Your way, my way
Sir, - Re David Horovitz's "US Jews in trouble! What about Israeli Jews?" (November 17): An old story perfectly illustrates why I, as an American Jew desperately hoping to make aliya soon, worry more about Jews in America than about Jews in Israel, even taking the military threats into account.
One day Napoleon and the czar of Russia were talking about their respective Jewish populations. The czar proudly said: "In Russia, we have government-sponsored pogroms, we draft young Jewish boys into my army and we stomp on the filthy Jew whenever possible."
To which Napoleon replied, "Really? In France, we have Liberty, Equality and Fraternity! Jews are full French citizens, free to participate in society, indistinguishable from the rest of the citizenry."
The czar was aghast. "How can you allow them to carry on like that?"
Answered Napoleon: "Look - you kill your Jews your way, I'll kill my Jews my way."
Apocryphal? Perhaps, but it conveys the point, regardless.
Sir, - The story of US Jewry is that this is the best of times, and the worst of times. The Orthodox community is growing, thriving as never before. New schools open every year, the synagogues are full, the communities for the most part are prosperous.
The Conservatives are sliding down the slippery slope toward Reformism, the Reformists are closer to Christians than to Jews, and the "just Jews" love Seinfeld and bagels, but that's about it for their Judaism. We are heading to "fewer but Jewer," which is not all that bad.
You in Israel have a more serious problem. You can survive only by fighting, and you've lost your national will to fight. You have gone from Ben-Gurion and Meir to Olmert, and seem OK with that. Many of you are so removed from your Jewish roots that you would give half your country away for the pleasure of vacationing undisturbed by those annoying Arabs.
'Nice guys' will...
Sir, - The IDF and government have not found a solution to the Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza ("No quick fix to Kassam attacks," November 17). At the same time they offer apoplectic apologies for unintentionally killing non-combatants in Beit Hanun. The government's basic error is not seeming to realize that we are at war with our neighbors.
War means noncombatants killed on both sides. No war was ever won unless the issue of harming noncombatants was not allowed to interfere with aggressive military planning. Israel's obsessive concern over collateral damage will make victory forever impossible, and every military man knows it.
The skewed morality behind this obsession: Having our citizens suffer is less immoral than having the enemy's citizens suffer. Yet in war, as in sports, "Nice guys finish last." Except that in Israel's case, there would be no "next season."
...lose us this war
Sir, - In Gaza this weekend Israel notified the owner of a building that was hosting a terrorist to evacuate civilians before we bombed the building. This information was used to get hundreds of local residents to congregate on or around the building - and as a result our army refrained from attacking the terrorist ("Human shield prevents IAF airstrike," Internet Edition, November 19).
Our "super-morality" meant, once again, a murderer roaming free to endanger Sderot residents.
Our side of the story
Sir, - I think our Foreign Ministry should publish a bulletin to be distributed every day to all the foreign embassies in Israel detailing the daily quota of Kassam rockets which have fallen on Sderot, together with the damage caused and casualties, if any. These should include trauma victims and other affected persons. This way our story can really be disseminated ("Peretz: Give Sderot advanced defenses," Internet Edition, November 19).
Sir, - In the Alice in Wonderland world inhabited by the UN, one wonders: Would a resolution pass condemning the Palestinians were Israel to fire rockets indiscriminately into Gaza? ("Israel: UN Gaza resolution encourages Kassam crews," November 19).
Sir, - A simple suggestion: Build one or more small prisons for high-security detainees in the empty areas west of Sderot and south of Ashkelon. Be sure to provide large, open exercise areas for the prisoners. Among other things, it would create much-needed jobs for industries in the area.
Biting the hand
Sir, - For the last six years the good people of Sderot have been traumatized by incessant, murderous rocket fire. The best the government can offer them is ineffective military measures, an unreliable detection system and a lack of protective shelters.
Comes a billionaire who offers to send 1,000 of the townspeople for a relaxing break from life on the shooting range and the defense minister demands he rescind his offer because the government will do a better job. Whose side is Amir Peretz on? ("Gaydamak funds Eilat vacation for 1,000 Sderot residents," November 17).
Sir, - The outpouring of goodness and opening of doors the war in the North brought about this summer was amazing. The people of Sderot need it now. True, school is on and people are back at work, but Hanukka is coming up.
We would like to invite a family, preferably with up to two small children, to join us for the week, and hope other families will do the same.
JULIE AND YITZCHAK KEREM
Fear = protection
Sir, - Further to Gerald Steinberg's "Still 'third world' after all these years" (November 19) which exposed the Tax Authority and socialist pathology, everyone knows that to fear these is to protect oneself - and the same applies to every government body that impacts Israelis' lives.
That's why it's often hard to find a particular name on a person's mailbox, and why most people wouldn't want to respond to this story... for fear of being sought out by the Tax Authority, and audited.
Sir, - The unfettered free market advocated by Milton Friedman seems to have brought about a very "uncapitalistic" result in that interest rates have dropped so low they no longer provide a fair return on the investment of capital. This has brought us to a situation in which pensions are becoming too heavy a burden for current taxpayers and might no longer be available to those who have saved all their lives for their retirement.
Foundations which invested large sums on interest can no longer finance research and development, with a resultant sharp drop in research in the US and other Western countries, including Israel.
The economic "gurus"? None seems to take responsibility for this very negative development ("Monetarism guru Milton Friedman dies at 94," November 17).
Sir, - Re your detailed and informative "Reader's Digest agrees to be bought for $1.6b" (November 17) - surely a short summary would have sufficed?