A New Book for the State Department Reading List
Thank you, Jonathan Tobin, for writing about Michael Oren's new book America in the Middle East: Power, Faith & Fantasy, 1976 to the Present (A Matter of Opinion: "An Idea That Goes Way Back," Jan. 11).
It's a welcome addition to counter the distortions regarding the Israeli and Arab conflict being spread by the media.
The irony of the statements made by the New York University professor speaking as an early advocate of Zionism being named George Bush is amazing.
The book should be required reading for U.S. State Department officials, ex-President Jimmy Carter, and both president Bushes, who are the descendants of the early Zionist Oren writes about.
Unfortunately, I doubt they would read it, since they all have their own axes to grind.
Ancient Remnants? If He Could Only See Us Now!
I was pleased to see the review of Michael Oren's new book, and of the U.S. involvement in that part of the world for the past 200 years or so (A Matter of Opinion: "An Idea That Goes Way Back," Jan. 11).
Though all of this may have been a revelation to many of your readers, collectors of 19th-century travel books on Palestine wholeheartedly agree with what Oren wrote.
It seems that almost every visitor to Palestine wanted to write of their travels, and all would describe the desolation of the land, and the filth and abject poverty that people of our faith were living in.
One such example was by a Rev. J.J. Randall in his work, Handwriting of God, published in 1862. He wrote of the Jewish connection to the land:
"But however sincerely they may mourn over the ruins of their demolished temple, no rivers of grief can cleanse the sanctuary, no sacrifice of prayer rebuild its walls, for, in the purposes of God, it has been utterly and forever overthrown ... the very race that put him to death were weeping over their own downfall and degradation. Weep on, Oh oppressed and afflicted people. Thy sanctuary will never be rebuilt ... ."
Oh, Rev. Randall -- if only you could see that "remnants of an ancient race" today!
Of course, there were also many visionary authors who hoped to see a "restoration" one day of Jews in Palestine.
All in all, this was a most fascinating chapter in the saga of the Jewish people.
Kollek Proved Great; His Economic Policies Did Not
Your editorial about the passing of longtime Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek appropriately praised a life of dedication to the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the city of Jerusalem (Editorial: "Teddy: The Man Who Rebuilt Jerusalem," Jan. 4).
Teddy's tireless and selfless efforts were typical of the generation of Israel's founders. They are also a standing rebuke to the self-interested and corrupt behavior of their successors, such as the lesser man who defeated Kollek in his last try for re-election: current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
But it bears mentioning that Kollek's devotion to the socialist economics he and other Labor Zionists brought to the Jewish state was a mistake that Israelis are still paying for.
Had Kollek and his mentor -- the great David Ben-Gurion -- worried less about raising charitable donations from abroad, and more about economic freedom and private development (as opposed to state control of virtually everything that they instituted), Israel and Kollek's beloved Jerusalem would be far better off today.
New York, N.Y.
A Pleasant Place Turned to a Veritable Hell
It confounds and disturbs me that most Americans and their leaders did not see the evil associated and inherent in Yasser Arafat (A Matter of Opinion: "Ancient Lies No Basis for a Policy," Jan. 4).
As a U.S. officer, I traveled extensively in Israel and the West Bank during 1984 as commander of the logistical unit with the multinational force and observers that monitored Israel's border with Egypt.
I stayed in hotels in the West Bank with my wife, ate in many of the Arab cafes, and walked about freely and unarmed, including in the streets of Gaza. The people seemed to enjoy their lives.
Look at the utter hell that's been created since Arafat returned with the Oslo accords in 1993. America seems to have a blind eye to the real problem -- radical Islamists who have followed in his footsteps.
As to the reason for this, I think there must be repressed anti-Jewish sentiment in a large part of the political and educational leadership in the United States.
The Colony, Texas
Will America Sell Out Its Own for Policies' Sake?
I have a question regarding the cover-up of Yasser Arafat's responsibility for the murder of two American diplomats in Sudan in 1973 (A Matter of Opinion: "Ancient Lies No Basis for a Policy," Jan. 4).
Does this incident prove that the State Department's sickness goes way beyond anti-Semitism? Or is this a story that begins and ends in the same place?
That is, is the State Department's anti-Semitism so profound that it will sell out their own to perpetuate anti-Israel policies?
Don't Mention Anti-Israel Figures in Torah Portion!
Rabbi David Gutterman should be ashamed of himself.
In his column on the Torah portion of Vayechi (Religion & Ethics: "One Jew's Actions Affect All Jews," Jan. 4) he wrote about emphasizing Jewish interconnectedness -- on the heels of the Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran, no less.
But he leads his column off by recounting an anecdote involving musical prodigy Lord Yehudi Menuhin, one of the most vocal and best known anti-Zionist and anti-Israel figures of the 20th century!
What next, rabbi? A column incorporating the wit and wisdom of Hutton Gibson -- Mel's Holocaust-denying father?