June 13: Another Ben-Gurion

Ben-Gurion was a dictator, just as Netanyahu has shown himself to be.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Another Ben-Gurion
Sir, – You report that Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned two principles enshrined by Menachem Begin – supremacy of the rule of law and that there can be no civil war under any circumstances.
“He knew that a civil war was the end of the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said (“Ulpana on his mind, PM invokes Begin at ‘Altalena’ memorial,” June 11).
In fact, by allowing Yitzhak Rabin, on the orders of David Ben-Gurion, to fire on the Irgun arms ship Altalena without retaliation, Begin took away the right to preserve life. Those who died bringing much-needed arms to the nascent state died for nothing, because today we see that the same pattern is expected of us.
Netanyahu did not follow the High Court ruling on Ulpana because it was the law – there was no ruling on the legality of the Jewish homes. He brought in Kadima to enable him to destroy these homes while ignoring all illegal Arab building throughout our land.
His so-called sweetener for the Ulpana residents is that he will build more homes. But he has also made clear they will only be in those parts he is expecting to keep after his so called peace process is enforced.
Our prime minister continues the humiliation by begging the terrorist Mahmoud Abbas to talk to him so that he can hand over Judea and Samaria. Everything he does is with one eye on Obama to see if it is acceptable.
Ben-Gurion was a dictator, just as Netanyahu has shown himself to be, and like Ben-Gurion our current prime minister brooks no interference in his rule, no matter how it must be enforced. This, more than Begin and the volunteers on the Altalena defending themselves, could be the end of the Jewish state.
A breather for us
Sir, – In your editorial “The Syrian conundrum” (June 11) it is clear that there is a lot of handwringing about the bloodshed in Syria. That is admirable from a moral point of view, but from a practical point of view the chaos in Syria and other Islamic countries has for Israel been a boon.
The fact is, there is no truly democratic and pro-Western faction in any Islamic country that is significant enough to actually take over that country. All the blood and treasure squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan testify to that.
The only real way forward for the region is for its native inhabitants to wake up and realize that their adherence to an ethic of hatred and domination will only bring ruin. Meanwhile, the infighting among those who would gladly train their sights on Israel or other foreign targets gives the rest of us a breather.
DAVID KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont
Answered before
Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef (“Who’s afraid of Richard Wagner?,” Comment & Features, June 11) somewhat naively asks, “Why was Wagner, who died in 1883, singled out among all the German composers, many of whom were known for their anti-Semitism?” The answer has been provided countless times before, which is why it is rather amazing that she doesn’t even mention it.
More than others, Wagner penned and published vicious anti-Semitic essays, including “Das Judenthum in der Musik,” first under a pseudonym in 1850, and again in 1869 under his own name, as well as “What is German?” in 1878. In addition, Hitler openly admired Wagner and much of the latter’s anti-Jewish polemic was used in Nazi propaganda.
One may still argue whether we should separate the man from his music, but the ban in Israel on Wagner’s operas and compositions is indeed based on his open and public Jewhatred and his being part of the inspiration for Hitler and Nazi racist theory. To ignore this fact is not only disingenuous, it is downright historical revisionism.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit
Hill of beans
Sir, – Kevin Zdiara (“When delegitimization is met with silence,” Comment & Features, June 11) has every right to get lathered up about the crisis of delegitimization of the State of Israel and to decry the danger of being silent about it. But even though he has every right, he is dead wrong.
Israel is not being delegitimized.
Even if there were independent boycotts against us that were organized in a hundred countries it would still not amount to delegitimization.
The weapon of delegitimizing a country is something that can only be wielded by governments, and it’s people who are responsible for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, not governments.
While Zdiara advocates protest and expressions of condemnation against those who seek to boycott Israel, the most strategic policy is silence.
The expression “silence is golden” means silence has a tremendous psychological value. It is worth its weight in psychological gold. It denotes self-confidence and steadfastness.
Nothing that vile, boycott- advocating bigots can say makes any more difference than a hill of beans.
Europe’s dilemma
Sir, – A sure-fire way to fail to solve a problem is to misdiagnose the cause. This is precisely what Charles S. Maier does (“Europe needs a German Marshall plan,” Comment & Features, June 11).
After World War II Europe was in ruins. There was an acute shortage of everything and a huge pent-up demand. What was lacking was the machinery, tools and organization for production.
The Marshall Plan was a brilliant concept that provided the capital to kick-start a European economic revival.
Today, much of Europe is in shambles because of excessive debt – a predictable result of the false premise that one could operate a common currency without a common government.
No amount of money in additional loans can possibly solve the problem caused by this basic structural defect.
There are only two possible solutions: One is the abandonment of the euro, that is, a return to the status quo ante, with each country having its own currency. The alternative is a political union of the European countries involving the abdication of national sovereignty to a government of Europe.
I do not believe that a single country containing such diverse populations, with different languages and different cultures, could survive. On the other hand, a return to individual currencies would be chaotic, but would work.
What is certain is that each pitiful effort to delay the inevitable will make the eventual collapse more painful.
STEPHEN S. COHEN Ma’aleh Adumim
Department’s reputation
Sir, – An unfortunate exchange that took place in one of seven sessions of an international workshop conducted recently by the Department of Middle East Studies of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev received some publicity due to a column by Seth J.
Frantzman (“Incitement U: Confronting hate at Israel’s academy,” Terra Incognita, June 7) and a response to that column (“Unfair portrayal,” Letters, June 11).
I am proud to serve as chairperson of BGU’s Department of Middle East Studies, which for the past 17 years has hosted hundreds of Israeli and international scholars, who have always been deeply impressed by the pluralistic, open-minded and diverse academic environment of our conferences and workshops.
Throughout the workshop in question, attended by a large number of international scholars, participants engaged in profound critical debates in an air of mutual respect. I am certain that one incident, which I indeed regret, does not blemish our excellent reputation in the field.