February 27: Crossing the street

Do Shai and his fellow MKs truly think they will educate ideologues whose ears are deaf and whose minds are closed?

Crossing the street
Sir, – Shame on Nachman Shai and his Kadima cohorts for agreeing to address the J Street conference (“J Street confab sparks schism in Kadima,” February 24).
Shai claims he “doesn’t defend J Street,” but defends his trip by suggesting that these “young people have questions and if we don’t answer them we may lose them.” Doesn’t he understand that these young people have no questions for him – they think they already have the answers.
Doesn’t he understand that we have already lost these people when they oppose a UN veto by the US on settlements, discredit the actions of our naval commandos, and time and again play directly into the hands of those who would delegitimize Israel? Do Shai and his fellow MKs truly think they will educate ideologues whose ears are deaf and whose minds are closed? Their words will be disregarded and forgotten – if they themselves are not ridiculed to their faces.
What will be remembered is that by their presence as Israeli MKs, they enhanced the image of an organization whose agenda is not that of Kadima and certainly not that of the vast majority of Israelis today.
Outdoing himself
Sir, – Larry Derfner outdid himself this time when he wrote “the terrible sin that Israel committed by conquering the Palestinians” (“People get ready – there’s a train a-comin’,” Rattling the Cage, February 24).
I understand that his political outlook colors his opinions and that, of course, he is entitled to his opinions. But what he calls a “terrible sin,” the Six Day War, was not a conquest but a war of defense provoked by Egypt when it closed the Straits of Tiran, and by Jordan when it attacked Israel. At the time, the West Bank was part of Jordan and the Arabs who lived there called themselves Jordanians, not Palestinians. There never has been a Palestinian state, nor was there ever an intent by the Arabs of the region to proclaim an independent state.
Sir, – Truly shocking, though no longer surprising, was Larry Derfner’s remark: “I’d hoped the Obama administration would pressure Israel out of the West Bank.”
Perhaps Derfner needs to be reminded that the last time a world power intervened against a Jewish government in Palestine was when Rome’s Pompey was invited in by Hyrcanus II against his brother, Aristoblus II, in 63 BCE, effectively ending Jewish sovereignty in Palestine for 2,000 years. But even if history’s lessons are lost on Derfner, it is a truism of international affairs that one cannot selectively mortgage one’s independence. One is either independent or one is not, and the wish that your own government be pressured into acting against its own declared policies is nothing less than an abdication of sovereignty.
Even stranger is Derfner’s appeal to a thuggish end-run around a representative, democratic government in Israel, when at the same time he lauds the movements for democracy among our Arab neighbors.
Sir, – Larry Derfner advocates a “day of rage” encouraging hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to march on IDF checkposts and settlements, saying “out, out” and refusing to leave.
Would he also encourage Palestinians to use “not unviolent” means to force settlers out of their homes if they refuse to leave? To me it sounds like he’s advocating a pogrom!
Larry Derfner responds: Whether Mandel wants to call them Palestinians or Jordanians, Israel has been subjugating millions of people from the day after the Six Day War until today, and that’s a terrible sin. Wiesen says that by urging foreign pressure on Israel I’m calling for its abdication of sovereignty. But Israel is not sovereign in the occupied territories, e.g. the West Bank, so if it won’t get off this land voluntarily, which it won’t, foreign pressure is not only justified, it’s necessary. Chernofsky says I’m advocating a pogrom against the settlers when what I advocated was civil disobedience; there’s a difference.
And the earth shook
Sir, – “New Zealand sees its ‘darkest day’ as deadly quake hits Christchurch” (February 23) could very easily be in The Jerusalem Post in the future – with one difference: The quake takes place in Israel and the damage and number of dead and injured are huge.
The government needs to enforce the immediate survey of every building constructed before 1980 to assess what needs to be done to strengthen it and avoid unnecessary damage, deaths and injuries.
When are we going to learn that prevention is much cheaper than cure?
Sir, – New Zealand just experienced her most devastating and terrifying earthquake in recent memory. Amidst the terror and fear, there has been an immediate response of aid from other countries – especially from Israel.
As an ordinary Kiwi who has personally experienced the incredible love and friendliness of many dozens of Israelis in both New Zealand and Israel, may I thank you for your compassion.
Your light truly shines and we bless you and thank God for your love.
LEI-ANNE GABY Runanga, Greymouth, New Zealand
Sir, – My sister lives with her family in Christchurch, and this was a terrible and devastating day. We have just heard that the Israeli government, along with the US and our neighbors and cousins, Australia, has offered specialist assistance with search, rescue and recovery.
We are warmed and heartened by these and many other offers. Thank you, Israel.
TIM CHILDS Wellington, New Zealand
Iran’s naval tour
Sir, – Regarding “Shalom: Iran’s goal is to show the Arab world ‘who the new leader is’” (February 23), as a humanitarian gesture, Israel should publicly offer the crews of the Iranian ships visiting our neighborhood political asylum from their leader.
Sir, – I remember, on the eve of the last elections, when Binyamin Netanyahu famously promised “the end of the era of weakness and the beginning of the era of strength.” Since his election, we have witnessed economic, diplomatic and political flip-flops – no agenda or clear direction.
Now we see Iranian naval vessels off the coast of Tel Aviv. In breach of the peace treaty with Egypt, we see the spearhead of a full division of the Egyptian army in the Sinai. Is the resignation of Uzi Arad as national security adviser propitious? We, Netanyahu’s nation and electorate, are truly worried. His saving grace – that he has a totally ineffective opposition– is countered by a perceived lack of control of his own cabinet.
Sad little graveyard
Sir, – The photo by Sybil Ehrlich (“His final stop,” February 23) was fascinating and illustrated another facet of the rich history of Haifa during the Mandate period.
However, what a sad little graveyard that is. Not a tree or bush to give shade; just dry earth and bare stone walls.
Could not the British Embassy, perhaps together with the Haifa Municipality, create a little garden in this historic cemetery? There may be some harsh memories of the British Mandate period, but George Sykes himself was superintendent of a railway system that influenced the establishment of Israel Railways. And he, too, was a victim of the Arab riots of 1929.