March 10: Mind the EU

As a long-standing supporter of Israel I am deeply concerned that the government is not taking the prospect of European Union sanctions seriously.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Great opportunity

Sir, – Another amazing victory for Israel (“PM: Tehran’s lies will be exposed when the arms ship reaches Eilat,” March 7)! I only hope and pray that with the captured ship now here, maximum worldwide publicity will be given by our government to show what Iran is doing and how it continues to arm Israel’s enemies.
The first batch of videos should be directed at the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Don’t miss this great opportunity! URI HIRSCH Netanya Out of touch Sir, – Martin Sherman and Caroline B. Glick each devoted recent columns to the presidential race of the ZOA (Sherman: “The Zionist Organization of America – a personal postscript,” Into the Fray, March 7; and Glick: “The ZOA’s leadership challenge,” Our World, March 4).
This demonstrates just how out of touch they are with the debate about Israel in the US, and with the groups that are of importance to the pro-Israel American Jewish community.
Missing the boat
Sir, – In his extreme effort to preach American-style political correctness, Seth J. Frantzman (“Israel’s k-word: Can Holon teach us a lesson in racism?” Terra Incognita, March, 6) misses the boat and provides additional fodder for anti-Semites.
There was a time when most of Europe used the word “Jew” as a pejorative. When I am asked, I answer: “I am a proud Jew.”
Use of a proper noun in a specific instance might give it a different implication, but it doesn’t preclude the use of it for the original meaning, especially if the word is seeped in historical significance.
The word kushi in modern parlance doesn’t carry a negative implication unless used in a specific context with the appropriate adjectives. Currently, when Israelis want to use a pejorative for blacks, they call them “Africans” in a derogatory manner. For whatever motive, Frantzman has decided to fuel Israel-hatred by translating the innocuous descriptive term into the n-word, when in fact this makes no more sense than insisting that the word “Jew” is an insult.
We are called Jews and accept the appellation because, as descendants of Judah, the son of Jacob, it is historically accurate.
Noah had three sons; one was named Ham, the antecedent of Kush, whom our biblical commentators tell us was the father of the black people of the world. Thus, there is a historical basis for the appellation.
Sowed and reaped
Sir, – Douglas Bloomfield appears totally taken aback that Republicans might think that his beloved President Barack Obama had virtually invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to send forces into Ukraine (“Fumbling foreign policy,” Washington Watch, March 6).
He might well think that Obama’s dithering performance, including a disappearing red line, over Syria’s chemical weapons was diplomacy of the highest order, but he really should not be surprised that in Putin’s eyes it was a signal that there would be no real opposition to any Russian aggression toward Ukraine, least of all relative to Catherine the Great’s heritage of the Crimea.
If Bloomfield were more honest about evaluating Obama’s record, he would understand that while the American president’s predictable reaction to the news of Iranian weapons smuggling changed nothing in his approach to the nuclear arms talks with Tehran, the reaction of his predecessor, George W. Bush, to the Karine A arms smuggling incident was to stop any dialogue through Yasser Arafat.
Obama fully earned his Putin/ Ukraine crisis. Never in recent times has the adage that one reaps what one sows been more true.
Sir, – US Secretary of State John Kerry is working on a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. I don’t see why he can’t work on one for Ukraine and Crimea.
Kerry seems to understand twostate solutions, so this should be quite up his alley. Indeed, I imagine that soon he’ll want to work on a two-state solution for Scotland and England.
Somehow, though, he only has the time for Israel-Palestine. I wonder why that is.
Pre-nups a must
Sir, – With regard to “A proposal for a systematic solution to the problem of Agunot” (Comment & Features, March 6), everyone knows that the solution is a pre-nuptial agreement. Everyone agrees that this would preemptively eliminate potential hardship.
Everyone agrees that technically there are no difficulties. So why doesn’t anything happen? The blockage is psychological, not technical. We all agree that everyone should sign a prenuptial, except when it comes to our marriage, or our children’s marriages.
We do not think it proper to mar the joy and happiness of our simha by even thinking about the possibility of a future breakdown.
To surmount this barrier the government must step in and mandate such an agreement as a condition for accepting the legality of the marriage. Lacking such a government stamp of approval, the couple would not be able to obtain any of the rights or benefits that accrue to married couples.
Faced with this threat, everyone would comply and the problem of agunot would be solved.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Mind the EU
Sir, – As a long-standing supporter of Israel I am deeply concerned that the government is not taking the prospect of European Union sanctions seriously.
The EU now comprises almost every nation in Europe. The combined application of sanctions would be disastrous for Israel. The following are only several examples: • Denial of access to the SWIFT financial communications system.
This sanction had a devastating effect on the Iranian economy when it was imposed in 2012. Iran was effectively cut off from foreign trade.
• Exclusion from the European diamond market. The diamond trade has always been important to Israel. Loss of European trade would cost it millions.
• Banning of El Al and other Israeli carriers from EU airspace.
This would not only cost them some of their most profitable routes, it would make transatlantic flights impossible.
• There is already a great deal of anti-Israeli sentiment in Europe as a result of the Palestinians’ hugely successful propaganda campaign.
It is turning Israel’s staunchest friends against it. If the current peace negotiations fail, the demand for sanctions would be virtually impossible for EU governments to resist.
I urge the Israeli electorate to make this clear to its government.
Stark juxtaposition
Sir, – We witnessed two extraordinary events last week.
The gathering of thousands of protesters against haredi participation in army service cast a shadow throughout the land. Interestingly enough, no prayers for IDF soldiers were included. The historic union of the people of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Land of Israel was damaged precisely at a time when we needed it most.
But almost as if ordained by above, when the divisions within Israel seemed to reach levels never believed possible there came a reprieve. We were privileged to see IDF commandos singing and welcoming the Sabbath while on their mission to capture enemy rockets being shipped to Gaza to harm thousands of Israeli civilians.
One can hardly digest the true nature of these two very different happenings. The wondrous scene of our Jewish warriors being led in song and blessings puts to rest the unsubstantiated libel that we have lost our faith. No one who saw that video clip from the Red Sea will ever forget it.
Those young men redeemed all of us. Kol hakavod to the IDF!