February 19: Always defensive

Turkey is the one that should be apologizing for the Mavi Marmara episode, so why have we not put this episode behind us?

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Always defensive
Sir, – In “‘Israel offered to lay pipeline through Turkey’” (February 17) it is reported that “Israel recently allowed Turkey to send materials into the Gaza Strip to build a hospital. [The Turkish newspaper] Hurriyet noted that this relates to one of the three conditions that Ankara presented to Jerusalem for overcoming tensions, lifting the ‘siege’ on Gaza.”
Everyone is still making the decisions for us, telling us what we must do and why? For some inexplicable reason we just can’t stop allowing ourselves to be humiliated, always putting ourselves on the defensive, even when we are right.
Turkey is the one that should be apologizing to us for the Mavi Marmara episode, so why have we not put this episode behind us instead of trying again to be the nice guy, always willing to oblige? It just does not work. It only gives fodder to our enemies, who have no respect for losers.EDITH OGNALLNetanya
Cheerful editorial
Sir, – Thank you for a long awaited, cheerful editorial (“Doing well,” February 17). It should be published for the world to see.
I hope you continue with more articles showing the positive side of Israel.
Everyone’s issue
Sir, – In “Intellectual warriors, not slicker diplomats” (Into the Fray, February 15), Martin Sherman notes, as if in passing, that the recent flood of criticism of Israel’s hasbara (public diplomacy) performance has been largely confined to the English-language media.
Sherman finds that the Hebrew media have not provided the same degree of cogent and justified discussion of this vital issue, and concludes that this probably reflects a lack of awareness and interest among the Hebrew-speaking population. But this is the very heart of the problem.
Why is Israel so neglectful of what the world thinks? Is it an inborn Israeli characteristic (“who cares!”).
Those of us with experience in living outside Israel are only too aware of how often its case goes by default or is completely misrepresented in the world media. Years of neglect of this slow drip of negative publicity has resulted in left-wing and liberal opinion throughout Europe and beyond coming to regard Israel very nearly as a pariah state.
Total delegitimization, once a remote danger, is now very real. It is time for action, by both the incoming government and concerned non-governmental bodies.
Sherman has issued a wake-up call. Hebrew papers and TV stations: Please note!
Sir, – Those of us who participate in one way or another in public advocacy use whatever skills and resources we have.
What Martin Sherman calls the “intellectual warriors” will write their columns, participate in conferences and debate with their political opponents. The rabbi will inspire his congregation. The political pundit will post messages on his blog. The student will speak out at a rowdy meeting on campus. Someone will write a letter to the editor or hold a poster at a street demonstration, post on Twitter or place a slogan on a bumper sticker.
Some address an international audience, others talk to the hostile or unaware at home. To a lesser or greater degree, each of us aims to detoxify the enmity of the world around us.
How can we make this essential task more effective? The message must be focused, clear and memorable. We are not inviting a debate but hammering home Israel’s point of view, time after time, always in terms of Israel’s own narrative and avoiding the loaded lexicon of our foes.
The more we speak with one voice, avoiding multiple, contradictory messages, the better – and this applies especially to the government, for unless its goals are unambiguous and clearly articulated, how can we present them to the world? A statement must be true and the facts must be correct, and for this we are dependent upon reliable sources of information.
Advocates for Israel can be effective only to the extent that they are knowledgeable, committed and believe in the truth and righteousness of their cause.
Finally, preemption is better than reaction. And never – but never – be apologetic.
Sir, – Martin Sherman continues his contempt for the Palestinians, now calling them “vicious rottweilers.” How long will The Jerusalem Post let this go on? I thought it had an anti racism policy.
Sherman claims that Israeli public diplomacy is weak. But he exemplifies what makes it weak with his hatred and cruelty.
As always in history, occupied and conquered victims must be demonized in order to justify and facilitate their takeover. Before the occupation of the West Bank and settlement expansion there was almost no Western criticism, much less any anti-Israel mindset.
It began only after decades of expansionism and occupation.
One would think all of this would cause some soul-searching.
But for Sherman and his like, it generates only the quality of unmitigated mercilessness.
If only enough people would realize that the problem isn’t the salesmanship but the product – that dehumanization and conquest are not, in today’s world, easy to sell.
JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts
Decide already
Sir, – With regard to “Palestinians charge Israel with taking artifacts for exhibit on King Herod” (February 14), the Palestinian Authority, as usual, wants to have its cake and eat it too.
The PA is complaining because the Israel Museum is displaying Jewish objects from Herod’s tomb. Yet it says Herod could not have built the Second Temple because there never was a temple.
The PA must make up its mind: Was there or wasn’t there a Jewish temple in Jerusalem? It is well known that the Wakf Muslim religious trust has destroyed many tons of artifacts in an attempt to erase any Jewish connection to what every Jew and Christian knows was the site of the ancient Jewish temple.
Ask Abbas instead
Sir, – In his column of February 14 (“Netanyahu, the peacemaker,” Encountering Peace), Gershon Baskin presents a checklist of reasons why our prime minister has every reason to sign a peace deal with Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.
More interesting is what Baskin omits – the fact that half of the PLO seeks the total destruction of Israel while the other half denies the connection between the Jewish people and its state.
Baskin is not troubled when Abbas has several journalists arrested for criticizing the PA.
Nor is he asking why Abbas is still president of the PA, his term having run out years ago. A liberal progressive, he also fails to mention that the PA has no functioning legislature, no independent judiciary and no free press.
Maybe he should turn to Abbas instead of Netanyahu and ask what he’s doing to lead his people to a better life.MATTIAS ROTENBERG Petah Tikva
Bad choice
Sir, – Several full-page advertisements for The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference to be held in New York in April have appeared in recent editions of the paper under the heading “Fighting for the Zionist Dream.”
I find it extraordinary that two of your 10 keynote speakers are prominent politicians, both currently on trial for offenses relating to fraud and possibly moral turpitude. Although admittedly neither has yet been found guilty, their reputations are undoubtedly tarnished.
Surely their participation in a high-profile conference with such a title is inappropriate, to say the least.KAY WEINBERGER Jerusalem