Passion & pathos
Sir, - I share Samuel G. Freedman's ambivalent views of comedic material based upon the Nazi murder of six million Jews ("The Producers' - seriously," November 30). To the list of black comedies I wish to add mention of the Jack Benny film To Be or Not to Be - perhaps the most brilliant and effective in the genre.
With humor and wit the film includes a deeply touching portrayal of the Jew as innocent victim in the character of the Jewish actor whose life-long dream is to recite Shylock's plea about the Jews' human frailty. It is finally fulfilled, with a passion and pathos that might never have been matched at Stratford-on-Avon, or elsewhere.
Sir, - Israelis and their government amaze me with their apparent belief that peace is a possibility not only with the Palestinians, but also with the Arab League (whose acquiescence even a child knows is necessary for a true peace).
Are Israelis unaware that Arabs are still throwing bombs at the British for being "Crusaders" six centuries ago? If they are continuing a 600-year-old vendetta how can anyone believe Shimon Peres or Ariel Sharon capable of making them forget their hate-filled intifada, only a couple of years old? Yet this is what the Kadima Party would have you believe.
Going down this path might make Tony Blair and the EU happy. It might lead George Bush to believe (wrongly) that it will raise his ratings with the Arabs. But the Kadima route will cost gallons of Israeli blood and even then will not succeed, for the very simple reason that the Arabs do not wish to make peace with Israel, but wipe it off the map ("Kadima adopts 2-state platform," November 29).
Sir, - I never cease to be amazed by the many letters sent by Diaspora residents expressing their panaceas to our government, and their suggestions and solutions to the socio-religious problems we must deal with on a daily basis. If they are so concerned why don't they live here, vote in our elections, and pay taxes here?
Talk is very cheap. To solve Israel's problems one needs to be here, in Israel.
To preserve a heritage
Sir, - Kol hakavod to Leon Harris ("Enough reward," Letters, November 29) for being content to be a silent, forgotten hero of Israel's War of Independence, but I think he has missed the point. The question is not about recognition for services rendered but the importance of never forgetting the role of Mahal during that crucial period.
The story of over 3,500 overseas volunteers from 44 countries who rallied to the defense of the nascent state struggling to survive needs to be told - not for reward, but because it is one of the best-kept secrets ever. Israeli kids grow up never knowing about the contribution of Mahalniks to changing the tide of that war.
Most of them were veterans of World War II, with military training and experience, and their skills and expertise were of decisive importance to the newly-formed defense forces, helping to lay the foundation for the now-powerful IDF. Mahal men and women, Jews and non-Jews, served valiantly in virtually every branch of the IDF, often in key command positions.
One hundred and nineteen overseas volunteers lost their lives. Every year, on Remembrance Day, a memorial service is held in their honor at the World Mahal Monument at Sha'ar Hagai.
Even before the state was proclaimed overseas volunteers enlisted in the Hagana, the Palmah and other underground forces. Some 240 North Americans manned rickety Aliya Bet ships, 10 of them purchased in the US, attempting to run the British naval blockade to bring Holocaust survivors to the shores of Eretz Yisrael.
On November 20, AVI, American Veterans of Israel, dedicated an Aliya Bet and Mahal Museum at the University of Florida to pay tribute to North American volunteers who served in Israel's War of Independence in order to preserve that heritage for generations to come. To that end, World Mahal is also collecting archival material and striving to create a Mahal museum in Israel.
Whose human rights?
Sir, - Even Rabbi David J. Forman, founder of the misnamed Rabbis for Human Rights, has finally seen some of the results of his organization's decade-long history of Israel-bashing. Of course, this weakening of Israel cannot be blamed on his organization. The fault lies with elements of the Jewish Left in the US ("A call for left-wing responsibility," November 29).
Adjacent to his article was one which enumerated many instances of the trampling of Jewish citizen rights by over-zealous police and authorities ("Recipe for social disintegration," Caroline Glick). It is a major scandal that teenagers were forced to spend many days in jail. This reality was abetted by a negligent Knesset and a court system whose president judge is the sole source of values.
Where were the Rabbis for Human Rights in these violations of civil rights? Where is the "prophetic vision of social justice"?
Sir, - The use of minors to advance a political agenda has always been a problem for me. Very often, under the guise of teaching minors how a democratic society is supposed to function, these young people are encouraged to demonstrate in such a manner that only a court can determine whether they have violated the law.
In "Recipe for social disintegration" Caroline Glick states that "97 out of 167 cases of pre-trial detention... appeared unwarranted by law" (for minors). In other words, there were 70 cases where there was no question that a crime was committed; and while 97 others appeared unwarranted, further investigation was needed to clarify the situation.
Are we trying to teach our youth to walk on the edge of the law? Youth has a tendency to overreact. Parents must keep control of their actions by setting an example.
Call for a month of world prayer
Sir, - We call upon all men and women of conscience to celebrate God's power in a month of world prayer against suicide bombings. Every organized religion speaks against this dastardly act and condemns the moral cowards who carry it out.
Jesus states in the New Testament, "Whenever one or more gather in my name..." Just imagine the greater voice when all Christians gather in prayer. The Koran states that the Christian, Jewish and Muslim God are one. And Muslims must treat Jews and Christians with love, care, tolerance and respect. Hindu teachings include nonviolence and control of senses and desires. Suicide bombings would be abhorrent in the practice of proper Dharma. In Buddhism, one of the five precepts is "Do not kill."
We have selected this most insidious aspect of terrorism because it is the most frightening example of a psyche that values neither its own nor others' lives. Let us send a clear message, pure in heart, around the globe: These bombings must, and will, be stopped, no matter where. Our enemy is formidable indeed, but God's wrath is greater.
Sir, - A message to Muslims: Has God not demonstrated to you, through the disasters he has sent around the world, that he does not need men to kill other men? He is able to do the work Himself.
Mulberry Grove, Illinois
A good yarn, but inaccurate
Sir, - "Spinning yarns" (UpFront, November 18) was interesting. Especially so was the story by Yoel Perez, "Senor Giniyo's wine shop." However, the story's punchline, that both the Muslim and the Jew belong to the land, is inconsistent with the beliefs of both Islam and Judaism.
Serfs (slaves) belong to the land, but Jews and Muslims believe that God gave the land to a people. The difference of opinion is over which people it belongs to.
A. I. GOLDBERG
Lighter shade of pale
Sir, - A few years ago I saw an interview with Muhammad Ali in which he strongly stated that he had no "white friends," only "white colleagues." What does that tell you about the man? ("Who's a chump?" Daniel Pipes, November 30)
Why Bezek is crying
Sir, - If I recall correctly, Bezek was disallowed the ability to institute VoIP protocol locally ("Ministry to crack down on illegal VoIP usage," November 30). As a result Skype became the only legal means to obtain the software. If Bezek had been allowed this technology the subject of discontinuing and blocking VoIP would not be open to discussion. Historically, Bezek vociferously complained about Barak and Golden Lines when cheap international service was introduced in Israel.
If local VoIP was allowed here and regulated the same scenario would ensue, and in the end everyone would make money. And that is the reason Bezek is crying now - a cut of market share they are losing.
Call 'em irresponsible
Sir, - Further to "Forget the Iranians, it's Israeli drivers!" (Letters, November 29): I'm an Israeli security guard who has worked in traffic control in Israel and can confirm that the situation here is terrible. Eighty percent of our drivers should have their licenses confiscated. When I checked cars I saw many couples sitting huddled together while driving! And a lot of drivers don't know how to park properly and safely. In other countries many of the dilapidated cars you see here would be taken off the road.
Pedestrians are equally irresponsible. They cross streets with kids screaming, eating ice-cream, talking animatedly, running after their dog, paying no attention to anything else.
Won't you write?
Sir, - I'm so interested in your country and people, and desire a penfriend - male or female, young or old. I am a high school teacher teaching geography, algebra, biology, chemistry and physics. My address is Banate Hills - 58, Malungon, Sarangani, 9503, The Philippines.
CHOY SHALOOGA M. DEL MAR
Sarangani, The Philippines