September 6: Case by case

The US educational system, which Daniel Gordis praises, is no less subject than Israel to radical leftist bias.

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
Case by case Sir, - While Daniel Gordis is undoubtedly correct in his call for a more inclusive and humanistic framework for Israeli education, he is mistaken if he believes that this will prove a remedy for anti-Israel academic bias ("Neve Gordon is not the problem," September 3). The US educational system, which Gordis praises highly for its variety and efficiency, is no less subject than Israel to radical leftist bias in its humanities and social sciences departments. There is thus no substitute for taking on the Neve Gordons case by case, refuting false charges with historical facts and discrediting those who hypocritically call for boycotts of the institutions they work in. SHALOM FREEDMAN Jerusalem A question of funding Sir, - Pnina Radai missed the point in "Petah Tikva's 'shanda'" (September 2). She wrote: "The schools in question are private religious schools and the Ethiopians in question are children of new immigrants, who were only recently reconnected to Judaism. Private schools here can choose what to teach but the majority of their budget is derived from the government." If a school receives money from the government, it isn't private. by definition. KEN KALCHEIM Dimona A line was too little Sir, - Re Olivier Javanpour's interesting "The 'other' America: A perfect terror breeding-ground" (September 2): I felt the description of "socialist" reforms in both Venezuela and Bolivia was superficial and lax. In the case of land reform and nationalization in Bolivia, detailing a process of land and asset restructuring in one line was not entirely objective, especially when claiming that Mr. Morales "rewrote" the constitution. In fact, the new constitution was approved in a referendum by over 60 percent of the population. Questionable as it might be, nationalization in Venezuela and Bolivia did not take place by appropriating industries, but by buying them. One might note that they were bought at minimum price, but it still has to be mentioned. ALEJANDRO OKRET University of Oxford Oxford, UK Yes, pliability Sir, - Michael Freund's "All settlers are not created equal" (August 27) contained inaccuracies that must be corrected. Western Sahara was historically Moroccan long before Spain colonized the territory. While recognizing ancestral ties with tribes scattered across N. Africa, most inhabitants of Western Sahara trace their roots to present-day Morocco, and since the 16th century, many have recognized Moroccan leadership. The Kingdom of Morocco's proposal for extensive autonomy for the region is itself a recognized form of self-determination for Western Sahara. The UN, not Morocco, pushed the referendum path aside in favor of a negotiated political solution when it became clear that it was not possible to resolve the issue of who should be allowed to vote in such an election. Morocco had argued for an inclusive voter list; the Polisario attempted to narrow the list to those whom they believed would favor their solution. It is curious that Mr. Freund chose Morocco as a target for his vitriolic article, when Morocco and Israel have long-standing relations characterized by a shared sense of community and history. In addition to Morocco's own vibrant Jewish community - which includes Jews in prominent positions in government, business, and society - there are regular high-level contacts between Morocco and Israel; Morocco has served as a discreet intermediary in Arab-Israeli peace efforts; and tens of thousands of Moroccan and Israeli civilian tourists travel between the two countries each year. CHARLES D DAHAN World Federation of Moroccan Jewry Potomac, Maryland Michael Freund responds: It is unfortunate that Mr. Dahan prefers to parrot Moroccan government propaganda rather than stick to the facts. The International Court of Justice ruled that Morocco's claim to Western Sahara is illegitimate, and Rabat has refused to countenance the option of independence for the occupied area. Moreover, Morocco itself is ruled by a dynastic monarchy which denies its own citizens the basic right to change their government. One might ask if such a regime is truly deserving of the praise Mr. Dahan bestows upon it. Chatham creativity Sir, - In "'Darkness closing' or 'business as usual'?" (August 1), Jonathan Hoffman claimed Chatham House's "anti-Israel disposition." We reject this characterization. In fact, since 2007, under our "current leadership," Chatham House has welcomed more speakers from Israel than from any other Mideastern country; has hosted two major conferences on the Middle East with Israeli partners; and has published three research papers highlighting Israeli perspectives on sensitive regional issues. Our researchers include two Israeli associate fellows - we do not have more than one from any other country in the Middle East. Mr. Hoffman also stated that Robin Shepherd was subject to "fierce intimidation" and "paid a price professionally" following his Times op-ed in January 2008. In fact, he continued to publish his research and opinions and to have one of the highest media and public profiles of all our analysts. Our reputation depends upon us being, and being seen to be, thoughtful, analytical and politically independent. I believe our current work lives up to these aspirations. During a visit to Chatham House in 2006, Shimon Peres noted that "the answer to problems is not just to paint them in black and white and make a choice, but always to introduce creativity and see if there is an unknown solution." That is exactly what Chatham House tries to do. KEITH BURNET Chatham House London Jonas Eckstein Sir, - Re "Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust" (September 1): I have just returned from a trip to Australia. Surprisingly, a number of second-generation Holocaust survivors, hearing about my search for information about Jonas Eckstein, contacted me and told me how their parents had survived due to Eckstein's rescue work. I appeal to anyone with any information on Jonas Eckstein during or after the war to get in touch with me at or call (04) 824-4257. TOVA GERTA TEITELBAUM (NEE ECKSTEIN) Haifa