January 1: A growing friendship

During WWII, Franco kept Spain’s borders open for Jewish refugees from Vichy France and Nazi-occupied Europe.

A growing friendship
Sir, – Regarding “Spain – our new ‘amigo’” (December 28, Comment & Features), I am surprised that Gustavo Perednik omitted both an important and highly symbolic event, as well as Spain’s role in saving Jews during the Holocaust in his otherwise well written review of Spain’s centuries-old Judeophobia and its relatively new-found and growing friendship with Jews and Israel.
First, he makes no mention of a special ceremony held on April 1st, 1992 in Madrid to mark the 500th anniversary of the Edict of Expulsion of the Jews of Spain, when the late President Haim Herzog and Spain’s King Juan Carlos prayed together in the Beit Ya’acov synagogue in Madrid, which opened in 1968 and which was the first new synagogue in Spain since 1492. The ceremony clearly symbolized and emphasized a new dawn for Spain’s attitude toward Jews and Judaism and the State of Israel.
Second, and perhaps more important and illustrative of the “love-hate” relationship between Spain and Jews that Perednik documents, is the fact that during World War II, the Spanish fascist and pro-Axis dictator Francisco Franco kept Spain’s borders open for Jewish refugees from Vichy France and Nazi-occupied territories in Europe. In addition, Spanish diplomats are known to have extended diplomatic protection to Jews in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Balkans. Some estimates claim that 40,000 Jewish refugees found refuge in Spain in 1940 alone, with a grand total of 200,000 Jews escaping the Holocaust through Spain by the end of the war.
Orderly transition
Sir, – As Farid Ghadry, a great man for leading Syria, contemplates ways of ousting Assad, he should consider the possibility that guaranteeing the safety of Assad and his fellow Alawites will ease the way (“What if Assad survives?” Comment and Features, December 28).
For example, the US and NATO can help ensure that Assad will not end up in a cage like Mubarak, or hunted down like an animal as Gaddafi was. They can reassure the Alawites that they wont be the victims of pogroms as the Christians often are in Egypt and Iraq, or the object of genocidal vengeance as though they were Israeli Jews.
In sum, the West should practice its own ideals of forgiveness, the sanctity of human life and fair play in order to effect an orderly transition of power. It would set a fine example, and it might even work.
DAVID KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont
Losing his balance
Sir, – David Newman of Ben- Gurion University decries “the use of Nazi metaphors,” as “a form of verbal terrorism that must not be allowed to take root in the debate concerning Israel and anti-Semitism” (“Israel and the European Left,” Comment & Features, December 27). Why then, did Newman employ precisely such a metaphor in invoking Pastor Niemoller’s famous characterization of Nazi Germany to describe putative “antidemocratic tendencies” in present- day Israel (“Speaking out against the threat,” Comment & Features, November 22)?
Newman himself remarked that he would “no doubt be strongly criticized for making such a comparison” – as well he should be, since his argument is demonstrably without merit.
JACK L. SCHWARTZWALD North Kingstown, Rhode Island
Sir, – David Newman makes a sweeping statement, which typifies the too often lackadaisical approach of social scientists to research; unattributed or unproven statements.
He writes “there are many critics of the Israeli government, in fact the majority, who can in no way be labeled anti-Semitic, and who are adopting positions which are shared by at least half of the the Israeli population itself.”
Just where is the proof for these two assertions, or is this just another example by leftists as facts by assertion?
Permit me to also pontificate. The views of the intelligentsia of Europe are shaped by 1700 years of anti-Semitism at all levels of society, particularly at the highest levels of education and culture, and have been based on hatred, fear, ignorance and jealousy.
Without documentation, we have no facts, just opinions. The dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben- Gurion University should know that. Shame on him for for presenting political bluster as revealed truth.
Sir, – As befitting a dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, David Newman attempts to present us with a somewhat balanced picture of the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views of both the Right and Left.
In the midst of his article he apparently, however, loses his balance, and we are clearly able to discern his own biases and sympathies in favor of Israel’s critics.
Newman describes as “legitimate” the criticism of Israel’s policies in relation to the continuation of the occupation, and its refusal to move towards a peace agreement which would grant the Palestinians the same rights of sovereignty that the Jewish state enjoys. He states that these views are shared by at “least half of the Israeli population.”
I submit, that to brand Israel as the “refusers” to come to a peace agreement, in of itself is a perverted distortion of the facts.To claim that half of Israel’s citizens agree with this claim is no less of a distortion.
Sir, – Anyone reading the headline of David Newman’s piece expecting an exploration of the viscous vacuous-ness of the European Left, particularly the Intellectual Left, must have been sorely disappointed. What we read was a tortured piece that can be summarized as “yes there are some bad things coming out of the Left, but to a large extent they’re justified, and by the way they pale in comparison with what is coming from the Right.”
No wonder the Committee on Higher Education is so critical of Newman’s own political science department.
Newman buries any sustained focus of the “vanguard of hate” role being played by the European Left with a screed as to the sins of the settler movement. He stoops to smear Efraim Karsh, one of the most thoughtful and diligent scholars of Mideast history, in the way that we have become used to from the Left: A delegitimizing ad hominem attack.
Newman sneeringly refers to Prof. Karsh as an Israeli emigrant. Given what we know about Ben- Gurion University, is it any surprise that Karsh had to leave Israel to secure an academic appointment?
Once again a standard bearer of the Left succeeds in baring the self righteousness and arrogance that underpins its worldview.
Rosh Pina

Unstable numbers
Sir, – It was with great interest that I read that the Bank of Israel intends to entrench the annual inflation rate over the next 12 months “within the price-stability target of 13%” (“BoI leaves interest rate unchanged,” Business & Finance, December 27).
Now, I’m not superstitious, but dash it, I prefer the more accurate figure of “1-3%.”

Keep it separate
Sir, – I enjoy reading the opinion pages of the Jerusalem Post, but it’s irritating when the opinions spill into the news. The headline “Lieberman keeps mudslinging match with Europe alive” (December 26) colors the news with not one but two opinions – first that Israel and Europe have sunk to mud-slinging (“offensive epithets and invective,” according to Merriam- Webster), and second that if not for Avigdor Lieberman the mud-slinging would not continue.
Susan Hattis Rolef makes the same point on the opinion pages, but for all her animus against Lieberman I think she makes it more soberly than the news headline does.