May 30, 2012
Letters to the Editor: Settlements, refugees, Netanyahu, goats
Separating the Problem From Its Symptoms
David Suissa is correct that the built-up parts of settlements are not the problem, but they are a symptom of the problem (“Beinart’s 1% Crisis,” May 25). If only the built-up parts of settlements were of interest to Israel, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would have accepted the 2 percent land swap offered by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in 2008, and we would have peace today.
Olmert’s rejection of Abbas’ 2 percent swap offer shows that Israel wants way more of the West Bank than the 1 percent of built-up settlements. In fact, the real barrier to a peace agreement is Israel’s drive to control all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. That was David Ben-Gurion’s goal — he accepted the U.N. partition as a first step. It has been the overt goal of every Israeli government from the unity government that fought the 1967 war to today. And the present right-wing government under Benjamin Netanyahu is completely committed to that idea.
Israel will maintain that posture as long as it is unconditionally supported by Jewish Americans and, at the Israeli lobby’s insistence, the American government. Peter Beinart’s call to boycott settlement products is a way for Jewish Americans to send a message to Israel that it is time to end the occupation.
Jews as Perpetrators?
Who are the perpetrators (“Not in My Name,” May 25)? Jews.
Their victims? Refugees. These refugees watched their families killed and their villages bombed and escaped to Israel to preserve their own lives.
I do not aim to place all or even most blame on Israel. But, the Jewish nation cannot turn its back and say, “This is not our problem.” We shouldn’t even whisper such words, given our history of losing millions as other nations turned their backs. And yet on May 23, 1,000 Jews screamed these words as they violently marched through the streets of Tel Aviv. In the Knesset [recently], Jews proclaimed these words as they put forth a policy to deport refugees to South Sudan — a move authorized by Israel’s attorney general could send thousands straight to their deathbeds.
In 1944, Ben-Gurion asked the international community, “If, instead of Jews, thousands of English, American or Russian women, children and aged had been tortured every day, burnt to death, asphyxiated in gas chambers, would you have acted in the same way?”
If Jews, instead of Africans, thousands of Jewish women, children and aged were being threatened every day, attacked by Molotov cocktails, facing the very real possibility of deportation to countries where they could easily be killed in a matter of hours, would you act in the same way? Or, would you confront your leaders and acknowledge that this is your problem?
Anna Rose Siegel
The Two Netanyahus
David Myers’ attempt to link Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies with the alleged paranoia of his late father demonstrates a troubling lack of knowledge about Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Zionist Revisionist movement (“Benzion Netanyahu: In Life and Death,” May 18). Myers writes that Benzion “inherited the [Revisionist] movement’s sense of persecution and marginalization within Jewish Palestine,” and that this perspective was nurtured in the pre-state Jewish underground “where suspicion and paranoia tend to fester.” But the elder Netanyahu, who headed the New Zionist Organization in the United States from 1940 to 1948, was not a member of the pre-state underground, and his marginalization comes from his being cast aside by the Herut Party after the creation of Israel, as well as his inability to secure either a government or academic position in the Mapai Party-dominated Israel of the 1950s.
Perhaps more disturbing, Myers looks to Benzion Netanyahu’s work on the Spanish Inquisition for insights into the current prime minister’s thinking, yet he fails to discuss the elder Netanyahu’s early Zionist writings on the tragedy of Jewish political stagnation in the years leading up to the Holocaust. Nothing illustrates the father’s influence on the son better than the elder Netanyahu’s September 1942 article noting how Jabotinsky had written that time was working against us, and that “with every passing moment, the Arabs were gaining power, while Jewish strength was relentlessly being sapped by the rising tide of anti-Semitism.” Benzion Netanyahu noted then, in the middle of the Holocaust, that history had proven Jabotinsky correct, and it is this reality that drives the Israeli prime minister’s thinking.
She He(a)rd It Here
Thanks so much for your piece about goats (“The Goat Herd,” May 18). I worked one summer as a naturalist/nature counselor at a camp in upstate Pennsylvania and had a “herd” of two goats — one full-grown and obnoxious, and the other one young and sweet. Introducing the campers to the idea that non-household animals had personalities was rather shocking to some of them, but most took it in stride. Your article brought back fond memories for me.
Miriam Duman Goldberg
An article about the musician Yitz Jordan (“Self-Love for Y-Love,” May 25) misstated the date of his visit to the Kotel; he was there in 2007. The artist also clarified that, in a moment of protest, it was his bekishe (Chasidic coat) that he removed, not his tzitzit.