letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Who's a rabbi?
Sir, - As an American Jew, my heart bleeds for Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism ("Reform leader: Katsav's refusal to say 'rabbi' is hurtful," June 21).
President Katsav knows full well what he is doing. He realizes that dividing the Jewish faith into non-traditional "streams" is meaningless, and thus addressing spokesmen of new-fangled types of Judaism as "rabbi" makes no sense whatsoever.
I can assure you that some of my best friends are Reform and Conservative Jews. All are really fine people. But that does not qualify their spiritual leaders to be called rabbis.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Sir, - How small-minded that the president of Israel - an Israel built and sustained by secular Zionism and not by Orthodoxy - fails to recognize the rabbinical leader of a million and a half Zionist Jews!
This logic's no logic
Sir, - Re David Kellen's "The logic of the Kassams" (June 21): The Arab leadership is using mind-control and physical terror to control its population. Suicide bombers are a result of Arab wangling, not of Israelis "defending ourselves from Kassam rockets."
Contrary to the indications of Kellen's moral compass it is reprehensible to negotiate with this leadership, deadly for Jews and Arabs alike. To protect its citizens and counter the tyrannical hold of the Arab leadership Israel needs to destroy the Arab notion that it will succumb to terror. This requires military action, the aid of international opinion, and marketing the advantages of Western freedom over politically imposed Islamic subjugation and oppression of the individual.
A true model of a freedom fighter is the Israelis who show their dedication by choosing to build their lives. Imagine the power of the Arab sector if it used its financial resources to buy goods and services rather than weapons.
Sir, - It is heartbreaking to watch what is going on in Sderot. Having experienced as a child the V1 and V2 rockets lobbed over southern England by the Germans, I know exactly what the residents are going through. I am disgusted by how they have been left to "get on with it" for so long. After the experience of Kiryat Shmona everything should have been done to give those in Sderot maximum protection.
In London we had reinforced protective "tables" in every house for when the rockets came down; we were also evacuated for long spells. It wasn't easy, but it relieved the tension on the kids.
I do not feel I was traumatized, but a door cannot slam without me jumping out of my skin.
These people are heroes, but only human. Everything must be done to alleviate their suffering and rehabilitate them when - please God - this is over.
As happened in other parts of Britain in WW2, the rest of us are blissfully unaware of the shocking effect living under permanent threat can have ("Sderot municipality to shut down city," June 20).
Sir, - I feel very bad for the people of Sderot and would probably personally have left months ago. However, nobody seems to remember that the young adults of Kiryat Shmona were brought up more or less in bomb shelters. How many of them left? ("Sderot residents question 'ineffective' protest tactics," June 21.)
Sir, - By refusing to act effectively, the government appears to agree with the Arabs who say: "All Israeli cities are settlements, inside or outside the old Green Line."
Credibility only grudgingly given
Sir, - Your June 21 editorial "HRW's selective ire" was sadly on target.
On Saturday evening, June 10, I started writing to a senior executive at CNN with whom I have good rapport, and to the ombudsman at The New York Times, saying: "Until there is some real basis in fact it would be an error to allow [the Gaza beach killings] to become another Jenin massacre story, which proved to be false." CNN kept saying it would look into the issue.
That weekend and until the IDF's report was issued, more and more leaks from the army showed that the original story was short on fact and long on unfounded information. There was no willingness to even inject a doubt that should have been apparent on Friday afternoon.
How much research did reporters do before drawing conclusions? The original story on CNN stayed on the Web even after the IDF report was issued. Meanwhile, the IDF story was given a 12-hour life and then disappeared, remaining as a link near the bottom of a story.
The Times, despite its policy of not normally allowing anonymous quotations, also managed to keep away from the IDF rumors [of non-involvement], which always had a name associated with them in the Israeli press, until it became impossible. They did find, early on, an unnamed source to validate their original story. All other comments from named IDF personnel were ignored until it became impossible, on June 13.
The attitude of major and other news sources, which claim objectivity, seems to be "Right or wrong, Israel is not credible until we have no choice. The Palestinians always get the benefit of the doubt."
Many of us, regardless of our political views, wonder about this inability of major news organizations - and of foreign governments - to recall the frequency of Palestinian lies.
Memories are made of this
Sir, - Elliot Jager brought back memories with "Upton Sinclair, guileless muckraker" (June 21). I also read The Jungle in school many years ago, and several Lanny Budd books. I used to be liberal. I can't even talk with the Left anymore. They do not understand or simply accept Israel, even though many of them are Jewish.
DORRAINE GILBERT WEISS
Playa del Rey, California
He made it happen
Sir, - Re "Which way for Ethiopian-Israelis?" (June 19), which highlighted many problems in absorbing Ethiopians, Asher Elias, an Israeli-born Ethiopian, has started Tech-Careers, a non-profit organization, for computer programming training for Ethiopian Israelis. About to begin his third year, he has had a 100% success rate in training post-army or national service Ethiopian students and placing them in the best hi-tech companies in Israel at full, competitive hi-tech salaries.
We need more people like Elias, who just decided to make it happen.
Ziv Tzedakah Fund
Hatred is fear
Sir, - "Love, borders & civilization" (Yaffa Ganz, June 20) projected an extremely narrow, shallow view of what is approximately 10 percent of the population, here and elsewhere, and gave the impression of liking nothing better than to see all lesbians and gays quietly disappear.
We will not. We will stand tall and proud. We will tell our children to be tolerant of others. We will tell them that hatred comes from fear, and that haters must be pitied.
Sir, - In my op-ed "Leave your cynicism at the door" (June 20) I inadvertently referred to the World Zionist Congress as part of the Jewish Agency. The agency has its own annual assembly. Because it gets US money, it is not allowed to subsidize settlements outside the Green Line.
The World Zionist Organization has a highly politicized World Zionist Congress that deals with an agenda including settlement outside the Green Line.
RABBI DAVID FORMAN
Sir, - In an article on June 16 ("Most American Jews support realignment, says NY consul-general") I was quoted as saying: "American Jews largely support Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's realignment plan, and those who don't will be told to keep quiet." I never made that statement, and my opinion was misrepresented.
I told your correspondent that we fully appreciate an open discussion among American Jews on the issue of realignment. However, the decisions on issues of peace and security have to be made by the government of Israel and the citizens of Israel, and not by our brethren overseas. I added that, to the best of my knowledge, this position is acceptable to most Jews in America, including the Orthodox community.
AMBASSADOR ARYE MEKEL
Consul General of Israel
Sir, - I believe that the headline of "ANC boycotts pro-Israel conference" (June 19) was sensationalized. I was at this conference, and at no stage was it said that the ruling South African political party had boycotted it. It was stated by a few individuals that the former mayor had not responded to an invitation, but this surely does not amount to an orchestrated boycott.
SA Jewish Board of Deputies
What's with the big words?
Sir, - I enjoy reading the Letters to the Editor, and mostly I read in the early hours of the morning or even after midnight, when the letters are often posted on-line. However, I have no energy to consult a dictionary to see the simple meaning of some of the big words that appear. So I often bypass the sentence and lose interest in the letter.
Some words in the last two lots: "eschews," "proclivities," "casuistry," "nuptial rites," "panic panacea."
I'm looking forward to a very simple reply: Are you able to give an alternative word in brackets, or request the writers to explain the word?
The Letters Editor responds:
Not really. That would spoil the flow for readers who do know those words. But it is no crime to consult a dictionary - editors usually keep one by their elbow. One of the joys of English is its rich vocabulary, and one of the pleasures of a good letter is to see it creatively used.