January 26: Too terrible for words

I wish to congratulate Ms. Collins on the word "trivialize." The Shoah is not a piece of cardboard history to take its place alongside 1066, the Spanish Armada or the Napoleonic Wars.

January 25, 2010 23:31

holocaust88. (photo credit: )

Too terrible for words

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Sir, - Liat Collins's thought-provoking article "Preserving the (real) memory" (January 24) revived my memories of participating in the Normandy landings with the British Second Army and the horrifying discovery and opening up of the Belsen concentration camp. Why didn't I use the word "freeing"? Because I have always considered that the released concentration camp victims were never freed from the terrible memories of their years of unimaginable sufferings. I, who was only a British soldier who witnessed the aftermath of this suffering, have never - not even for a single day - been able to forget the sight of the survivors, barely living, skeletons clothed in rags, shuffling forward to some unknown destination.

So I wish to congratulate Ms. Collins on the word "trivialize." The Shoah is not a piece of cardboard history to take its place alongside 1066, the Spanish Armada or the Napoleonic Wars but a deliberate policy to exterminate every single Jew. Too often the word "Shoah" is used in accusations against Israel by our enemies, and even our own writers and journalists are guilty of using the word too lightly without considering the true impact of its meaning.


In the righteous spirit

Sir, - The rescue efforts displayed by Israel in Haiti is a clear example of ahavat chinam (unconditional love). Such a tiny country as Israel has sent to quake-stricken Haiti an impressive contingent of 220 highly trained medical and IDF personnel, setting up a state-of-the-art hospital in less than 24 hours, giving hope to thousands of Haitians. This is a humanitarian gesture that has nothing to do with political considerations or cynical calculations. After all, even before the earthquake, Haiti was the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere. So what could Haiti possibly offer Israel in return?

A parallel can be drawn between Israel's help to Haiti and the heroic legacies of the saviors of Holocaust victims. The latter stood up against a huge, evil human-made monster. The former reached out to millions of people battered by the forces of nature. The saviors of the Holocaust are referred to as The Righteous among the Nations. Israel is a Righteous Nation.

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation

Skewed parallel....

Sir,- I never miss a Larry Derfner article, and I never cease to be amazed at his convoluted conclusions. But his article on Haiti is by far his best ("The pride and the shame," January 21). To draw a parallel between the "big-hearted" Israeli-run hospital in Haiti with the Israeli "heartlessness" in Gaza requires real intellectual acrobatics.

On the one hand, Haiti: a dictatorship with its largely poor, uneducated and subjugated people suddenly hit by a dreadful earthquake, killing tens of thousands and leaving hundreds of thousands without food, water, medical attention and a roof over their heads. On the other hand, Gaza: with a democratically elected Hamas government squandering the billions received annually in aid from all over the world to dig tunnels in order to smuggle in bigger and better rockets to fire on innocent Israelis.

And his conclusion? Israel should show as much care for the people of Gaza as it is showing for those of Haiti.

But Derfner conveniently overlooks the fact that the situation in Gaza, as awful as it may be, was the result of the actions of the people of Gaza themselves and their elected leaders and, should the Palestinians show a willingness to end the conflict, is instantly reversible.

The earthquake in Haiti was not caused by the people of Haiti, and most of the tragic results are irreversible.


....skewed vision

Sir, - It is interesting to note that in the photographs of your columnists that appear with their articles, only Larry Derfner is wearing tinted glasses. Are they rose colored by any chance?


Free speech or incitement...?

Sir, - The article "Tel Aviv scholar advocates Israel boycott at London event" (January 21) describes an attempt by yet another Jewish pseudointellectual from one of Israel's universities to gain recognition and fame by demonizing the Jewish people. Is this free speech or incitement? Some day a book describing the effect of Jewish intellectuals in pre-Holocaust Europe will make the seriousness of this threat apparent.

There is a law in Israel regarding incitement. At the very least, it should be employed to remove these enemies from within from our universities. Demonizing Israel and fostering anti-Semitism is serious business and should be treated as such.


...practice what you preach

Sir, - So Dr. Anat Mazar of Tel Aviv University is to call for Israeli universities, including presumably her own, to be boycotted by academics around the world. Dr. Mazar should be allowed the freedom to make such a call, no matter how repugnant it is to others. But being a rigorous academic, she should follow the logic of her position.

To call on every other academic to boycott her university while she remains there and draws a salary is the height of hypocrisy. If she wants other academics to break their relationship with TAU, she should lead by example. Indeed, any call by an Israeli academic for others to boycott their university should be regarded by the university as a letter of resignation.


Another school of thought

Sir, - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recognized the Ariel University Center of Samaria as a "university center." Ignore the fact that "university center" has no legal meaning, that designations for centers of learning are not part of the Defense Ministry portfolio, that Barak has no training, certification, background in education, and that the Council of Higher Education objects to Barak's decision. Ignore the fact that the center is built on occupied territory, violating numerous international conventions. But do not ignore The Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 50: "The Occupying Power shall ... facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children."

While Barak unilaterally proclaims an educational institution in occupied territory a "university," he denies basic school supplies to children in another occupied territory. The schoolchildren of Gaza are not allowed to receive pencils, paper, textbooks. Their schools are inadequate: damaged, overcrowded, undersupplied.

The message is tragic: If you're Jewish and an occupier, you receive millions of shekels and lofty designations. If you're Palestinian and occupied, you don't even receive a pencil. As a teacher, this is heart-breaking. As a Jew, whose culture values and extols education, this is an abomination.

O'Connor, Australia

Tawdry trade-off

Sir, - It was disturbing to read about Arad and yet another factory with hundreds of employees that is under threat of closure and of the consequences that will be borne by the far too many hapless families "(Is Motorola quitting Arad?" January 21).

A few weeks ago we heard about another plant that was closed in the North in favor of a manufacturer in China that would produce the items a bit more cheaply. The items in question, however, are the metal insignia for the uniforms of the IDF. I submit that this violates several of the core elements of the Zionist dream.(1) It borders on sacrilege to have the insignia of the Zionist state's uniform to be made outside our country. (2) The unemployment payments to the hundreds of dismissed employees will be several times greater than the difference in manufacturing costs. (3) The indifference to the fate of those who have lost their incomes is abhorrent in a Jewish state.

Perhaps a boycott by our soldiers of the uniforms bearing these offending insignia could win the approval of a wide consensus and serve as a wake-up call to all that are responsible for the well-being of our citizenry.

Petah Tikva

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