August 12: Thoughts on Mugabe


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Thoughts on Mugabe Sir, – Since 1980, when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has succeeded in transforming a country then known as the breadbasket of Africa into a land where 49 percent of the population is malnourished (seven million citizens are to receive assistance from the World Food Program), at least 85% is unemployed, and 83% lives on less than $2 a day.

Life expectancy is 40.

In 2008, because of a lack of access to clean water, cholera swept the country. In 2009, a 100-trillion banknote of the local currency (since abandoned) was insufficient to buy a local bus ticket.

In my book, this qualifies Mugabe as the world’s stupidest man.

Now, from what we learn in “‘Zimbabwe agreed to export raw uranium to Iran’” (August 11), we can add to Mugabe’s curriculum vitae a very high ranking among the world’s most sinister individuals.

Beit Zayit

Sir, – It is interesting to note that human rights abuses, atrocities and racism instigated by Robert Mugabe generally have been ignored by the rest of the world. With the new information that Zimbabwe might in the future supply Iran with uranium, suddenly everyone is taking note. And for good reason: This could be a threat to world peace, and to Israel and America, in particular.

One also wonders about the conditions under which the uranium will be mined. Readers should Google a BBC Panorama program on diamond mining in Marange.

Mugabe’s “victory” in the country’s recent flawed election is further evidence of his Machiavellian manipulations.

Just a thought.

Kfar Saba

Betty Maxwell

Sir, – I was saddened to read of the death in her beloved France of Dr. Elisabeth Maxwell (“Holocaust scholar Elisabeth Maxwell dies at 92,”
August 9).

Although inevitably overshadowed by the fame, for good or ill, of her late husband, Robert Maxwell, she was very much a personality in her own

During the preparation of a major academic conference on the Holocaust called “Remembering for the Future 2000,” held in Oxford in the millennium year, I was fortunate enough to be a “backroom girl” on Dr.

Maxwell’s varied team. She was admired and held in great affection by everyone who came in contact with her.

Although then approaching 80, Elisabeth Maxwell was a dynamo of energy, both mental and physical, and an inspiration to everyone. I recall her arriving straight from Heathrow airport,
her flight from the US having been delayed. She had no time to pause before attending a business meeting, and there was just a quick change into one of her elegant outfits before she rushed off to a formal evening reception. Jet lag didn’t get a look. Her dedication and determination were awesome! Unlike what was stated in your article, her autobiography was actually called A Mind of My Own: My Life with Robert Maxwell. In the dedication she wrote: “The ‘novel’ of my life, not the ‘tale of two cities’ but of two different worlds: the one I left behind and the one I entered, so vibrant, so sad also, so rich, so compassionate, and to which I now belong.”

Israel and the Jewish people have lost a great friend. May Betty Maxwell’s memory be for a blessing.


Simple thesis

Sir, – In Martin Sherman’s “Resign (continued): Responding to readers” (Into the Fray, August 9), I am one of the readers he responds to.

Much as I admire the way Sherman puts his
arguments, I am afraid they fail to convince. I tried to differentiate between basic political principles and day-to-day political tactics. The former define the philosophical boundaries of a politician’s sphere of action, the latter are the tools he or she uses in the business of political activity.

Sherman elevates into principles some political positions that Israeli politicians have adopted from time to time. I understand why he does so – they accord with his own deeply held beliefs.

But it is unjustified.

If Netanyahu now believes that embracing the two-state solution within the framework of a comprehensive peace and security accord is tactically the best way forward for
Israel, there is absolutely no reason to call for his resignation on the grounds that he is totally unprincipled.

That is the beginning and end of my thesis.

Beit Shemesh

Improper insinuation

Sir, – In his Savir’s Corner columns, Uri Savir consistently makes the blithe and unfounded assertion that the Palestinians are a partner for peace. Except for Israel’s
intransigence, he implies, the Middle East would be an oasis of tranquility.

But with “Left, Right and Center” (August 9) he reaches a perverse low when he says that Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, with recent statements, insinuated that “a good Arab is a dead Arab.” This is an outrageous distortion and should be unacceptable in public discourse.

Savir’s brief bio at the end of his columns describes him as having been “Israel’s chief negotiator for the Oslo Accords.” Such a blurb would be similar to highlighting on a résumé that so-and-so had served as chief navigator on the Titanic or as chief advance scout for Custer at Little Big Horn.


On its head

Sir, – I share Moshe Dann’s rage that scores of Palestinian prisoners, heinous murderers, will be freed (“Releasing terrorists: In whose interest?” Comment Features, August 8).

There are two wonderful mitzvot in the Torah, that a freed Hebrew servant must be generously provided with gifts (Deuteronomy 15:13-14) because he is one of your brethren. This is aside from the fact that you must treat him with dignity.

In releasing savage enemies, the Israeli government is giving them even more – the two most important gifts a human being can have (other than good health): freedom and life (life, because in other democracies, such terrorists and murderers would be executed).

To offer these gifts, gratuitously, without a gun to its head, as in the swap for abducted soldier Gilad Schalit, is incomprehensible.

It is to turn Jewish morality on its head.


In the wording

Sir, – If only reader Smoky Simon were right in his view regarding the Balfour Declaration” (“Face the facts,” Letters, August 8).

As a religious Zionist I wait for the day when our beloved country will reach as far as the Jordan River.

However, anyone who has read the Balfour Declaration will see that there was no promise to the Jews of the “whole of biblical and ancestral Palestine, from the Mediterranean to the borders of Iraq,” as Simon writes. The wording, in fact, was: “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The straightforward wording says in Palestine and a national home – that is, only part of the land, and a home, not a state.

Unfortunately, this very interpretation is accepted as the reality, causing many to claim an untrue promised situation so that they don’t “face the facts,” resulting in an incorrect basis of our claim of statehood.


CORRECTION The name of the surgeon who examined and helped operate on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was improperly spelled in “Netanyahu set to undergo hernia surgery” (August 11). The correct spelling is Arie Durst.

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