to counter Zionism: The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the ongoing battle against Israel.” This was stated by Zohair Mohson, then-head of PLO’s military operations department, in 1977.
I hope Hanania will learn and not want to be confused by facts when he wishes to indulge his prejudices.
New York
The writer is a professor of history at City University of New York
Diplomatic opportunity
Sir, – Although Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not known for his empathy or humanism when it comes to dealing with complex political or humanitarian problems, from a strategic and political point of view I would like to suggest that the crisis in Syria presents a unique diplomatic opportunity for Israel.
Now would present the perfect time for Israel to let it be known through underground channels that it would temporarily welcome and shelter, through offers of home hospitality from ordinary Israelis, Syrian women, children and elderly refugees fleeing the torture and murder of Bashar Assad’s regime. What a turn-around for relations this would be! People of both countries could join hands to support each other on purely humanitarian grounds and in the name of human rights and democracy.
I write these words in the hope that someone in Israel will have the moral courage and imagination to come to the help of people in dire need of relief from the cruelest oppression.
Taichung, Taiwan