Pesky declarations

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said during speech last week before the UN general Assembly (“Abbas: We will continue to lobby for Security Council resolution on settlements."

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Pesky declarations
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said during speech last week before the UN general Assembly (“Abbas: We will continue to lobby for Security Council resolution on settlements,” September 23): “[W]e ask Britain, as we approach 100 years since this infamous [Balfour] declaration, to draw the necessary lessons and to bear its historic, legal, political material and moral responsibilities for the consequences....”
This would be pointless. The Balfour Declaration was incorporated into the Treaty of San Remo in 1920 after World War I. This and subsequent treaties were the basis for the mandates assigned by the League of Nations in 1922 to the British and French, with the specific intention of establishing self-determination for the indigenous inhabitants.
The Arabs received what became Syria, Lebanon, Arabia and Iraq, while the Jews received Palestine. There was no provision for the formation of an Arab state in the Palestine Mandate, although the British used a clause regarding the east bank of the Jordan River to establish Transjordan, later Jordan. This arrangement was ratified by the UN upon its establishment and was the basis for subsequent UN resolutions.
Therefore, to undo the results of the Balfour Declaration would require the unraveling of 100 years of history. Maybe next the UK should sue the US for the Declaration of Independence.
 ‘Real’ obstacle
Your September 23 editorial “The US and Jerusalem” ends by saying that “the real obstacle [to peace] is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any borders.” It’s the opposite. On September 26, 2011, you yourself provided the full text of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at that year’s opening session of the UN General Assembly: “[B]ecause we believe in peace and because of our conviction in international legitimacy, and because we had the courage to make difficult decisions for our people, and in the absence of absolute justice, we decided to adopt the path of relative justice – justice that is possible and could correct part of the grave historical injustice committed against our people.
“Thus, we agreed to establish the state of Palestine on only 22 percent of the territory of historical Palestine – on all the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967.
“We, by taking that historic step, which was welcomed by the states of the world, made a major concession in order to achieve a historic compromise that would allow peace to be made in the land of peace.”
There could be an easy compromise, with east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, and west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
But Israel refuses. And meanwhile, it actively builds in east Jerusalem.
While it’s a complicated conflict and not so black and white, the American point of view – and that of the entire democratic free world – is correct as to just who is doing more to impede peace.
JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts
What he omits
Isi Leibler’s cogent “Haredim – an impending Kulturkampf” (Candidly Speaking, September 22) is filled with facts that are clearly accurate. But I suggest that there are significant points he omits.
Israelis, for the most part, couldn’t care less about the rabbinate’s crushing hold on the marriage situation – they can go to Cyprus and be wedded in a civil ceremony. The conversion issues are totally foreign to the majority of Israelis – they know there are ways to deal with this if they have to. Instead, they are upset about their taxes supporting haredim who are sitting and learning while most Israelis are so tired from working hard that they have no time or energy to do anything about their “black coated” brothers.
The large percentage of Israelis Leibler thinks are ready to fight know that the stranglehold by the haredim will continue no matter what they do. So they do nothing.
Leibler does not even hint at the biggest problem, which is the millions of dollars, pounds, francs and more that Conservative and Reform Jews around the world send the haredim annually because they want to be sure that “authentic” Judaism exists.
Let that money stop; the haredim will be forced to change their ways.
Take your pick
Referring to Gil Troy’s “Why do serious American Jews wear such goofy kippot?” (Center Field, September 21), reader Harvey Schwartz writes (“Goofy kippot,” Letters, September 23): “It’s time that all Jews recognized and accepted the fact that there is only one authentic Judaism – the Judaism practiced through the ages....”
To which single “authentic Judaism” that has been “practiced through the ages” does Mr.
Schwartz refer? The haredim practice gadolatry, by worshiping great rabbis to the exclusion of sacred text.
The Lithuanian crowd has crowned latter-day saintly rabbis with a supposed Divine connection to God that allows them, and only them, to issue halachic rulings. And those in Israel who are called national-religious Jews probably compare to what is called Modern Orthodoxy outside Israel.
So with no disrespect, which of these is the “one authentic Judaism...
practiced through the ages”? JEFFREY RAPPOPORT Jerusalem
Overlooked envoys
With regard to “Israel could make better use of its tennis ambassadors” (Sports, September 20), five years ago, my son had an opportunity to play college basketball in the United States. I thought he would also make a great hasbara (public diplomacy) ambassador on campus, for he had already experienced a two-week exchange program in high school and I had sent him to an American summer camp.
He was more than prepared to discuss his Israeli life experiences while playing college basketball.
He could have been the Israeli foreign basketball import while hundreds of admiring, screaming fans followed his games. But instead of using my son’s talents, IDF regulations prevented him from postponing his army service.
This was a big waste of free Israeli public relations.
I hope Israel will learn to use all sports emissaries and allow athletes to share their life experiences with propagandized American college students.
Same formula
Susan Hattis Rolef never disappoints.
Week in and week out, she uses the same formula to produce her Think About It columns: Twist the facts, distort the figures and mix in a dollop of undisguised loathing for Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Outrageous” (September 19) follows that pattern.
In a prolonged guerrilla war (such as Israel’s War of Independence, the invasion of Iraq by the US and its allies, or the civil war in Syria), the displacement and death of innocent people is inevitable. It is not ethnic cleansing, and it is not really helpful to describe it as such.
If Ms. Rolef believes it is ethnic cleansing, then she is, of course, perfectly free to describe it in such terms. But she must be consistent: She cannot condemn Israel and at the same time make excuses for the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia in 1946. She cannot condemn Netanyahu as having unclean hands and at the same time pass over in silence the forcible expulsion of nearly one million Jews from Arab countries following Israel’s War of Independence.
And she cannot condemn Liberman as supporting ethnic cleansing when he has repeatedly stated that any changes in Israel’s borders will be made without any movement of people.
H.B. MITCHELL Mazkeret Batya