March 31: Good news

When reading “IDF opening field hospital in Japan," my Japanese wife and I simultaneously watched the same thing on Japanese TV from Europe.

Good news
Sir, – When reading “IDF opening field hospital in disaster-ravaged Japan” (March 29), my Japanese wife and I simultaneously watched the same thing being shown on Japanese TV relayed from Europe. Good timing and good work!
Old news
Sir, – Regarding “A funeral honoring antiquity” (March 29), so much for the belief that Talmud study sharpens logical thinking.
According to the Eda Haredit, hardly anyone alive today, except for its own members, is really Jewish, yet every old skeleton was a Jew.
Either death comes only to Jews or the ultra-Orthodox should start studying the core curriculum.
On his own house?
Sir, – David Newman wrote a column complaining that Ben- Gurion University of the Negev had become a victim of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, for which he mainly blames right-wing activists (“A plague on both their houses,” Borderline Views, March 29).
Not once does Newman mention that the BDS movement is wholeheartedly supported by some members of the Ben-Gurion University faculty, and that his colleague Neve Gordon had no compunction in publishing an article in the Los Angeles Times supporting BDS. I can only conclude that Newman’s column is either a show piece of hypocrisy or worrying evidence of an incipient forgetfulness.
Sir, David Newman’s latest column is interesting and relevant.
But he states: “All South African universities acquiesced to their government’s policies, and openly practiced racial discrimination and segregation.”
Not so. The University of the Witwatersrand (in Johannesburg – not to be confused with University of Johannesburg) and the University of Cape Town fought long and sustained battles against academic segregation. Many were the marches, meetings and demonstrations opposing academic segregation.
Many were the police beatings, intimidations and arrests that occurred against both students and staff members of these universities.
Tel Aviv
Sir, – There is an oversight in David Newman’s “A plague on both their houses.” He does well in analyzing the discriminatory behavior of the senate of the Johannesburg University toward Ben-Gurion University, but it must be understood that the University of Johannesburg was established in 2005 as a hybrid of existing community and technical colleges, and in such cannot feel guilt for a lack of anti-Apartheid activity on its part.
UJ is a university only in name, with very little actual academic studies. It does offer a BA degree in “humanities.” Its curriculum includes homeopathy, podiatry and somatology (where one can specialize in reflexology, waxing and manicures/pedicures).
In a country where one in six people drinks contaminated water, South Africans should be up in arms over cutting off BGU’s aid in water reclamation – and BGU should have told UJ to go jump in its non-existent lake a long time ago.
Don’t slam us
Sir, – It is a shame that Oliver Worth (“A case study in how to invite a boycott,” Comment & Features, March 29) decided to “attack the victim” in order to promote his organization rather than accept the fact that hatred of Israel is the motivating factor in the UJ Senate decision and the entire BDS movement.
Had Worth bothered to check the facts, he would know that on October 20, 2010, BGU president Rivka Carmi sent a letter to Prof. Ihron Rensburg, vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Johannesburg, in which she categorically rejected the UJ conditions, stating “We do not believe that your proposal to add a Palestinian partner to the present research project as a condition to our ongoing collaboration is scientifically or academically justified, nor can we accept ongoing review and supervision of our practices by another university as a precondition to scientific partnership.”
Lest Worth forget, the BDS movement declared victory when it passed the first resolution last fall and again last week despite a UJ “disclaimer” distributed on March 24. Prof. Rensburg wrote that “the university does not subscribe to an academic boycott of Israel.”
It is time for Worth to see what every supporter of Israel sees – that such movements are based on hatred and ignorance. Instead of attacking BGU, he should be putting all his energy into fighting Israel’s real enemies, members of the BDS movement.
The writer is director of the Department of Publications and Media Relations at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
‘Co-resist’ what?
Sir, – Gershon Baskin ends his latest column (“Palestine is inevitable,” Encountering Peace, March 29) with the amazing statement that if we ever hope to co-exist with the state of Palestine, Israelis must join hands with Palestinians and non-violently “co-resist” the occupation.
I must assume Baskin implies that we should completely withdraw from all territory beyond the 1949 cease-fire line (including large Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem) because I do not recall any Palestinian leader agreeing to settle for less. How many Israelis from all sides of the political spectrum would accept such a ridiculous proposition?
Tel Mond
Sir, – Reading Gershon Baskin’s “Palestine is inevitable” gave me a feeling of deja vu, for Baskin writes: “Palestine is becoming a reality whether we like it or not.... Israel had better come to terms with this reality.”
By early summer 1940, Hitler had, in three lightning campaigns, overrun Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.
Voices were raised in England saying, “Hitler’s mastery of Europe is becoming a reality whether we like it or not.... Britain had better come to terms with this reality.”
When Winston Churchill came to power, he introduced legislation making criticism of the war an offense punishable by imprisonment without trail(!) Had it not been for these draconian measures, Baskin might not be alive today to write such an oped, nor we to read it.
Petah Tikva
Telling his own
Sir, – Sheba F. Skirball asks (“Not just the victims,” Letters, March 29) whether Rabbi Jonathan Sacks “has felt free to express in the UK” the sharp criticisms of anti-Israel activity on UK campuses he expressed in his March 24 Jerusalem Post op-ed “Is academic freedom still honored in British universities?” A visitor to will find not only the Post article, but also the statement Sacks made to the UK All Party Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Semitism in January, which condemns events on UK campuses in even stronger terms.
Hard to find
Sir, – The US has announced that it will not get involved in the riots in Syria. While the policy may be stupid (or, to some, wise), announcing it is idiotic.
Syria, the baby brother of Iran, has demonstrated so little that is acceptable and so much evil that each American step to cultivate its friendship generates a laugh of sheer delight in Damascus.
Competence in this administration is as hard to find as democracy in Damascus.