Maccabiah complaints

Sir,

While we enjoyed the spectacle and felt so proud of all the athletes (“World’s largest Jewish sporting event kicks off in Jerusalem”), our capital city has much to improve before the 20th Maccabiah Games.

1. A better sound system.

2. Better marshalling of athletes during and after the march into the stadium, which took much too long.

3. If the short speeches of foreign leaders could carry Hebrew and Spanish subtitles, why, oh why, could not the over-long speeches of our president and prime minister, as well as the mayor of Jerusalem, have carried translations? Many overseas visitors got bored and left; it was an insult to the 6,000 overseas athletes who did not have that option. (And being told by Prime Minister Netanyahu that they should learn Hebrew was really chutzpah.) 4. Coach transportation to and from the venue was, to put it mildly, chaotic. We know some competitors who did not reach their homes or hotel rooms until 5 a.m.

5. Last but by no means least, even before the start of the event the toilets were less than sanitary and rubbish bins were overflowing.

Really, none of the above is rocket science. Come on, Jerusalem, you can do better.

JACKIE KLEIN
Modi’in

Sir,

As a true-blue Aussie I am disgusted and left with a sour taste after the opening of the Maccabiah Games. What an insult to Australian Jews for rehiring convicted criminals responsible for the 1997 Maccabiah bridge collapse! It displays the nepotism and proteksia that are well-known throughout Israeli society.

The deaths of the four participants, and the many Australian families still suffering physically and mentally after all these years, are a reminder of the incompetence and indifference among those who used the blame game to cover up their responsibility.

Instead of promoting the memory of the victims at the opening ceremony, the Maccabi World Union should establish a meaningful memorial on a site adjacent to a clean Yarkon River so they can never be forgotten.

JACK DAVIS
Jerusalem

Sir,

I was most disappointed to see the picture of US athletes on the front page of your July 19 issue.

Where were the pictures of the Israeli team? We are the hosts.

This our country and these people represent Israel.

VALERIE FISHER
Ra’anana

Live and learn

Sir,

“A Tisha Be’av Story” (Observations, July 19) was interesting.

However, the reaction by the young haredim to the Jewish girl with the Arab boyfriend cannot not be simply described as a matter of “purity of the nation.”

This idea is misleading and needs to be corrected.

A very real and desperate situation exists for hundreds of Israeli women who have been seduced and abused by Arabs, and trapped in their villages. The organization Learn and Live helps these women escape from their ordeal.

LYNETTE ORDMAN
Netanya

All bets off

Sir,

With regard to “MK Hasson submits bill to ban ‘immoral acts’ of betting on animals” (July 18), why isn’t Yisrael Hasson introducing a bill to stop betting on humans? Don’t humans enjoy, at the minimum, the same considerations and rights as (other) animals?

BARRY RYDER
Hatzor Haglilit


Poles and shechita

Sir,

Regarding “Poland and shechita” (Editorial, July 17), it is reprehensible that actions taken by the Polish parliament, elected in democratic, free elections, can be described as equal to the decisions of the German Nazi regime.

The parliamentary vote to ban animal slaughter without stunning was an independent decision of the lawmakers. Their decisions reflect their moral sensitivities and express the approach of most of Polish society toward the humanitarian aspect of killing animals. It is not about the relationship between society at large and its religious minorities, but about ethical issues.

The editorial also contains historically biased statements (e.g., “[The Polish nation] facilitated the massacre of the largest Jewish community in Europe” and Poles are “rightly burdened with their legacy of cooperation with the Nazis during World War II and acts of anti-Semitic violence well after the war was over....”).

Taking into account Nazi repression against the Polish nation, it is unthinkable that any lawful person might consider today’s Poles as continuing the Nazis’ policies or even suggest something like this.

The entire editorial is based on a false statement that ritual slaughter is now banned in Poland. Polish law allows shechita for the needs of Poland’s Jewish community. Restrictions apply only for industrial-scale ritual slaughter. The Jewish community itself continued to slaughter animals for their own purposes this year even though legal doubts had appeared.

JACEK CHODOROWICZ

Tel Aviv

The writer is ambassador of Poland to Israel

Sir,

We need to hurt Poland in its pocket. No more trips there. No more March of the Living and other sorts of programs that bring money into that country.

We have other ways to teach our youth to remember the Holocaust.

Are we willing to do this? Do we have the guts? I sure hope so.

YEHUDIT SPERO

Beit Shemesh

Sir,

I am a Jew who has worked in Poland and with Poles intensively for over 21 years to preserve Jewish memory, provide opportunities for Polish Jews to connect with their heritage and religion, and to promote Polish- Jewish understanding.

I do not shy away from honest criticism of the virulent anti- Semitism that has been part of the mythology and culture of some regions and some people in Poland for centuries.

Although your editorial contains many excellent insights and sound analysis, it was appalling to read statements therein which were nothing but old canards, stereotypes and words of hatred.

To assert that Poles as a people, or Poland as a nation-state, facilitated the Holocaust is simply not correct. That it is defamatory, insulting and smacks of the same hatred of which we are usually the victim makes it all the more abhorrent.

Besides that such statements are factually incorrect, they insult the memory of Poles who saved us, risking their own and their families’ lives.

The decision of the Polish parliament was hurtful, intolerant and unjust. For some, it might have been a manifestation of xenophobic tendencies. But in our own pursuit of justice let us neither distort history nor spit upon the graves of the Righteous among the Gentiles.

MICHAEL TRAISON

Herzliya/Warsaw

Sir,

Regarding “Polish parliament votes to uphold shechita ban” (July 14), as a religious Jew I can be certain that Jesus ate only kosher meat. He would not have eaten any other kind. Nor will he after his second coming.

Some Christian countries in Europe have also banned Jewish ritual circumcision despite the undeniable fact that Jesus was circumcised, as were all his disciples.

The Sabbath is another instance where Jesus differed from his followers. Jesus would have upheld Saturday as his day of rest in contrast to the Christian Sunday. Keeping the Sabbath was a decree of the highest order given the fact that God had specifically ordained the death penalty for its non-observance.

Never mind the regrettable fact that Jews are unloved in Poland – Jesus may not be welcome in any of Christian Europe after his second coming.

JOCK L. FALKSON

Ra’anana

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