May 15: Gordimer wants Israel to talk to Hamas

It is the Jewish majority that will determine Israel's future - not some abstract notion of right and wrong put forward by a Nobel laureate who, after all, enjoyed her privileged white supremacy status for so many years.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - We were prisoners of conscience in the USSR. Our identification with our brethren and with Israel - with justice, freedom and the battle against overt and veiled anti-Semitism - took a toll of many years of imprisonment in the Soviet Union. However, none of us even came close to being jailed for a quarter of a century, as Jonathan Pollard has been in your country. If Pollard should die in prison, God forbid, complex questions will remain unanswered that may affect the conscience of America and permanently damage its reputation. Pollard was active in a period when the evil Soviet empire of cruelty, espionage and world subversion was at its peak. Does any agent of this horrible and hostile power remain in an American prison? Nyet! Has anyone who operated against the US during that period on behalf of any foreign intelligence service been punished with such severity as Pollard? Again - Nyet! Therefore, the question cries out: Why the discrimination against Pollard, who exposed the ominous secrets of Iraq - not of the US - in order to save Israel, a country friendly to America (indeed, its only democratic, bona fide and reliable friend in the Middle East)? Why is Pollard loathed more than any true enemy? Why is he being treated in such a brutal manner? Why and for what reason has there been such a travesty of justice? Is his Jewish origin, or his devotion to Israel the cause of this mistreatment? Does equality before the law really exist in the US, or are some people worth less than others? You, President Bush, have the power to correct this injustice - but only while two flames still burn: the flame of Pollard's life and the flame of your term of office. You can pardon Pollard and go down in history as the one who removed this dark stain on the conscience of your country. It would be an act of benevolence of the highest order, fitting for the president of the greatest world power, who supposedly stands for the struggle against world evil. We, the undersigned, call upon you also in the names of Former Prisoners of Zion Lasalle Kaminski, Lazar Leoverski, Aryeh Vudka, Silva Zalmanson, Anatoly Altman, Kim Friedman, Ephraim Cholmianski, Dovid Maayan, Baruch Shilkrut, Aharon Spielberg - and of freedom-loving people everywhere ("Bible quiz winner to PM: Get Pollard out of jail," May 9). IDA NUDEL YOSEF MENDELOVICH RUALD ZELICHONICK Jerusalem Gordimer wants Israel... Sir, - Re "Gordimer to 'Post': Israel must talk to its enemies" (May 14): Nadine Gordimer's claim that "We never would have got away with a new South Africa if the people who were so bitterly opposed had not sat down together" begs the question: What exactly does she mean by a "new South Africa"? If it is the one where the white minority is leaving at a growing pace, having in 1994 conceded defeat and turned over power to the black majority, there is no reason why Israel would want to follow such an outcome of diplomatic discourse. Jews are the majority in Israel, and the reason we are the majority is that with the establishment of the Jewish state 60 years ago, I and my fellow Jews - like Gordimer, born in a land without our forefathers or Jewish national memory - were finally given an opportunity to return to the land where we belong. It is this that underlies Israel's success and will determine its future - and not some abstract notion of right and wrong put forward by a Nobel laureate who, after all, enjoyed her privileged white supremacy status for so many years. LILY SINGER-POLLIACK Cape Town/Jerusalem talk to Hamas Sir, - Another notable figure wants us to talk, her rationale being the clever slogan "Peace is made with enemies, not with friends." Looking into the Bible and even the Talmud, I found no restrictions on talking to enemies. Moses spoke to Pharaoh. Mordechai spoke to Haman and told him he could not bow down to him. Menachem Begin spoke to Anwar Sadat before he made peace with him. Neville Chamberlain's sin lay not in talking to Hitler, but in giving him what he wanted. The issue, therefore, is not talking or not talking. It's giving in. Giving Hamas and Islamic Jihad what they want, while not talking to them, is worse than talking to them but not giving them anything. Even diplomatic recognition combined with firm and military opposition is better than no talking and no recognition combined with weak or no resistance. Unfortunately, Nadine Gordimer wants Israel to talk and give in to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. How about telling them to go to hell, or to the paradise they promise their suicide bombers? J.M. KING Jerusalem Sir, - As a long-time admirer and old acquaintance of Nadine Gordimer, I nevertheless take issue with her saying some Israeli actions are comparable to apartheid. As one who lived in apartheid South Africa for 53 years, I can assure her that no similarity exists. In S. Africa non-whites could not be treated in hospitals reserved for whites. They could not attend cinemas or other places of entertainment in white areas. They had separate entrances in post offices and were forbidden to sit on park benches reserved for whites. There were numerous other restrictions. Nothing even approximating that exists in Israel. The wall which she decries was built solely to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks, which have resulted in so many deaths of innocent Israelis. In S. Africa whole communities were uprooted from their homes and transferred elsewhere. In Israel, houses belonging to terrorists have been razed, but there have been no major population moves of Arabs. On the contrary, large Jewish communities were removed in order to return to Arabs land they lost in wars they started. Ms. Gordimer has every right to disapprove of Israel's actions. But to compare them to apartheid approximates in some ways to Palestinian claims that some of our actions are comparable to the Holocaust. MONTY M. ZION Tel Mond Lose-lose situation Sir, - Benjamin Franklin, "father" of the American Revolution, entrepreneur, inventor, author and statesman, wrote: "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." DVORA WAYSMAN Jerusalem Emptiness waiting to be filled Sir, - Carol Novis wrote of "Jerusalem of Gold" that "critics have noted that the marketplace and Temple Mount were far from empty, as Shemer suggested; we just didn't see the Arabs who filled the place" ("Songs of our times," May 13). But the point Naomi Shemer was making was that those places were indeed empty - not of Arabs, but of Jews. Despite UN assurances and other international guarantees, the Arabs who were in the city's eastern neighborhoods until 1967 refused Jews our right of access to the Western Wall, destroyed our synagogues and desecrated our cemeteries on the Mt. of Olives. Today the Old City marketplace is not bustling with Jews either, but that is because of Arab terror stabbings and Israel's security failures. And the Temple Mount does not yet have a shofar blowing or Jews praying on it because Israel actually discriminates against Jews. Given this situation, "Jerusalem of Gold" will remain our substitute anthem and our most popular song because our national aspirations remain partly unfulfilled. YISRAEL MEDAD Shilo