Spare a thought
Sir, – When weighing how the IDF should have responded to an Arab child throwing a rock at a car (“IDF detains 5-year-old Palestinian rock-thrower,” July 12), spare a thought for the victims of such attacks, such as 2-year-old Adele Biton, who suffered severe trauma and spent months in intensive care earlier this year.
Remedy their plight
Sir, – In your editorial “Haredi soldiers” (June 12), we are given a sad picture of the plight of the young haredi men who choose to strike out on their own and risk physical and mental abuse by joining the IDF.
The army should offer these pioneers an opportunity to establish their own community, free from the oppressive influence of those haredim still living in the 17th century. Affordable housing for them and their parents should be made available in an area where they can be truly free of religious oppression.
The only requirement should be that the school system be developed so that their children get not only a strict religious education, but also core subjects that would encourage independence.
As these new housing areas begin to grow, I predict that haredi youth will be standing in line to join the army and break free from the stranglehold that has been forced upon them from birth.
Sir, – Herb Keinon’s interview with Lithuania’s ambassador to Israel (”In Lithuania, Jews are ‘cool,’” Diplomacy, July 12) is quite revealing.
Keinon writes: “[Darius] Degutis, who speaks perfect English, grew up on a steady diet of propaganda....” We read that he learned about the Holocaust and about the Jews living in his country.
Degutis is then quoted as saying: “When the archives were opened, and the society and public received this information, there was a big shock that 200,000 Jews died in Lithuania, and that there were a number of Lithuanians involved in this. This was a big shock for us.”
I don’t know why the ambassador is “shocked” that Jews “died.” Jews are human and are born and die like other people.
That “Lithuanians” were “involved in this” should not be a shock, as it is safe to assume that most, if not all, of the 200,000 were Lithuanians.
As a Lithuanian and the speaker of perfect English, Degutis should know the difference between murder and dying. He should also know whether those murdered were Lithuanian citizens or not.
To be blunt, this interview shows us that Lithuanian non- Jews still do not understand the horror they inflicted on Jews, who are not considered fellow countrymen.
We Jews and Israelis cannot forget this. This interview in “perfect English” proves it.
Sir, – Regarding “Left, Center lawmakers pan bill limiting leftwing NGOs” (July 11), the knee-jerk response to a bill that some MKs do not like is to call it “anti-democratic,” whether it is or it isn’t.
A democratic society, by most people’s understanding, is a society where there are regular parliamentary elections in which the government can change peacefully according to the election results; where there is a separate judiciary; and where the people and the media are not restricted from criticizing whomever they wish and can say whatever they want, as long as it is respectful. It does not mean we have to be subjected to the will of foreigners to undermine our legitimacy.
The bill limiting foreign funding for NGOs is certainly not anti-democratic. NGOs can continue to denigrate Israel and help its enemies to their hearts’ content. The only restriction should be that foreigners and foreign governments that work to undermine Israel will not be able to pour unlimited money into their efforts.
It is the very antithesis of democracy that foreigners are allowed to interfere with the wishes of the electorate and its elected representatives.
A prophet’s link
Sir, – The reference to the connection between the Prophet Muhammad and the Aksa Mosque in “Palestinians express conflicting feelings on eve of Ramadan over alleged prayer restrictions” (July 11) calls for a factual clarification.
The article cites the Koran as the source for the information, that in the course of his seminal “night journey” (Koran, 17.1), Muhammad “delivered the Koran from Mecca to the holy site [i.e., al-Aksa] shortly before rising to heaven.”
Al-Aksa was built a few years after the construction of the Dome of the Rock in 691, more than half a century after Muhammad’s death. The identification of the Koran’s “farthest mosque” with al-Aksa is a post-Koranic tradition. One of the earliest linkages between the prophet and al-Aksa is in the 8th century writing of Ibn Ishaq, author of the first surviving biography of Muhammad.
JACK E. FRIEDMAN
Less than candid
Sir, – In his columns, Isi Leibler can generally be counted on not only to speak candidly, but to provide his readers with thought-provoking and well balanced analyses on a variety of critical issues.
In “En route to becoming a banana republic,” (Candidly Speaking, July 11), he presents cogent and convincing arguments concerning the need for ministers to close ranks so that a unified and coherent voice emerges to represent and speak for the government of Israel. However, I feel that in one part of the column, Leibler is being less than candid and perhaps even somewhat disingenuous.
He writes that the “vast majority of Israelis support the implementation of a two-state solution – if Palestinian leaders emerge who are genuine peace partners, willing to ensure Israel’s security.”
Not only does this statement lack any evidentiary basis, it almost borders on deception. Basing the solution on this gargantuan if is precisely the crux of the problem and the focus of all the doubts and concerns to which Leibler seemingly objects.
The statement is comparable in its meaningless and insignificance to my stating that the vast majority of Israelis would lend their support for Iran’s achieving nuclear capability – if it would assure its non-use for any malevolent purpose.
Sir, – Reader Walter Roman Iwaskiw (“Fitting memorial,” Letters, July 1) mentions that while in Kiev, Natan Sharansky praised Andrey Sheptytsky, the wartime head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
The historic truth is that Sheptytsky collaborated with the Nazis and called on Ukrainian youth to volunteer for the SS, knowing that the aim of this murderous organization was the extermination of the Jews. After the German occupation of Kiev, he sent a congratulatory cable to Hitler. Ten days later, the Ukrainian fascist militia, together with SS Einsatzgruppe C, murdered more than 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar.
Although he hid two Jews in his palace, Sheptytsky was not granted the title “Righteous among the Gentiles.” Only his death, shortly after the liberation of Ukraine from the Nazis, saved him from being accused and brought to trial for collaboration.
The writer, a Holocaust survivor and researcher, was a member of the Israel Police’s Bureau 06, which interrogated Adolf Eichmann, and subsequently was special assistant to attorney-general Gideon Hausner, chief prosecutor at the Eichmann trial