May 5: Proximity peace

Proximity talks should lead to proximity peace, without preconditions.

Proximity peace
Sir, –Proximity talks should lead to proximity peace: They will have theirs,and we will have ours (“Obama to PM: US commitment to Israel‘unshakable,’” May 4). Nothing should or will be solved unless we talkface to face, with no conditions.
The problem with our hasbara...
Sir,– Top White House official Dan Shapiro is quoted in Tuesday’s JerusalemPost as saying that the United States does not believe a solutionbetween Israel and the Palestinians “would cause Iran to end itsunacceptable pursuit of nuclear weapons” (“Shapiro: No solution can beimposed,” May 4). However, on Page 1 of the same paper, Industry, Tradeand Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer says that “the Egyptiansunderstand that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue is ‘key’to tackling other regional issues such as Iran.”
This is the perfect example of what’s wrong with Israeli hasbara.
Ourgovernment has justifiably been trying very hard to show that whathappens on the Israeli-Palestinian front, whether it’s building homesin Jerusalem or other “sensitive” issues, has no bearing on Iran’sdesire to destroy us. And then one of our own ministers comes along andshoots those efforts in the foot.
Only by sending out a clearand unified message will Israel succeed in making a dent in our hasbaraefforts. If one of our top leaders is not on board with that message,then his authority to speak on our behalf must become restricted.
...and Lag Ba’omer bonfires
Sir,– As a resident of Jerusalem, I must convey my disgust at the aftermathof garbage and damage by the unruly participants of the recent LagBa’omer festivities (“Fanning the flames,” Photo, May 2).
Itdesecrates the honor of the occasion. It violates Gan Sacher, thelargest and one of the few green spaces for relaxation and exercise inJerusalem. The drunken louts and vandals celebrated the occasion byleaving the park in a condition that can be only described as a filthyeyesore of broken bottles, food scraps and plastic containers.
Dothe taxpayers need to be penalized for the cost of the garbagecollectors needed to pick up this refuse, when there were sufficientdumpsters and rubbish containers available? Who will pay to repair thedamage left by the bonfires, which melted the asphalt of the sidewalk –or will it be left as it is, an uneven surface of dangerous potholes?
Inmy opinion, this is another act of environmental terrorism, which iscontinually repeated at the park and, I observe, throughout the city.
Whereis the municipality enforcement of rules and regulations for this area?Gan Sacher needs to be nurtured and protected against these selfish,uncaring individuals, whose behavior lacks pride and respect for one’ssurroundings.
Haredi education
Sir,– The suggestion by Kadima Party council head Haim Ramon that harediyouth should be totally exempt from IDF service so they can enter theworkforce at enlistment age is worthy of serious consideration (“HarediMKs rail against TA mayor’s comments,” May 4). It may well be asolution to what has become a social problem, namely that those with noreal aptitude for full-time Torah study continue in it nonetheless, atleast nominally.
The advantages to the economy would more thanoutweigh any potential shortfall in IDF enlistment – after all, thesemen generally do not serve in it at all under present conditions.
MARTIN D. STERNSalford, England
A different cover-up
Sir,– If found guilty, all those who benefited illegally from building theHolyland monstrosity in Jerusalem should be made to pay for Christo tocover the buildings up – permanently (“Cover art,” May 4).
No laughing matter
Sir,– Cory Franklin’s sense of humor leaves much to be desired (“It ispossible to laugh at Adolf Hitler,” May 3). There is nothing funnyabout the originator of the Holocaust and initiator of a world war thatcost an estimated 60 million lives (40 million of them civilians).
Franklinmisguidedly cites the Three Stooges’ You Natzy Spy (1940), CharlieChaplain’s The Great Dictator (1941), Jack Benny’s To Be or Not to Be(1942), and a wartime Daffy Duck cartoon as examples of laudable – andJewish – satire of Hitler. The epitome of this genre is supposedly MelBrooks’s The Producers (1968).
What Franklin ignores in thisfacile cinematography is that the three movies and cartoon were madebefore the Holocaust, when satirizing a mere dictator was perhaps theboldest move of which Hollywood was capable in defense of democracy. Ittook many decades after the war for the film industry to come to termswith the satirized dictator who became the perfecter of genocide. TheProducers did not target Hitler, but used him as a plot device in thescheme devised by the lead characters.
The YouTube parody thatFranklin defends – and any similar unthinking attempt to make light ofa person who was responsible for so much human suffering – does notonly trivialize the Holocaust, but reveals a basic lack of ethicalvalues, if not common sense. Franklin’s decision to conclude hisapology for “Hitler humor” with a pathetic attempt at a joke aboutwould-be Jewish assassins places him solidly in the company of DaffyDuck.
A little good news?
Sir,– I imagine that I am far from being the only person in this countrywho is profoundly distressed, disturbed and depressed by the unendingdaily fare of horrific violence and sadism offered on the local newsand media, and which for past year or more has become our staple newsdiet.
We seem at times even to be outdoing Sodom and Gemorrain the torrent of criminal deeds of members of our society who run thewhole gamut of wrongdoing from teenage gang-rape (“Police arrest fourBat Yam teens for allegedly raping 12-year-old,” May 4), pedophilia,murder (“Oshrenko family murder trial begins in Beersheba,” May 4) andchild-abuse, to more mundane misdemeanors such as high-level corruption(“Might Ehud Olmert be indicted yet again?,” May 4) and drunk driving.No sector of Israeli society seems free from infection.
We have to stop and ask ourselves: Is this the society that Herzlenvisaged? Is this the society prevailing in a Jewish state? What hashappened to our vaunted Jewish values? Where are the religious and layleaders setting an example to stem the tide of lawlessness andviolence? What is wrong with our society? Is it weak education? Is itthe difficult economic situation that turns the young and unemployedinto criminals? Is something wrong with the Jewish-Zionist ethositself? Is it the arrogance of freedom run riot?
I do not know. But I do know that I often cringe with shame whenlistening to the local horror news, and switch it off. We all know thatthis country is capable of far better things, of many noble andselfless acts and great achievements, but the telling of this islargely confined to days such as Independence Day. Perhaps the newsmedia should realize that drowning us in exposure to our sins is onlylowering the individual and national morale. Because this is not thesociety we came here to build, and the sooner the Almighty sends themessiah to halt our self-destruction, the better!