March 7: A worrying plan

Are we now ready to accept that the prime minister of the sovereign State of Israel is prepared to abandon us and our historic and legitimate land?

A worrying plan
Sir, – White House senior adviser Dennis Ross, together with Middle East expert Fred Hoff, met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose influence on Netanyahu is reportedly on the rise (“PM set to unveil diplomatic plan in Washington in May,” March 4).
We know Barak’s influence is on the rise, as was shown when soldiers recently went to war against their own people at Gilad Farm, something that could not have happened without Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s approval.
That in itself is worrying enough until we read of the distinct possibility that Netanyahu’s plan entails a reiteration of the goal of two states and the announcement that the IDF will turn over all the major cities in the West Bank to the PA, giving it control over some 90 percent of the Palestinian population; the IDF would no longer operate inside the cities except in extraordinary circumstances.
Are we now ready to accept that the prime minister of the sovereign State of Israel is prepared to abandon us and our historic and legitimate land? For an encore, we can guess what our so-called friends will be calling for next. The sad thing is we chose a long time ago to ignore facts that were staring us in the face.

Sir, – It is my hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not announce any new peace plans when he goes to Washington. He should simply state that Israel has never walked away from a conference relating to peace, that Israel is not busy inciting against its Aran population or the Arab world, and that all Israel has ever wanted is an open dialogue without pre-conditions.
Israel must state its case and make it clear that it was the Palestinians who walked out of the negotiations. It is high time the truth is spoken.

Wrong line of work?
Sir, – Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says “Israel might consider peace risky, but the absence of peace is even more risky” (“Advice from a leading critic,” Diplomacy, March 4).
The word “peace” is used in two very different ways in his two-part statement. No Israeli thinks real peace is risky, while many do think that a peace treaty with the Palestinians would be very risky. This is because the Palestinians could go back on their word (as Arafat did over and over again), they could lose control of the West Bank to Hamas (as they did in Gaza), they could have an internal revolution (as in Egypt), they could annul previous treaties, or all of the above.
A foreign minister who cannot realize these all-too-real eventualities should either stop offering us ill-considered advice or find himself another profession.

Look who’s talking
Sir, – Several times in recent days, reference has been made in the Post to criticism by German Chancellor Angela Merkel directed against Prime Minister Netanyahu for not taking a single step to advance peace.
Before so doing, would it not have been more appropriate for her to examine what steps the EU has taken against the Palestinian Authority’s campaign of hate against Israel in schools and the media, and the campaign by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to delegitimize Israel? Thank goodness there are those in the US Congress who are prepared to say publicly that the PA has done nothing to prepare its people for peace.
Only when she has done her part should Merkel be allowed to attack Israel’s alleged shortcomings.


Democratic uprising
Sir, – In his address at the recent J Street conference, Ron Pundak expressed his wish that the Israeli populace, like that in Egypt, rise up against its government (“Too kind to the Israelis?,” Analysis, March 4).
Did the Israeli pubic not rise up in the last election and choose its government? And will it not rise up again at the next election, which is bound to be free and fair, unlike that of our neighbors?
Tel Aviv

Enough is enough
Sir, – The leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations recently met with President Barack Obama and discussed a number of very important issues regarding the Middle East (“What exactly did Obama mean when he said Jewish areas will stay in Israeli hands?,” March 4). They had prepared to ask him to finally release Jonathan Pollard after more than 25 years in prison, however, they did not question the president on this issue.
Only Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National and the International Council of Young Israel, was able at the end of the meeting to give Obama a letter urging him to free Pollard and let him go home to Israel. Rabbi Lerner has continually been at the forefront of the humanitarian need to free Pollard.
Perhaps at this time all Jewish leaders should make the Pollard issue primary when they have meetings with Obama and other administration officials. People should realize that enough is enough – 25 years in an American prison is far longer than the crime ever warranted.


Etymology of blue
Sir, – Regarding “The color ‘techelet,’” (March 4), some years ago I was on a tour of Cyprus.
Our group visited the House of Dionysos, a building containing beautiful mosaics. One of the mosaics was of a blue peacock.
The guide said the origin of the relatively dark blue mosaic stone was unknown.
I told the guide about techelet and, upon our return to the hotel, I showed her the verses of tzizit in an English bible. The guide told me the next morning that she had had dinner with a history professor who said the probable origin of the blue mosaic stone was a fish from the Mediterranean that is no longer identifiable.
As an aside, the Talmud mentions the blue of the hilazon fish washed up on the beach. Perhaps that is the derivation of the Hebrew word for blue, i.e., k’chol, which means “like the sand.”

Modi’in Illit

Utterly false charges
Sir, – Ray Hanania alleges that “American politicians put their sights on [Iraq’s] oil and squeezed it for every penny possible through Halliburton, run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president” (“Freedom, democracy and ulterior motives,” Yalla Peace, March 2). Those charges are utterly false.
As an American diplomat, I was directly involved in designing and implementing the UN’s “Oil-for- Food” program during the mid- 1990s. Iraq was allowed to sell a limited amount of oil, with all proceeds held in an international bank and used to buy humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people.
The price was set by a group of independent experts relying on the prevailing world oil market.
The US had no access to Iraqi oil other than through private companies competing with foreign companies for purchase contracts.
America received not a penny from the sales. Had its primary goal been to increase its own oil supply, the best method would have been to close its eyes to the threat Iraq posed, work to have UN sanctions lifted, and allow Saddam to sell as much oil as he wished.
I also served in Iraq after the Second Gulf War. During my time in Baghdad I participated in several high-level meetings regarding efforts to rebuild and protect Iraq’s oil industry. Not once did I hear anyone say that our goal was to increase US oil supplies.
Our efforts were aimed entirely at helping the Iraqis utilize their resources to rebuild their country.
Hanania says most Arabs view the war as having been “a move to grab Iraq’s oil resources.”
These Arabs are simply wrong.
Zichron Ya’acov
The writer served as an American diplomat for nearly 25 years.