January 26: Obama did it...

The documents indicate the Palestinians were once willing to negotiation, but since Obama was elected, his rhetoric has made them unwilling.

Obama did it...
Sir, – “Left, Right feel vindicated by Palestinian leak” (January 25) states that “[p]oliticians on the Left said the documents proved a peace agreement was achievable, while the Right said they indicated the gaps between the two sides were unbridgeable.”
Both sides are missing the point.
The documents indicate that the Palestinians were once indeed willing to negotiate (although their positions could not be considered moderate by anyone but the most radical post-Zionist leftist Israeli).
But since President Obama was elected, the rhetoric emanating from the White House has made the Palestinians unwilling to negotiate at all.
When Obama began referring to Ramot and Ramat Shlomo in northwest Jerusalem, and Gilo in southwest Jerusalem, as “settlements” where construction must be stopped, he did two things: He ensured that Israelis would no longer trust the US, and he radicalized the Palestinians. After all, as Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas regularly says, the Palestinian leadership can not be less pro- Palestinian than the president of the US.
...or did Israel?
Sir, – Regarding “PA figures call Al-Jazeera reports ‘shameful fabrications’” (January 25), wouldn’t it be interesting to find out that Israel had infiltrated Al-Jazeera in a Stuxnet-type of operation to distort what actually was offered by the Palestinians, and thereby create this upheaval in the PA? URI HIRSCH Netanya Prophet in our midst Sir, – A letter from me that you printed late last year about the initial WikiLeaks leaks turns out to have been prophetic.
“Things will never be the same again,” I wrote. “From now on we may say that the public’s security and empowerment are strengthened by three things: a free press, free elections and free leaks.”
But I could never have foreseen the newest twist (“‘PaliLeaks’: PA agreed to Israeli annexation of almost all J’lem’s neighborhoods in 2008,” January 24).
It’s all beyond our wildest dreams, a golden day for lovers of the free press and truth (and we’re happily awaiting PA leaks against Hamas).
Time for a change Sir, – With regard to “Gilo plan dropped from panel agenda” (January 24), the world condemns and we jump to attention.
If our own prime minister is unable to stand up for Jewish rights in the Land of Israel, talks about “occupying” others and legitimizes a fake people as deserving their own state on Jewish land, why should we expect anything but delegitimization from a very hostile world? It’s surely time to change direction.
Halacha isn’t all
Sir, – Now that Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, leader of the Ashkenazi haredi world, has declared IDF conversions invalid a mere week after Rabbi Ovadia Yosef proclaimed their validity, the ideal solution would seem that Sephardi IDF candidates for conversion be accepted into the Jewish fold, and not Ashkenazim (“Elyashiv: IDF conversions invalid,” January 24).
The two conflicting rabbis are contributing a great deal to the low esteem in which rabbinic leaders are held by much of Israeli society.
The rabbinic leadership must provide leadership. They must be motivated by a genuine love of the entire Jewish people and intent on coming to grips with the issues of modernity and sovereignty that the establishment of the State of Israel engendered. Serious issues, like the permissibility of milking cows on Shabbat or the use of Shabbat elevators, must be decided in favor of leniency as long as there are valid halachic grounds to do so.
When dealing with questions that touch on human lives and the definition of Who is a Jew, utmost concern must be given to Halacha – but no less to how the decision affects human lives, as well as the unity and continuity of our great people.
Petah Tikva
Apologies and excuses
Sir, – According to “Gaza no longer ‘occupied territory’ and import restrictions do not constitute collective punishment, panel finds” (Analysis, January 24), a “blockade is forbidden if its sole purpose is to starve the civilian population or deny it other objects essential for its survival.”
When the State of Israel was declared, the Arabs, with the full support of the British, blockaded and literally starved the Jews living in Jerusalem. But for the faith and strength of our people with the help of God, they would have succeeded.
Israel, on the other hand, has always made sure that Gazans, although our enemies, have more than enough for their needs – even while we are being bombarded by rockets, and no access is allowed to captive soldier Gilad Schalit.
Today we have a similar kind of crisis, where we are being deprived not of food but of our legitimacy and rightful ownership to this land.
Unfortunately, the faith and strength of purpose of yesteryear is sadly lacking, and instead of standing up for our rights, we make apologies and excuses as though we were indeed the occupier and not the owner.
Electoral reform
Sir, – I agree with Brenda Katten (“A government that cannot govern,” Comment & Features, January 24) in that Israel is a proportional electoral system gone mad.
However, in any democracy it is the electorate that has the ultimate responsibility to act responsibly, and thus gets the government it deserves. If it really believes a coalition is the only means to bring checks and balances on a government, the current system will continue.
All the recent polls show that if there were an election tomorrow the result would not be significantly different from the current Knesset make-up. In fact, for this very reason, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current coalition has all the potential to last the full course. Therefore, there is no excuse for any minister not to plan for the long term and break the mold, assuming he or she can overcome the budgetary hold of the Finance Ministry.
Sir, – Brenda Katten is talking to a wall. Since the establishment of the state, greater luminaries than she, such as Ben-Gurion, Chaim Herzog, Abba Eban and the present Knesset speaker, Ruby Rivlin, have been strong advocates of urgent electoral reform, but to no avail.
The threat to Israel’s survival is not the crazy regime of Iran or the Palestinian conflict, but its own undemocratic, dysfunctional political system, which, if allowed to continue, could lead to a rebellion similar to what we’re seeing in Tunisia.
Long-suffering Israeli citizens must wake up to their complacency!
Sydney, Australia
Explain that
Sir, – In response to “Sabbath tennis” (Letters, January 24), what a spiteful statement! Accordingly, how does one explain bad things that happen to people while they are observing Shabbat?
Sir, – While I feel that people representing the Jewish state should refrain from publicly desecrating the sabbath, I found the contention that an Israeli tennis player lost a match because she played on the day of rest to be interesting.
Using the same logic, was an Israeli kayaker’s win of a medal on Rosh Hashana during the 2000 Olympic Games a subtle hint from above that we should all go kayaking each year on that day?