September 3: It’s still Syria

With regard to “White House tells Congress to deter Iran with Syria vote” (September 2), US President Barack Obama unfortunately has fallen victim to his own naive incompetence.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
It’s still Syria
With regard to “White House tells Congress to deter Iran with Syria vote” (September 2), US President Barack Obama unfortunately has fallen victim to his own naive incompetence.
His careless or thoughtless threat concerning Bashar Assad’s use of poison gas has backfired.
His bluff has been called. It is now clear to both his enemies and his diminishing circle of friends that his words are not worth the teleprompter they are written on.
It matters not whether Obama now backs off completely by allowing Congress to overrule him, or whether he fires a few symbolic missiles at inconsequential targets. Either way we know – and, what’s more important, Iran’s rulers know – that Assad can carry on with impunity.
I only hope that our government has drawn the appropriate conclusion, namely that when the chips are down we can rely only on ourselves.
STEPHEN COHEN Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – I always believed that if somebody attacks you on the street you have choices: surrender; try to escape; yell for help; or fight. If you fight, fight to win. Not doing so makes no sense.
US President Barack Obama decided to fight but not to win.
All the unfriendly countries of the world now know the US is a paper tiger.
Sir, – Although the US Constitution gives the president wide powers for framing foreign policy and initiating military actions, President Barack Obama’s decision to involve Congress in a decision to attack Syria could have definite benefits (“Obama’s Strategy,” September 1). In the case of Israel and the Palestinians, we can hope Obama asks for congressional approval before he tries to construct, or inveigle, a peace agreement.
Congress has consistently shown itself to be much more pro-Israel than either the White House or the State Department by overwhelmingly passing resolutions that call on the US to deepen economic and security assistance to Israel; support Israel’s right to self-defense, including a military strike against Iran; and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
It’s safe to say that Congress would never have pressured Israel to release convicted terrorists just to bring Palestinian negotiators to the table. Can we imagine it calling on Jews to stop building housing anywhere in the Land of Israel? We in Israel can only benefit if Obama continues to involve Congress in his foreign policy decisions.
Time to leave
Sir, – I found “Why I’m leaving Israel” (Comment & Features, September 2) extremely grating.
“So what’s an Anglo to do once they’ve hit their English plateau?” the writer, Adina Siperman, asks after complaining that business and negotiations are conducted in Hebrew.
How’s this for a novel idea: learn the language. It is not unreasonable to expect that businesses and workplaces will use the country’s native tongue? Also, she says she’s going back to Toronto, where it will be possible to better support a family life. Ms. Siperman, look around.
Do you really think this country doesn’t support family life? Rather than blaming your failed aliya on structural problems here, perhaps you should look inward.
Sir, – It’s funny that Adina Siperman doesn’t seem to remember what the factors were that brought her here. She said she wanted an adventure and a mate, but I suspect she also wanted the experience of being part of the Jewish homeland – just like the rest of us who left wealthier and more developed nations where life clearly offered more financial opportunity.
As an American immigrant I’d like to let her know that some of us have not “hit the glass ceiling.”
Although I came here in my 40s, I found a spouse, albeit one who does not speak English, so my Hebrew after 20 years is nearly mother-tongue level and I manage an Israeli school where only Hebrew is spoken.
I am not alone. Many Anglos have worked hard to master Hebrew well enough to become integral parts of the Israeli workforce.
I almost never speak English here, and that is as it should be.
It’s not the language of the country.
If Siperman had persevered, she, too, could have become proficient in Hebrew. It’s possible this proficiency would have allowed her to realize the rest of her aspirations of home, career and the many other wonderful advantages found in this amazing and wonderful land!
Sir, – I would suggest that Adina Siperman and her husband check the real estate prices in Toronto before running back.
The mortgage qualification process has become a lot tougher, and $650,000 will buy you nothing in a good Jewish neighborhood.
M. LEVENTHAL Jerusalem
Not so bad
Sir, – I want to point out a couple of major inaccuracies in “Primary problems” (Editorial, September 1).
You write: “The state comptroller has leveled fines on no fewer than 50 MKs for assorted infractions of party primary regulations.”
In actuality, fines were leveled on 50 Knesset candidates, not MKs.
Only three parties had open primaries – the Likud, Labor and Bayit Yehudi – accounting for 43 MKs who were elected to the party list in primaries that were open to all members.
You also write: “Left and Right, no party emerged unscathed, though proportionally the worst offender was Bayit Yehudi; seven of its 12 MKS were censured.”
Only four Bayit Yehudi MKs were fined (party leader Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, Yoni Chetboun and Shuli Muallem).
The other three are not MKs.
The situation is not as bad as the editorial represents.
I am very proud to have run one of the cleanest primary campaigns for candidate Jeremy Gimpel, and am glad that those who broke the law were fined. It is important to paint an accurate picture with the real numbers.
The primary system might have its flaws, but it is important that Israeli citizens have a chance to choose their representatives.
JEREMY SALTAN Mevaseret Zion The writer was Bayit Yehudi’s English-language campaign manager and campaign manager for candidate Jeremy Gimpel
Under our noses
Sir, – With regard to Tehran’s drive to become a nuclear power, we should not expect the Iranians to detonate a nuclear explosion, even if only for testing purposes, as soon as their centrifuges have separated and concentrated the necessary quantity of uranium 235.
Such an event could not be concealed. If conducted underground it would be immediately detected by seismic stations located around the planet.
These stations could also quantify the power and pinpoint the precise location. If the explosion is conducted in the atmosphere, the radioactive debris could be easily collected and analyzed to reveal amazing details about the material employed.
I personally witnessed close-up these analytical techniques during the late 1940s, when the Americans and the Soviets monitored each other’s military nuclear progress.
The Iranians will likely store that first bomb and keep their centrifuges spinning to create a second one, then a third and a fourth and so on, amassing a mighty nuclear arsenal under our noses.
JACK CARLIN Jerusalem The writer is a physicist who confined his early professional experience to the development of industrial applications of radioisotopes, byproducts of the nuclear age.