February 24: Unity is strength

The majority that chose the Right bloc has also clearly indicated that it wants the coalition to be one of national unity.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Unity is strength Sir, - "It is not the job of the center-left to save the Right from itself," Jeff Barak writes in "Tzipi, stay away!" (February 23). With ill-concealed glee he paints a picture of the disaster awaiting a Netanyahu government left to govern by itself - this despite his admission that "the election clearly gave the Right a mandate to govern." The majority that chose the Right bloc has also clearly indicated, out of a sense of national responsibility, that it wants the coalition to be one of national unity. What divides Left and Right in Israel is no longer socialism vs capitalism but how to deal with the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the future of Jerusalem and the disputed territories. Center-right voters know that on these issues there may be little common ground between Likud and Kadima. However, they also know that this is irrelevant as long as the Palestinians perceive the conflict as being not over "occupied" territories or Palestinian statehood, but the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. What the Palestinians demand we cannot concede; thus a two-state solution now is not in the cards, no matter what Jeff Barak, Tzipi Livni, Barack Obama or the EU may think. A national unity government cannot unilaterally solve the Palestinian problem. But it can agree on how to manage it, and address the real and present dangers facing Israel: the looming threat of a nuclear Iran, its allies on our borders, the world economic crisis, and the ongoing erosion of Israel's legitimacy in an increasingly hostile international arena. A national unity government is imperative. Not to "save the Right," but to stand with the Right in order to save our country. GILBERT HERBERT Haifa Eating macaroni vs sitting shiva Sir, - Israel is long accustomed to foreign criticism of its actions. It is one thing, though, when the complaints come from the usual list of anti-Semites; but when they come from elected representatives of Israel's staunchest ally, it must hurt more than usual. So on behalf of my fellow Americans, I wish to apologize for the silly remarks made by Congressmen Keith Ellison and Brian Baird, as reported in "Visiting US Congressmen say Israel has to change 'counterproductive' Gaza policies" (February 22), following their tour of Gaza. I am sorry these gentlemen do not understand the most basic of facts: that Israel is at war with Hamas. It seems every American politician is now a maven when it comes to the security of Israel and its people. Until these folks know the difference between macaroni and sitting shiva, they ought to mind their own business and stop embarrassing the US. STEPHEN FLATOW West Orange, New Jersey Assessing Durban... Sir, - Caroline Glick's "Obama's Durban gambit" (February 20) presented AJC as working to ensure a repeat of the 2001 Durban hatefest. She's right, of course. We just love hanging out with Holocaust deniers, watching Jews being vilified, and enlisting the American government's help in demonizing Israel. What else would you expect from an agency dedicated, since 1906, to advancing Jewish well-being? Let's get real. Our position on Durban II is clear. We have publicly praised France and the Netherlands, among other countries, for insisting on clear red lines and threatening to withdraw if they are breached. We believe the US shouldn't attend the conference under the present circumstances. This leaves two options: to throw up our hands, or work to change those circumstances. The US government has decided to send a delegation to Geneva to learn about the preparatory process firsthand and see if it is beyond repair. Ms. Glick suspects nefarious motives. She has already made clear her ideological unwillingness to believe anything President Obama says: He's just a "radical... actively advancing the interests of Islamists." We, however, choose to work with our government to assess whether Durban is beyond salvaging. Contrary to Ms. Glick's accusation, we received nothing "in return" for anything. If Durban can be fixed, everybody wins - not least the global struggle against racism, to which AJC has been committed for more than a century. If it can't, we will absolutely seek to hold the administration to its promise to withdraw. DAVID A. HARRIS Executive Director American Jewish Committee New York ...and its amen corner Sir, - That Israel is boycotting Geneva's Durban II anti-racism conference because it condemns Israel for "occupation," "Palestinian suffering" and discrimination which amounts to neo-apartheid seems strange. Isn't this what Israeli and Jewish leftists have been claiming for years? And when Israel's prime minister, Supreme Court justices, politicians, pundits, NGOs and media assert that the "occupation" is "a moral disaster" and "illegal," why blame Israel-bashers in Geneva? An Israeli government that cannot defend the right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria can hardly fault others for not doing so. MOSHE DANN Jerusalem Let's be clear Sir, - "IDF: 9 medics killed in Gaza op were Hamas operatives" (February 16) stated that Anas Naim, the Palestinian medic killed by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, was a Palestine Red Crescent Society medic. This is to affirm that he was not on staff or even a volunteer with the PRCS. This incorrect information negatively affects the image of the PRCS, its humanitarian mission and its adherence to the fundamental principles of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Society, particularly neutrality. MUTASEM AWAD Palestine Red Crescent Society Ramallah Ethnic take Sir, - In "Full score jazz" (Entertainment, February 19) Barry Davis referred to: "Israeli saxophonist Albert Beger and Nazareth-born guitarist Michel Sajrawy." Was this not the Freudian slip of the racist, who has decided that Israeli Arabs from Nazareth are not proper Israelis? DAVID FULLMAN London Barry Davis responds: There was no intention to differentiate between Beger and Sajrawy, certainly not on grounds of race or ethnicity. The point being made was that Sajrawy comes from a sector of the country not normally known for jazz endeavor, and offers an interesting ethnic take on the genre. Dubai: I don't buy it Sir, - I totally agree with the writer of "Tennis, anyone?" (Letters, February 23). But why are we more concerned when Jews don't get to play in an Arab country than we are when Jews play abroad on Shabbat as representatives of our Jewish country? And with that in mind, who will stand up when an Orthodox Jew reaches the finals in a tournament in New York, let alone Dubai, that falls on Shabbat and wants it postponed until Sunday? YECHIEL AARON Hashmonaim