January 10: Truly principled stand

Nation that produced Gautama Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi should refuse to side with a culture that glorifies terror.

Sir, – It was enlightening for me, as a former Indian, to read Arvind Gupta’s article “India- Israel relations: A mutually beneficial relationship” (Comment & Features, January 9). What was well known for somebody like me, who has kept abreast of the blossoming relationship, has now been stacked with facts and figures regarding trade, tourism, research cooperation, etc.
I would like to take issue, though, with what Gupta calls “India’s principled stand on the Palestinian issue.”
As a youngster growing up in India I was always taken aback by the rabid anti-Israel, pro-Arab stand taken by successive Congress governments at all international forums, including the UN. It seemed to me farcical that a movie like Exodus should be banned in India for fear of “hurting” Arab sentiment. As a leader of the “Non-Aligned” group of nations, it appeared nonsensical to me that India should outdo even Arab countries in its anti-Israel sentiments and voting patterns on the international stage.
Israel of course understands the true reasons for the Indian approach – the country’s large Muslim population, its much larger trade with the Arab bloc, its dependence on Iranian oil and so on. In fact, India’s former defense minister, George Fernandes, on his visit here several years ago aptly pointed out that India and Israel were “two islands of democracy in a sea of Islam.”
Israel has had more than its fair share of Islamic fundamentalist terror. India is no stranger to such terror, either. Isn’t it about time that India adopts a truly principled stand that would inevitably mean a drastic U-turn when it comes to support of the Palestinians and their sponsors, the Iranians and the Saudis? That may be political suicide, but at the very least one would expect the adoption of a neutral, non-aligned stance.
A nation that produced a Gautama Buddha and a Mahatma Gandhi should refuse to side with a culture that glorifies terror and encourages children to become suicide bombers and wantonly kill innocent women and children so as to be able to consort with virgins in nirvana.
By any other name
Sir, – I object to your use of the word “infiltrator,” even if you put it in quotation marks, when reporting on African migrants (“250,000 foreigners live in country,” January 8).
The definition of “infiltrate” is “surreptitious entry with evil intent.” While the entry of these migrants may be surreptitious, there is no proof that their intent is evil. Do you call an American Jew who overstays his visa an “infiltrator?” What this type of language amounts to is a not-so-subtle form of racism. It would be better and more accurate to say that these people are in the country illegally, without proper papers or awaiting a decision on their request for political asylum, as the case may be.
New York
Proud he’s here
Sir, – It broke my heart to read Teddy Totimeh’s “Home away from home in Israel” (Comment & Features, January 8).
He relates his experiences as a black man who is performing an important and complicated medical internship in Israel. All goes well with his studies when he is within the protective walls of the institution. However, out on the streets of Tel Aviv things are not often very nice. He relates that he has visited many Western countries but has never been more conscious of his “blackness” as he is in Israel.
I wish to apologize to Totimeh for those Israelis who foolishly single him out in a disparaging way, and ask him to count me as one of his family who is very proud to have him studying in our country.
Who is Obama?
Sir, – Aaron David Miller, a brilliant analyst and probably one of the key State Department analysts of foreign policy, took great pains to speak about the mindset of US President Barack Obama with regard to Israel (“Bibi and Barack,” Comment & Features, January 8).
Obama evidently grew up in an environment where there was no or very little mention of Israel. His college and intellectual friends never indulged in pro- Israel thinking or activity of any sort. Israel was alien to him since he evidently had very little education in the Bible or contact with ministers who were biblical scholars and lovers of Israel.
He has no gut feelings about Israel. He never thinks of Israel and Jerusalem except in cold, practical terms where he buys into the Arab thinking that Israel does not fit in the Middle East.
I believe that this knowledge must factor into our own thinking about Obama.
Own worst enemies
Sir, – Hirsh Goodman writes that Israel’s response to delegitimization is incoherent (“Time to get smart,” PostScript, January 6).
While this may be true, I refer Goodman to an interview Alan Dershowitz gave to Channel 1 in which Dershowitz noted disparaging remarks about Israel and Zionism made by Israeli figures such as Uri Avnery and a plethora of Haaretz columnists.
He asserted that strident rhetoric of this type provides strong ammunition for those hostile to Israel and makes it most difficult for the country’s defenders even to highlight simple facts.
While Israel is a democracy and criticism of the government is legitimate, it should be done with circumspection, as criticism is a powerful weapon in the hands of those who strive daily to discredit Israel.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – To counter “delegitimization,” Israel should respect international law first and foremost. Doing so will do more for its image than any hasbara campaign.
Fairfax, California
Sir, – I would like to addend the comments made by Jeff Broide in Nadav Shemer’s “Specialist: Tax reforms make starting a company less attractive” (Business & Finance, January 6).
It is still attractive for US citizens living and working in Israel to incorporate.
If they work as self-employed individuals they will be subject to the US social security tax, as well as to Israeli National Insurance Institute payments, which is a double tax. By incorporating, they can avoid paying the US social security tax.
The writer is a certified public accountant
Ditch the partisanship
Sir, – In the second part of “Is Israeli society unraveling?” (Our World, January 3), Caroline B. Glick undoes the constructive contribution she makes in the first part.
Glick calls for unity but then slips into typical right-wing demonization of the Left. Also, her attack makes no sense. The fact that a political camp may benefit from a protest movement does not mean that there are no real problems.
However well women are doing, are we supposed to ignore little girls being harassed, or segregation on sidewalks? If a housing problem exists, are young couples supposed to ignore it? It is unfortunate that Glick’s partisanship prevents her from calling on all political camps to join in addressing these issues.

Newton Centre, Massachusetts
The recently unearthed Second Temple-period administrative seal (“Archaeologists discover Second Temple seal,” December 26) was found near the north side of the Shiloah Pools in the City of David in debris that had been excavated elsewhere.