Wednesday January 30, 2013

Martin Silver is a reflex reactionary when it comes to Israel ("Inadequate grasp of Israeli history," letter, Jan. 28.) He correctly reviews the prior century: Arab commitment to the destruction of the state, cunning deceit by Arafat, obstinacy for Arabs near and far. He fails to note that now Abu Mazen presides over an Arab population that has been quiescent, compliant, and constructive. To say that Bibi Netanyahu is another in the line of the prime ministers who reach out for a peaceful solution of two states side by side is either benign ignorance or malignant libel. The Palestinian Authority has every right to demand a freeze on settlement building before sitting at the table.

Silver ignores the persecution of the Arab population on the far side of the Green Line, with arrogation of property rights, military maneuvers adjacent to Arab villages in despite of the High Court injunction, and personal abuse that results in death. There is also repression and marginalization of Israeli Arabs. Netanyahu had a stunning defeat in the recent election and it remains to be seen what the coalition will be, and achieve.

Silver conveniently eschews the subject of global politics. Moderate Arab countries, pioneered by Jordan and now led by Saudi Arabia, have promised recognition of Israel and normal political relations. Can one imagine what that would mean to the tiny Jewish state?

Netanyahu has insulted our president, interfering in the recent American election, using Sheldon Adelson as his point man. America and Israel should be concordant, more especially in light of the threats from Iran and other countries with dominant Muslim populations. Instead, Bibi asserts that the entire world is against him -- a falsehood that is now a self-fulfilling prophecy -- and he will do whatever he wants. That includes arrogation of private Arab land and the building of settlements in areas that await determination in a final peace agreement. In effect, annexation of Judea and Samaria.

Israel, where we lived almost four years, has a unique opportunity to move forward, with an avenue of peace, a flourishing economy, and the frontier of technical innovation. Instead, we see an economy in shambles with a debt of four billions or more, chasm between rich and poor, obeisance to the extreme demands of the zealous religious and the settlers, and the grim prospect of isolation from its friends in the western world.

RABBI IVAN CAINE

Richmond