Letters to the editor
In response to “The good, the bad and the ugly” (Opinion, Gideon Levy, October 6).
I greatly admire Gideon Levy for his intrepid reporting from the occupied territories, and, more often than not, I find myself in agreement with his op-ed contributions, but I have to disagree with his assessment of the movie ”Bethlehem.”
To describe Yuval Adler’s film as pro-Israeli propaganda is preposterous. It is true that the movie does not take sides, but its depiction of the reality of the occupation and its accompanying evils is chilling. The Palestinians are indeed presented as brutal and treacherous, but the Israelis come over as duplicitous, deceitful and cynical.
Anyone seeing this film must surely conclude that the occupation is unsustainable and that it must be brought to an end in one way or another. In that sense it should be welcomed by Levy and those of us who think like him.
Levy is all too well aware of the ugliness of daily life in the occupied territories and does his best to bring the picture to the rest of us. He shouldn’t denounce Adler, who is basically broadcasting the same message, albeit with greater subtlety. Many who will not read Levy’s journalism will see Adler’s film. and that is entirely positive.
In response to “Iran’s Holocaust-denial trickery may point to nuclear duplicity as well” (Analysis, Chemi Shalev, September 30).
I always admire deeply - and usually agree with - the subtlety, insight and common sense of Chemi Shalev. He is an asset to Haaretz. But I find his column warning against enthusiasm for President Hassan Rohani of Iran inexplicable .
Why not be “enthusiastic” for Rohani? Why not be, when the world was enthusiastic for F.W. de Klerk, Nelson Mandela, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, China’s Deng Xioping, Nixon’s trip to China, Mikhail Gorbachev, Gorbachev’s visit to Britain when Margaret Thatcher said, “I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business with him“? Events could have proven any of these enthusiasms wrong, and could now with Rohani, but why the special concern today? Do we prefer John Vorster or Leonid Brezhnev or Ahmadinejad? Why can’t we enthuse over apparent good tidings?
Shalev goes so far as to say that the “1938 ‘peace in our time’ Munich analogies that used to repel me don’t seem quite so preposterous anymore.”
Readers may gasp, but what was wrong with Neville Chamberlain’s negotiations? What was wrong with working for “peace in our time?” What was wrong with negotiations first? Actually everything seems right about them.
Suppose, without the 20-20 hindsight about Hitler’s unique madness, that Chamberlain had succeeded? Then there would have been no World War II and no Shoah - no 40 million dead including 6 million European Jews. What was so contemptible about an effort that might have averted it?
Do those who constantly toss Chamberlain’s name around so contemptuously think that such an effort, which might have averted one of the greatest catastrophes in world history, including our 6 million Jews slaughtered, was not a good gamble?
What was there to lose in trying?
Churchill’s brilliantly executed war may have been inevitable after negotiations failed, but it still must be asked whether Churchill rushed into war too soon. Was war over the occupation of Poland worth the lives of 6 million Jews? Suppose more negotiations during a Polish occupation had given more time for the Jews to have realized their danger and, while Germany and the rest of Europe remained at peace, to have gotten out or been gotten out?
The Shoah might have been averted by still more negotiations-- or at least by the time saved before war. Perhaps we reconsider our contempt for Chamberlain and misuse of him in ceaseless modern - usually Right-Wing - analogies of “Munich” and (a special right-wing favorite) “appeasement” and outright Rightist symbol of “Chamberlain” when it concerns negotiations.
Chamberlain’s efforts could have done no less than perhaps saved the Jewish people of Europe. Who can dare to say that Chamberlain’s negotiations weren’t worth trying, given what was to gain and what was to lose? Or that further negotiations by Churchill over a Polish occupation may have saved 40 million human lives and saved us from our greatest catastrophe since Roman times--or even since the Babylonian exile.