February 10: Painful Read

Alan Dershowitz’s piece on the Political Science Department at Brooklyn College backing the student boycott of Israel was painful for me to read.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Broad brush
Sir, –
The story about columnist Gile Coren (“‘The Times’ columnist calling Poles anti- Semites sparks anger,” February 7) is a sad example that we, too, can descend to insulting prejudice.
While Coren doesn’t mind using a broad and anachronistic brush when he refers to Poles of today, he selectively critiques British anti-Semites, naming individuals such as MP David Ward.
Why don’t more of Coren’s fellow British citizens receive the same collective treatment? After all, Great Britain as “gatekeeper” for Palestine during World War II deserves a uniquely shameful place in history for shutting down the most viable escape route for Jews during the Holocaust.
Having been entrusted with facilitating Jewish nationhood by the League of Nations, Britain actually thwarted its mandate, its main contribution to that purpose being its final abandonment of the Jews of Palestine to face yet another war with genocidal intent.
The parlor and tea-room anti- Semitism of “sophisticates” can be just as deadly as the coarse variety Coren puts in the mouths of all Poles.
Yet the picture is more complex.
Great Britain did accept significantly more Jewish refugees than all other countries.
And British non-Jewish, pietist, proto-Zionism did contribute significantly to sympathies for initial efforts of Jewish settlement in Palestine decades before 1948.
So it is also for the Polish nation. Your correspondent correctly points out that the Poles have the highest number of honorees at Yad Vashem for saving Jews – indeed, they outnumber all other nationalities exponentially.
Anti-Semitism today should be exposed, its history taught, its deniers excoriated. But Coren’s insulting portrayal of Poles not only dishonors the Polish Righteous of the Nations, it ignores realities today, especially significant and sincere efforts to rectify the tone and quality of past relations on cultural, economic, religious and political levels.
Seinfeld as Shakespeare
Sir, –
Once again, Michael Freund hits the nail on the head with “Hillary Clinton: The ‘Seinfeld’ secretary of state” (Fundamentally Freund, February 7).
His conclusion: Clinton’s performance as secretary of state was much ado about nothing.
After a hiatus of months, Clinton testified at a congressional hearing investigating responsibility for the death of the US ambassador to Libya. Her adept display of histrionics had little effect in dispelling the notion of mismanagement and cover-up.
Her political career can best be characterized as having been lackluster and mediocre. Her stint as the first female senator from New York was uninspiring and unproductive.
I was brought up in the US in an era where excellence and achievement were the sine qua non for leadership. I shudder to think that when the current two-term presidency of Barack Obama terminates, the next front-runner for the Democratic Party will be Hillary Clinton.
Obscene expense
Sir, –
I have no doubt that the vast majority of Israelis agree with the views set out by Maurice Ostrof (“Trimming our obese cabinet,” Comment & Features, February 7).
Having 30 ministers is nothing short of obscene and an unjustifiable expense. A maximum of 18 is more than enough for the efficient running of this country.
I hope that the current coalition talks will not result in another bloated cabinet.
Obama’s visit
Sir, –
The news “Obama to visit Israel for first time as president” (February 6) – ostensibly to put the screws on us to attempt to achieve some success for his revised foreign policy, at our expense – bodes ill for us.
Somehow lost is the fact that President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the majority of members of the previous Knesset requested that Obama grant immediate clemency to Jonathan Pollard and release him. Obama rejected these pleas by default.
With the recently released information that Pollard never spied on the US for Israel, how can we, the public, sit idle and condone the visit without Pollard being released? Have we really lost the “Jewish way?” COLIN L. LECI Jerusalem Sir, – Is President Obama coming to see how we are surviving the consequences of his support for the anti-Semitic and anti-American Muslim Brotherhood in the countries surrounding us? MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC Beersheba Sir, – Let there be no doubt: US President Barack Obama will not be dropping in for a mere courtesy call. He will want to hear clear and specific answers, not about haredi military service but about what we are seriously offering the Palestinians, where we see the final borders, and what will be the fate of the Jewish settlements.
The next government will not have a 100-day honeymoon, or even one of 10 days. It will immediately have to answer serious questions that we have been avoiding for years.
There might be a decision to take a hard line, to continue to build settlements, thumb our nose at the world and head into a huge conflagration concerning our foreign relations. If this is what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants, he should build a narrow, rightwing coalition and forgo partnerships with the centrist parties, and certainly with those on the Left. The other possibility is to choose a serious diplomatic process that includes significant territorial compromise – but then Naftali Bennett and his friends could not be partners.
Worst of all would be a government that is stuck in the middle, with a bit of the Left and a bit of the Right, and unable to make decisions. If this is what we present to the world, the world will simply make our decisions for us. It’s not at all worth it.
Feiglin and gays
Sir, –
Now there’s a strange headline: “Feiglin to meet with gay group” (News in Brief, February 6). If I hadn’t seen it myself I wouldn’t believe it.
I find it hard to think that Likud MK Moshe Feiglin would make such a stretch, even for headlines. What could he possibly say to these people that wouldn’t either insult them or justify his slanted viewpoint? I’d stay as far away as possible from this person. He’s a bad one.
Painful read
Sir, –
Alan Dershowitz’s piece on the Political Science Department at Brooklyn College backing the student boycott of Israel (“Shame on Brooklyn College!,” Observations, February 1) was painful for me to read.
I attended Brooklyn College from 1947 to 1951. Most members of the student body and some of the faculty were Jewish. There was a very strong pro-Israel feeling at the time.
There were demonstrations, but they were in support of the Karl Marx Society, which had been suspended for having invited novelist Howard Fast to speak while he was under investigation by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
The student newspaper was also suspended for supporting freedom of speech for the Karl Marx Society. Even the organization of which I was president, the Brooklyn College Folk and Square Dance Group (a completely apolitical organization), was criticized by college president Harry D. Gideonse as representing the “hillbilly element.”