October 3: Promises, promises

After all, if President Obama doesn’t see himself as obligated by other presidential commitments, then why should anyone see him as bound by his own?

Promises, promises
Sir, – The Obama White House is now denying that it made any written promises to Israel in return for a continued building freeze (“US denies it sent a letter demanding freeze extension,” October 1).
Of course whatever Mr. Obama promises doesn’t mean anything anyway, since just last year President Obama himself publicly stated that he was not bound by commitments made by previous American presidents to Israel.
Mr. Obama was referring to the written commitments made by his predecessor, George W. Bush, to then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon regarding the indivisibility of Jerusalem, the final borders, growth inside the settlements, and denying the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel – commitments used by Sharon in his campaign to justify and win Israeli support for the disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria.
Ever since Mr. Obama cavalierly reneged on former president Bush’s commitments to Israel, it is hard for me as an Israeli to take his word on anything. After all, if President Obama doesn’t see himself as obligated by other presidential commitments, then why should anyone see him as bound by his own?
Stuxing it to ‘em
Sir, – I found Caroline B. Glick’s “The lessons of Stuxnet” (Column one, October 1) a very interesting article and something of a “voyage into the unknown” of cyber-warfare.
I could not help wondering if the next stage has not already been reached – that stage where the clever minds that developed and planted Stuxnet “where it hurts” can also access information from their worm, followed by control of the systems themselves in which it is operating.
If not, I suspect it won’t be long in coming.
Believes with perfect faith...
Sir, – Reports that within a year, at inter-city bus stops, solar-powered digital signs linked to GPS satellites will display the whereabouts of buses (“‘Smart’ bus stop signs to say when the bus is due,” September 29) give me hope that one day our capital’s bus stops will at least have regular bus timetables posted.
‘Ship of fools’
Sir, – Amazing the hutzpa and self-righteousness of this group running a ship to break the Gaza blockade (“Miliband’s mother among supporters of Jewish aid boat to Gaza,” September 27) and defending their criminal activity by quoting one of the Jewish People’s greatest sages, Hillel.
Israeli society and the Diaspora are never in sync about what Israel does and whether it is ultimately good or bad for Israel and its future.
This band of rogues, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, reminds me of the hooligans who took over the G20 summit here in Toronto. Their point was to demonstrate against universal injustice, but their tactics were to trash stores, burn police cars, attack the police and cause mayhem wherever they could.
Their insurrection was pointless, cost millions upon millions of dollars in security – and why? Just so they could run amuck with other like-minded fools and pat each other on the back in having upset the establishment.
Using a quote from Hillel is very poignant, but a quote that concerns me more – and that should concern these paragons of human virtue – is from the Hamas leader, Mashaal, who said Hamas will continue to “kill illegal settlers on our land” (“Mashaal says reconciliation with Fatah is on the way,” September 28).
These are his latest rantings, and regrettably he acts on his words, as recent funerals of settlers gunned down and killed in their car makes obvious.
The Israeli government is there to serve the good of Israelis, and if there are some who disagree with these policies, using the tactics of the G20 protesters to object to these policies is simpleminded and foolish.
Here in Toronto, those protesters were stopped, arrested, put on trial and convicted. I look forward to the same outcome in this insane journey of the misguided ship of fools.
From occupied to occupied
Sir, – May I offer a slight revision to your caption accompanying the article “Israel set to stop Jewish ship en route to Gaza” (September 27)? I think it should read, “Jewish activists on board the Irene before setting sail for Hamas/Iran-occupied Gaza from Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus yesterday.”

India responds
Sir, – The article by Rob Brown, “Why isn’t India a pariah state?” (September 19) contains several gross misrepresentations and distortions which need to be clarified.
Brown’s contention that Kashmir is “occupied” by India is factually incorrect. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.
The correct historical position is that Jammu and Kashmir acceded to the Union of India through the Instrument of Accession in accordance with the legal framework determined by the British Parliament for the independence of the Indian subcontinent.
This instrument was signed by the maharaja (erstwhile ruler of the state) on October 26, 1947, and was accepted by the governor- general of India on October 27, 1947. The accession became legally and constitutionally valid and was fully endorsed by the National Conference, the largest political party in the state then and currently heading the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir.
The only unresolved issue is the part of the state’s territory which remains under the illegal and forcible occupation of Pakistan.
Brown’s attempt to draw parallels between Jammu and Kashmir and issues in this region shows a deliberate attempt at misreading history and conveniently glosses over the fact that the problem in Jammu and Kashmir in recent decades has been that of cross-border terrorism which has sought to disrupt the tolerant ethos, the economy and the democratic political processes of the state.
While there have been some recent incidents involving misguided youth in the Kashmir valley who have engaged in arson and stone-pelting and destroyed public property, this does not alter the fundamental character of violence in Jammu and Kashmir which has well-established and documented cross-border origins.
There are well-entrenched democratic institutions in Jammu and Kashmir with representatives elected by the Kashmiris themselves, who have time and again shown exemplary courage by fighting the bullets with the ballots.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir have repeatedly and successfully participated in the state assembly elections as well as the federal elections as recently as April-May, 2009.
In a recent move, the government of India has declared an eight point initiative under which a sustained dialogue process would be launched with various political parties, groups, students, civil society and other stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir.
This should answer Brown’s poser as to why there are no calls for boycott, disinvestment or sanctions against India.
The fact remains that India is the world’s largest democracy with well-developed democratic institutions. It is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society with the second largest Muslim population in the world.
It has sufficient in-built systems to handle any human rights excesses and differences amongst its people in a democratic fashion based on the time-tested tenets of its constitution.
First Secretary (Political and Information)
Embassy of India, Tel Aviv