February 7: Outrage over letter...

With regard to “GPO summons ‘Guardian’ reporter over controversial letter” (February 4), the letter in question was written by Ted Honderich.

Outrage over letter...
Sir, – With regard to “GPO summons ‘Guardian’ reporter over controversial letter” (February 4), the letter in question was written by Ted Honderich, an emeritus professor at University College London and chairman of the Royal Institute of Philosophy.
In September 2006, Honderich presented a particularly nasty documentary on primetime British television in which he slandered Israel, justified terrorism against its citizens and attacked the US for backing the Jewish state. At the end, Honderich stated: “We must engage in mass civil disobedience.
It can work. Bring down the real friend of terror.”
The British Home Office would not deal with this incitement and redirected the complaint to the police, who rejected it. The following January, the British media watchdog OFCOM said: “We judged that Professor Honderich’s closing statement was meant in a moral sense and not intended to be taken literally.” Is it any surprise that the UK is Europe’s center for the support of terrorism? Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Guardian to apologize.
...but Edelstein was wrong
Sir, – Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein surely knows that all newspapers and periodicals print explicit disclaimers and rules to ensure that readers understand the opinions expressed in letters to the editor (or advertisements, for that matter) do not necessarily reflect the editorial positions of the paper itself. Therefore, as despicable as a private reader’s opinion may be, and as angry as I or anyone else might get by seeing such an opinion published as a letter-to-the-editor, there is no reason why the particular publication cannot print it.
The very idea of having a letters section is to provide an avenue for any publication’s general readership to express opinions.
Had Edelstein been reacting to a Guardian editorial, his shock, condemnation and demand for a clarification or retraction would be not only legitimate, but laudable.
By extrapolating his own conclusions about the paper’s possible support of terrorism because of a letter to the editor by a third party, he has definitely overstepped the boundaries of his authority and mandate, and even shows a profound and dangerous contempt for the right of freedom of expression.
If Edelstein is not capable of understanding the difference between a newspaper’s editorial policy and its readers’ right to freedom of expression, he should turn over his ministry and responsibilities to someone who does.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit
He sees it coming
Sir, – Regarding “The reversal of a generation’s momentum” (Editor’s Notes, February 4), the column wisely raised the question that if we missed what is happening in Egypt, “what other potential game-changing shifts are we also failing to identify?” Here’s one: The US and President Barack Obama will drop Israel quicker than it did Mubarak. If our politicians have not seen this coming, white canes and guide dogs will not help.
Sir, – I was never more impressed with the coverage of the Egypt uprisings than I was with the reporting by Melanie Lidman and Ben Hartman. They were consistently with the news, giving us a straightforward, thoughtful picture of what was going on behind all the bluster in the Cairo square.
I hope their reports will keep coming – we need to hear their rational voices above the fray.
The Editor responds: Thank you. Lidman and Hartman are now back in Israel. They and other Post reporters will return to Cairo and continue to cover the story as appropriate.
Twisted and pathetic
Sir, – The lawsuit filed against former US president Jimmy Carter in New York is a twisted and pathetic abuse of our American judicial process filed on behalf of a number of misguided and sad individuals who have no understanding of and little consideration for our courts (“Jimmy Carter being sued for alleged falsehoods in one of his books on Israel,” February 3).
I write as a consumer attorney with some familiarity of these laws, and am embarrassed that this suit invokes the label of consumer protection. Will we ever reach a point in America where criticism of Israel does not result in such an absurdity or claims of anti-Semitism or hatred of Israel?
Newport, Kentucky
Blue & white Judaism
Sir, – Twenty-four hours after returning from an almost twoweek visit to Israel that spread over much of the “PaliLeaks” episode and the popular uprising in Egypt, I read “Our state of diminished freedom” (Comment & Features, February 3). The article spoke clearly to what I had seen and heard during both this visit and many others over the past several years, as religious intolerance and ultra-nationalism grow among politicians and the citizenry.
However, I also saw a new development – an exciting rise among secular Jews engaging in Jewish texts and practices, infusing them with critical thought, social action and spirituality. This seems to demonstrate that the country is finally creating a made-in-Israel form of Judaism, much as eastern Europe created Hassidism, Germany created the Reform movement, and America created its Conservative and Reconstructionist, and now Renewal movements.
San Francisco
A noble act
Sir, – I beg to differ with Gil Troy (“Did we need 400 rabbis and $100,000 to attack Fox News and defend George Soros?,” Center Field, February 2).
The rabbis did a noble act. It was the right thing to do. It is not a question of misusing the Holocaust. Beck uses anything he can, fair or not, against those who have a different view of what is right.
I find that I agree with what Soros thinks is right, whether it is fighting for democracy or helping the weak.
The $100,000 was not holy. It was not taken from any charitable institution. Three days of vicious attacks against Soros for what he did to survive as a child in the Holocaust is definitely not fair or right.
Troy despairs that Jews place their liberalism above their Judaism. Liberalism is engrained in Judaism. At least it used to be.
It is the right-wing Jews, who support tax cuts for the rich and defend and support everything Israel does, who are contradicting their Jewish roots of compassion.
It is a byword that Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans. I am proud that 80% continue to vote Democratic.
I want Jews to support Israel the way Alan Dershowitz does.
A revival needed
Sir, – Michael Plaskow (“Wonderful land,” Letters, January 23) incorrectly identifies the card scheme for collecting contributions in the UK for new trees in Israel as having originated with Bnei Akiva.
In those days, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Bnei Akiva was not involved in such activities.
Both my wife and I recollect that the scheme was organized by the Education Department of the Jewish National Fund in London, and was distributed to cheder pupils.
JNF London also produced an excellent magazine aimed at junior school pupils with exciting stories of the Land of Israel. It was called Moledet and was also sold at cheder.
In the attempt to veer away from Zionism in both Israel and the Diaspora, perhaps there should be a revival of this magazine to inculcate in today’s youth the true and proud spirit of Zionism.