letters to the editor 88.
(photo credit: )
He left it out. Why?
Sir, - While the prime minister's address to a joint session of the US Congress was a masterful performance and a credit to his speech-writers, it was also noteworthy for a critical omission. The occasion would have been a great opportunity for Ehud Olmert to note that at the very moment he was speaking to his distinguished audience Israel was marking Jerusalem Day, the day Jerusalem was reunited under Jewish sovereignty, never to be redivided again.
The PM did refer to "a united Jerusalem as [Israel's] capital - that is open and accessible for the worship of all religions." But that only made one wonder why no mention of Jerusalem Day followed.
Olmert did cite America's Memorial Day, to be held next week, but studiously omitted noting celebration of the day that provided Jews with access to their holiest site after being banished from it for 19 years ("Olmert's address to Congress," May 25).
PROF. SHLOMO SLONIM
The writer is author of Jerusalem in America's Foreign Policy.
Sir, - As a retired journalist in my 80th year and an oleh hadash in my second year, I am refraining from expressing opinions on political concerns until I can respond intelligently. But in the interim there is one matter on which I feel I must comment.
On the eve of his first visit to the White House, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told CNN of his concern over terrorist attacks against "innocent civilians." He appeared to be excluding from these innocents any military personnel injured, or worse, in these attacks.
Surely he did not mean that young Israeli troops are any less innocent than their civilian brothers? They would like to be home with their families, going to yeshivot and universities or beginning their careers in their chosen professions, rather than engaging in combat with their Arab neighbors who are, in a sense, "innocents" themselves. But by creating this dichotomy, the prime minister appeared to give credence to a blurring of the lines between those who use murder as their weapon of choice and those who defend themselves against it.
Some will dismiss this as "mere semantics." But battles can be won or lost on the field of semantics. Our political leaders and military commanders need to take care that they do not lose on the word front what they have achieved on the battlefront.
Sir, - The sad "A bitter end to a dream project" (May 22) was just another example of how the Palestinians had a perfect opportunity to provide food, jobs and security for their own economy. Of course, they were quick to blame the Israeli occupation for shutting down the greenhouses that were dropped in their laps by American philanthropists (mostly Jews).
Jabir and others must first realize that the Palestinians themselves must take responsibility for their people's actions, and not be quick to push the blame onto others.
Sir, - As I read "Life-saving drugs" (Editorial, May 22), it struck me that our neighbors to the south claim they have no money for medical supplies but have somehow found the funds to buy uniforms and guns for a new 3,000-man "security" force.
At the same time our government cannot find the means to purchase life-saving drugs needed by cancer sufferers but seemingly has unlimited funds to pay for new ministers, deputy ministers and vice premiers.
The two administrations should not even seem to be reading from the same playbook.
MICHAEL D. HIRSCH
Sir, - It was interesting to note that Gerald Steinberg, in his "Cut the cash, end the hostility" (April 20), chose to attack the European Union for supporting precisely those organizations that present a human face of Israel to the country itself and to the world outside. It is a pity that Steinberg cannot differentiate between what he calls "radical" - Machsom Watch and ICAHD - and the advocacy or protection of human rights.
By observing and reporting inhuman and insensitive behavior at the checkpoints and by protesting the demolition of homes as guilt by association (or relationship), these two organizations and others remind the Palestinians that there are pockets of sensitivity and humanity within this conflict.
Sir, - Re "Brandeis sparks new controversy by honoring Israel critic Tony Kushner" (May 21): Only an American Jew can afford the luxury of feeling "serious ambivalence... doubt... uncertainty... confusion" toward Israel.
We Israelis are also "thoughtful people," but are too busy dodging terrorists and rockets.
Sir, - Your article concerning Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau's candidacy for the presidency raised certain concerns ("Post haste," May 19). The president of Israel has always represented the nation to all Jews and welcomed them to Israel and to his residence.
For the past 30 years I have had contact with each president in this regard. All of them have appeared before groups of rabbis representing the Masorti/Conservative Movement and have welcomed them to the presidential home, and some have visited our rabbinical schools here and abroad.
I should like Rabbi Lau to state his position on this matter. As chief rabbi he avoided meeting with Conservative rabbis. Will he be different as president?
RABBI REUVEN HAMMER
Sir, - Your excellent article describing the recent visit of Native Canadians to Israel should be required reading for every official in the hasbara department of our Foreign Ministry ("Native lands," May 4). These visitors were visibly moved by their experiences here and will make excellent good-will ambassadors when they return to Canada.
At a time when most of the world media is anti-Israel, such visits are crucial in the ongoing public relations battle Israel faces. I hope the ministry will see fit to coordinate and sponsor many such trips from around the world.