March 6: Let's get together

Maybe we could all have a meeting with Prof. Wistrich so he can learn what is being done on the hasbara front, and we can utilize some of his expertise in our work.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Let's get together... Sir, - While congratulating Ruthie Blum on her interview with Prof. Robert Wistrich and the professor for so brilliantly outlining the causes and growth of anti-Semitism, I would like to take issue with his statement "We don't have people whose task it is to refute anti-Semitic claims 24 hours a day. Nor have we mobilized ordinary citizens who care passionately about this, who often have much better arguments at their fingertips than official spokesmen." I speak not only for my own organization but also for Honest Reporting, MEMRI, Palestinian Media Watch and many other groups and individuals who are all working 24 hours a day writing reactive and proactive letters and articles, meeting with journalists and visiting groups, and giving talks, as well as disseminating pro-Israeli information via the Web. Maybe we could all have a meeting with Prof. Wistrich so he can learn what is being done on the hasbara front, and we can utilize some of his expertise in our work ("Back to the Future," March 1). NORMAN W. COHEN Chairman British Israel Group Jerusalem ...loud and clear Sir, - In three months' time Israel and Jews around the world will justly celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War. However, the anniversary also presents a major hasbara challenge that must not be shirked. The Palestinians and their supporters will undoubtedly use the occasion to present their version of those events and the impact on their current "oppression." The majority of people in the world today have no personal recollection of the events of 40 years ago, having either not been born, or been too young. They will know only what they are told. It is thus essential that, amid all the celebrations, Israel makes sure that its story of events leading up to the 1967 war - the aggression of its enemies and their repeated refusal to accept the return of territory for peace in the aftermath of the war - is heard loud and clear. LESLIE WAGNER Leeds and Netanya Teeth, not truth Sir, - "Moderate" Daoud Kuttab's "Support the Mecca agreement" (February 26) will earn him a new image as one who promotes falsehoods while issuing subtle threats. Kuttab claims that there is now a "clear shift in Hamas alignment." Yet Hamas still refuses to recognize Israel or fight terrorism. Kuttab claims Hamas has agreed to "honor" previous agreements. Not only has Hamas not fulfilled previous agreements such as ending incitement and terror, neither did Yasser Arafat or, today, has Mahmoud Abbas. Kuttab criticizes the US for its unhappiness with the Hamas victory and the Hamas/Fatah unity government. But should the US be happy with a terrorist group's election victory, or with a unity government that makes no pro-peace changes? Kuttab then condemns the US for making "demands" of the Palestinian Authority that the US doesn't make even of other Arab sovereign states. But the PA gave written agreements to these "demands" in 1993, 1994, 1995 and in the road map, in return for Israeli concessions, most of which Israel has already fulfilled. Kuttab then boasts of the PA (sans Hamas) supporting an Israeli state along the '67 border. But this would require the near-impossibility of removing 400,000 Israelis from their homes beyond the Green Line and the loss of half of Jerusalem. When prime minister Barak offered almost all of that, the PA said no, and went to war. Finally comes Kuttab's less-than-subtle threat: that the US had better not "anger" the Sunnis and had better be "careful... about how [it] deal[s] with the accord produced and signed in the shadow of Islam's holiest mosque." Shame on you, Daoud Kuttab, for ignoring truth and showing your teeth. MORTON A. KLEIN President, Zionist Organization of America New York WHO's loss, and Israel's Sir, - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, in an eye-opening feature ("WHO is looking after our health," February 25) articulated three fundamental messages re Israel-WHO relationships: • More than the cow limits its feeding, the calf doesn't know how to be fed. • Henrietta Szold's legacy is very valid for current global health challenges. • It's not all politics. As a WHO staff member (1999-2001) I was one of four Israeli healthcare professionals employed full-time in Geneva. The quota for Israel was then, as today: nine. WHO loses tremendously in not reaching out proactively to Israeli excellence in medicine and public health; Israel's loss is greater, and this must change. The Israeli Medical Association runs a yearly seminar that teaches physicians how to apply for global health positions and be competitive. This is not enough. Until a culture of international health is developed and Israeli healthcare professionals are better educated and skillful in international health leadership, it will be very difficult to meet them in senior positions at WHO or other international health organizations. The Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine was recently recognized as a "WHO Collaborating Center." This could be a milestone in creating an international health leadership program in Israel. DR. INON SCHENKER PHD, MPH Jerusalem Seeking six to bridge the gap Sir, - What, you might ask, do 12-year-olds in the United States have in common with 12-year-olds in Israel? My Sunday School class would love the opportunity to find out. I teach at a local community church in New Hampshire. I have six students. I would love the opportunity to bridge the gap between nations and faiths by finding each child a pen pal to write to. I hold respect for both your nation and the Jewish faith, and expect my students to do the same in appropriate letter-writing - getting to know one another's hobbies, interests, and so on. I am searching for six English-speaking 12-year-olds who live in Israel and are interested in breaking stereotypes by connecting with others. If this captures your attention, and you wish to correspond, please contact me at STEPHANIE HURD Portsmouth, New Hampshire Money can't buy respect Sir, - With all the media frenzy over the likes of Anna Nicole Smith and fellow no-talent trailer trash "cuties" Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, I've come to the conclusion that it's all about their PR people and money with which to buy their popularity in all facets of the media. This talentless bunch couldn't equal the acting and singing prowess of artists like Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons or even the fearless Aussie warbler Kylie Minogue, all of whom have what it takes: talent and class. Money can buy everything except respect, which the aforementioned will never attain. ("Decline and fall of the American woman," March 5.) HERB STARK Massapequa, New York Madness Sir, - A man drives through a red light, hits a car broadside, kills two adults, seriously injures a 10-year-old child and is lightly to moderately injured himself, and the judge rules he can't be arrested without the permission of his doctor. Sounds like a decision in Chelm ("Driver investigated for manslaughter in fatal crash," March 5. HARVEY MATTHEW Jerusalem CORRECTION Ron Gonen is a subject of the book Blood and Volume and not coauthor, as stated in "Former mobster writes tell-all about the Israeli mafia in New York" (March 4). Says Dave Copeland: "As the author I thoroughly reported the book and verified every piece of information that Ron and other sources gave me. Ron had no editorial control over the final product."