December 6: More views on E1

It’s time to think even more creatively about how to civilly engineer space for two peoples in one land.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
More views on E1
Sir, – I wish to thank Tovah Lazaroff for reporting Mayor Benny Kashriel’s important words, that building in the E1 area next to his city, Ma’aleh Adumim, in no way would make contiguity impossible between the northern and southern parts of the proposed Palestinian state (“Ma’aleh Adumim mayor to EU ambassadors: Visit E1 to see that it does not harm peace,” December 4).
The facts on the ground confirm that building there need not preclude contiguity, even if it requires a valley or tunnel, like that which exists between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.
The US government, in the letter from president George W. Bush to prime minister Ariel Sharon, stated that America would view favorably Israel’s retention of major Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank.
The same umbilical thinking that inspired that letter surely also applies to E1.
It’s time to think even more creatively about how to civilly engineer space for two peoples in one land.
AARON BRAUNSTEIN Jerusalem Sir, – At a time when Israel should be doing everything possible to express its appreciation for America’s support during Operation Pillar of Defense and cultivate further support for the inevitable confrontation with Iran, the government announced plans for 3,000 new housing units in the disputed territories – a move Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must have known would deeply offend President Barack Obama (not to mention several European leaders).
Netanyahu’s clarification – that this was only an approval for planning, not for actual building – is a weak distinction that will go entirely unrecognized by the world community.
Netanyahu acted recklessly and precipitously when he could just as easily have delayed the announcement for a few weeks in order to determine the Palestinian Authority’s true intentions following the UN vote on Palestinian statehood.
The spotlight of disapproval is now squarely on Jerusalem rather than on Ramallah, where it belongs.
Netanyahu ignored a fundamental rule of international relations: Even when you have the right to do something, it may not be the right thing to do.
EFRAIM A. COHEN Zichron Ya’acov
Sir, – The world is again telling Israel that it is knocking a nail into the peace process by authorizing home units. Let’s mix our metaphors and say it’s barking up the wrong tree.
The issue is not the so-called settlements, but human attitudes.
The peace process has to start in people’s hearts and minds. If nations want to be helpful, let them persuade human beings to dream peace, think peace, talk peace, learn peace, teach peace and hold out the hand of peace.
RAYMOND APPLE Jerusalem Sir, – As a British Jew expected to unconditionally defend Israel’s political and military decisions, I must question the current government’s playground politics.
The Palestinians’ recent UN success was predictable. And the recent announcement of the freezing of Palestinian tax revenues and the approval of plans for building in E1 have predictably elicited international condemnation.
Why do this now and so publicly? Does Israel desperately need this money? Are there not vast swaths of uncontroversial, empty land elsewhere to build on? It is obvious that Israel wants neither a two- nor a one-state solution to the Palestinian problem, and seems to simply hope it will go away. It will not. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the marginalization of moderates has made the problem more intractable.
Making peace with your enemy doesn’t have to make him your friend, and childish games of tit-for-tat often have undesirable consequences.
AVRIL LINKS Manchester, UK
Revealing little
Sir, – In “Yacimovich reveals economic policy, pledging to increase expenditure” (December 4), we are presented with the Labor party’s alternative socioeconomic policies formulated by a team of 50 professionals (whatever that means).
The components are rather cleverly described as “foundation stones.” This enables the professionals to avoid specifying the details, and therefore avoid the hard work of assigning costs.
As to paying for these goodies, no estimation of revenues from a second list of borrowing and tax increases is provided. What will happen if, as I suspect, the revenues will not come even close to covering the costs? Nor are the economic, as opposed to the pure budgetary, consequences of further borrowing and tax increases, such as their impact on investment, trade and employment, even mentioned. So what is the ratio of social benefits to social costs? So much for informed policy discussion in the run-up to elections.
Change the talk...
Sir, – In “Iron Dome diplomacy” (Sinai Today, November 30), the chief rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein, rightly reinforces the extreme importance of a strategy to promote the belief that “the Jewish people and the Jewish state have morality on our side.” He explains this in detail as a matter of “pikuah nefesh – the mandate to save a life....”
Goldstein says that this can be achieved if Israel’s “disproportionate contribution to human development [is] spoken about and expanded upon.”
There are a several organizations and individuals that understand this concept and the fact that it could radically alter the perception of Israel – especially with people in key positions of influence and those who haven’t yet been incited to hate the Jewish state.
The Israeli government has fallen woefully short in its responsibility to put out positive messages, and I doubt this situation will change. What it can do, however, is show its support to the private sector and non-profit organizations in their attempts to make a dynamic impact and change the conversation about Israel.
MICHAEL ORDMAN Netanya The writer publishes a free weekly newsletter of positive news about Israel, and blogs on ...or the ideology
Sir, – Classical Zionist thought plays into Hamas’s goal of destabilizing Israel. Classical Zionism advocates havlaga (restraint) as a means of preventing the abandonment of the Jews, which is the Zionist explanation for the Holocaust.
This is why Israelis worry about international recognition and opinion ad nauseam.
In A Place Among the Nations, Binyamin Netanyahu wrote that “without a campaign to secure international approval even the most formidable accumulation of military or economic power is simply insufficient to assure enduring support.” It is this sentiment that is the philosophical root of Israel’s unwillingness to decisively win a war and defeat its enemies once and for all.
A proper political system, which represents geographical districts instead of unaccountable party lists, surely would not tolerate a “weakness as virtue” policy. Since Sderot lacked political representation, no one cared about its situation except for the minority who lived there.
To paraphrase a Holocaust-era statement, when they attacked Sderot I did not advocate a harsh Israeli response because I did not live in Sderot or Ashdod or Ashkelon; but when they attacked Tel Aviv and Jerusalem it was too late because our restraint and appeasement had allowed Hamas to gain the upper hand.
Israel has the military power to ensure security for its citizens, but it lacks the will and proper philosophical premises to do it properly.
MARC BAKER Birmingham, Michigan