Saturday, March 27, 2010

Comment & Analysis: Objectionable Letters

On Friday, March 26, The Hartford Courant published a biased and misleading letter, which may be found at,0,5983616.story, by James R. Bradley and The Connecticut Jewish Ledger published two such letters, by Henry Schwartz and Miriam Kurland, which may be found at

The editor of The Connecticut Jewish Ledger included the following note:

[Editor's note: For those who may note the duplication of language in the two letters included above, please be advised that this is the way in which they arrived - separately and with no apparent link - in the Ledger email inbox.]

PRIMER notes that much of the text in the two very similar letters, including the line "Those of us who truly care about Israel know that President Barack Obama is right to confront Israel over new settlement construction plans in East Jerusalem," is taken from the Americans for Peace Now web site at .

PRIMER Comments re Bradley's letter:

Bradley: "Rabbi Stephen Fuchs decries a perceived lack of balance in public reaction ..."

Analysis: Rabbi Fuchs wrote: "When focusing on Middle Eastern politics, most of Israel's supporters offer nuanced yet passionate critiques of every Israeli action, while Israel's enemies want only to wipe her off the globe" and "What is lacking is a sense of balance. It is important to remember that if Palestinian rights are less than those of Jews in the tiny sliver of Mideast real estate that Israel occupies, Jews often have no rights whatsoever in the vast territory that comprises the other nations of the region."


Bradley: " events in Israel and occupied Palestine."

Analysis: There is no "Palestine," although there is territory (poorly, at best) governed by the Palestinian Authority. Roughly 95 percent of the Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza live in that territory, so for most practical purposes any so-called "occupation" ended long ago.


Bradley: "No fair person can ignore the Palestinian contribution to the intractable standoff that prevents a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Analysis: This is a gigantic understatement. The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly rejected Israeli offers of almost the entire disputed territory, including portions of Israel's capital, and today refuses to engage not only in direct negotiations with Israel but even indirect negotiations.


Bradley: "But in rightly condemning the perverse notion of a "Judenrein" East Jerusalem, one surely cannot defend the construction of "Araberrein" housing on disputed land."


It's nice to see Bradley effectively join in the justified criticism of President Obama's current insistence, in conflict with his previous insistence that Jerusalem remain both the capital of Israel and undivided, that disputed portions of Jerusalem be made judenrein.

Just as there is no "Palestine," there is no "East Jerusalem." Ramat Shlomo, like most of what's so often incorrectly referred to as "East Jerusalem," isn't even in the eastern part of Jerusalem; it's in the northwest portion of the city.

Although Ramat Shlomo is predominantly occupied by Jewish residents, Israeli courts have in the past rejected efforts to prevent Arabs from buying or renting in Jewish areas.

One wonders whether Bradley has ever condemned the massive and often illegal construction of purely Arab housing on disputed land?

PRIMER Comments re Schwartz letter:

Schwarz: "Israel continues building and expanding West Bank settlements and Jewish housing in Arab East Jerusalem."


There is no "Arab East Jerusalem."

Israel is currently observing a freeze on construction in disputed areas of Judea and Samaria and the government has not constructed any new communities there since the start of the failed Oslo Experiment in 1993.


Schwarz: "They are slicing and dicing lands that would become a Palestinian state."

Analysis: It's impossible to determine exactly what will become part of a Palestinian Arab state unless and until the Palestinian Arabs start negotiating seriously.


Schwarz: "One can't help but think that they don't really want a two state solution and are intentionally undermining that possibility. Such a solution however appears to be the only viable way to bring long term peace."

Analysis: Israel has been virtually begging the Palestinian Arabs to negotiate a peace agreement, but even the supposed "moderates" in the Palestinian Authority refuse to negotiate.


Schwarz: "Those of us who truly care about Middle East peace know that President Barack Obama is right to confront Israel over its approval of a new settlement construction plan in East Jerusalem."


There is no "East Jerusalem."

The approval was not for "new settlement construction," whatever that's supposed to mean, but for additional and greatly needed apartments in an overcrowded neighborhood in the northwest portion of Jerusalem.


Schwarz: "He understands that settlement expansion weakens any prospect of peace."

Analysis: Obama's misguided targeting of construction of housing for Jews has already resulted in more than a year without any negotiations and is clearly weakening any prospect for peace. He has removed any incentives for the Palestinian Arabs to negotiate, effectively assuring them that everytime they reject even talking with Israel, he will simply apply more pressure on Israel for unreciprocated concessions.


Schwarz: "We know that peace for Israel is in America's vital interests. Peace talks will not succeed without genuine, sustained American leadership."

Analysis: Obviously, nobody wants peace more than Israel. The greatest progress, including the peace treaty with Egypt, the peace treaty with Jordan and even the start of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, occurred when the parties met together and often in spite of America's role. The key, currently missing ingredient is a desire on the part of the Palestinian Arabs to make peace.


Schwarz: "All sides must know that there will be a price to pay for frustrating peace efforts. President Obama enjoys my support when he demonstrates such leadership."

Analysis: Unfortunately, President Obama has been rewarding the Palestinian Arabs for their continued obstruction of peace efforts.

PRIMER Comments re Kurland's letter:

Most of Kurland's letter consists of slight rewordings of portions of Schwarz' letter. We will not repeat our analyses of those portions, but will comment on one remark which is not in Schwarz' letter.

Kurland: "We know that peace for Israel is more important than the expansion of settlements."


While some may disagree, most Israelis and most supporters of Israel would agree that the need for peace would trump the injustice of ethnically cleansing portions of Eretz Yisrael of Jews. Even Ariel Sharon was not only willing to completely uproot thousands of Jews living in Gaza, but did so.

There are two principal problems:

The first is one of simple justice and morality: it's simply wrong to insist areas be cleansed of any Jewish presence, especially areas in Eretz Yisrael and even more especially areas of Yerushalayim.

More important, singling out Jewish communities in the disputed territories is counterproductive and is an impediment to hopes for any real peace process. Obama's unfair and unhealty fixation has already prevented direct negotiations for more than a year and is currently preventing even indirect negotiations, themselves constituting a step backwards by two decades.

A more productive stance by President Obama would be to encourage Israeli construction in the disputed areas and make it clear to the Palestinian Arabs that obstruction and rejectionism is no longer a winning proposition for them; bringing home to them a realization that the longer they delay the less territory they'll ultimately get might finally give them some incentive to make peace rather than prevent peace.

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