Our weekly Readers’ Letters page, now published online and in print.
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• An open letter to israel’s leader…
You have a strange way of showing your gratitude. Once the hail of rockets was raining down on Israel, we in the Diaspora who support Israel asserted the country’s right to defend herself.
Israel’s friends stuck by her even as the civilian casualties grew in Gaza, understanding that it was Hamas’s deliberate strategy to draw Israeli fire and make propaganda of the ensuing images of devastated homes and bloodied civilians.
At the governmental level across Europe too, some heads of government (such as David Cameron and Angela Merkel) also stood by Israel’s right to self-defence, despite the thousands of anti-Israel protesters on their streets.
Their support and that of Australia, Canada and the US bought Israel time for the IDF to tackle Hamas.
Unfortunately, a decisive victory wasn’t achieved. Hamas is bloodied, its arsenal depleted but it will survive to fight another day. Sadly, the cycle of violence looks set to repeat itself. Don’t expect the same level of political and diplomatic support next time.
Many of those who stood by your response to the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli boys will not overlook your government’s deeply wrong-headed decision to appropriate nearly 1,000 acres of Palestinian land near Gush Etzion.
Aside from the injustice of appropriating land, the decision is a slap in the face to those of us, governments and individuals, who stood by Israel’s citizens this summer but who see settlement expansion as an impediment to peace.
One after another, those governments have rightly lined up to condemn this decision and demand it be reversed. Apart from being diplomatically catastrophic, it makes no strategic sense.
By undermining the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the eyes of the Palestinian people, it means the only organisation that gains from it politically is Hamas.
Surely an own goal? It’s all very well to stand on a podium as you did at the IDC in Herzliya and pose as the wise statesman dispensing (to my mind sound) advice about how to tackle Islamic extremism, but put your own house in order first.
Put aside domestic political considerations and act as a genuine statesman.
If you want your sage advice on security to carry real weight in the corridors of power, a good way to start would be to reverse the latest decision to appropriate land and then make a concerted effort to reach an agreement with the PA on a two-state solution.
• Yachad’s actions work against us
In recent weeks, the Board of Deputies has been heavily criticised for its lack of leadership in many aspects of its communal role.
Postponing the vote yet again on Yachad’s membership of the Board shows a fundamental lack of political democracy akin to ‘gerrymandering’.
Comments in this newspaper that the vote on Yachad will be “divisive” puts the cart before the horse. What is divisive is the basic remit of Yachad, its perpetual negative attitude and constant criticism of Israeli government decisions.
By simply taking groups to the West Bank to hear Palestinian grievances, Yachad fails to provide a balanced perspective for its members and, in fact, is tutoring a new anti-Israeli group.
It is incomprehensible and unacceptable that a Jewish advocacy organisation asks its members to contact UK MPs to complain about Israeli government decisions!
The Board should note its appalling record.
Herzl E Hamburger
• I don’t agree with brian usually, but…
Dear Sir I don’t often find myself agreeing with Brian Gordon; I find it worrying that I do.
Having made several visits to Israel during the recent conflict, I noticed the passport queues on entering the country were far shorter than normal and the budget airline that took us back to the UK had spare capacity, making our journey easier and less stressful.
While it is commendable to donate to Israel, may I suggest next year’s holidays be taken there – an enjoyable way of giving.
I never thought I’d agree with Brian Gordon, but.. his recent column on Israel and its wonderful people, religious and secular, struck a chord – particularly as I’ve just returned after visiting my daughter in Tel Aviv.
He was spot-on about the Israelis’ stoicism and strength of character. Had I not known about the tragedy of the past month or so, I would have thought everything was normal.
My daughter gave me a reality check, showing me the shelter to where she and her neighbours continually had to go.
She also pointed out where she hurried out of her car on her way home from work when the siren sounded, lay down and heard the explosion of a rocket.
Though shaken, she continued in true Israeli spirit to her hairdresser after the all-clear, so as not to waste her appointment.
There are few countries I can think of whose population, faced with danger and adversity, carry on with such fortitude and feeling of wellbeing for family and friends.
To Brian, kol hakavod. I hope his change of attitude is a precursor to a more conciliatory attitude to his fellow Jews of whatever religious or political bent.