letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - While not perfect, the agreement reached at the 29th International Conference of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent to accept a neutral "crystal" symbol is good news for Magen David Adom ("Magen David Adom joins Red Cross, after a 57-year wait," June 23).
Under the agreement, MDA will receive full membership and funding. There will also be research and development grants from the organization.
For international missions the Star of David will be placed inside the crystal. There will be closer cooperation between MDA and other humanitarian groups. MDA will also be able to contribute its expertise in trauma blood supply to the international organization, as well as its experience in conflict management acquired in our volatile environment.
MDA will surely benefit from its acceptance by a prestigious world organization. And Israel could benefit from enhanced status among the international community.
Sir, - Once again Israel has allowed herself to be humiliated on the world stage. That she complied with the Red Cross's demand to compromise the Star of David so as to be "accepted" is beyond my understanding.
Where are the values and pride of a sovereign state? Is the cross or the crescent enclosed in a diamond? No. Then why should the symbol of the State of Israel and the Jewish people be?
Shut 'em out...
Sir, - Alan Dershowitz is saying: Israel, stop apologizing to a world that simply couldn't care! Work and enhance your own morality, and act according to your own conscience ("Palestinian terrorists want Israel to kill Palestinian civilians," June 25).
Learn from very successful examples: The North Koreans have been shut out for over 50 years and live miserably - so be it! The East Germans shut themselves out until they got fed up with their miserable life.
Let's do the same here: build the wall and wait. When money runs out and life becomes unbearable, even Islamists will finally act. Whether this is in five, 10, 50 or 100 years, we Jews have experience in waiting.
Meanwhile, remove any responsibility, service, connection; we will prosper without caring for Palestine. Shut them out, declare them enemy territory, like North Korea, and let's get on with our own lives and nation-building.
Sir, - In his rush to prove that the Kassam-launchers want Palestinian civilians dead, Alan Dershowitz asks why they don't fire rockets from empty fields. The answer, of course, is that Israel has bombed the fields to make such firing difficult.
So before he starts making vast exaggerations about the "culture of death" - a largely Israeli invention - I recommend to Mr. Dershowitz that he first make sure he has his facts right.
Sir, - The modus operandi of Arab terrorists has always been to hide behind the skirts of their womenfolk and the bibs of their children, whom they regard as mere cannon fodder to achieve their goals. What is disheartening is that they actually target Israeli civilians, and that when Israel tries to surgically remove the cancer of Arab terrorist leadership and innocently harms Arab civilians in the process she is roundly condemned by the allegedly fair-minded West.
This double standard insidiously creeps into the consciousness of even those who morally support Israel. Therefore Prof. Dershowitz's suggestion that Israel stop creating Palestinian martyrs is somewhat misplaced.
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - I applaud the bold and honest writing of Mr. Dershowitz, explaining in simple terms what we in Israel already know.
I would add one thing: It seems to me that Israel could say: "We will continue assuming control over most of the territory in the West Bank and will not withdraw until there is a stable, peace-minded Palestinian government in place. At that point we will withdraw from (West Bank territories) as part of a negotiated peace settlement, where we can be reasonably sure that a peacekeeping force will replace our army."
As the op-ed also correctly points out, withdrawing unilaterally will only increase terrorism.
...like Sharon could
Sir, - The renewed negotiations David Kimche advocates will lead nowhere ("Talk seriously," June 23). By plunging Israel once again into the "game" the Palestinians are so good at they will drag Israelis backwards to a time of confusion and hopelessness.
Not all Israelis supported Ariel Sharon's policies, but rational ones can agree that he effectively took control of the Palestinian game of duplicity and dangerous brinkmanship and, in the process, destroyed the game's principal player, Yasser Arafat; and that he restored American confidence in Israel as a worthy Middle Eastern ally. His relentless publication of intelligence gleaned during IDF raids in the West Bank and Gaza served to tilt even the pro-Arab Europeans slightly to Israel's side.
In other words, during his five years in office Sharon reshaped the strategic landscape in the Middle East as it pertains to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
But the gains realized since 2000 are about to slip away. Ehud Olmert is not Sharon and cannot implement Sharon's strategically complex national plan. He may be a better "talker," at least in English, but what Israel needs is an ingenious, charismatic military commander who understands risk, knows when to take it and can peer several steps into the future.
As Israel's politics return to "normal," the situation vis-a-vis both the Arabs and the West may become increasingly dire, fed by the silly enthusiasms and illusions of the Israeli Left and the publicly aggressive clumsiness of the Right.
Let us hope that in the near term an Israeli with savvy and hutzpa will come forward who can beat the Arabs at their own game. Like Ariel Sharon could.
Casual dismissal is very hurtful
Sir, - There is something profoundly disturbing, and potentially damaging, about President Moshe Katsav's casual dismissal of the largest religious body in American Jewry ("Reform leader: Katsav's refusal to say 'rabbi' is hurtful," June 21). His persistent refusal to address Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, as "rabbi" is disrespectful to a man who has been steadfast in his support for Israel, and insulting to a major religious movement that continues to back the Jewish state both financially and politically.
Reform Jews, who have contributed so much to Israel and to the pro-Israel cause in the United States, deserve to be treated with respect.
Los Gatos, California
Sir, - B. Ben-Harim is on very shaky ground in claiming that Israel was "built and sustained by secular Zionism and not by Orthodoxy" (Letters, June 22). When religious Zionists were prominent at the early Zionist Congresses and rabbis such as A.Y. Hacohen Kook, Yitzhak Reiness and Meir Bar-Ilan were building Judaism in Israel, so preventing it from becoming a totally secular society, and when many Orthodox Jew were making aliya, the Reform "rabbis" were uniformly and vehemently anti-Zionist.
When Orthodoxy was already firmly entrenched in Eretz Yisrael, these Reform clergymen finally realized that they had missed the boat and decided they had to get on the Zionist bandwagon.
But while Orthodox Jews are still coming in droves - well over 50 percent of Western aliya today is Orthodox - the armchair Zionists of the Reform movement are, to quote Larry Derfner in "Thank you, Mr President" (June 22) "on the golf course." And far more money per head is coming to Israel from Orthodox Diaspora Jews than from the 1.5 million Reform "Zionist" Jews.
Eric Yoffie earned few friends in Israel when he decided, in the early days of the Terrorist War, that all Reform youth programs in Israel would be suspended. It seems the major contribution he could make was to sing the virtues of the gay pride parade.
Is it any wonder that the Orthodox are reluctant to bracket their own rabbis with Reform clergymen?
Sir, - As a former American Jew who made aliya 35 years ago, I was particularly offended by Myron Goldberg's letter ("Who's a rabbi?" June 22). In the United States I heard the bigoted expression "Some of my best friends are Jews" used many times by clearly anti-Semitic people, but I never heard it used by one Jew against another ("Some of my best friends are Reform and Conservative Jews - all really fine people").
It may interest Mr. Goldberg to learn that Conservative Judaism had its roots in the US in the 1880s. Reform Judaism goes even further back. They can hardly be called "new-fangled types of Judaism."
My wife and I started a conservative (Masorti) synagogue in Omer 33 years ago, on the eve of the Yom Kippur war. Kehilat Magen Avraham became a flourishing institution, contributing greatly to the Jewish and cultural life in our community.
Our first rabbi stayed for 31 years, until his retirement. We hope our second rabbi will also stay until she retires. I am proud to call them both "rabbis."
PROF. JESSE SHAPIRO
Sir, - Re "Prolific US TV producer Aaron Spelling dies at 83" (June 25): You failed to mention that Spelling produced the longest-running series involving women in lead roles - Charmed, the story of three witches who fight evil. This, despite the fact that the show is seen in Israel after Shabbat and on weekday afternoons, from September to June.
Sir, - Ponder the power of the pensioner, who has years of experience, a wealth of talent and a passion to contribute. All these attributes were evident at the election victory celebration held at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque. Many of us are emotional about the possibilities ahead.
Now that the Pensioners Party is a fact we must create a platform, an agenda serving the interest of the total community. Contact me at (08)651-7119.