March 1: Missed opportunities

2 leaders locked in a battle to determine who will be Israel’s next PM have mistakenly opted not to appear at venues offered to them to address Israel’s most important national security concerns.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Missed opportunities
Sir, – Two leaders locked in a battle to determine who will be Israel’s next prime minister have mistakenly opted not to appear at venues offered to them to address Israel’s most important national security concerns.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quite rightly accepted Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address a joint session of Congress on the issue of Iran. Yet when senior Democrats invited the prime minister to a closed-door meeting with senators from that party, he declined (“In DC, Netanyahu plans to avoid all partisan politics,” February 26), absurdly stating that such a meeting “could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit.”
A meeting with Democrats would have exactly the opposite effect. It would substantially reduce the damage caused by Netanyahu’s perceived protocol faux pas, demonstrating that Iran continues to be a bipartisan issue.
The Democrats threw him a lifeline and he refused to take hold.
Meantime, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog decided not to address the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington (“Herzog: No AIPAC speech,” February 25) because his “staunch position against a nuclear Iran is known by all in Israel and America.”
This was an opportunity for Herzog to demonstrate to the world that Israel’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions cross party lines. He would have looked like a true statesman. It is possible that he did not want to look less consequential than Netanyahu by speaking only to AIPAC and/or did not want to be seen as tacitly endorsing the prime minister’s policy on Iran so close to the election. Both explanations elevate political expediency above broader national interests.
The goal and responsibility of our leaders should be to build support for Israel’s security by presenting our position to as many people outside of Israel as possible.
Zichron Ya’acov
The writer, a former US diplomat, is a fellow at the Center for International Communication at Bar-Ilan University.
Sir, – Isaac Herzog’s refusal to address AIPAC makes one question his priority: Israel or his own desire for power.
Not too long ago, we experienced many miracles when we stood together against the terrorists who killed our brave, young soldiers. In the 1967 war, we were able to witness the admiration of the world.
Now is not the time to fight.
The history of the Jewish people has always given us relevance when we stand together. The Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred.
I plead with our leaders to stand together.
Jerusalem Political mini-series
Sir, – So let me get this straight.
We have elections coming up where we get to vote with the same method used by Salah Shabbati over 50 years ago, stuffing little papers into envelopes.
This from a country that is a leading innovator in nanotechnology.
The main issues in the election are Sara Netanyahu’s recycling of used bottles and the first couple’s taste in ice cream, as well as how well they manage the Prime Minister’s Residence. I just hope the Netanyahus’ villa in Caesarea is nicer than the place on Balfour Street we all saw on YouTube.
The main opposition to Bibi is led by Buji, who, it seems to me, should have been indicted for financial shenanigans in the 1999 election of Ehud Barak. There is also Tzipi, who in her wake has left not one but two political parties in ruins.
Buji and Tzipi lead a conglomerate called the Zionist Union, although many of its members are on record for making statements that are definitely anti-Zionist.
Buji gets a chance to be statesman- like and accompany Bibi to Washington to show the world, and especially President Barack Obama, a united Israeli front against Iranian nuclear power – which, of course, he turns down.
Other parties are led by either ex-cons (Shas) or people under a cloud of scrutiny for possible financial malfeasance (Yisrael Beytenu).
It seems to me that the only candidate who has the wherewithal to be our next prime minister is our current one.
If it weren’t so serious, it would make a great miniseries on TV.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Skeptical light
Sir, – With regard to “Going ballistic even prior to an agreement” (Encountering Peace, February 26), Israel’s ambiguous nuclear status has a more-than 50-year history, during which none of our adjacent and occasionally highly aggressive neighbors ever felt the need to have one for themselves. Why? Because Israel has never threatened its neighbors with the nukes it might or might not have.
Gershon Baskin’s reasoning on the issue casts a very skeptical light on all his hypotheses concerning the possibilities of accommodation with the Palestinians and, sadly, even on the wisdom of the Gilad Schalit deal, something he helped facilitate and which looks more naively self-destructive with the passage of time.
Fielding a balance of opinions doesn’t require a spectrum that includes the self-destructively bizarre.
Rosh Pina
Sir, – Allow me to answer Gershon Baskin’s question as to whether the “bomb” does in fact provide Israel with security. Has he heard the word “deterrent”?
Petah Tikva
No guts at all
Sir, – In “IEC briefly cuts electricity to Palestinians as warning over NIS 1.9 billion debt” (February 24), we see another example of the fear that runs rampant in this land, where we are unable to collect such massive debts from those who not only call for our destruction, but refuse to accept our legitimacy and have no hesitation in killing and maiming at every opportunity.
Briefly cutting electricity is not enough. It must be done in a way that shows we are serious.
No payment? No services! Attacks on Israelis? Definitely no services! Government threats don’t work. The Palestinian Authority knows we are desperate not to offend the world, which treats it with such benevolence while treating us with malevolence.
Had our government any guts at all, it would already have brought about the collapse of the PA.
More than tactless
Sir, – I have always considered myself a friend of Israel, like so many other Danes. In my business I have had staff of Jewish background, and many clients and suppliers as well. They have all been a most welcome part of Danish society.
So it saddened me to read about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for my fellow Danes of the Mosaic faith to leave (“Netanyahu: More attacks against European Jews likely,” February 16).
Is this a fair way of treating Danes, who assisted many Danish Jews to escape the Nazi horrors? Not only is the Israeli prime minister tactless, he is desperate.
Merry, not drunk
Sir, – Your February 26 Weekend supplement contained the expected material on Purim drinking (“Be a monkey, not a pig” and “Sip this: The classics”).
I know Rava said in the Talmud that one should drink on Purim – that is, if the word liv’sumei really means to drink. I think there is another way of understanding the word, and it really means simply being merry.
If a person needs alcohol for this purpose, it’s a pity, but what can one do? The more important thing is to relax, have fun and give and get pleasure from mishloah manot – being generous to others.
The writer is emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Sydney.