November 14: 'Post' readers assess Tony Blair's advice to Israel

Mr. Blair's "absolutely fundamental belief" seems to be contradicting the facts.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - In "If a two-state solution is in your interest, then try to make it happen" (November 9) Tony Blair says: "There is this myth that values like freedom and democracy are basically Western values and that there is a different culture which we in our stupidity don't understand, where these things don't matter. My absolutely fundamental belief is that this is complete and total bulldust and that there has never been a case of people choosing not to be free." Yet see "40% of young UK Muslims want to live under Shari'a law" (January 30). Mr. Blair's "absolutely fundamental belief" seems to be contradicting the facts. MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC Beersheba Sir, - I read David Horovitz's interview with Tony Blair with great interest. I thought Blair's analysis and clarity on the issues were good and well-thought-out. I then read Horovitz's sidebar "Partner Israel, save yourselves" (November 9) and felt disappointed. Israelis should be embracing Blair's advice and this approach. What Blair is asking is that Israel commit publicly to the idea of a Palestinian state. This would give the moderate Arab world a reason to reconsider its attitude to the recognition of Israel and galvanize support in the West. As he said, try it - what choice is there? More of the same? The key is to trust in the existence of moderates on all sides - Israeli, Palestinian, Arab - and give them a reason to change their views, rather than waiting skeptically for something else to change in Israel's favor. That is inaction, and indifference to the potential for change. MIA SERRA London Sir, - How can Tony Blair, the intelligent and knowledgeable former British prime minister, still maintain that "a viable Palestinian state is the key to making peace in the region with Israel's neighbors"? These neighbors have never evinced any real concern or support for the Palestinians. In order to deflect unrest and dissension against autocratic rule within their own populations, they have only engendered harsh criticism of Israel on account of its fully justified retaliation for murderous attacks on its citizens. And for this erudite and articulate politician to posit that "in my view the Palestinians are prepared to be realistic, sensible and focused in agreeing to those terms in the final status negotiations" is breathless in its total divorce from reality, and from the results of reliable polls and surveys which consistently and unequivocally confirm that the vast majority of Palestinians believe a continuation of terror will gain them the ultimate victory over Israel. The Arab world has created an alternative narrative that is accepted and validated unquestioningly by a credulous or craven West. FAY DICKER Lakewood, New Jersey Sir, - In the interview, Mr. Blair twice used the term "Israeli state" ("but I think everybody knows there's got to be an Israeli state which is confident about its security and a Palestinian state.") In "Partner Israel: Save yourselves," David Horovitz twice used the term "Jewish state" ("acceptance of the legitimacy of Israel, the Jewish state"). An insignificant difference? No. We know that small differences in language often hide vast conceptual gaps, and this is an excellent example. Too bad Mr. Horovitz didn't challenge Mr. Blair on his use of "Israeli state." Perhaps he will do so next time. LEWIS ROSEN Jerusalem Sir, - While he was at No. 10, Tony Blair always found time, on his numerous freebie holidays on the Red Sea, to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for a frank exchange of views. However, despite being approached directly several times to "clearly and unequivocally advise Egypt that it can have no role to play whilst it allows the smuggling of weapons, explosives and ammunition through the tunnels from Egypt which terminate in the southern residential extremities of the Gaza Strip" (letter to Blair, January 4, 2004) his office advised, in the usual diplomatic gobbledegook, that "as the matter you raised is the responsibility of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, he has asked that your letter be forwarded to that Department so that they may reply to you direct on his behalf." Of course the F&CO never replied. Some months later Blair met Mubarak at Chequers, yet once again he failed to rise to his moral responsibility as prime minister to publicly call Mubarak to account for his failure to act on the tunnel issue. Based on Blair's track record, it's all talk and no do. COLIN L LECI Jerusalem Sir, - Tony Blair said that "what was needed now was a change in the mind-set of both Israelis and Palestinians" ("Olmert hopes for peace breakthrough before Bush steps down," November 5). As your reader pointed out ("Psychological shift," Letters, November 6), Blair is the one who "needs a psychological shift, along with George Bush." More to the point, perhaps, is the need for a change in Condoleezza Rice's thinking. It's all about acting now "to show the Palestinians a way forward," as if Israel has to give and the Palestinians only have to take. Indeed! Her statement that "Failure is simply not an option" (and see Gershon Baskin's op-ed "Failure is not an option," November 6)) belie the reality: The Palestinians' failure to fight terrorism simply led to Rice taking terrorism off her agenda. SIMCHA RUDMAN Jerusalem Sir, - The snake oil peddled by old-time salesmen was usually good only until it was used to attempt an actual cure. The Israelis stand on the brink of disaster by elimination, and Tony Blair, along with Ehud Olmert, tells Israel: "Take two tablets and call me in the morning." Trouble is, the morning will display the wreckage of a failed dream. What does it take for Israelis to grasp that rather than peace, the Arabs want all the land of Israel? JERRY BORIS Philadelphia