I acknowledge that Alan Elsner is correct when he points out some of Israel’s social struggles (“Staying in love with Israel,” February 8). However, he should also note that Israel has recently been formally recognized as being the only truly democratic state in the Middle East.
To his credit Elsner graciously points out some of the many factors that have contributed to the jaded attitude of many Israelis in regard to the prospect of peace. Still, he insists “but really, what is the alternative to peace?”
In my opinion, he has lost sight of the overwhelmingly critical factor that dominates the hopelessly deadlocked peace process. History has demonstrated that for over 100 years Muslim Arab culture has ruled out the acceptability of a Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East. This attitude was crystallized by the Khartoum proclamation of the “Three NOs” after their defeat in the 1948 Israeli war of liberation. To this very day, they refer to this defeat as the “Catastrophe.” The covenants of Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority continue to proclaim their intention to destroy the Jewish state. In this they are viciously supported by the mullahs of Iran for whom they serve as proxies. These enemies continue to pursue Jew hatred and calumny against Israel in children’s textbooks, the press and electronic media. It would take generations for these destructive perceptions to be reversed even if the reparative process were to begin immediately.
The late Ed Koch correctly observed “Turn the three nos into three yesses, and see how quickly Israel would move toward peace.”
I share Mr. Elsner’s longing for peace and his love of Israel. However, I think he is naive when he points the finger of blame for the failure of the peace process squarely at the Jewish state.
Israel should not be expected to make concessions that compromise its already precarious security. It should not be expected to negotiate its own demise.
Your editorial, “A Proud Jew Remembered” (February 8), was a beautiful vignette concerning Ed Koch. But for me, someone who grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan during that period, it was much more. It brought back to life an exciting chapter in New York City politics that most people, including me, had forgotten about. I don’t usually appreciate the writings of Shammai Engelmayer, but I truly appreciated this editorial, which only he, a product of that neighborhood and that time, could have written. Thank you.
Thank you for the wonderful historic memories of Ed Koch and his vocal support for the State of Israel (February 8). Hizzoner was one of a kind, with an oversized heart to go along with his oversized mouth. Koch was not afraid to do what he felt was right in defending Israel, even when it meant risking his popularity within his own beloved Democratic party. That is why it is such a shame that perhaps his last public statement was one in which he admitted that he knew that Barack Obama would betray Israel and was only surprised that it began so quickly, with the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. Koch said he believed that since Obama would win re-election and he was sure that “the Jews were going to vote for him no matter what. And that’s the nature of the Jews. They are always very solicitous of everybody else except their own needs and community.”
Truer words were never spoken. Unfortunately for Israel, Ed Koch chose not to speak before the election.
Joanne Palmer’s January 11 story, “Doing something about gun violence” begins with a falsehood (“Gun violence has become an epidemic in this country…”) and goes downhill from there. The truth, according the FBI’s Uniform Crime Statistics, is that gun violence has gone down significantly over the past 20 years, despite the expiration of the assault weapons ban in 2004. Further, the majority of gun violence takes place in inner cities, with guns that are purchased illegally, and in most cases the victim AND the assailant have prior criminal records. If “gun control” worked, Chicago, which has both a handgun ban and the dubious distinction of having the highest gun murder rate in the country, would be a crime-free utopia. Jews, who know better than most the consequences of being defenseless, should resist all efforts at further restricting the right to own firearms. History has an awful habit of repetition.
Ben Cohen is correct when he says that Mohammad Morsi’s belief that Jews are “sons of apes and pigs” is “authentically held” and that asking him to recant “is like asking Hitler to apologize” (“Morsi’s anti-Semitism reveals more about us than him,” January 25). However, Mr. Cohen does not explain (and perhaps does not understand) why the belief is so strongly held. The Koran (believed to be the literal word of God by Morsi) states: “Whomsoever God has cursed (i.e., the Jews; see Sura 5:64 and 2.89) … He is wroth and made some of them apes and swine” (Sura 5.59-60). Other Sura calling the Jews apes include 2.65 and 7.166.
In his op-ed “In Support of Obama and Hagel” (February 1), Rabbi Barry Schwartz cites the need for a two-state solution no less than five times. I doubt many would argue with his sentiment if it could truly lead to an enduring peace. However, when Rabbi Schwartz goes on to say that without a political agreement, “both Israelis and Palestinians will continue to lose hope, abandoning leaders who speak of compromise,” he loses me. I’m fairly certain that among the leaders Rabbi Schwartz is referring to on the Israeli side are Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, both of whom, one publicly, the other behind the scenes, made very generous land offers in the name of peace. But who are the Palestinian leaders who have spoken of compromise who are referenced in that sentence? Yassir Arafat responded to Barak’s peace overture by starting the second intifada. Abbas simply walked away from Olmert’s offer. How serious could either have been about peace and compromise if they didn’t even make a counter offer? Has any Palestinian leader ever spoken to his people about the need for compromise and peaceful coexistence to gain statehood, and along with it a healthy, vibrant economy?
There is a reason why the Jews of Israel, eternal optimists who stand to benefit greatly from a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian conflict, become less and less interested in talks with their neighbors over time.
As a lover of history, I read the movie review of “Koch” last week (February 1). Eric A. Goldman’s review brought back memories of the times I had the privilege of meeting Mayor Koch and being in his company. Kudos to Neil Barsky for his film in capturing the mayor and his activities.
Meeting Mayor Ed Koch was an experience. He was a unique person who had a great love of New York City, this nation, and Israel. He never lost his Jewish heritage. He was outspoken, frank, feisty, had a great sense of humor, and always spoke his mind. He was an original with a quick, keen mind.
Mayor Koch was never afraid to say what was on his mind and he loved a good debate. No matter what one’s political connection, Ed Koch was a compelling personality, never dull and always offered his perspective on a wide variety of issues.
As he liked to say, he was a “liberal with sanity.” To me, he will always be mayor of the greatest city and a true New York iconoclast.
He took care of his own headstone, quoting Daniel Pearl’s final words: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.” How ironic that both men died on a Friday, February 1, 11 years apart.
As the review notes, the film ends with the mayor standing at the entrance to the bridge — the Queensboro Bridge — that now bears his name. “Whatever you want to say about Ed Koch, he truly bridged the gap and again made New York the Big Apple, cultural capital of the World.”
Ed Koch will be sorely missed. I will always remember the first words he said to me — “How am I doing?”
“Bring more love” (February 1) was a beautiful and touching story about leaving the world. Lisa Sturm related it in a moving way.
I was troubled, though, by the part about Anna’s cat. I hope it found a good home after Anna passed away. That’s what a “noble alley cat” who’d been rescued deserves.