Sir, – The front page of your June 6 paper carried a photograph of a veteran of World War II. I was rather surprised to discover that this was the extent of your coverage on the very brave Allied soldiers who sacrificed their lives exactly 70 years previously in the Normandy invasion. Their courageous stand prevented the possible destruction of British Jewry.
I recall meeting several veterans at the Imperial War Museum in London and was amazed at their humility and dedication.
“We were just following orders,” was their response. “We had to protect our loved ones, our homes and those who came to our shores looking for a shelter and a new life.”
This year some 3,000 veterans attended commemorative ceremonies, all moved by the memory of their dead colleagues.
Under their spell
Sir, – With regard to David Brinn’s “Getting what we wanted” (June 6), the late, great Bill Shankly of Liverpool football club fame once said: “Football is not a matter of life and death; it is much more important than that.” This should also be the eulogy of the phenomenon called the Rolling Stones.
You will hear rumblings that the Stones came to Israel only for the money or because they have been running out of venues to play their music. But they were here in Yarkon Park in our largest city, and they rocked the Earth. Every single soul in earshot of them was completely under their magic spell, including my wife, my son and I.
Where ever you now are, Mick, whether it’s having a beer, a cup of tea or cod and chip (heavy on the vinegar), kol hakavod.
Long live the Stones!
Degree of contempt
Sir, – Why, in “We never forgot Jerusalem” (Observations, June 6), did the former UK chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks use the term “epiphany?” Could he not have used a term that did not have Christian connotations? According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary 8th Edition, reprinted in 1992, this noun is primarily defined as “the manifestation of Christ to the Magi according to the biblical account” or “the festival commemorating this on 6 January.”
Erudite, scholarly lecturers, when delivering speeches to the layman, often treat their listeners with a degree of contempt.
Sir, – After his three epiphanies in Jerusalem, Lord Sacks will no doubt be expecting a fourth when he takes the road back to New York.
JEREMY I. PFEFFER
Time to play hardball
Sir, – With regard to “US agrees to work with new Fatah-Hamas government” (June 3), it is now clear that the Obama administration has abandoned all prior commitments to Israel and, indeed, to basic morality by agreeing to fund an openly avowed terrorist organization. It is time for Israel to reevaluate its options.
The Palestinian Authority’s decision to invite Hamas into the Palestinian tent makes a mockery of the commitments made when the ill-fated Oslo accords were signed. Hence, there is no further reason for us to continue to uphold our side of the Oslo bargain.
Step one should be to immediately declare the Oslo Accords obsolete. This will eliminate the necessity for our continuing to finance the PA. I’m sure we can find a better use for the funds.
Second, we should demand that the PA pay in advance for all services supplied to it by Israel, such as electricity and water. This will raise the ire of US President Barack Obama and also the European Union, but what do we have to lose? Let their taxpayers suffer, not ours.
The policy of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of submitting to Obama’s demands has bought us no credit with the administration. It’s time to play hardball.
Sir, – I pity Caroline B. Glick. From her writings it seems she sees the world only through the prism of “them” and “us.” In her world there is no nuance, no gray, only black and white -- just like teenagers have. And the “us” includes only those who agree with her narrow and unsophisticated biases.
Glick’s vitriolic diatribe against President Shimon Peres (“Shimon Peres’s legacy,” Column One, May 30) exposes in no uncertain terms her paranoia.
Yes, being paranoid doesn’t mean some people aren’t after you. Yet to attack a man who has spent his entire life working to benefit the State of Israel is simply tacky.
One does not have to agree with everything President Peres has said and/or done throughout his life, but to debase him with accusations of treason goes so far beyond the pale of stating an opposing view as to bump up against hate speech and perhaps even libel.
Ms. Glick, just because you have a soapbox doesn’t mean you are right. Just because you have strong lungs and a loud voice doesn’t mean you are right. Do you have no generosity of spirit for anyone who might disagree with you? You remind me of William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Monkey trial. Go back and watch the film Inherit the Wind. Perhaps, like Bryant, you consider yourself the newest world prophet, the only true voice? Good luck. Let me know when your thinking has matured.
Jerusalem can’t be denied
Sir, – After the arrest of the French-born suspect in the cowardly shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, a pattern of heinous, anti-Semitic crimes can no longer be denied. Why has France become a breeding ground of anti-Semitic violence? French politics and society are complex and often difficult for outsiders to understand. The ongoing economic crisis, a weak government and little social cohesion have been some accelerators. Endless, desperate suburbs in which unemployment, organized crime and an overall feeling of abandonment have been fertile ground for radical Muslim clerics. Secularism, once the pillar of the French Revolution, seems unsustainable in a society where being French evokes little or no enthusiasm.
It is a peculiar French trait to be enormously critical of being French and to promote French unity at the same time. This growing paradox is now on the verge of imploding. The National Front – whose honorary president is openly anti-Semitic – became France’s largest political party at the European Parliament elections in May. Last year the newly appointed prime minister, Manuel Valls, declared that the Roma were a non-European ethnic group and should be expelled. Daily insults and offensive remarks toward Jews wearing kippot have become common.
Few critics have raised their voices. If government voices echo that it is acceptable to expel an ethnic minority, is there not a similarity with 1930s Germany? I wish I had an appropriate response to this spiral of growing despair and anti-Semitism. I am afraid that France will need a miracle to find its way back to the three cornerstones of freedom, equality and fraternity.
PAUL ROBERT KRAAIJEVELD
The writer is a university lecturer and commentator on social and political affairs in both the French and English-speaking media