September 30: Mum’s the word

In his speech to the UN General Assembly last week, Obama did not mention the Iranian protests against Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Mum’s the word
Sir, – In his speech to the UN General Assembly last week (“Obama: United States will ‘do what it must’ to prevent nuclear Iran,” September 27), US President Barack Obama said, inter alia:
• We were inspired by the Tunisian protests.
• We insisted on change in Egypt.
• We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen.
• We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition.
• We again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end.
• We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture.
These are not simply American values or Western values – they are universal values.
And what did Obama say about the people of Iran being shot down in the streets while protesting the theft of elections by Khamenei and Ahmadinejad and their cohorts? Nothing!
At the time...
Sir, – I cannot disagree with a single thing in Charles Krauthammer’s “Collapse of the Cairo Doctrine” (Comment & Features, September 27). What I do not find in his piece, however, is any acknowledgement that “it was worth a try.” Perhaps with his 20-20 hindsight he does not believe it.
But casting back to those heady first days of the Obama administration, I can well imagine how the thinking went. Here is the first black president of the US, a man with connections in the Muslim world and a “black power” background. Surely he can bring a unique perspective to tackling some of the world’s most intractable problems, achieving things that no other US president could attempt.
“It’s worth a try” must have been the feeling within the administration at the time.
Of course, as Krauthammer only too convincingly demonstrates, the effort now seems to have been doomed from the start, and the outcome has been truly devastating. However, I still believe that, despite attempting to establish a “new deal” with the Muslim world, Obama never turned his back on Israel.
Throughout 2010 the administration persisted with the Israeli- PA peace process, and indeed achieved a worthy success in September when it brought the parties to the same table. That too, though, quickly fell apart – and the administration, through its repeated insistence on a construction freeze throughout the West Bank and east Jerusalem, forced Mahmoud Abbas into a corner and thus bears a share of the responsibility.
Subsequently, though, by word and deed, Obama has shown that he remains Israel’s friend. Where he failed from the start was in recognizing the nature and the aims of the Iranian administration and the extent to which extremist Islamist views, such as those of the Muslim Brotherhood, had captured public opinion across the Middle East.
A final verdict on Obama’s “engagement” with the Muslim world? Brave, but foolhardy.
..but now is now
Sir, – Daniel Tauber (“No friend of ours,” Comment & Features, September 27) clearly and succinctly categorizes US President Barack Obama’s position regarding Israel.
Sure, American foreign policy ensures Israel’s security, but it does not create an atmosphere of confidence when it comes to facing a virtual existential threat from Iran. The latest incident of the president’s refusal to make time to meet with our prime minister indicates his true colors and certainly brings into question his reliability.
However, Mitt Romney’s precise positions on certain key issues in the Middle East are still in the realm of political rhetoric and won’t be tested until he’s elected, if that is to happen.
Nevertheless, as a concerned American-Israeli I fear what Obama’s political behavior toward Israel will be if he’s elected to a second term and is no longer beholden to a pro-Israel constituency.
This is clearly a case of preferring the devil you don’t know to the devil you know.
HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva Unsatisfactory reply
Sir, – I would like to add a postscript to my op-ed of September 25 (“Bankruptcy – monetary and moral,” Comment & Features).
Before Rosh Hashana I wrote to Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, asking again for an opportunity to speak with him or meet with him. I appealed to him, as a rabbi, to award me this one small request.
The other day I received in the mail his answer, which I will quote verbatim: “I acknowledge the receipt of your additional letter, and as I have answered in the past, the Ministry of Health, together with the necessary authorities, conducts hearings to allow the inclusion of private dentists via different options, within strict insurance of all the rules of safety and within the law.”
Aren’t two-and-a half years of hearings enough? Does Litzman not care at all that people are being ruined? Is he too important to meet with a simple citizen? Is this the proper attitude for a supposedly God-fearing Jew during the 10 days of repentance?
DAN CHEIFETZ Modi’in Doug was right
Sir, – Gian P. Gentile is wrong (“In war, sometimes there ‘is’ a substitute for victory,” Comment & Features, September 24).
If in Afghanistan and Iraq the situation is bad, it is because of what the politicians did after victory.
They tried to impose democracy on populations whose religion and traditional ways of life are against democracy.
We can see this in the so- (wrongly)-called Arab Spring, where the population wants the Islamic way of life, not the democratic way of life.
US Gen. Douglas MacArthur was right: There is no substitute for victory.
A Turk speaks out
Sir, – My first duty as a Turkish citizen is to preserve and defend forever the Turkey-Israel friendship.
This is my greatest ambition.
I know Turkey is a very important country for Israel’s policy in the outside world because my country’s geopolitical status is very important in the Middle East and Caucasia. Today, we need new political, military and economic strategies for a new world system. We have to save our friendship for the sake of our future. We shall never despair and we shall struggle.
Our friendship is a guarantee for our region’s security and future. I ask for your help in developing that friendship.
NAME WITHHELD Izmir, Turkey Satisfied customer
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