September 14: Waste of time?

If the Palestinians are “nice,” we can, maybe, discuss the return of a few thousand so-called refugees to Israel proper, but only on condition that they accept the idea that this is a Jewish state.

Waste of time?
Sir, – I would like to call attention to “Obama asks PM to extend moratorium while negotiations remain constructive” (September 12), where the sub-headline reads, in part, “Sha’ath: PA will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state.”
If this is really the attitude of the Palestinians, then what is there to talk about? Do they really believe that we, the Israelis, can discuss anything that does not include Israel as the Jewish state? It seems to me that if this is really their position, then we (and the Americans) are wasting a lot of time and effort on something that is doomed to failure from the beginning.
If the Palestinians are “nice,” we can, maybe, discuss the return of a few thousand so-called refugees to Israel proper, but only on condition that they accept the idea that this is a Jewish state, in which they may be given citizenship, if they behave. More than that is beyond the boundaries of any agreement that might be reached and is acceptable to the people of Israel.
Tiptoeing the line
Sir, – Say what you will, but one thing Pastor Terry Jones and his threat to burn a Koran has highlighted is the utter and total apathy of religious Christian denominations everywhere for what they purport to believe (“9/11 anniversary held in shadow of NY Islamic center controversy,” September 12).
Where are their voices and actions when their churches are torn down, their own Bibles burned and their missionaries murdered? Answer: nowhere. A few words, maybe, of condemnation from political leaders at best, and then silence.
The world moves on quickly lest it offend the Islamic perpetrators.
IAN KEMP Nahariya
Water over nukes
Sir, – Your September 12 editorial “Prepare for the drought” was informed, but rather limited in scope.
Israel is facing a severe water shortage now, and has been for several years, but only partly for the reasons you describe. The only solution is to increase our water supply through desalination and impose the high costs on an already over-taxed citizenry.
Desalination is already being applied, but, because of legal challenges by environmental groups and local councils, far too slowly.
Israel’s water shortage is the most serious national security problem facing the nation – certainly more immediate and acute than even the Iranian nuclear program.
Won’t get fooled again
Sir, – In “Mistakes the US must avoid” (September 12), Elliott Abrams essentially says about the game of peacemaking what Yogi Berra said about baseball: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
And when is it over? Abrams remembers that regarding Sinai, “there was only one easily grasped and implemented decision: Would Israel give back every square inch?” But actually, after the Israeli public had gradually and painfully grasped the idea that we would be giving up our airfields, our homes and our oil fields in Sinai, Egypt surprised us by declaring that, of course, Sinai also includes Taba, and Israel felt that since it had given up so much already, it might as well give up a little more to keep the deal from unraveling.
Sadat and Arafat both knew the tactic well: When the other side thinks it has made its final concession and is looking forward to the benefits, always see if you can’t wring a little bit more out of them.
That, too, is one of the mistakes the US and Israel must avoid this time.
Prayer strikes chord
Sir, – While I agree with much of Caroline Glick’s September 8 column (“A prayer for 5771,” Column One), I found one paragraph extraordinary. She says that “since Theodore Herzl...
Israel has lacked a leader who recognized the importance of espousing the Jewish creed both to the world and to the Jewish people.”
First, although Herzl dreamed of a Jewish state, his vision did not include the “creed.” William Blackstone, one of the first American Christian Zionists, for example, was so annoyed that Herzl’s Zionism had no sign of God’s purpose in the call for a Jewish state that he sent Herzl a copy of the Bible marking those passages in which the prophets designate Eretz Yisrael as the chosen land of the Jews.
Second, the statement that “...Israel has lacked a leader...” is an insult to the memory of a number of our leaders. To name two: Menachem Begin and David Ben-Gurion.
Begin’s espousal of the creed is so well known that it needs no elaboration. Ben-Gurion often quoted from Isaiah and called for “Israel to be a light unto the nations.” In Ben-Gurion: State Builder, Avraham Avi-Hai, an Orthodox Jew, says Ben-Gurion’s messianic vision of a restored Israel “was a recurrent, persistent and unchanging theme through all of his speeches and writings in the post-state period.”
Ben-Gurion and Begin’s many acts stand as testimony to their belief and espousal of the creed.
Beit Shemesh
Sir, – I think that “A prayer for 5771”is one of the most brilliant, beautiful and needed op-eds I have ever read in any newspaper.
It truly touches all the essential bases and explains the justifiable pride that we in Israel should feel both as Jews and Israelis.
Worthy of a Jewish Pulitzer.
Program incomplete
Sir, – I read your editorial “Educational basics” (September 1) in which you applauded Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar’s project aimed at strengthening Jewish and Zionist values. I believe Sa’ar’s program is incomplete.
One subject is totally missing in the projected curriculum: the study of the world’s Jewish communities.
The shtetl so ably described by Shalom Aleichem, which our kids read, no longer exists. A generation is growing up in Israel that is totally ignorant of today’s Jewish communities, especially that of the US, which is almost as large as that of Israel.
These communities are our answer to the millions of Muslims in the world. They are also our political and financial supporters.
We are told that the present generation of young American Jews is distancing itself from Israel. We are stunned by the number of mixed marriages. We need to build bridges of love and understanding. Knowledge is vital to build relations. Yet Sa’ar’s program ignores the study of the post-war Jewish world.
I believe it is as important for our young to visit American Jewish communities as it is to visit Auschwitz, if not more so. Let us do Birthright in reverse. Let us build a curriculum of studies of Jewish communities for all high schools.
This, Mr. Sa’ar, is the “strengthening of Jewish and Zionist values.”
Tel Aviv

The writer was Consul of Israel in New York and is a frequent visitor to the US.
Grit your teeth
Sir, – Regarding “Has US policy on Israel changed since the July 6 Obama-Netanyahu summit?” (August 19), ever since I started voting in American elections I have always voted Democratic.
As a liberal Jew, I had little confidence in the far-tooconservative Republicans.
In the forthcoming mid-term election in November, I shall be voting Republican. The overriding issue, the way I see it as an Israeli, is self-preservation. I want to see a Republican-controlled Congress, and I want Barak Obama to become a lame-duck president.
I urge all my fellow Israelis who hold American citizenship – I have dual citizenship – to grit their teeth and do likewise.