November 28: Differing reads...

Goodman has my vote for defense minister in a government of the people by the people and for the people. Do not silence him.

Differing reads...
Sir, – Thank goodness Hirsh Goodman is back. My faith in mankind is restored! “One man’s storm is another’s island” (Postscript, November 25) exemplifies Goodman’s erudite, incisive and reader-friendly style. I suggest his column be sent to our prime minister, who has announced that moments of regional upheaval are not a time to rush diplomatic progress.
Goodman has my vote for defense minister in a government of the people by the people and for the people. Do not silence him.
Tel Aviv
Sir, – Hirsh Goodman writes: “Hamas has repeatedly offered Israel a 10-year hudna, or cease fire. We should take it. If during that period the cease-fire is broken, there will be a war.”
Goodman should know better on two counts: 1. Hamas has clearly said it will never recognize Israel, which means the war will continue after 10 years (after much more sophisticated ammunition is smuggled into Gaza.) This will allow Hamas time to prepare for a better war.
2. Israel will not start a war if the cease-fire is broken. Yitzhak Rabin said the Oslo Accords would be repealed if the Arabs returned to terror. Were they? Of course not. Ariel Sharon said that if rockets came from Gaza after the pullout, there would be war. Was there? Of course not.
...and differing takes
Sir, – In your issue of November 25, a whole Comment & Features page is devoted to two articles from South Africa. In one (“Apartheid lies and the war of words,” Sinai Today), that country’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein, makes a plea for the Israeli government to harness its strategic, financial and human resources to fight the battle for Israel’s reputation.
This admirable suggestion contrasts strikingly with the sentiment presented in the second article, by the vice-chairwoman of the South African Zionist Federation (“Could ‘ubuntu’ help the Israeli-Palestine conflict?”).
In it, Reeva Forman implies that blame for the failure to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians rests equally on the shoulders of right-wing extremists on both sides.
Forman’s claim to observe an analogy between the situation that ended apartheid in South Africa and the philosophy of kinship omits the fact that there, both parties reached agreement after free discussion. Here, Palestinian leaders have either declined to accept generous offers by several Israeli prime ministers or, as now, are refusing to enter into negotiations unless Israel accepts pre-conditions.
Forman’s failure to appreciate this is disappointing.

Tel Mond
Sir, – Reeva Forman talks about her proud ubuntu. She tries to apply what she learned to the situation in Israel.
I also grew up in South Africa, but with a proud Yiddish heritage.
Ret nit kein narishkeit (don’t talk nonsense) – one cannot and should not compare the two situations.
On the same page, South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein writes that Israel must “move away from the philosophy of David Ben-Gurion” to promote the cause of truth. I humbly suggest that he starts with his excellent contacts and contributions from the South African Jewish community to make the South African government more even-handed in its policies toward Israel and the Palestinians.
Beit Shemesh
Sir, – Reeva Forman is entitled to her opinions. But equating Israelis who lay “claim to the biblical definition of Israel which includes Judea and Samaria” with the Palestinian right-wing fringe, “which calls for the total destruction of the Jewish State of Israel” (and praises and rewards those who cold-bloodedly murder innocent civilians, including babies, to achieve this aim), is offensive if not obscene.
One would expect both her and the South African Zionist Federation to know that only recognized states have embassies and governments. To obsequiously “give credit to both the Israel and Palestinian embassies in South Africa and their respective governments in Jerusalem and Ramallah who facilitated our visits to both regions” is no less offensive.
If this is the message of the SAZF, then I, as a former South African, suggest it henceforth be known as the SAF, for it no longer represents the country’s Zionist community.
Latter-day axis
Sir, – Regarding “Hamas, Fatah agree to work as partners” (November 25), in their day Hitler and Mussolini also met and agreed to work as partners.
There is no essential difference.
The Hamas-Fatah partnership is a latter-day axis and Israel has no option but to treat this partnership in whole and in part as an enemy.
The Palestinian Authority has outlived its usefulness. It is defunct. Withholding tax funds from the PA is the least we can do now.
Tel Aviv
Sir, – Lithuanian Jewish Holocaust survivors (and historians) have seen a lot of manipulation of Lithuanian-Jewish issues by Lithuanian government operatives in recent years, but “Israel has a friend in Lithuania” (Comment & Features, November 24), by two self-styled representatives of Lithuanian Jewry, beats everything.
I never thought I’d live to see this line coming from a Western or Jewish pen (unless snuck in by far-right Baltic revisionist, anti-Semitic historians who know how to court very useful Jews in the West): “The first [issue] is the way [Lithuania] has celebrated its early freedom from the Soviets – the first time – in 1941. That freedom came at the hands of Nazi control – and consequently at the peril of the Jewish community.”
No. It was not “at the peril” of the Jewish community. It was the onset of the actual Lithuanian Holocaust launched by barbaric murderers associated with the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) and other fascist organizations who are now honored by Lithuania’s government, even as expensive, extensive and lavish efforts are made to cover it all up with sunflowers, sesame seeds and seasoning.

The writer is editor of
What he meant
Sir, – Regarding readers’ reactions (“Not ‘far-fetched,” Letters, November 23) to my own letter (“Serious charges,” November 21), Jerusalem bombings are, of course, not farfetched.
But accusing journalist-accompanied, King-quoting, peaceful demonstrators of wanting it simply is.
My letter, as originally submitted, requested mutual understanding only as “part of our own expectation that the other side try a lot harder to understand our own case.” But if another writer’s understanding of her neighbors’ indelible humanity and political case is reduced to “just” the violence of a few – and I realize the inconceivable horror of those quotation marks – then our loved ones, forever, will be getting “scraped off,” and theirs forever will be, too.
As I said, let’s get serious. Both sides have cases.
Many settlers could return home to Israel to allow a twostate solution and prevent demographic suicide, and so give us permanent security and peace.
Cambridge, Massachusetts