New at 'Super-Zeal'
Sir, - In contemplating our new political constellation it seems to me that we have seen this phenomenon before - with our supermarkets. I have been shopping in the same building, served by the same salespeople and buying more or less the same products for quite a few years now; however, the name and image of the supermarket has changed at least three times! Perhaps our political parties are experiencing a similar phenomenon? ("PM's party moves backward to 'Kadima,'" November 24.)
To a voter whose party did not win the last election and yet whose favored policy was carried out by the party that did win, it is all extremely confusing.
But I shall be spared having to decide for whom to vote - the Almighty has arranged the other, more heavenly constellation to provide a total solar eclipse which can be viewed from Europe on March 29. As we have planned to be abroad in order to see this eclipse, we shall be unable to view the political one that may take place here.
Sir, - Does Amir Peretz realize that in the event of his election as prime minister, if the government fails to pass a bill in the Knesset, it cannot go on strike?
Sir, - Kudos on your call for electoral reform ("The big bang," November 22). But merely expressing the "hope that electoral reform becomes an issue in this election, and that all of the major parties take a position on it," won't achieve anything unless we, the voters, do something about it. The good news is that President Katsav has established a commission to study the subject and report back.
Of special interest to Post readers: A group of concerned citizens is organizing to stimulate interest among English speakers and do whatever they can to expedite the process. Further information is available from Candy Shinaar, email: email@example.com or fax (09) 866-3102.
Pride in possessing
Sir, - Barry Rubin is correct when he states that "holding onto territory as a bargaining chip makes less sense if there is no one with whom to bargain" ("Israel's political earthquake," November 22). We should hold onto our territory not as possible bargaining chips but because it's ours, by historical, moral, military and national right.
Our enemies will come to terms with our presence here when they see they have no choice, but us leaving them our patrimony because they refused to take it in negotiations is the height of folly, a recipe for war, and an appalling statement on the lack of pride in a heritage that accompanied us through 2,000 years of exile.
This, incidentally, has been picked up by the world, resulting in the probationary status accorded us regarding the existence of Israel as a Jewish state within any borders.
Mahal - never given its due
Sir, - What a Thanksgiving present! ("2 US Mahal volunteers killed in '48 laid to rest," November 24.) Sadly, the Mahal recruits, including those who gave their lives helping to bring Israel into being, have never been given their due in Israel or in my other country, the US. On Israel's 50th anniversary some of those still alive were honored, but even then it was a "kvetch." Somehow it has always seemed that other than the late "Mickey" Marcus the Israeli military was not prepared to grant proper recognition to those Jews and Christians who came here to fight. Only the IDF was to be praised for its efforts at the inception of the state; these others were "night riders" unless they made aliya.
Two personal stories: In the spring of 1947 in Atlanta, Georgia, one of my religious school teachers told our class that since he had acquired fighting skills in World War II he was going over to help the Jewish state win its freedom. The school gave him a big sendoff, and for 24 years all I knew was that he was alive and in Israel.
When I became a rabbi in Wilmington, Delaware, in the early 1970s, he reappeared, his sister having married and moved to the community. He had returned from Israel a few years before after the US gave him back his American citizenship, lost when his fighting for a foreign army was discovered. He related how difficult his life had been in Israel, how he was never invited to any events marking the anniversaries of Israel's statehood. An engineer by profession, with good Hebrew skills, he found the job market closed to him.
Also in Wilmington, a very close friend in my congregation secretly left town, against his parents' wishes, and smuggled himself into Israel shortly after statehood was declared. A US army officer, he was given a unit to command around Safed. He shared with me the excitement, tension and honor of helping to establish Israel as a state.
I knew how deeply he loved Israel, so I asked him why he had returned to the US. He explained that after he spent a year fighting as a foreign soldier in the IDF, the Israeli personnel with the Mahal volunteers strongly suggested they return to their countries of origin, and so he thought it best to return where he was wanted. Since then, over the years, he has raised considerable sums of money for Israel through UJA and Israel Bonds - but as an American Jew.
Israel's decisions must be its own
Sir, - "When Seymour met Condi" (November 24) confirmed once more what I have felt for many years: that American Jews have no right to get involved in our internal problems. They have been doing it ever since the birth of the State of Israel and I have always believed that the money they contribute to our economy has something to do with it.
Is there any legal way to state once and for all that Israel's decisions are its own - with no exception made for the rich and influential?
Ethiopian is a proud heritage
Sir, - In Greer Fay Cashman's Grapevine column of November 23 mention was made of a well-known Israeli woman, originally from Ethiopia, who spoke about her four-year-old nephew being teased in kindergarten by being called "kushi," translated as "blackie."
Teasing children because of the color of their skin is intolerable. However, doesn't kushi mean Ethiopian?
Rather than the child being encouraged to say "I'm not black, I'm brown," couldn't he respond that his heritage is Ethiopian, and the other children taught that Kush is the Ethiopia so often mentioned in the Bible?
It wouldn't solve the problem of badly brought up children teasing, but it would give the children whose families have made aliya from Ethiopia a way to rebut slurs from children whose families made aliya from Morocco, Russia and the United States.
Sir, - May I correct a number of inaccuracies in "Nuremberg trials established new concepts" (November 20).
The major one relates to the official four counts of indictment against the Nazi war criminals. Omitted was count one - conspiracy - which was followed by crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity, as cited, but in incorrect sequence. Your reporter was probably unwittingly misled by his informant in Nuremberg.
Secondly, Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, was not hanged but convicted for life on two counts: conspiracy and crimes against peace. Hess's defense team was led by Dr. Alfred Seidl, who requested that Russian foreign minister Molotov be summoned as a defense witness. Dr. Seidl is owed a debt of gratitude because his stratagem led to the exposure at Hess's trial of the existence of secret protocols appended to the infamous Stalin-Hitler Pacts of August/September 1939, executed in contravention of international law. Their immediate outcome was the outbreak of World War II and, subsequently, the Holocaust.
Thirdly, the correct surname of the commandant of Auschwitz is Rudolf Hoess (not Hess). The deputy fuehrer died in August 1987, in mysterious circumstances, in Berlin's Spandau Prison at the ripe old age of 93.
Happy you're there
Sir, - I am very glad that your organization is there so I can obtain first-class news out of the Middle East, especially Israel. I do not fully trust the American and European news outlets and count on your news when I want to know what is really going on in that part of the globe.
Your paper is also a delight to read for this goy. Keep up the good work - yours is the only news source in the Middle East worth paying attention to.
88FM - we need you!
Sir, - I can't believe that there is a plan to close down the only "quality" music radio station we have which plays contemporary music and not just repetitive pop ("Big names perform to save 88FM," Billboard, November 18).
Radio 88FM soothes and guides me on the way to work, plays innovative Israeli and foreign music, and had the courage to air stars such as Idan Raichel and Aviv Gefen in his Blackwood phase long before they reached the commercial airwaves. I hear Ella and Frankie, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis in the evenings, and on Friday mornings music from all over, including Brazil and the Middle East.
Always rich and surprising, this station is a moveable feast. To all those readers who don't know what I'm upset about: Please, please tune in before it's too late, and find out what a rare pleasure we are about to lose. It's easyâ€¦ 88FM.
Write to me?
Sir, - I am a 50-year-old American male interested in corresponding with people from Jerusalem. Age and sex are unimportant. My interests and hobbies include reading, writing, camping, meeting people, different customs and cultures; and Anne Frank, among other things. I can be contacted at 167 Harding Road Buffalo, New York 14220, USA.
Buffalo, New York