June 19: Lost opportunity

Racism affects all minorities, not just Jews. It is therefore a shame that the German and French teams lost this opportunity.

Lost opportunity
Sir, – Those who follow European soccer know that racism is an ongoing problem. National teams therefore are reminding themselves and their fans where racism can lead (“Jewish leaders slam French and German soccer teams for not visiting Auschwitz,” June 17). The English national team has joined the Holocaust Educational Trust in reaching out to young people to look at their own attitude toward others.
Racism affects all minorities, not just Jews. It is therefore a shame that the German and French teams lost this opportunity.

It was the religion
Sir, – The headline “The Man in Black’s Zionist roots” (Arts & Entertainment, June 17) takes a leap that the accompanying article doesn’t support.
Johnny Cash did reverently visit Israel but he tended to refer to it as the “holy land” rather than using the name of the country.
While he never complained about the fact of Jewish sovereignty, he never lauded it either, not to my knowledge, anyway, from reading reports of his visits.
So it is not so much that his roots go back to Zionism but that, as the article itself explains, the roots of Christian Zionism touch on him.

Reads them all
Sir, – On June 17 you headlined a group of letters “Letters about letters.”
I wish to state that for what it’s worth I never never, ever fail to read all the letters you print.
They seem (not that I always agree with them) to have a quality of common sense that is sometimes lacking in articles written by journalists.

Intelligent life?
Sir, – With regard to “Solving the world’s environmental problems” (Environmental Affairs, June 15), over the past 300 years we have built a false and unsustainable world order for humanity.
In fact, we now live in a false world that can never survive; eventually, humankind will cease to live as an intelligent species.
I give no more than five years for the EC to break up and for nations in the West to go their own way. But as Europe and the West disintegrate, the East and nations like Russia will come closer together. This will create a formidable economic bloc where a weakened Western civilization will be more prone to prompt conflict.
This is not based upon unsound expectations, rather on the sheer fact that the world’s economic power is transferring eastward and that we shall have 10 billion humans by 2050, all struggling for natural resources to preserve their way of life. The decisions at the Rio+20 Conference – which will predominantly be made by the richest nations – will simply be another nail in the coffin of human sustainability and existence as countries dilute what was already agreed to in 1992.
No longer can we sustain ourselves with the prophesy of wealth for all through globalization and capitalist economics.
This has been shown to be a sham for over 90 percent of the seven billion human inhabitants now living on planet Earth.
Therefore, considering where we are heading and the dire consequences for humanity, we simply have to start working as one planet.
It is becoming very clear that the price of our present economic systems will eventually be the extinction of the human experience.
Are we therefore really as intelligent as we think?
Huddersfield, UK
The writer is chief executive of the World Innovation Foundation
Cognitive dissonance
Sir, – Tal Harris’s rehash of dissproven and timeworn left-wing arguments (“Make a choice: Settlements or democracy,” Comment & Features, June 14) leaves me unimpressed.
He passionately argues for a renewed settlement freeze, as if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s ten-month freeze or the ongoing de facto ban on settlement construction have produced any positive results. His call for a two-state solution completely ignores that such past attempts have repeatedly failed, that there is nary a shred of goodwill being shown to us by the other side, and that a retreat from the strategic high ground to indefensible borders would pose a security threat to our very existence.
Harris’s forced logic, that there can only be settlements or democracy, but not both, betrays shallow thinking and a lack of creativity. Did he consider, for example, that we annex Area C? The vast and immediate economic and social gain resulting from annexation would easily offset its negligible demographic cost while allowing us to remain true to our democratic values.
Harris is right about one thing, though: “There is a profound cognitive dissonance at work here.”
Ginot Shomron
Sir, – Tal Harris contends that “there is no such thing as a legal settlement according to 100% of the international community.”
The “international community” is actually a collection of governments, not peoples, most of them squalid dictatorships. And the liberal democracies among them act largely from political considerations, not a tender fidelity to the rules of international law.
The law to which Harris and others refer in making their false claim is Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers... to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not.... The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
A little consideration should make it clear that Article 49 has no bearing on the legality of Jewish communities in the West Bank. Palestinians are not being deported or forcibly transferred from there to another territory, and Jews are not being deported or forcibly transferred there from Israel. They are moving there freely of their own will.
Add to that the commonsensical consideration that there can be no valid law that prohibits Jews and only Jews, because they are Jews, from living somewhere, least of all in the Jewish biblical and historical heartland.
New York

The writer is chairman of the board of directors of the Zionist Organization of America
Nothing in return
Sir, – “Why Israel should help Syrians during this crisis” (Comment & Features, June 12) made for interesting reading, but that’s all.
Being very skeptical when it comes to Israeli-Arab relationships I found it to be very naïve.
Air-dropping medical supplies, food packages and clothing on besieged population centres would be a humanitarian act but would never win the hearts and minds of the Arab world, whose sole aim is to destroy Israel.
A bitter example is Turkey, which received tremendous aid from Israel after the huge earthquake there several years ago.
Collection centers for food and clothing were set up throughout Israel. Israeli surgeons saved many lives, and thousands were treated for major injuries in Israeli field hospitals set up in the ravaged areas.
There were cries of “Thank you, Israel, we will never forget you” when Israeli volunteers departed. And the net result today? Turkey is one of our worst enemies, with the rest of the Muslim and Arab world not far behind.
Humanitarian aid, yes, but seeking thanks and approval is all but fantasy.
The photo of chef Michael Solomonov that appeared in “A flavorful Israeli outpost in the City of Brotherly Love” (June 10) was taken by Michael Persico.