October 15: Mystery remains

The diversity of the youth groups that came to rightfully mourn Yitzhak Rabin was significant.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Sir, – The memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin (“Tens of thousands gather in Tel Aviv to remember Rabin,” October 13) was certainly impressive in size.
The diversity of the youth groups that came to rightfully mourn him was significant.
It remains a mystery, however, why a demonstration whose theme was non-violence ignored the fact that a “peace partner” fails to condemn those in its ranks who commit acts such as slicing the throat of a five-month old baby.
Issue of choice
Sir, – I agree with every word Menachem Ben-Sasson wrote in “Stop the brain drain!” (October 11). However, there is another side of the issue that was not mentioned.
Academicians, researchers and everyone else involved in career advancement in Israel, be they sabras or olim, are faced with a value system problem. I refer to the choices they must make between a career and something we loosely refer to as Zionism.
Those of us who choose to come on aliya and those of us who choose to remain here do so because we value the immeasurable gift of residing in Israel and raising our children here. It often plays havoc with careers, but we are here.
With all the excitement and congratulations that we share with the Nobel Prize winners, we question whether they made the right choice. The unbelievable gift of living in our own land after 2,000 years of dwelling in the Diaspora is not a gift that is easily forsaken.
Permit me to suggest that next time an academician or anyone else thinks about leaving for the golden opportunities of life in the Diaspora, that person should think twice and ask, “Am I really making the right choice?”
Work of fiction
Sir, – The Reuters article “Turkish court revisits ‘Mavi Marmara’ incident” (October 11) centered around one Kenneth O’Keefe, who claimed to the court that Israeli soldiers had fired on the ‘Mavi Marmara’ from their helicopters before abseiling down to the deck.
Have the Turkish authorities not seen the film of our soldiers landing on the deck while firing paint guns, and on landing being attacked and violently beaten by passengers? O’Keefe is described as an “Irish-Palestinian.” What an explosive and hate-filled combination! The Irish are no friends to Israel, and the Palestinians are renowned for their love and affection for us.
Why did O’Keefe wait so long to concoct and spread these lies? Obviously, the Turkish court is desperate for new “evidence” to bring a strong case against the IDF and salve the country’s wounded pride.
I can’t wait until next March 27, when this exciting work of fiction will continue.
What restitution?
Sir, – In “Combating the politicization of Holocaust restitution” (Observations, October 11), the president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, Julius Berman, attempts to salvage his hopelessly tarnished reputation by absolving his administration of responsibility for a $57 million embezzlement by unsupervised insiders.
The embezzlement is hardly the primary reason for all the disgust. Rather, it is the Claims Conference’s embezzlement of the billions its refuses to distribute to the dwindling number of survivors, many of whom live in circumstances that closely resemble what they endured under Hitler.
The sub-agencies the Claims Conference entrusts to provide care for survivors are always underfunded and often corrupt, with no apparent oversight. Survivors in their 80s and 90s endure humiliating and complicated applications procedures before they are told there are insufficient funds.
But for their age, there would be scores of survivors in wheelchairs and walkers demonstrating outside Berman’s posh Park Avenue offices. They would want to know why he is sitting on their money, parsimoniously doling it out to dubious projects and programs, but mostly hoarding it for after they are dead in order to do with it as he and his cronies please.
The media would have a field day and Berman would be drawn and quartered.
The writer is the son of two nonagenarian Holocaust survivors
Doing no favors Sir, – Whatever one’s personal views about J Street, I don’t think Richard Goldwasser’s “J Street is leading ‘great constituency for peace’” (Comment & Features, October 10) did the organization any favors. Triumphalism is no substitute for a coherent argument, and his superficial, almost flippant characterization of the issues seriously undermines the group’s credibility.
Should I feel reassured that Goldwasser signals that “we are ready to support... painful compromises” that Israelis – but not someone living in the writer’s hometown of Chicago – will have to risk making? In spite of his scorn, Israelis do cringe at statements that received the loudest applause at his group’s Washington conference.
Given J Street’s support for a two-state solution, reducing the conflict to grotesque oversimplifications and completely ignoring Arab rejectionism as well as realities on the ground hardly contribute to an achievable solution.
Sir, – Richard Goldwasser is a lawyer and as such is used to warping facts to suit his arguments. However, just as lawyers have to restrain themselves in court from going too far, writers of opinion pieces should do so before the court of public opinion.
How can Goldwasser pretend that J Street supports Israel when Fatah member Husam Zomlot was greeted by “sustained and loud applause” when he told conference-goers about the right of return and Nakba? This was well documented in these very pages (“Feeling uncomfortable at J Street,” Comment & Features, October 6).
Goldwasser’s snide reference to J-Street’s “‘clapometer’ critics” cannot conceal this anti-Zionist behavior.
The writer is a lawyer
Humiliating story
Sir, – With regard to “Omitting the flag” (Editorial, October 9), the absence of Israel’s flag when MKs travelled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas simply evoked the depth of Palestinian humiliation 93 years after the League of Nations created mandates for the world’s decolonization.
Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant on mandates says in part: “To those colonies and territories which... have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves...
the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilization....
Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized....”
The inhabitants of this territory were more than 90 percent Palestinian. These people felt the European powers transgressed the Covenant with a mandate created uniquely to prevent their decolonization.
Israel has an irrefutable case – that today it exists. It is a fact on the ground. That is the ultimate basis for any country. But there would be less self-righteousness and arrogance about the 700,000 Israeli settlers on the Palestinians’ last 20% of land if people grasped the Palestinians’ humiliating story.
Cambridge, Massachusetts