July 10: No need to come

Any visit to Israel by US President Barack Obama is too little, too late.

No need to come
Sir, – It saddens me to say it, but any visit to Israel by US President Barack Obama is too little, too late (“Obama plans to visit, envoy says,” July 6).
Regardless of whether he were to visit Israel in 2011 or 2012, it would be a transparent ploy to score points with American Jews to win reelection. More than any other president in recent history, Obama has not only not done anything to bring us closer to peace, but uniquely has driven Israel and the Palestinians farther apart by breaching previous agreements and trying to impose standards that not even the Palestinians did.
Israel needs and wants peace desperately, but based on Obama’s tenure so far we should find a way that does not involve him.
One-way goodwill
Sir, – What in the world was our government thinking in planning to transfer the bodies of 84 Palestinians and others to the PA as a gesture of goodwill ahead of Ramadan (“Government officials: PA and IDF mistook talks on transferring corpses as final,” July 6). Goodwill for what? Isn’t it about time the PA showed some gestures of goodwill toward Israel? How about handing over Gilad Schalit? Why is it only we who make these gestures, and never the Palestinians? To make matters worse, some of the bodies in question are those of suicide bombers who killed dozens of Israelis. Shame on Prime Minister Netanyahu for having approved such a recommendation in the first place.

They’re all wet
Sir, – With regard to “Panel on water solutions in Middle East gets heated” (July 6), do the Palestinian spokespeople remember back when there was absolutely nothing here? Only Jews drained the swamps and innovated the technology we saw at the conference. Where are all the Arab water solutions? I think it takes a lot of chutzpa to point the finger at Israelis at a public conference only to further the Palestinians’ political agenda.
Beit Shemesh
A heart-to-heart
Sir, – Gil Troy joined the lynch mob against the writer and the defenders of a “despicable” book that “misreads Jewish texts to justify killing non-Jews in wartime” (“Rabbi Hartman’s heartfelt answer to ‘heartless rabbis,’” Center Field, July 6).
Is Troy implying that killing non-Jews in time of war is unjustifiable? Or is he saying that it is justifiable only of one doesn’t “misread Jewish texts?” Or is he saying that we must fight the wars imposed upon us without killing non-Jews because that is unjustifiable? Or that we take three years out of the lives of our boys and girls to train them for an unjustifiable mission?

Sir, – I usually find myself in agreement with Gil Troy and admire his style. I hold no brief for Torat Hamelech. Together with 99 percent of its critics, I have not read the book. Nor do I look to Rabbi Dov Lior or Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef for religious guidance.
Troy is entitled to take intellectual and moral exception to the book, assuming he has studied its contents, and he is under no obligation to hold rabbis Lior and Yosef in esteem. But this does not excuse his name-calling and gutter critique. His collective reference to the hundreds who participated in public protests as “young yeshiva hooligans” and his reference to the “hateful little rabbis” should have been beneath him.
I am reminded of the old political dictum: When your argument is weak, attack your opponent personally.
Sir, – Gil Troy wonders why Rabbi David Hartman’s book is not as well known as the writings of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik.
Perhaps the reason is less a question of publicity than the fact that a large segment of modern Orthodox Judaism, as it is evolving today, is based on Soloveitchik’s teachings. Those in the forefront of finding solutions to the inequalities in conversion, women’s rights and kashrut supervision are thousands of rabbis and students of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s “theology of halachic permanence” who are living in Israel and the Diaspora.

Don’t just complain
Sir, – “We need to get involved” (Comment & Opinion, July 6) says it all.
We Anglos are vociferous critics of the inadequacies in our society and patently aware of the failure of our electoral system to provide accountability to the voters. Therefore it’s incumbent on us to get into the fray, the sooner the better.
We must not blind ourselves to laws that restrict freedoms, which in our countries of origin would have been anathema. We should at least follow the example of other immigrant groups that have fought to gain ground in the political establishment.
Only by joining a political party that represents our values as responsible citizens can we make a difference and a valuable contribution.
Gary Cohen has spoken. Let’s see who is ready and willing to take up the challenge.
Tel Aviv
And heavily taxed
Sir, – “Are you an exempt dealer?” (Your Taxes, July 6) advises that a “receipt book can be purchased at any stationary store....”
In my experience, almost all stores are stationary.
Sir, – Herb Keinon’s interview with Elliott Abrams (“Abrams on Obama: He sees Israel as a problem that needs to be solved,” Diplomacy, July 1) was an important and revealing piece of journalism.
What is most interesting about Abrams’s candid opinions is that he observed, “There is no great love in President Barak Obama’s heart for Israel.” Which brings us to the question: Should Israel expect any foreign leaders to have love in their hearts for us? It is both naive and unrealistic to expect this. Israel’s security interests should be seen by the world solely on the basis of merit, peaceful intent and our right to exist as a sovereign nation.
It is not Israel’s requirement that it be loved – just respected.
Smile a bit
Sir, – May I be allowed to express an opinion about a subject that is worth millions of dollars to Israel’s economy and responsible for thousands of jobs – tourism? I came over by British Airways in preference to El Al, not for any other reason than on a BA flight I can stretch my legs. El Al is the airline for little people.
No one complained of the security to which we had been subjected, but surely a greeting of “Welcome to Israel” to visitors by border officials would not be asking too much.
Once inside the country, one experiences a great warmth of welcome, if not always the best service – especially among your highly incompetent taxi drivers! Having been here several times, I may know my way around, but a new visitor should not be expected to know how to get somewhere – surely that is the reason for taking a taxi! For a country of hi-tech, surely a satellite navigation instrument should be mandatory for all taxis.
And before your readers rush to their computers to accuse “another one who comes here to criticize, let me say that I personally love your country – the people, the energy, the commitment and the humor of your youth – and will forgive you anything. But tourists have the choice to travel anywhere else in the world.
By denying tourists’ basic needs of a smile of welcome and competent taxi service, that is exactly what you are encouraging them to do.