December 26: Hysteria or omen?

It seems more than a little strange that Netanyahu was not in the least bit perturbed about past statements made by his defense minister, Ehud Barak.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Hysteria or omen?
Sir, – Regarding Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s vehement attacks on the head of Bayit Yehudi, Naftali Bennett, for supposedly sanctioning the refusal of orders (“Likud declares war on rivals in Center-Right bloc,” December 24), and the threats to exclude him from a Likud-led coalition, it seems more than a little strange that Netanyahu was not in the least bit perturbed about past statements made by his defense minister, Ehud Barak, in TV interviews.
These remarks include: “If I were a young Palestinian I would have joined a terror organization,” and “If I were a leader of Iran I would also want atomic weapons.”
Is it simply a sign of hysteria that Bayit Yehudi is successfully stealing Knesset seats from the Likud, or is it rather an omen that Netanyahu plans on betraying the nationalist camp in the same way as former prime minister Ariel Sharon? MORRIS KARLIN Tel Aviv Truth on Hagel
Sir, – The facts provided by Isi Leibler documenting the anti- Israel sentiments and possible anti-Semitism of former US senator Chuck Hagel make disturbing reading (“Hagel – a litmus test of Obama’s attitude to Israel,” Candidly Speaking December 24).
Even more disturbing is the statement that Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street, endorsed Hagel as “a fine choice” and “friend of Israel.”
This from a man who claims that his organization is truly Zionistic and a supporter of Israel.
Thanks, Mr. Leibler, for placing the truth on record.
Shelly the ‘centrist’
Sir, – I have had personal contact with Hadash MK Dov Henin in the Knesset Forum for Rare Diseases and can confirm Jeff Barak’s positive personal assessment (“What about Dov Henin?,” Reality Check, December 24). Unfortunately, one cannot vote for Henin as an individual.
Nor is he one-dimensional.
Henin’s views on political, as opposed to social, issues are straight Hadash, that is, extreme left-wing and anti-Zionist. It is hard to say whether Barak was simply being provocative or he really believes the arrant nonsense he wrote.
Shelly Yacimovich a “centrist?” She, with a declared draft dodger in the Number 5 slot on her list, her whole economic “policy” based on high taxes, high government spending, high debt and squeezing the pips of the “rich” (i.e., the middle class that works, serves and pays taxes), the leader with no security or diplomatic policy whatever? This is absurd.
If Barak needs to veer farther than Shelly, what’s wrong with Meretz, a declared socialist (but Zionist) party? This standardbearer for the Left didn’t even merit a mention.ANTHONY LUDER
Rosh Pina
These weren’t borders
Sir, – Regarding “PM in TV interview blitz: Kotel isn’t occupied territory” (December 23), the insistence by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU foreign police head Catherine Ashton, as well as most of the world’s governments, that the 1949 armistice line between Israel and Jordan was a “border” is beyond comprehension. They know full well that it was not, yet concur with the perception by people who cannot read.
The international agreement on the armistice lines after Israel’s War of Independence says: “The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.” It is for this reason that UN Security Council Resolution 242 did not call for a full withdrawal from all the territories that Israel captured in the Six Day War. The 1949 lines were no longer to be a reference point for a future peace process.
Armistice lines are immaterial in international law in terms of land rights and final status agreements, whereas borders often can be legally decisive.
Food for thought
Sir, – It certainly is food for thought that Palestinians could come into an army base during a rainy night and take a weapon from a soldier (“Stormy weather helps Palestinians infiltrate IDF base, steal weapon,” December 23).
Why is security so lax? This is not the first time it has happened.
Security begins with the army base itself. There is no excuse for Palestinians being able to come into a base, even if it is raining.
There is no excuse for weaponry to be taken.
The individual soldier is accountable, but so is the system.
Let us begin by rectifying the problems with the IDF system.
THELMA SUSSWEIN Jerusalem Not alone
Sir, – Reader James Adler (“More honesty, please,” Letters, December 23) is surely right in demanding more honesty regarding Israel’s plans to build in Jerusalem and the West bank.
What a pity, then, that he did not avail himself of the opportunity to highlight the fact that Israel is not alone in having territorial disputes with its neighbors.
Great Britain has long-running disputes with Spain and Argentina over the sovereignty of, respectively, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. In a similar fashion, the US and Russia continue to occupy Japanese islands captured more than 65 years ago at the end of World War II. Likewise, France still refuses to grant independence to Corsica, and Spain persists in refusing to grant Catalonia and Basque their freedom.
Mazkeret Batya
Sir, – James Adler appears to conclude that Berliners and others can build (legally) wherever authorized by their local government.
Might I be dropping a red herring by pointing out that the people of the United States and Australia “occupy” lands previously occupied by Indians and Aborigines? One might also ask: Who rules London? Are the Brits really from England? They’re not.
To his credit, Adler notes that the real issue is over land. However, he shouldn’t gloss over the fact that the Palestinians want what we say is our land. They want all of it and are willing to wait a long time to make it happen.
BARRY LYNN Efrat Why Wilhelm?
Sir, – A recent visit to the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem brought to mind that next year will be the 74th anniversary of Hitler’s triumphant parade through Prague in March 1939 to mark his peaceful occupation of Czechoslovakia.
If the Czechs were to celebrate the event with major fanfare, one can imagine the protests from Israel and other like-minded democracies. There could be no excuse that, at the time, Hitler had not yet launched World War II or the extermination of European Jewry.
Yet comparable celebrations are currently taking place at the Tower of David Museum to mark the visit to Jerusalem in November 1898 of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany with a range of whimsical photographs illustrating his triumphal progress through the city.
No attempt is made to put the German emperor into his true historical context. The clock of history did not stop for him in November 1898 any more than it did for Hitler in March 1939.
Not a hint is given in the exhibition of Wilhelm II’s violent anti- Semitism, autocratic and antidemocratic conduct and ardent support for the military build-up of Germany that led inevitably to World War I. Even after his abdication at the end of this disastrous war, he continued to encourage German nationalism and supported the rise of Nazism.
In the past the museum has put on many fine exhibitions.
Sadly, its organizers slipped up on this occasion.