October 31: Bad Old Days

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Bad old days
Despite the many assurances made that the nuclear talks with Iran were not a prelude to a grand bargain, this now appears to be the disastrous denouement of the Obama administration’s appeasement policy (“In reversal, US willing to sit with Iran to discuss Syria,” October 28).
While it is foolish to believe that the departure of Bashar Assad would somehow produce peace among the many warring factions in Syria, it is even more foolish to believe that the involvement of Iran will do so.
Exploiting the opportunities presented by the wave of change that swept the Arab world was beyond the capabilities of the inexperienced and arrogant Barack Obama. As a result, we are now sliding back to the “bad old days,” where anti-western Middle East terror regimes, abetted by Russia and China, rule and extend their power over their populations, and even the world.
Even the rather voluminous sleeves of the Iranian mullahs aren’t big enough to contain the laughter.
Good going, Nick Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times should be universally acclaimed for his investigating reporting. His latest disclosure (“Meet a 21st-century slave,” Comment & Features, October 28) is an additional revelation of the existence of modern slavery in which he describes the horrors and unbelievable cruelty meted out to young girls by unscrupulous brothel owners.
How can these atrocities be allowed to occur? Surely, there must be some action employed to stop this sex trade. It’s a disgrace to our civilization.
It’s about time Amnesty International and the UN’s International Labor Organization increased their efforts to eradicate this scourge.
Kfar Yona
Prayer on the Mount
Surveillance video on the Temple Mount is a such a good idea (“Netanyahu: Security cameras on Temple Mount serve Israel’s interests,” October 26) that I wonder why we didn’t think of it ourselves.
We have video at other potential trouble spots. Why not there? In combination with advanced face-recognition technology, we have the potential to dramatically reduce tension on the Temple Mount. Let’s first take the incendiary issue of Jews praying there.
Granted, the restriction is unfair, but this is our agreement with Jordan, and a deal is a deal.
We all know some of the external signs of prayer: siddur in hand, lips moving, standing in a minyan, etc. So we use face recognition to screen out those who pray. We don’t have to interrupt them and cause a scene – just quietly bar their future entrance. One strike, you’re out.
The same technology can be used to deny entrance to Arabs who commit acts of violence. The surveillance system would enter their faces into a no-entry database.
We already exclude people based on certain demographic criteria; this would be much more fair than denying entrance to a whole age category, which would certainly include many innocent young Muslim worshipers.
I need an explanation regarding the assertion that only Muslims can pray on the Temple Mount.
I can understand that members of the faith do not want strangers to pray inside their holy mosque.
But why is it forbidden for others to pray outside? Prayer is silent. It does not carry weapons. People are not attacking the mosque – they are speaking to God. Isn’t this what we all want, that everyone should believe in God? Muslims pray five times a day, no matter where they are, on any major street in the world. So what, pray tell, is wrong with Jews praying outside their holy sites? These Jews are not disturbing anyone. They’re not throwing rocks. They’re not shooting weapons.
They’re not brandishing knives.
Petah Tikva
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s agreement with Jordan’s King Abdullah II – whereby for Arabs, both presence and prayer are permitted, but for Jews, only presence is permitted, with no prayer – lacks legal standing. It also dissipates Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, which ensures Arab anti-Semitism.
The agreement violates Israel’s Protection of the Holy Places law, which guarantees freedom of access by members of different religions to the places that are sacred to them. Freedom of access is also guaranteed by Article 9 in the Israel-Jordan peace treaty.
It is compelling to note a statement by then-prime minister David Ben-Gurion in the Knesset on December 5, 1949, saying “the State of Israel will ensure freedom of religion” and “guard the holy places of all religions....”
Further, the status quo of the Temple Mount ignores basic human rights as guaranteed by a host of international declarations, and totally disregards the Jews’ historical and religious connection to the Temple Mount. Moreover, for our Supreme Court to adjudicate that Jewish prayer might cause Arab violence and thereby is not permitted does not modify existing Israeli law guaranteeing religious observance thereon.
The status quo is entirely inconsistent with the legal concept that Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount is to be guaranteed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should say: “In Israel, we believe in freedom of speech and freedom of worship for all, including Jewish worshipers.
It is absolutely clear that the Temple Mount belongs to the Jewish people, and not to the Muslims.
“For years, we have been abrogating the rights of Christians and Jews by forbidding them to pray or even mutter a few words that might be construed as prayer on the Temple Mount. This has been done to placate the sensitivities of Muslims who are unable to tolerate religious practices other than their own.
“In view of the current incitement being spread by lying politicians and preachers, we are now reconsidering that policy and, if necessary, will no longer allow Muslims to ascend the Temple Mount.”
RITA STAR Ma’aleh Adumim Unwanted responsibility Regarding “Unwanted guest” (Editorial, October 25), the South African authorities have lost all sense of ethical and moral responsibility.
They banned the Dalai Lama, who advocates peace, and they embraced Hamas, the vile terrorist organization that is condemned as such by most civilized nations.
The South African government, instead of supporting terrorism, should follow the Freedom Charter supported by Nelson Mandela.
Tel Aviv
Israel incites, too
If America judges Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas guilty of “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement” (“US House resolution accuses PA of anti-Israel incitement,” October 23), then Israel must be so judged.
For decades, official Israeli maps show the country possessing the Golan Heights and entire West Bank. The Israeli government appropriates Palestinian land, providing significant support for illegal outposts and settlements, including retrospective legalization.
Jewish mobs march through Palestinian neighborhoods chanting “Death to Arabs!” Israeli government officials ascend to the Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount demanding that the Third Temple be built there. The deputy foreign minister says she dreams of seeing the Israeli flag flying over the Temple Mount.
Israel continues its occupation and is rewarded with extra US funding above the annual $3 billion.
The Palestinian Authority is allocated $370 million, but Congress wants to withhold some $80 million of that because of the latest violence.
I condemn all violence unequivocally but believe that the majority of our members of the US Senate and House are rewarding Israelis for incitement while punishing Palestinians for reacting in total frustration.
These members of Congress are either crazy or blind to reality and their own hypocrisy.
O’Connor, Australia
The writer is a US citizen