March 1: Iran's mental state

Is Ehud Barak Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s psychiatrist?

letters (photo credit: JP)
(photo credit: JP)
Iran’s mental state
Sir, – Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s statement that if Iran were to get the nuclear capability it seeks, it would be unlikely to drop a bomb on Israel, as “they are... not totally crazy,” makes me feel that he is endangering the future of the state, falsely allaying the fears of Israel and the rest of the world (“Barak: Iran unlikely to bomb Israel,” February 28).
He should be the first person to point to the terrible danger we would be in if that scenario developed. Is he Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s psychiatrist, that he can be so sure?

Kochav Yair
Better ammunition
Sir, – As per David Horovitz’s observations on the masbirim initiative (“Wrong troops, wrong ammunition,” February 26), indeed, the threat of delegitimization requires that Israel implement a top-level professional effort to strategically coordinate international media outreach efforts with future IDF activities. For example, during Operation Cast Lead, had the IDF followed the US military’s media strategy in Iraq of fully engaging with the press rather than locking journalists out of Gaza, the perceptual outcome could have been quite different. An academic sociological study conducted on media coverage at the onset of the Iraq war ( found that journalists embedded with American troops emphasized military successes more often than they covered consequences for Iraqis. Embedding and engagement kept reporters focused on the horrors facing the US troops, not their opponents in Iraq, and resulted in a communications victory that built domestic and international support for the war.

New York
Sir, – The Post has recently run much news and comment on failed hasbara (public diplomacy) encounters with delegitimization efforts.
Is hasbara a serious attempt to engage the educated Western world? Any educated Westerner knows that putting half a million Israelis into the mere 20-percent residue of Mandatory Palestine left for the Palestinians has constituted for decades a standing rebuke to the two-state solution. How else could Palestinians have seen it, as actions continually speak louder than words? Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has only recently – and reluctantly – accepted the two-state solution.
More effective hasbara would say that settlements have badly hurt rather than helped Israel, but that this doesn’t affect Israel’s basic legitimacy as a state any more than other countries’ mistakes would.
And during Operation Cast Lead, Herb Keinon wrote in the Post: “Another problem facing Israel... is that while the world is being fed dramatic pictures from Gaza, there are few dramatic pictures from Israel, and gaping holes in apartment buildings hit by Grad rockets can’t compete with footage from Gaza of crying children splattered in blood” (“‘Shouldn’t Israel be ashamed of itself?,’” January 7, 2009).
It doesn’t lessen the unconditional tragedies of Kassam-killed and maimed Israelis to acknowledge that it was Israel that mainly incurred the “gaping holes in apartment buildings,” while Gaza mainly incurred those hundreds of dead. Honesty is the best policy; confessions of anguish, possibly bad mistakes and uncertainty about what should have been done, are much better for our souls – as well as for the credibility and persuasiveness of hasbara directed at the educated Western world.

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Playing down our heritage...
Sir, – We just don’t get it. We have nothing to apologize for or play down (“Amid US criticism, PM plays down ‘heritage’ move,” February 26). “Netanyahu, for the third time in three days, said it was possible the decision to place the two sites on a list of Jewish heritage sites was misunderstood abroad... [and] “there is no intention or plan to change the status quo, not in the site or in the prayer arrangements. We will keep the freedom of worship and the existing arrangements for Jewish and Muslim worshipers.”
In other words, Jews will still have no rights to their holy places in their own land except by permission of our enemies.
Our president, in true subservient fashion, also apologized profusely to Robert H. Serry, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process (“Palestinians plan march to mark Goldstein massacre,” February 25), and watching this on TV was pathetic and humiliating. While we are threatened by our enemies in all directions, our leaders insist on showing only subservience, leaving us without a grain of self-respect.

... who is Netanyahu kidding?
Sir, – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserts that listing West Bank sites as Israeli “national heritage sites” does not intend to alter the status quo. Who is Netanyahu kidding?
Hebron and Bethlehem are West Bank cities, ostensibly part of a future Palestinian state. Israel is listing two West Bank cities as Israeli national heritage sites. How many other countries have “national heritage sites” outside their sovereign boundaries?
It’s wonderful that “freedom of worship” will be (theoretically) maintained at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb. But asserting Israeli ownership by listing them as “Israeli national heritage sites” significantly changes the “status quo.” There’s no “misunderstanding” the intent, as Netanyahu claims. The only misunderstanding is Netanyahu’s – of the wide-spread disgust and outrage such a designation would bring.

O’Connor, Australia
And speaking of kidding...
Sir, – I went through the whole of Sunday’s paper, full of outrageous news, and perhaps the most shocking thing is that none of it struck me as a genuine Purim joke.
The female rabbi (toda rabba) row (“Aguda slams Rabbi Avi Weiss for ordaining woman,” February 28), Harry Potter 4 would-be plagiarism (“Australian Jewish writer’s estate accuses ‘Harry Potter’ author of plagiarism”), the Knesset exhibit only showing one side of Da Vinci’s sketches (“Da Vinci Knesset exhibit a missed opportunity”), the Swiss facing a Libyan holy war but getting direct flights to Israel (“Swiss face holy war with Gaddafi’s Libya,” “If you wish to fly from Ben-Gurion to Basel, it’s no longer a dream...”), the Israeli team arriving in Chile to play tennis (“Israel’s Davis Cup tie in Chile still on”), an Israel promotion aiming below the belt (“Size may not matter, but content does”), “Barak: Iran unlikely to bomb Israel,” and much more could all very well be true reports.
Am I getting too used to the craziness that goes on, or did I miss the punchline?

Happy Purim
Sir, – For several years when I lived in central London, I used to read the megila for the ladies in the late morning at Marble Arch Synagogue, because it was normally read rather early for men, on their way to work (“A woman’s voice finds a wider resonance on Purim,” February 28).
Once, a visibly haredi young man turned up. He had noted there was alater reading, but had not realized it was for women. He was rathershocked, but he obviously recognized that the mitzva to hear the megila was more important than kol isha (the prohibition on hearing women sing), so we put him behind the mehitza, and he promptly disappeared as soon as it was over.
Happy Purim!