Mourning from afar

Sir, – I have three sons (ages 20,18 and 16) and I couldn’t help but cry when I read about the bodies of the three abducted boys being found. I can’t imagine the unfathomable pain their parents must be enduring right now.

I live so far away from all this and have no political connections.

I’m not rich; I’m just a guy working to pay the bills and get my boys through college.

But now I feel like the luckiest guy on Earth. I have nothing to complain about.

I’m not sure this letter even makes sense, but I had to write.

My heartfelt prayers go out to those young men, their families and all Israelis.

BILL RAUCH
Aurora, Illinois

Sir, – We were shocked at the news of the brutal murder of the three Israeli boys near Hebron and would like to express our deepest sympathies to all Israeli people.

Why can’t terrorists understand once and for good that it is God Almighty who taught us “Thou shall not kill” and that violence only brings more violence? Why can’t they respect life in every form? When will they finally understand that all life – all life – is blessed and sacred? We were all the more horrified since only a few weeks ago your president, Shimon Peres, joined with Pope Francis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to pray together for peace in the gardens of the Vatican. We followed the whole ceremony on TV and found it beautiful and moving, and have prayed and hoped that this religious meeting would speak to all people’s hearts. Evidently, not everybody understood.

While your country is experiencing this terrible time of mourning, we will incessantly keep praying to our Lord for peace, peace for everyone everywhere in the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

PAOLA MERLIN PAOLO BARETTER
Padova, Italy

Sir, – My immediate reaction to news that the three kidnapped boys had been found dead was uncontrolled and animalistic: sadness, hopelessness, violent anger. Kill whoever did this. Darwinian. Perhaps this was your immediate reaction, too.

One of the beauties and struggles of the human condition is the ability to counter potent emotions with considered logic. We often fail to do so. But we cannot fail this time; the stakes are too high. My only hope in writing this is that you will seriously consider what you want and how best to achieve it, and then act accordingly.

I want peace. I want tensions in the Middle East to go no farther than soccer matches. I want a higher standard of living for all. I cannot conceive of a situation in which vilifying Jews or Arabs will lead to peace. Is it so hard to see that both sides have true victims and have lost homes, children, peace of mind? I see a choice of two possible responses to this tragedy: In the first our initial reaction will prevail and violence will beget violence. We will focus on anger and disgust, and no progress will be made toward peace. In our vindictive effort to make someone, anyone, pay, we will forget what we really want.

In the second we will calm our anger and work to stop this from happening again. We will act accordingly, understanding that many of our emotions will work against us, that only our best logic and a clear goal will save us. We will change perceptions and eventually change everything.

I hope we choose well.

JACK FOREST
New York

Who needs whom

Sir, – The piece by Eli Kavon (“The truth from America,” Comment & Features, July 3) was absolutely brilliant. It would indeed be wonderful if he and other rabbis in the Diaspora could transplant their congregations to Israel, as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin did many years ago when he left the good life of Manhattan to create out of sand and rock the great city of Efrat.

Rabbi Kavon hit the nail on the head when he said that Diaspora Jews believe that Israel cannot survive without them. On the contrary – Diaspora Jews cannot survive without Israel.

Last week a wave of communal grief gripped the nation.

My 16-year-old granddaughter went to Modi’in for the funeral of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, whom she did not know. Yet she felt as if they had been her brothers.

When I told her I was so proud of her for going on such a painful mission, she responded by saying she had felt obligated.

Thats how our brethren in the Diaspora should feel – obligated to stand shoulder to shoulder with us and not just cheer us on from the sidelines.

ADELE MARGULIES
Ginot Shomron

Sir, – My compliments and thanks to Eli Kavon for his excellent essay.

I served in the US as an Israeli diplomat for a total of five years in Washington, Los Angeles, Houston and New York.

Many of my American Jewish acquaintances, all professing much love and concern for Israel, tended to regard aliya as something that could never apply to them even though I stressed that I, myself, had been an immigrant from the English-speaking West (in my case the UK).

I hope Rabbi Kavon’s call will be echoed “from sea to shining sea.”

DAVID ZOHAR
Jerusalem

What’s my line?

Sir, – In regard to “Under pressure, Tel Aviv municipality slaps markets, grocery stores with warnings not to open on Shabbat” (July 3), Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud Beytenu) sounds like an articulate and eloquent Orthodox rabbi, while Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman, ordained as an Orthodox rabbi, sounds like a closet secularist.

MORDECHAI SPEIGELMAN
Jerusalem

Illusory blight

Sir, – Reader Zev Chamudot’s letter “Insidious villainy” (July 1) and its mention of the security barrier that “just happens to be routed” through the Palestinian village of Battir, forces me to respond.

For our sins, people we have chosen to be our leaders have in their wisdom (madness) granted possession of many sites to the graces of those who would like nothing more than to obliterate our connection to them. Yet no single act has been more detrimental to Israel’s image in the eyes of the world than the wall built to divide the Arab and Jewish residents of our land. Whether you use Hebrew or English, it always ends up Afrikaans.

The protection the barrier affords is illusory and no replacement for good intelligence and appropriate punishment.

That it forces me to add half an hour of driving to visit my grandchildren in Dolev and prevents me from buying oranges in Jericho is nothing.

That it keeps Arabs from job markets among us or prevents them from free use of their land is something else. What bothers me most, though, is the blight it is on the beauty of our land.

When Moses sent the 12 tribal leaders to spy out the land of Canaan, one of his items was whether the inhabitants of the land lived in open or walled cities.

The absence of walls would denote a strong, self-confident people, difficult to subdue, whereas walls would denote softer material.

When all is said and done, I prefer that we radiate strength and self-confidence.

SYDNEY L. KASTEN
Jerusalem

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