Januray 14: Identity in action

If Israel is the Jewish homeland, how can you deny world Jews a say?

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
Identity in action Sir, - Shlomo Avineri, in "A response to Ronald Lauder" (January 13) would seem to be at odds with the statement by President Bush, quoted in your editorial of the same date ("10 essential words"): "Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people." If this is so, can you deny a say in its future to a large section of the Jewish people? Many groups of visitors are encouraged to come here to strengthen their Jewish identity and see it "in action" in this land. That link is essential. Thus the claim that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people can be valid only if the declared, affiliated members of that people help to create its Jewish character. ESTHER EHRMAN Beit Shemesh Sir, - This op-ed was the ultimate in straw-man-attack strategy. Ronald Lauder never questioned Israel's sovereignty. What he questioned, and quite properly, was the right of any Israeli government to treat Jerusalem, the spiritual fountainhead and legacy of the entire Jewish people, as though it were an exclusive Israeli concern. To regard it as such goes beyond arrogance to a negation of Israel's role as guardian of that legacy and the marginalization of the city that symbolizes it. BILL MEHLMAN Jerusalem Sir, - Shlomo Avineri surprised me. The day-to-day decisions in Israel are, of course, the prerogative of its citizens. The situation is different when it comes to the future of Jerusalem. For thousands of years Jerusalem has been the beating heart of Jewish identity. The city was never capital of any other sovereignty but the Jewish one. If Israel, the Jewish state, now wants to give away part of the city to another state, people or religion, it cannot do so without consulting the main representatives of the Jewish people worldwide. GABRIEL H. COHN Jerusalem Occupational hazard Sir, - Dan Leon sees all settlement in the "occupied territories" as an obstacle to peace ("Where's the context," Letters, January 13). At the time of the expulsion from Gaza, I gave a lift to a lady who picked up a bumper sticker lying in my car and obviously could not read the Hebrew. I explained that it said "Jews do not expel Jews." She said: "Had I known you had that in your car, I would not have taken a ride with you." I asked her where she lived, and she said "French Hill." When I explained that for the Arabs, French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, Ramot and Gilo, among other Jerusalem districts, were "settlements in the occupied territories," she remained silent for a moment, then said, "I don't believe you." Most people, many Israelis among them, do not realize that the "occupied territories" were never "Palestinian" but part of Mandatory Palestine, occupied illegally by Jordan, which invaded Eretz Israel when the British left. This fact can never be reiterated strongly enough or often enough. Successful Arab propaganda has made the world believe that in 1967, in the Six Day War, Israel captured and occupied a sovereign Palestinian state - a complete untruth. CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh Jews in Palestine. Why not? Sir, - Reader Devorah Avigail asks in "No room for the Jew" (Letters, January 13): "We have many Arabs in our midst - why is there no room in Bethlehem for the Jew?" A timely question, indeed. In the final status agreement that will no doubt be concluded in the coming few months, there might be a clause to the effect that Israelis will be welcome to remain in the new Palestinian state, their status similar to that of Israeli Arabs - i.e., they would become Palestinian citizens with full and equal civil rights. Alternatively, they might remain Israeli citizens. Such a clause would solve the settlement problem, and there would be no question of uprooting or "deporting" Jews, or anything nasty like that. Whoever so wished would be welcome to remain. Those who didn't fancy the idea of living under Palestinian sovereignty would be free to return home. ZEEV RAPHAEL Haifa Persona non grata Sir, - The British Council needs to be informed that Judy Price cannot participate in the upcoming annual British Film Festival, especially since it is slated to be part of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations. Like other British celebrities active in the British "Jews for Justice for the Palestinians," she is an outspoken anti-Zionist and an overt enemy of Israel ("British critic of Israel to head 60th-anniversary film festival," January 4). The participation of this self-hating Jew in the festival would be a blatant insult to the families of fallen IDF soldiers, as well as to those who are serving today, to the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorists and their relatives, to Holocaust survivors, etc. Let the British Council replace Price with somebody more neutral, or move their festival elsewhere. LEN GREEN Haifa Ms. misses the mark... Sir, - How unfortunate that Ms. magazine chose to reject an ad featuring three exceptional Israeli women. They could have shown the world this record of accomplishment, but chose to wimp out, calling the ad "too controversial." This magazine will no longer grace my coffee table, nor those of my friends ("'Ms.' magazine's rejection of advertisement featuring Israeli women causes furor," January 13). SUSAN SCHWARTZ Montreal ...but moms hold the key Sir, - If the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, then all conflicts in the world have mothers to thank, or blame. Since babies grow into children and children into adults, it makes sense that the people who influence them most in their formative years bear responsibility for the kind of people they become. So I call on the mothers of the world to declare the peace. It may take a generation or two, but it will become inevitable if mothers teach their children to love their neighbors, and that all life is precious because we are all made in the image of God. BYRON MULLET Jamestown, Ohio No variety, you see Sir, - Calev Ben-David ignores the elephant in the living room of Israel's media scene - namely, the woeful lack of a diverse range of content for the radio listener, particularly when he is in his car ("Rich in controversy," January 11). The so-called "competition" between IBA, Army Radio and the regional stations recalls that between the three major US television networks in the pre-cable age. The digital technology to provide the Israeli listener with 100 different radio channels has existed for nearly a decade, but only in 2009 are the first few such channels expected to go on the air. It remains to be seen who will operate them, whether they will focus their programming on serving different interests and sectors of the population, and whether they will be able to compete in areas such as news and political commentary, now under the control of the old order. As a Jerusalemite, I have had little opportunity to listen to Arkadi Gaydamak's station, which is restricted to broadcasting in the Gush Dan area, but if in the meantime he is bringing some variety to Israel's radio offerings, more power to him. DAVID HOFFMAN Jerusalem