May 9: Obama's agenda

Can Israel afford to capitulate any part of its capital to a Palestinian entity that doesn't represent all Palestinians?

Obama’s agendaSir, – When David Axelrod asserts that Jerusalem is the last item on the agenda to be worked out in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, does he mean that there is really anything of substance to negotiate regarding Jerusalem (“Axelrod to ‘Post’: Jerusalem likely to be last item on agenda,” May 5)?
Can Mr. Axelrod truly opine that Israel can afford to capitulate any part of its capital to a Palestinian entity that represents perhaps two-thirds of the Palestinian people – those living in the Palestinian Authority? What about the other 1.5 million Palestinian souls who inhabit the Gaza Strip? Where will their capital be?
Would this last item on the agenda not be the first item on a declaration of war by Hamas?
YOEL NITZARIMSkokie, Illinois
Sir, – With all respect to Elie Wiesel, the tension between the Obama administration and Israel is not so easily erased. It is fueled by the President’s acceptance of the Arab narrative and his avoidance of antagonizing those whom he wishes to woo.
When Mr. Obama announced months ago at an AIPAC meeting – for Jewish consumption – that Jerusalem should remain united under Israel, the pressure from the Arabs brought an immediate reversal – for Arab consumption.
This is part of Obama’s style: appeasement of the enemies of the free world. He has been an apologist for the US and for radical Islam, the name of which he cannot even utter. He does not understand that a strong Israel is necessary to the safety of the United States and the West. Israel does not need a visit by Obama, as some have suggested; those of us who understand the dangers to the Jewish state will not be “charmed,” as was, apparently, Mr. Wiesel.
Health concerns in Israel...Sir, – We would like to address two health issues recently raised in The Jerusalem Post.
In an article last week, Judy Siegel noted the rise in skin cancer among men (“Skin cancer rate among men is on the rise,” May 5). It has always bothered us to see groups of bareheaded young soldiers exposed to strong sunlight (we include those with tiny crocheted kippot that barely cover the tops of their heads). Who are their role models? IDF officers and our political leaders, many of them bald, seen on television bareheaded in the sun. Protective headgear, like that worn by many tour guides, should be mandatory in our armed forces.
In “Now don’t hear this” (May 3), George Prochnick deals with hearing loss. The problem of high-decibel levels at family events – e.g., bar mitzva parties and weddings – has not been adequately addressed. Very often we have seen infants and young children at such events, where the eardrum-shattering music forces adults to put in earplugs. Our health agencies should advise parents of young children about the possibility of hearing loss resulting from exposure to loud music, and the existing law prohibiting the playing of such loud music should be enforced.
...and the worldSir, – After reading Judy Siegel’s article “As cities grow, WHO urges correction of health inequities” (April 28), I would like to emphasize that to this day, Taiwan, a country of 23 million people, with a population density of 639 people per square kilometer, is still not a full member of WHO.
Although in the last year, Taiwan was invited to participate in the WHO general assembly as an observer, in reading WHO Director General Chan’s words about the major health threats to city dwellers these days, I believe that the international community is obliged to help millions of Taiwanese who reside in cities to maintain and improve their health standards.
This goal will be achieved only if Taiwan is a full participant in WHO assemblies and sub-organizations. Not only would Taiwan benefit from its participation in WHO, but it would also contribute its profound experience in aiding other developing countries, as in the recent Haitian earthquake, to the international community.
SIMON C. HSIEH Director, Information Division, Taipei Economic and Cultural OfficeTel Aviv
Democratic bureaucracySir, – Regarding Ray Hanania’s article, “Who supports ‘Palestinian development’?” (May 5), I find it incredible that he is trying to create a political issue out of a bureacratic one. Does he think it’s only happening to him and other Palestinians? No, this is unfortunately an issue that everyone in Israel faces. Many people, from Israeli Arabs to settlers, from Tel Aviv to Judea and Samaria, clash with the unmoving clutter of bureacracy, whether in regards to property, official licensing, or otherwise.
At least there’s a silver lining in the bureacratic mess our country has: It’s democratic. Everyone, Jew and Arab, suffers from it.
Reply to Arab ‘peace’Sir, – Thanks to Barry Eisenberg, who is correct that the Arab League Peace plan would need some renegotiation first (“The Arab ‘peace’ plan...,” Letters, May 3). I apologize for not having reiterated this. But Israel did not actively try, either in 2002 or 2007, proactively to engage with the peace offer.
Consider the threats Israel faces – from Iran and Ahmadinejad and nuclear weapons; Hamas and Hizbullah and other even more extremist radicals; from the BDS (boycott-divestment-sanctions) movement, worldwide anti-Israelism and Israel’s world isolation; from the new anti-Semitism; and internally from the occupation demographics and settlement movement blurring political boundaries and pushing us toward an unwanted binationalism.
Most of these overwhelming problems– which rightly deeply worry us and preoccupy the Post’s news pages – would probably have disappeared by now if Israel had proactively and positively engaged the offer. They still could, if we haven’t already missed the opportunity, which we may have.
Just as one example, a comprehensive Arab League Peace (Syria included) would have served as a counterweight to Iran and given them little choice but to go along with the achieved consensus, and peace and sea change in the regional and worldwide climate this would have generated.
JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts
Schechter memoriesSir, – The story by Jonah Mandel on the dedication of the new Schechter building was most informative (“Schechter Institute dedicates new buildings in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv,” May 5). I would like to add a few recollections as one who studied at the original building at that site, which we called the “penimia,” in 1963-64.
My wife Rita and I were in the second class of rabbinical students fromJewish Theological Seminary of America who came to Israel to study. Insubsequent research, I learned it was through the efforts of theseminary’s Chancellor Louis Finkelstein and Vice Chancellor SimonGreenberg that the land was acquired and the initial buildingconstructed. On the scene here in Jerusalem was Prof. Moshe Davis, whohad been the provost at JTSA, made aliya and founded the Institute ofContemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University – which, coincidentally, iscelebrating the 50th anniversary of its establishment this week.
The people who brought life to the penimia were an Israeli couple, Saraand David Herling, of blessed memory. David was the scion of thefounder of the Warshavsky Hotel on Jaffa Road, near Zion Square. Thesetwo ran our building and cooked all our food, but they did so much moreby providing us and the other students with a real understanding ofwhat Israel and its people were about. They really sparked our makingaliya in the 1970s.
We alumni of the first Schechter penimia are most appreciative ofpresident Prof. David Golinkin and all his efforts to make this newstructure a reality.