February 24: Learning from Abbas

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni can take a lesson from him.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
All sorts of goodies
Sir, – With regard to “Kerry hints settlers may keep their homes in peace treaty” (February 21), just when was US Secretary of State John Kerry elected to Knesset to become our spokesman and mentor, and when did he become an Israeli citizen? Why are we tolerating such patronization? Why do we not stand up to America? Arab countries do not allow themselves to be railroaded into anything they don’t think is to their benefit, and probably because of this stance they are treated with respect and are the recipients of all sorts of goodies, without any demands made on them.
I want to see our prime minister act first and foremost for us – and that is certainly not to give up the land that thousands have given their lives for in the hope that our leaders would destroy our enemy, not our own people.
I want him to remember that he was not elected to carry out the visions of US President Barack Obama, but ours.
We should acknowledge that the “green line” is just that and nothing more, something someone drew with a crayon. The land within and without that mark is the historic and legal Jewish land, given to us by God in perpetuity. No one has a right to interfere.
We must not be afraid to speak out about this, and certainly not be ashamed or feel guilty. After all, it is only a tiny strip of land, and my feeling is that if the world cannot see us living in such a small area, it has no wish to see us live at all.
Slamming the doors
Sir, – With regard to “Vassar College Jewish Union rejects Hillel guidelines on dissent over Israel” (February 21), the following is the text of a letter I sent to the Vassar Jewish Union (VJU).
“As a rabbi, former president of the Jewish Alumni Foundation and someone who discovered my Jewish identity while at Vassar, I am truly disappointed and disturbed by the VJU’s decision to become an ‘open Hillel.’ “I know that Vassar teaches you to embrace various viewpoints and embrace ideas that run counter to your own. But to openly welcome those who actively work to undermine the very existence of the Jewish state and promote horrific anti-Israel sentiment across the globe is irresponsible and destructive.
“While some will support your decision, I write to tell you that your actions are not at all supported by me.
“Some will say that opening your doors to one and all is the ‘right’ thing to do; some will say that openness will foster true community. But this could not be further from the truth. What you have done is open your doors to those who seek to hurt, undermine and/or destroy Israel while making your Hillel an unfriendly, unpleasant and unsafe place for those of us who consider ourselves committed Zionists.
“In doing so, you have not created an ‘open Hillel.’ You have slammed many doors.”
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The writer graduated from Vassar in 1992
One or the other
Sir, – David M. Weinberg (“Abbas’s intransigence and insolence,” Observations, February 21) quotes Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat’s incessant false claim that he is an “indigenous descendant of the biblical Canaanites” and that “Joshua bin Nun burned down my hometown Jericho.”
It seems that Israel’s hasbara (public diplomacy) is extremely impotent when it comes to countering the lie that Palestinians are an ancient people.
Both the ancient Canaanites and the ancient Philistines are, as stated in Genesis 10: 6-14, from the descendants of Ham: “And the sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan... And Egypt begot... the Philistines.”
The Arabs (including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) cannot claim that they are the descendants of both Ham and Ishmael. Let them pick one or the other. If they say they are the descendants of Ham, let them give up the Cave of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, the father of the Jews, was buried.
Incidentally, both the Canaanites and the Philistines are either long gone or assimilated.
Sir, – David M. Weinberg deserves a great deal of credit for focusing our attention on the very essence of the asymmetrical “peace process.” But by inference, Israel’s constantly capitulating negotiators will be found guilty.
I urge Weinberg to follow-up with another insightful article explaining why US Secretary of State John Kerry and most of the “international community” relate to Israel with this lopsided double standard.
Does Israel’s failure to demonstrate the justice of its cause have something to do with a lack of self-respect, failure to really understand the Arab mindset, strong covert anti-Semitism abroad, national fatigue and, as in psychiatrist Kenneth Levin’s words, “delusions of a people under siege”? ZVI NOVEMBER Jerusalem Know your enemies Sir, – Uri Savir (“Know your friends,” Savir’s Corner, February 22) says that we can convince the Palestinians to respect our legitimate concerns and interests through “dialogue, mutual understanding and compromise.”
He concludes that Israel must “meet the Palestinians’ interests halfway” in order for a permanent-status agreement to be possible.
The problem is that moving halfway toward the Palestinians still leaves us halfway from where they demand we end up. While Savir says that Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert understood the need for compromise, there is scarce evidence that the steps these leaders took resulted in any meaningful shift by the Palestinian leadership. To this day, the Palestinian Authority maintains its maximalist demands, adamantly refusing even to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
Each time the Palestinians have walked away from the bargaining table they have pocketed Israeli concessions and demanded that those concessions be the baseline for any future negotiations.
Repeated Israeli good-will gestures (e.g., releasing over 100 convicted Palestinian terrorists simply to coax the Palestinians back to the table) have yielded precious little in the way of substantive concessions from the other side. Withdrawal from Gaza, costing thousands of Israelis their homes, led predictably to thousands of rockets being fired at innocent Israeli civilians.
Sadly, in light of the total failure of the Palestinians to respond in kind to Israeli concessions, Savir’s column would better have been titled “Know your enemies.”
Zichron Ya’acov
Learning from Abbas
Sir, – Concerning “Kerry disappointed with Palestinian verbal attacks against Israel” (February 20), bravo to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas knows how to handle John Kerry. He rejects all the secretary of state’s demands concerning Jerusalem, right of return of refugees and recognition of Israel as the Jewish state, and demands a clear declaration that the framework agreement specify that the pre-1967 lines be the basis for recognized borders.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni can take a lesson from him.
Instead, we hear from Netanyahu’s office that he is considering another unilateral concession: freezing settlement construction in isolated areas in order to keep Livni’s Palestinian counterpart, Saeb Erekat, at the table and allow Kerry to keep adding to his frequent flier mileage.
Of course, there is no quid pro quo since the Israeli team has taught the Palestinians that we can be pressured for unilateral concessions.
APOLOGY We apologize for errors that, due to an editing oversight, were introduced into the caption describing the photo of Reuma Weizman in the February 21 issue of In Jerusalem.