March 22: Pillay’s protection

Navi Pillay engages in moral relativism when she compares the sovereign democratic government of Israel to Hamas, Fatah.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Pillay’s protection
Sir, – In “Protecting civilians” (Comment & Features, March 20), Navi Pillay, UN high commissioner for human rights, engages in moral relativism when she compares the sovereign democratic government of Israel to the terrorist Hamas government in Gaza and the illegal Fatah government in the West Bank.
She compares their treatment of civilians and does not take account of the fact that, according to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas illegally carried out a coup in Gaza during which it summarily executed hundreds of Fatah supporters.
The PA itself is an illegal government, having cancelled elections that should have taken place in early 2009.
This is moral relativism, in which she treats the terrorists equally with democratic countries and hopes no one will notice.
Of course, if Pillay wants to keep her job, she has to ignore actual human rights and support the “rights of the Palestinians,” irrespective of the reality of the situation, and pretend that nothing is awry. For example, she writes: “My visit brought me face to face with many large-scale human rights violations stemming from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”
Wait a minute. Where is this “Palestine” that Israel is occupying? It may be that Israel is occupying parts of the West Bank, disputed territory at best, but as far as I know there is no entity and certainly no state called Palestine.
She also writes: “At the conclusion of my visit I stressed that transferring civilians into occupied territory is plainly and unequivocally illegal.” But what has this to do with human rights? It is not, in and of itself, a human rights issue – it is a political issue, and in this she is taking the Palestinian side. As UN high commissioner of human rights she should be neutral.
JACK COHEN
Netanya
Sir, – Nowhere did I find Navi Pillay write about Israeli human rights. Her half-page article was filled with the abuse of Arab human rights.
Her committee is quite upset about large-scale human rights violations stemming from Israel’s occupation of “Palestine,” settlers’ attacks against innocent “Palestinians,” and Israeli enforcement activities at checkpoints.
And of course her heart bleeds for the Gazans. Even the rockets being fired from Gaza, which she called illegal and unjustifiable, worry her in that the Arabs there are playing into the hands of those who wish to maintain the Israeli blockade.
My suggestion is for Pillay to educate herself as to where the terms “Palestine” and “Palestinian” came from and why they are used. She also can try living in Israel, ride on a bus that might or might not blow up, and also ride the new light rail in Jerusalem, where an Arab recently stabbed a Jewish woman soldier.
She also can pretend she is Israeli and try driving through a hostile Arab town without protection.
It would also be a good education for her to live down south, where 300 missiles recently fell.
She can believe there is a ceasefire and then hear the siren and run to the nearest shelter.
No visits. Come live here, Ms. Pillay.
BARBARA GINSBERG
Ma’aleh Adumim
British resolve
Sir, – Jamie Slavin’s “A British Jew in AIPAC’s court” (Comment & Features, March 20) features his impressions of AIPAC’s Policy Conference and notes the undoubtedly different environment in which British and American advocates for Israel operate.
Indeed, he lauds the confidence and success with which AIPAC and its supporters approach this task, and while he was expressing his own views, nothing he wrote was intended to be or should be read as criticism of AIPAC in any way. On the contrary.
The Board of Deputies, along with the Jewish Leadership Council and BICOM, now make it a point to attend AIPAC’s conference every year. The sheer energy and can-do attitude of our American counterparts is infectious and helps us strengthen our resolve for another year of campaigning in an often challenging environment in the UK. But even more than that is the professionalism and thoroughness of AIPAC and its staff, which has been invaluable, for example, in helping us refine the steps we need to be taking in the UK to ensure that our politicians appreciate the very real threat that Iran poses to the world, and not just to Israel.
The response by the UK government is widely acknowledged to have been among the most robust of all Western governments.
AIPAC well understands the different circumstances in which we operate and clearly appreciates that this requires different strategies.
But we, too, appreciate all we can still learn from it – that lobbying, motivating and empowering grassroots support and having that can-do attitude are vital tools in advancing the case for Israel and peace for all in the region.

JON BENJAMIN
London
The writer is chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
Sir, – I followed the British media and that country’s official Jewish establishment during the height of the intifada. Jewish people in Israel were being blown up on a daily basis, and the response of the official UK Jewish leadership to some of the virulently anti-Israel media reports there was incredibly pusillanimous.
There is only one disagreement I had with the title of Isi Leibler’s March 8 Candidly Speaking column “Anglo Jewish leaders and ‘trembling Israelites’”: I would have used a more apt description (please forgive me for my lack of proper British reserve) – “cowardly Israelites.”
HERMAN SCHVARCZ
New York
Shocking priorities
Sir, – In “Don’t shut the switch” (Encountering Peace, March 20), Gershon Baskin goes to great lengths to deplore the lack of electricity that the Palestinians have in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.
One wonders why he doesn’t deplore the waste and danger of firing rockets from Gaza into Israel proper or why terrorists stab Israelis in Jerusalem? It would seem that for Baskin, hatred for Jews is less troubling than the supply of electricity.
One has to wonder what his priorities are.
MATTIAS ROTENBERG
Petah Tikva
Location, location
Sir, – Regarding some of your readers’ responses (“Quest for symmetry,” Letters, March 20) to my letter of March 18 (“Further asymmetry”), I always think it’s ironic that Israeli right-wingers play the fallacy card of “location” by accusing liberals in the US of not knowing what it’s like in Israel or not having to live with the consequences.
They never complain that American conservatives or rightist Christian Zionists don’t know what’s going on and don’t have to live with the consequences.
And in their eyes, habitation in Israel doesn’t seem to validate the views of liberal Israelis.
An interesting double standard.

JAMES ADLER
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Let Cabel run
Sir, – As a member of Labor, I strongly protest party secretary-general Hilik Bar’s action in warning MK Eitan Cabel not to run against the chosen one, Ofer Eini, as head of the Histadrut (“Labor could punish MK for Eini challenge,” March 20).
I much prefer to have someone else, in this case Cabel, be my candidate. I believe that Eini had his chance and failed. Thus, there is every reason to let someone else try to do the job. If MK Amir Peretz (who spent a number of years in that position himself) feels Cabel should have a shot, I’m with him.
Enough of some petty boss trying to tell all of us what to do and how to handle a slippery situation.
Let Cabel have his chance. I’ll vote for him.
And let’s try to have an honest Histadrut election.
LEONARD ZURAKOV
Netanya