December 27: Cheap Comparison

The difference between the Holocaust and the Armenian tragedy is that the Nazis exterminated people solely because they were Jews.

December 26, 2011 22:15

Letters 521. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

Cheap comparison
Sir, – Regarding “Armenian memorial” (Editorial, December 25), Armenians died because they were killing Turkish and Kurdish Muslims. They were in full revolt against their country and helping the Russian invasion.

The only Jews who were killed there at the time died at the hands of Armenians.

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The difference between the Holocaust and the Armenian tragedy is that the Nazis exterminated people solely because they were Jews. Comparing the two cheapens the Holocaust.


Creative packing
Sir, – I laughed through my shock at the news in Herb Keinon’s “One bag blues” (Out There, December 25).

Do you know how much a roll of Reynolds heavy duty foil weighs? Three rolls? My husband’s 12-pack of Irish Spring soap is labeled 3 lbs. (Why don’t Israelis need deodorant soap?) I suppose I could take the vitamins out of their containers and put them in plastic bags along with the tea bags (many types are still unavailable here), the Stevia, the low-sugar cereal and the many super-bargains from Costco, such as toothpaste and brushes in multipacks. We fit them among my husband’s shirts from Land’s End, the great book purchases, children’s clothes and the incredible, almost-free raincoat from Loehmann’s.

We had to pay for one extra bag from New Jersey to the Canadian Rockies this summer – scheduling forced us to shop before the vacation part of the trip – and I have to say it was worth it.

Tell me these airline policies are not a sneaky way to raise fares and/or get us to pay higher prices in Israel. If the rationale is that extra weight means extra fuel costs, my suggestion is that they weigh passengers. If a passenger is under 75 kg, the extra weight could be carried in a suitcase.

Only fair, no?


Beating heart
Sir, – Much as I hate to rain on Christopher Reynolds’s “All fun and games: London’s East End – close to Olympics, invites fresh look” (Comment & Features, December 25), as a born and bred Cockney Londoner I take the greatest exception to his contention, wrapped as irrefutable historical fact, that Brick Lane was home to Bangladeshi immigrants and curry houses for much of the 20th Century.

Reynolds obviously spoke to someone with even less knowledge of the area than he has, since apart from the period after 1980 no one there would have had the slightest idea who or what a Bangladeshi was. It was heavily populated first by Dutch Jews in the 18th Century, followed in the 19th and 20th centuries by tens of thousands of Russian and Polish Jews fleeing pogroms and deprivation.

The area was part of the beating heart of London’s Jewry.


Extreme absurdity
Sir, – Regarding “A-G closes probe of Israelis who participated in flotilla” (December 23), I consider myself an open-minded and tolerant person. I will defend the right of people with whom I disagree to be able to express their opinions.

However, there are limits.

The Israeli citizens who participated in the Gaza flotilla in May, 2010, were not only expressing opinions – they were engaged in aggressive acts against the defense policies of Israel. To make matters worse, Knesset members who took an oath of loyalty to the state openly defied Defense Ministry policy. The ministry represents the government of Israel. It is astonishing that people who pledged loyalty to the state as members of parliament can show such disdain for the country.

It is hard to believe, therefore, that Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein did not find enough evidence to indict these people for actively demonstrating their lack of loyalty. I cannot think of another country, including the United States, the paramount of democracy, that would tolerate such behavior by members of the country’s legislating body.

What have we come to? What does one have to do to be identified as a disloyal parliamentarian? Clearly, we have taken democracy to an extreme level of absurdity.


Great man lost
Sir, – My sincere compliments to Danny Grossman for his tribute (“Shimshon Rozen: One of Israel’s finest airmen,” December 23).

When I heard on the news that a light plane had crashed over Modi’in, I said “wow” and then went on with my life. After reading Grossman’s piece I know what a great man Israel has lost.

Rishon Lezion

Mentioned indeed
Sir, – “Illuminating coincidences” by Hirsh Goodman (PostScript, December 23) set out some very interesting opinions.

However, it was partly based on the assertion that “Hanukka… is the only festival not mentioned in the Mishna.”

Indeed, Goodman emphasizes, “Even the mighty Mishna could not hide history....”

In fact, the Mishna mentions Hanukka in seven places. They are: Bikurim 1:6; Rosh Hashana 1:3; Ta’anit 2:10; Megilla 3:4 and 3:6; Moed Katan 3:9; Bava Kama 6:6 (Bar Ilan Responsa Project).

Modi’in Illit

The trust is missing
Sir, – Much has been written recently about democracy – whether it will emerge in Arab countries, whether it is endangered in Israel, and so on. Fingers have been pointed at likely culprits that are alleged to be threatening its fragile existence.

One aspect that has not been addressed is that democracy is an implicit contract between the government and the governed in which mutual trust is an essential underpinning.

The element of trust is embodied in the understanding that governments will govern according to the policies they present when seeking election, although it is understood that there will be compromises owing to the necessity to form coalitions.

By definition, compromises do not comprehend complete reversals of policy. And herein lies our problem. I give but two recent examples: Ariel Sharon campaigned against a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and we find ourselves with Ehud Barak as minister of defense although a right-wing majority was elected to the Knesset in 2009.

When circumstances change radically and necessitate policy reversals, the only honorable course for a government is to return to the people to renew its mandate. Any other course removes the ability to claim that it governs with the consent of the people.

Our electoral system makes it very difficult for the governed to censure individuals in government who have betrayed their trust. Is it any wonder that feelings of despair arise in segments of the population that feel betrayed, with no electoral recourse? How did Labor Party supporters feel when Barak joined a Likud-led government? How do Likud supporters feel about the direction of the Netanyahu government? And, most importantly, does the electorate feel its votes can influence whichever government comes to power? In these circumstances, it is hard to feel that any Israeli government governs with our consent.

The element of trust is missing.

If there is any danger to our democracy, surely this is it. We need urgent reform of our electoral system to return the essential element of trust to public life.


Lenore Levin contributed to the article “Netanyahu, let our people come!” by Dov Lipman (Comment & Features, December 21). The Jerusalem Post regrets the omission.

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