A forward-looking Middle East

Some observations in response to the column on divestment from companies doing business with Israel (“Why divest from the occupation,” Feb. 8):  1)  Palestinian leadership has squandered numerous opportunities to realize the fulfillment of the 1947 U.N. Resolution 181 which called for the establishment of “Independent Arab and Jewish States.” These efforts have failed because they and their allies are more intent on weakening and ultimately dissolving Israel than in creating a viable Palestinian nation. 2) The West Bank was conquered in a defensive war by Israel in 1967 from Jordan. During the 19 years of Jordanian rule, no effort was made by Jordan or the other Arab countries to constitute a Palestinian state from what is now, according to many interpretations of international law, disputed territory. 3) Gaza is not occupied by Israel. In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally ordered the forceful evacuation of 7,500 Israeli civilians and withdrew all military forces. 4) The companies mentioned in the article contribute to the legitimate defense of the sovereign and independent State of Israel, a right recognized by the United Nations and international law. 5) If the ultimate goal of the authors is to hasten the creation of an independent Arab state as envisaged by Resolution 181, they should focus on investment not divestment: investment in courageous Palestinian leadership whose goals are not destruction but creation; investment in building institutions that promote an educated civil society prepared to live in peace and harmony with Israel; investment in dismantling the refugee camps that perpetuate the hatred that fuels the Arab/Israeli conflict; investment that uses the billions of dollars of foreign aid to make a Palestinian state a reality that can contribute to the mosaic of a peaceful, prosperous and forward-looking Middle East.

Henry Rosenbaum

Feb. 14

The author is the parent of a student in the Yale community.


Free to make bad choices

Being mistakenly under the impression that such ideas were confined to New York City, I was shocked to read Michael Magdzik’s column the other day advocating a ban on soda at Yale (“For an end to soda at Yale,” Feb. 12). The piece is flawed in many ways, but most significantly and tellingly so in Magdzik’s assumption that his moral high ground entitles him to make other people’s nutritional choices. That a ban on sodas of any size could be considered at a place like Yale says far less about our attitudes on public health than it does our inability to tell the difference between banning something and simply not using it.

Magdzik’s need to ban soda, rather than simply to discourage using facts and logic, is in effect to admit that his arguments are not good enough to convince his audience. If Mr. Magdzik truly believed that his goal of eliminating soda consumption is justified by his arguments, he would simply lay out all his problems with the soda industry, and watch while dining hall soda consumption stopped. Without a doubt, soda machines at Yale would be eventually removed from lack of use.

To accuse students at one of the world’s most elite college campuses of being unable to regulate their own nutrition without the author’s benevolent guidance is insulting, but unfortunately indicative of the thought process of many Yale students. We can only hope that by the time our future-politician classmates reach that station in life, they will have realized that in a free society, sometimes their social scientist’s benevolent eye needs to be checked at the door. Hopefully, as public servants, they will grow to see that the healthfulness of people’s beverages is none of their business, and those they represent are not their subjects. In order for individuals in a nation (or a university) to be truly independent and free, they must be free to make bad choices.

But for now, Mr. Magdzik, please take your “inculcation of norms” elsewhere and allow us to inculcate ourselves with a delicious glass of Coca-Cola.

John Masko

Feb. 12

The author, a staff blogger for the News, is a junior in Saybrook.