Letters: February 23

What Barkan fails to understand is that just because something is popular doesn’t necessary mean it’s just.

Masterly and shocking

Sir, – The long interview with PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki (“‘Are we ready for statehood in September? Absolutely,’” February 21) is informative because it shows exactly how he dodges reality.
One doesn’t need background information to see how Malki sidesteps any concern for truthfulness.
Masterly and telling – and shocking for the naive.
Taking it personally

Sir, – “The prize of democracy” (February 21) is a laudable editorial explaining the need to navigate between democracy and self-protection.
However, I think it misses the point when it comes to those in this country who advocate – by word and deed – the international boycott of Israel.
They are not making a choice for themselves; they are directly impinging on my right to make a living and feed my family. Just because they don’t like where I plant my trees or bottle my water or feed my sheep, it doesn’t give them the right to advocate and actively participate in destroying my livelihood.
Europe is just beginning to awaken to the destructive and selfserving citizens in its midst, by creating legislation to counteract their nefarious schemes. So should we.
On the wrong side
Sir, – Ami Kaufman, in “America’s role in Middle East is finished” (Comment & Features, February 21), seeks to extinguish the last candle in the darkness of Israel’s situation.
Instead of welcoming a sign of awakening in the White House in contrast to the one-sided coddling of Arab and Muslim intransigence, Kaufman sees in the veto of the anti-settlement resolution in the Security Council the sign of a bankrupt Obama and American policy. It is truly amazing – and, I believe, more than slightly hypocritical – for a Jewish writer to ignore the worldwide effort to boycott and delegitimize not settlements, but Israel itself as a Jewish State, and instead to focus on the lack of sympathy for the Palestinians, the darlings of the world’s philanthropy and sympathy.
Perhaps if Obama had started his administration not by visiting Cairo but by visiting Jerusalem, the world would know that it is more than AIPAC and so-called “Zionist control of the media” that forms American policy in the Middle East. It would know that America is for real democracy rather than a doubtful revolution against the rule of a dictator who kept the peace with Israel and cooperated with America for three decades.
Kaufman would be showing more courage and decency if he sided with the last hope for Jewish existence in the world and in history.
Sir, – Ami Kaufman ridicules the US ambassador to the United Nations for declaring that the settlements are regarded by her administration as illegitimate rather than illegal. However, he loses sight of the fact that this description was used by Hillary Clinton shortly after her meeting with Hosni Mubarak two years ago.
Rather than what he calls “hypocrisy,” this is a clear indication that the illegality, particularly of east Jerusalem, has been disputed by many, including such international legal authorities as Prof.
Julius Stone in 1982 and Stephen M. Schweibel in 1994.
Kaufman states that as an American he is ashamed. I presume that he also holds Israeli citizenship, in which case he should join me and most Israelis in being thankful that over a quarter million Jewish householders in east Jerusalem will not find themselves in illegal possession of their homes.
Protesters don’t get it
Sir, – In “Demonstrators slam American stance on settlement resolution outside embassy in TA” (February 20), activist Ronnie Barkan says that by vetoing the UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements, the US was continuing “the same policies which are going against the consensus of world opinion.”
Unfortunately, there is an automatic majority when it comes to Israel bashing, no matter which side of the so-called “Green Line” is being referenced. Whether it’s dubbing Zionism “racism” or condemning Israel’s defensive security measures, world opinion, especially at the UN, is by definition overwhelmingly anti-Israel.
What Barkan fails to understand is that just because something is popular doesn’t necessary mean it’s just. While the US no doubt vetoed the resolution for all the wrong reasons, the veto is still appreciated.
There are other reasons
Sir, – Geoff Menzer informs us (“Tax clarity needed,” Letters, February 21) that “settlers are there for two reasons: either subsidized housing and other financial breaks, or because they, as religious people, truly believe that they have a God-given right to live there, ignoring any claims by others who have lived there for generations.”
“Subsidized housing?” I wish! I don’t know where he got his information, but I for one do not live in Judea for financial or religious reasons.
Neither do many, many others.
Pay attention
Sir, – During the current revolutions in the Arab world, somehow I have missed some vital news items.
I refer to the mass demonstrations in European capitals of outrage and condemnation against the monster murderers of the Arab world; the emergency exhibition at the Nobel Institute in Stockholm against suppression of human rights; Amnesty International’s and Human Rights Watch’s massive mobilization against crimes against humanity in Arab states; and, mysteriously, the Boycott-Divestment- Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the fascist dictators of Libya, Bahrain and Iran organized by Scottish and Irish trade unions and British academics.
Understanding Mikis
Sir, – The news brief “Zorba composer: I’m anti-Semitic” (February 15) portrays Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis in an unjust and distorted way.
Let me remind you that Theodorakis is the one who composed (1966) the Ballad of Mauthausen, a circle of songs dedicated to the millions of Jews who were massacred during the Holocaust.
As a young man in the 1940s and a member of the then- National Liberation Front (EAM), he fought against the Nazi occupation in Greece.
Theodorakis’s critical position against Israeli policies in the Middle East should not be perceived as anti-Semitic – even strong criticism of Zionism does not itself consist of anti-Semitism.
The way you presented his statement is misleading. Theodorakis has dedicated his life not only to music, but to struggles in favor of freedom, democracy and human dignity. He deserves more understanding.
NICOLAS MOTTAS Tel Aviv The writer is an international MA student at Tel Aviv University
Stein an exemplar
Sir, – Those of us who were witness to the struggle for the freedom of Soviet Jewry from the late 1960s onward, together with all olim from the former Soviet Union, owe a debt of gratitude to Cyril Stein.
In the early days of Soviet Jewry activism in the UK, when others were hemming and hawing about whether to take to the streets, Stein was 100 percent supportive.
In a word, he put his money where his mouth was and encouraged others to do the same. He was not afraid to join demonstrations, and through his example fired many with enthusiasm and courage that eventually led to a magnificent exodus and aliya – by both Soviet Jews and many of the UK activists.