March 31: Mothers on both sides

Miriam Peretz, now mourning the death of her second son, said, “There is no mother, not on our side and not on theirs, who wants her son to die.”

Miriam Peretz 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Miriam Peretz 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Mothers on both sides
Sir, – The hearts of all Israelis were filled with deep pain and shared sorrow upon learning of the death of two of our soldiers in combat with Palestinian gunmen near Khan Yunis (“‘No mother wants her son to die,’” March 28).
Miriam Peretz, who is now mourning the death of her second son, said, “There is no mother, not on our side and not on theirs, who wants her son to die.”
This beautiful sentiment, filled with unfathomable grief, gives simple and eloquent expression to the concept of a common humanity and empathy felt by this heroic Jewish mother.
It is most unfortunate, however, that no equally gracious and compassionate statement is heard from the other side.
This is the essence of the Israeli-Arab conflict; all the rest is commentary.
    ZEV CHAMUDOT    Petah Tikva
A dangerous trend
Sir, – Israel has been quite the news here in the United States. Strong thoughts and words have been spoken and unspoken. And I see our administration has been making attempts to smooth over any concerns or ruffled feathers (“Petraeus tells Ashkenazi: I didn’t accuse Israel of intransigence,” March 26).
But I wonder. It does not take a military genius to see how our armed forces cannot take any more commitments anywhere else in the World. I fear our generals and admirals, out of increasing necessity, have become more politicians than combat leaders. So where does that leave Israel, one of our two most special allies? It seems the world is becoming a more dangerous place every day. And I ask a very simple question: Throughout recorded history, who has paid the price when the world becomes a more dangerous place? A question that needs no answer.
    MARK MCKIERNAN    Wallingford, Connecticut
The cost of peace
Sir, – It was heartening to read in “Column One” that all but 50 families of the Beduin of Taarbiya were persuaded to relocate for NIS 180,000 per family (“Israel’s unwavering guardsmen,” March 26). The radicalization of the current generation of Israeli Arab citizens notwithstanding, it thus appears that the majority still opts first and foremost for socioeconomic stability. Netanyahu has sensed this; hence his averred aim of working to improve the economic lot of Arabs, not just in Israel or in the so-called occupied territories, but in the region as a whole. He is correct in thinking that this will be the principal path to peace.
He also senses, however, that even with such positive socioeconomic agendas, peace cannot be bought at any price. The radical agendas of the Palestinian organizations will never suffice as a basis for peace, however much US President Barack Obama wills it. Israel must continue to seek honest brokers in peace. If there are none in this generation, then we must wait until the next.
    DR. PAUL BROWN    Nahariya
Contributing to society
Sir, – Ray Hanania offered an eloquent plan for how Arab citizens of Israel can take control of their own destinies (“Act like citizens, not foreigners,” March 24). Whether we wish to admit it or not, there is much discrimination in Israel, and we must do everything possible to rid ourselves of this scourge. At least some of the prejudice is racially or religiously motivated.
Unfortunately, a good deal of it stems from the distrust that Jewish Israelis feel when they see some of their Arab countrymen boycotting elections or expressing support for Palestinian violence. It does not help when Arab members of Knesset openly display hostility toward the Jewish state and appear to be collaborating with the “enemy” outside.
The best way for Arab citizens of Israel to tear down the walls of prejudice is to become fully contributing members of society. This includes participating in the electoral process (including electing representatives who honestly seek to strengthen the country), paying all taxes, and even volunteering for national service that will help their own communities.
Israeli Jews will fully embrace those who show an honest commitment to our common cause of preserving and protecting this land that is dear to all of us. At the same time, we will come closer to peace as our neighbors beyond our borders see that we can and will coexist with anyone once we no longer feel threatened.
    EFRAIM A. COHEN     Netanya
A reasoned argument
Sir, – So much that infuriates many of us about pronouncements on our conflict with the Arabs stems from the total lack of analysis supporting those pronouncements. How many op-ed pieces contain the statement, “Everyone knows what the basic outlines of an agreement would look like”? Well, actually, many of us do not know and are wondering how those others do. Someone – and I think a newspaper with an international following is an excellent candidate – should be calling people on statements like this, asking tough questions, in the hopes of producing better public understanding and less politician and pundit bombast.
Likewise, someone should challenge any categorical statement about the requirements for a “viable” Palestinian state (“Obama demands Netanyahu’s peace answers by Saturday,” March 26), whether they refer to the borders, a capital in Jerusalem or contiguity between the West Bank and Gaza.
Then there are the statements about Abbas’s commitment to a two-state peace, which is pretty much invisible to many of us, so that we wonder to what the speaker is referring.
I think it behooves you to also question various references to UN resolutions against Israel, at the very least in light of the fact that the Arabs have yet to accept the UN resolution creating Israel.
Many of us are also curious about the wisdom of trading the Golan for a peace agreement with Syria. First there’s the obvious question of why an aggressor who is defeated should be able to return to the status quo ante, and what this says for deterring future aggressions. Then there are the same types of questions about what stomach the peacekeeping forces would have for facing down the next Syrian aggression.
It’s obvious from these questions that I’m on the Right of the political map, but I like to think that I can be swayed by a reasoned argument – if anyone would trouble to make one. The Jerusalem Post could be instrumental in eliciting such an argument, or in highlighting its absence.
    MICHAEL BERKOWITZ     Alon Shvut
Approaches to settlement-building
Sir, – Perhaps it is time to point out to President Obama that from an objective perspective, his handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been more detrimental to finding an eventual solution than the building of settlements, even those not in Israel’s capital (“Inner cabinet continues to discuss US demands,” March 28). Negotiations went on for 16 years while settlement-building continued. They ended within days of the adoption of his current strategy. A serious man would acknowledge what this means and revise his strategy accordingly.
    YALE ZUSSMAN    Weymouth, MA
Sir, – We are indeed a race uniquepossessing that infernal cheekCome pogroms, Inquisition, Holocaust,Darkest Night,accusations, lies and insults –quite all right –absorbing all the vicious shocks,bombs, Katyushas, daggers, rocks, nations show but slight concern,relying on the cheek we’ll turnto please the world – our friends abroad,whose wishes cannot be ignored –
while dodging rockets – and note their track –
expect that we do not react, and if we do,
are shocked, in fact,
at the necessary restraint we lacked!
How come that world, once unconcerned
awakens now and comes to light
to judge what’s wrong,
what’s right
– and have a hand in carving up
the only known
God-given land?
For it seems plain
that once again
we are expected,
mild and meek
to turn and turn
the constant, most infernal cheek.