July 23: Israeli consensus

What none of those who praise Obama's views on Israel troubles to do is define the Western border of the so-called West Bank.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli consensus... Sir, - It came as no surprise to read an op-ed by the CEO and president of Americans for Peace Now claiming that President Obama's statements clearly indicate that he is on a set course that could result in peace between Israel and the Palestinians ("Obama means what he says," Debra DeLee, July 22). However, the adjoining article, Amnon Lord's "Obama's calculations were wrong," clearly debunked this viewpoint. What none of those who praise Obama's views on Israel troubles to do is define the Western border of the so-called West Bank. In the eyes of the Palestinian Authority, this would be the 1949 Armistice Line. In that case, Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Ramot, Gilo, French Hill, Ramat Eshkol and East Talpiot are all settlements - in which the American regime demands all construction must cease. No Israeli, including even members of Peace Now, would accept this; these areas have been legally annexed and are an inseparable part of Jerusalem. Our diplomats need to make this clear to the American leaders. They might also refer to an excellent letter in the same issue by Colin L. Leci ("Sovereignty over Jerusalem") describing the significance and history of the area, which has resulted in the current controversy. MONTY M. ZION Tel Mond ...on various levels Sir, - Debra Delee's op-ed was a fine article, yet written by somebody obviously ignorant of the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The article may very well reflect Obama's policies in reality; the administration's take on the peace process is certainly ignorant, yet shrewd - the Arab regimes and Iran are run by intransigent dictators, and Obama is dealing with them on their level, not on his. With Israel, because Israel is a democracy and susceptible to rhetorical pressure, Obama is dealing with Israel on his level. Israel's best hope for peace is to simply wait for electric cars to slash oil prices to the ground, so that the regimes will have no cash to blow on propaganda but will actually have to deal with governing. Then the meaning of "Middle East Peace" will take on a new meaning, as every single regime becomes engulfed in revolutions and each Arab country and Iran deals with civil war. MATTHEW BERMAN Herzliya Sweet dreams Sir, - The day will come - and very soon, I believe - when people here will wistfully think back to the policies of the Bush administration, which may turn out to have been one of Israeli's closest allies. The present realities, including the visit of PA President Mahmoud Abbas to Turkey the other day, only indicate a new "direction" in Israeli-Palestinian relations, let alone those with the US ("Abbas arrives in Turkey for talks about Mideast peace efforts," July 16). To those many Jews who voted for the new US administration: You helped make the bed, now lie in it. MAURICE PICOW Netanya Much obliged Sir, - Chief Rabbi Amar says "US policy on settlements contravenes a Torah obligation"(July 21). Where was the learned rabbi when our brethren were thrown out of Gush Katif? Was the "Torah obligation" not valid then? GERSHON COPPERMAN Petah Tikva/Dublin I despise this attitude Sir, - As a serving rabbi, I believe that the suffering of children and other innocents is regrettable. But as the father of a young soldier wounded in last winter's fighting in Gaza, I despise the attitude of those rabbis calling for fasting to get Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza ("US rabbis call for monthly fast against Gaza blockade," July 14). Did they fast for the safety and well-being of Israeli citizens while our sons were laying their lives on the line? Did they cry out during the years when deadly rockets rained down on the children of Sderot? We never heard from them. They are rabbis; there is no excusing their naivete. Clearly, no one wants the residents of Gaza to suffer. It's no secret that Israel allows food and basic necessities into Gaza, but supervised, to prevent arms and explosives being smuggled in. What these rabbis are proposing would endanger Israelis' lives - civilians as well as youngsoldiers. To all of us here, every soldier is my little boy. Why is a child in Gaza more preciousthan my son? Living over there in the US, it's easy for these rabbis to preach to Israel. I say: Until you're prepared to join us here, get off your soapboxes. RABBI DOV KAPLAN Caesarea Mass miss Sir, - In honor of Tel Aviv's 100th anniversary, Milan's La Scala, in a truly gracious and grandiose gesture, is bringing the whole company to Israel for a performance of Aida plus an open-air concert version of Verdi's "Requiem." Was there not a Jew among the organizers who could tell the Italian Catholics tactfully that a solemn mass for the Christian dead is less than suitable to celebrate a century of the first Jewish city built in the Holy Land in modern times? Ervin Birnbaum's "'Requiem' in the park - and in Theresienstadt " (July 14) about the performances of Verdi's Requiem by the Theresienstadt "model ghetto" prisoners was a tragic, moving accompaniment to the Italian presentation here. (Herman Wouk in War and Remembrance describes the wartime event, from perception to performance, in heartbreaking detail.) I can imagine the fierce arguments at the time about the suitability of this piece. We will never know why it was chosen, and we must honor the decision. Of course the Germans were entertained by the sight and sound of these scarecrows singing their hearts out in a mass prior to their own demise, and we can have only a dim notion of the superhuman physical and spiritual strength required. Tel Aviv deserves a fitting musical commemoration of its anniversary. However, Verdi's Requiem does not fit the bill. LOTTE LAPIAN Netanya Precious hanukkia Sir, - My husband and I were fortunate to visit London's Jewish Museum before it closed for renovations. Our interest was a personal one. My ancestor Reb Aaron Levy, a dayan in the London Beit Din 1832-1876 as well as its secretary and accredited scribe, was a gifted calligrapher and illustrator. Three of his works from the 1820s have survived, one an ornately decorated Omer Board dated 1826, on view at the museum. We were able to add background information about Reb Aaron and the Omer Board, and the museum allowed my husband to reprint a photograph of it in his book From One End of the Earth to the Other. How exciting it was to be able to hold such a treasure, produced by my great-great-uncle! Has someone the wherewithal to supply the funds still lacking to purchase the Lindo Hanukkia? It would be a worthwhile endeavor. The newly renovated museum would give the hanukkia the pride of place it deserves, and I look forward to seeing it there when the museum reopens its doors in 2010 ("London's Jewish Museum preparing to buy 300-year-old hanukkia for new location," July 22). BARBARA PFEFFER Rehovot What's new? Sir, - In From our Archives, 50 years ago, (July 21): Aharon Wiener, head of Tahal, stated that new water sources were falling behind needs, and the country faced a critical water shortage. Has anything changed since 1959? ROBERT LAX Haifa