October 22: Analysis or interpretation?

Arafat was an arch-terrorist who turned down Barak’s offer. Abbas turned down Olmert’s and refuses talks with Netanyahu. When exactly did Israel’s leaders become less flexible and concessionary and when exactly did Palestinian leaders become more flexible and concessionary?

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Analysis or interpretation?
Sir, – I was am used by your oped presented as an “analysis” of the second US presidential debate when it was really an endorsement of President Barack Obama. It belonged on the editorial page, not the front page (“Libya puts Obama back on top,” October 18).
Hilary Leila Krieger carefully ignored the CNN-published post-poll breakdown showing that while Obama led this debate in likeability and compassion, Romney was points ahead in leadership, straight answers, handling the economy and handling tax and health issues. In the seven categories, Romney came out ahead in five of them.
That’s not a “win” for Obama.
As for your writer’s interpretation of the Libya remarks, it is just that – an interpretation which carelessly omitted the greater context of those remarks.
The exact language of the president the day after the killing of the US ambassador was, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” He was speaking generally about American character in terms of terror attacks generally – at no time did he directly label the Benghazi attack as an “act of terror,” despite CNN’s agenda-driven moderator Candy Crowley adopting that interpretation.
While the presidential verbiage was ambiguous enough for him to argue at the debate that he was including the Benghazi attack in the “acts of terror,” that he said would never shake American resolve, that was clearly not the administration’s position given the contradictory statements afterwards. On September 13, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “The protests we’re seeing around the region are in reaction to this movie.”
Either Obama condemned it as a terror attack and his staff defied him for over a week, or he truly failed to recognize Benghazi was a terror attack, but is now self-servingly spinning his failure to admit so on a conveniently ambiguous phrasing so typical of lawyerish word games.
In either case, it is a sad display of rhetoric displacing leadership.
Sir, – In President Barack Obama’s Rose Garden speech on September 12, he said “ No act of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation” – a reference to September 11. If he truly was referring to Libya, then why did he and his administration persist for the next two weeks in claiming the Libya situation was a “natural protest” that spiraled out of control? American Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice characterized the Benghazi attack as “a spontaneous reaction, prompted, of course, by the video.”
This was the response of the Obama administration, which anyone can research online. Yet this was clearly no impromptu riot in response to an online, anti-Muhammad video, a fact the White House knew from earliest days.
The president can backpedal and say what he wishes in the debate. Your newspaper can print what should be an op-ed piece and pass it off as an unbiased, front page news article.
But the truth of the matter is, folks don’t like it when you twist the facts. Don’t imply that the president’s “spin response” to the Libya question put him ahead in the race. Don’t claim that “Romney lost the foreign policy advantage he briefly enjoyed,” when indeed the exact opposite is true.
Unsung Anglos
Sir, – The statement by MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), that the election of American- born Jeremy Gimpel “will help Habayit Hayehudi appeal to tens of thousands of English speakers who are currently unrepresented by any party” is a stark illustration of the poverty of our current electoral system (“Orlev endorses American immigrant in Habayit Hayehudi for Knesset,” October 17).
Is he suggesting that although I have been voting here for over 30 years I am unrepresented by the party of my choice because I am an English speaker? Is he suggesting that even though I may be neither religious or right-wing, his party will represent me because I am an English speaker? If he is making some comment about my less-than-perfect Hebrew, he may be right. And if he is trying to illustrate the lack of representation afforded by our system, he may also be right.
Peace parallels
Sir, – David Newman (“Congratulations to the EU,” Borderline Views, Comment and Features, October 16) contends that “when there are leaders who are prepared to seek ways of overcoming the obstacles (on both sides) instead of creating new ones, nothing should be considered impossible. At least Peres and Rabin were prepared to seek the way forward back then in the 1990s – which is a lot more than can be said for today’s crop of leaders, both in Israel and the PA.”
This makes no sense. Former prime ministers Ehud Barak (in 2000) and Ehud Olmert (in 2008) went further than either Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin and offered Palestinians statehood throughout almost the entirety of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza and a capital in Jerusalem, but still obtained no peace.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accepted Palestinian statehood, has been offering negotiations without preconditions and, without precedent, even unilaterally froze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months, but he cannot even get Abbas to the table.
Yasser Arafat was an arch-terrorist who turned down Barak’s offer. Abbas turned down Olmert’s and refuses talks with Netanyahu.
Can David Newman tell us when exactly Israel’s leaders become less flexible and concessionary and when exactly Palestinian leaders were more flexible and concessionary?
MORTON A. KLEINPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
The writer is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America
Sir, – David Newman offered up a hymn of praise for the second most marvelously successful sociopolitical experiment of the 20th century in his op-ed. A commonwealth of nations, a veritable Pax Romana achieved without legions! The first of the “so many positives” Newman lists is “Internal borders have been removed.”
This being the case I am bemused by his dogged insistence that peace can be achieved between the Jewish and the Arab essences of the postage stamp we inhabit in common only by defining borders between us.
Surely the low-level talks going on regarding the supply of power, management of water and movement of goods into, out of and between the autonomous Arab regions are of more concrete value and bear the promise of durability, trust and consensus.
The most marvelously successful sociopolitical experiment that I would put in first place is the transformation of two traditionally militaristic dictatorships into vibrant and wealthy democracies. This result was achieved not, as some would have it, by the introduction of Coca Cola, but by and out of military occupation.
Of course, in those cases it was clear who won and who lost the war: Fortunately it was the good guys who won and the bad guys who lost. This was established before the outbreak of World War II by the terror bombing of Guernica in the West and by that of Nanking in the East.
So history is there to teach us that borders are excuses for armed dispute, that military occupation may ultimately be beneficial to the occupied as well as to the occupier, and that the bad guys can be recognized by their penchant for murderous violence against the other be, it across the divides of geography, ethnicity, sect and tribe.