January 9: Here at home

Why could not IDE America, an Israeli firm, enhance its desalination capabilities in our country so as to make us water-independent?

Sir, – We have been blessed with heavy rains, which hopefully will raise our reservoirs a bit. But Israelis, as they nevertheless see the high prices they are charged for water, will wonder: Why could not IDE America, an Israeli firm, enhance its desalination capabilities in our country so as to make us water-independent (“Israeli firm will design San Diego-area desalination plant – biggest in hemisphere,” January 7)? Considering Israel’s nuclear capabilities, atomic-powered desalination might accomplish this.
Henin’s hatred
Sir, – A remarkable show of unity – from MKs Zehava Gal-On to Michael Ben-Ari – was exhibited when parties from across the political spectrum wrote a joint letter to the president (“Parties unite in Pollard letter for Peres,” January 7). However, not all joined.
Dov Henin’s Hadash (Communist) Party did not sign. It was a clear demonstration of anti-Israel fervor. After all Pollard, spied against America, which has always been the Communists’ bete noir.
The party’s long standing anti- American policy was insufficient to prevent Henin and his fellow apparatchiks from disassociating themselves from a plea to save the life of a Jew. Can there be any doubt that this is due to anti-Israel hatred? I am disgusted.
LOUIS GARB Jerusalem
Fresh air...
Sir, – Up till now I’ve usually enjoyed reading Isi Leibler’s columns. But his advice to Bayit Yehudi to tone down the rhetoric and be a sporting prop for Binyamin Netanyahu’s premiership (“Bayit Yehudi: Don’t blow this opportunity,” Candidly Speaking, January 7) is an insult to everyone’s intelligence.
Leibler seems to intimate that Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett is at best a junior partner who had better learn to play by the the rules of the big boys, which means adhere to the so-called mainstream.
That means the pro-settlement party should become a cooperative partner in the destruction of settlements. (What’s that sound I hear? It’s not bulldozers. It’s Bibi back-pedalling on his E-1 plans.) I’m tired of Bibi and the Likud claiming they’re the only hope for the Right. They do exactly the same as Labor but with a bit more blue-and-white fanfare during the election campaign.
Leibler should ratchet down his condescending tone. Bayit Yehudi is a breath of fresh air.
Sir, – The media have made it sound as though Bayit Yehudi’s only interest is the question of borders and rabbinical authority.
Not true. A glance at its platform shows concern for equal opportunity and the closing of social gaps, the strengthening of religious-Zionist educational institutions, judicial balance, a free economy that is also compassionate, proper treatment of the Arab minority, and more.
Nowhere in this list is a statement that it will bow to a rabbinical body in deciding how it votes in the Knesset. Its predecessor, the Mafdal, often consulted with rabbinical figures on legislation relating to religion and state – but the final decision was taken by its MKs and leaders.
As for the matter of borders, Naftali Bennett’s booklet on practical ways of coping with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is called a plan-in-the-making, a draft that asks readers to peruse it and pass on their reactions, which will allow for democratic discussion – and even changes – before final decisions.
...from everywhere
Sir, – A rousing well-done to Ben Caspit and Jeff Barak on their columns in your January 7 Comment & Features section (“The Israeli initiative” and “Netanyahu’s damaging policies,” respectively). Both show beyond a doubt the complete wrong-headedness of the current Netanyahu/Likud policies.
A fresh breeze is blowing – coming from the three anti- Netanyahu parties. Only the emergence of “another way,” the joining of the three in opposition to Bibi and the Likud will save Israel from further disaster.
Let us hope that Shelly Yacimovich, Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid will work together to oust Bibi’s Likud and get some real thought into our government.
Not Abbas, either
Sir, – In “Netanyahu’s damaging policies,” Jeff Barak quotes President Shimon Peres in his curious attack on Prime Minister Netanyahu when Peres said, speaking of Mahmoud Abbas, that “there is currently no other Arab leader who is saying he is in favor of peace, against terror, in favor of a demilitarized state, and of... the Palestinian consensual right of return.”
And that, as the Bard said, is the rub. It is the fact that there is no other Arab leader – and perhaps this also includes Abbas – who does say that, and this is what makes Netanyahu reluctant to make unilateral concessions, knowing that we will get nothing in exchange except more demands.
Abbas will not be here forever. Who will take his place? We are seeing before our eyes the changes in the Arab world, none of them benefiting the Arab man and woman in the street, and certainly not us.
Instead of putting the case for more outreach to the Arabs, Barak strengthens the case for hesitation. It is the Arab population, not only its leaders, who are the ones that must make peace work, and so far we have not seen that.
In poll after poll, the majority of Israeli citizens have expressed a desire for peace through a two-state solution.
At the same time, every poll in an Arab country has been overwhelmingly against any accommodation with Israel as a Jewish state. Time after time, Arabs who have been interviewed have expressed their objection to an Israeli state in any shape or form.
Partner, not beggar
Sir, – The US may have “good intentions with bad results,” report Corinne Sauer and Robert Sauer (“The case for ending US military aid to the Mideast,” Comment & Features, January 7).
Its aid fuels an arms race “that threatens to spiral out of control.”
They add that for every dollar in US aid received by Egypt, Israel must spend “between $1.60 and $2.10 to maintain its qualitative military edge.”
The Sauers add that “while significant funds came from the US for [the Iron Dome missile defense] project, it was far more of a mutually beneficial business collaboration/investment between America and Israel than a handout.”
This article proves that Israel should act like the partner it is with the US, and not like a beggar with his hand out. If we do not receive money, we are not beholden to take risks that are suicidal.
Wrong on Ireland
Sir, – At the end of his preview of Ireland’s 2013 EU presidency (“Ireland’s takeover of EU presidency bad news from Israel’s perspective,” January 2), Herb Keinon wrote that Eamon Gilmore, Ireland’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, was “reportedly” one of four EU ministers who had argued against including a statement condemning Hamas’s advocacy of the eradication of Israel in the EU Foreign Affairs Conclusions of December 2012.
The report was wrong and had no basis in fact.
Ireland fully subscribes to the EU Council Conclusions, which include the condemnation of Hamas’s call for the eradication of Israel, in line with its long-standing policy of support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
BREIFNE O’REILLY Tel Aviv The writer is Ireland’s ambassador to Israel