letters to the editor 88.
(photo credit: )
Religious Zionism inward, and out
Sir, - Kudos to Isi Leibler for his poignant analysis of the dangers facing religious Zionism today. Many years ago I asked a senior minister from the National Religious Party why the NRP had become a one-dimensional party. His answer: "If I disagreed with that stand I would not survive in the party!"
It is not too late - provided the rabbis who have influence, and others, speak out ("Save religious Zionism," May 11).
Sir, - Isi Leibler should amend his statement regarding the dismantling of Gush Katif and the subsequent shameful mistreatment of the evacuees. He describes it, in addition to being an "absolute catastrophe," as a "devastating blow for all religious Zionists." Accuracy and integrity would insist that the blow's devastating impact affected not only religious Zionists, but all Zionists.
While all of us need to reflect upon the wisdom of our behavior, it is absolutely immoral to accuse those who have maintained their ideals, who have contributed their best to the military, social, educational and governmentally encouraged settlement activity, of being those most remiss in their behavior.
The need for soul-searching, as well as the finger of accusation, would be best pointed elsewhere.
Sir, - In "Speak for yourself, A.B. Yehoshua" (May 11) I learned a few things about A.B. that I had not known before. Uri Dan may be right to call Yehoshua a post-Zionist "big mouth" of the Oslo camp. But even for a Likudnik like me that did not mar the beauty of his words in Washington.
Far from demeaning Jews of the Diaspora, Yehoshua was encouraging them to come home and experience Jewish life in Israel as a second skin rather than be content with the clothing of the Diaspora, which our people have so often been forced to change, mostly at short notice and under threat.
Dan's mentor, Ariel Sharon, often peddled the same message, although not in such beautiful words. In his Paris speech in 2004 Sharon enraged locals by urging French Jews to leave for Israel. But just a year later he was bulldozing Jewish families out of their homes in Gush Katif.
Yehoshua may have softened in his old age. Sadly, Sharon did the opposite.
Supporting the PA
Sir, - Why does Israel and the rest of the world feel it necessary to continue to support the welfare entity called the PA? If the Palestinians want to have a country they should have their own infrastructure and take care of their citizens themselves ("Livni: Israel ready to release PA tax funds for humanitarian aid," May 11).
No, I am not naive, just talking to myself.
Sir, - Two practical suggestions. 1. Drop a leaflet over Gaza with this message: "Millions, maybe billions, of dollars are poised to be delivered to you as soon as three things are agreed on - recognition of Israel, abandonment of terror, adherence to previous agreements. It's your choice.
2. Pack a few more thousand of the food packages we give to our poorest citizens and hand them over the fence, free for the taking. No strings.
Sir, - The PA has not been economically viable from the start. True, major misappropriations by everyone from Yasser Arafat down made the task of succeeding impossible.
The rich Arab donors have a long history of poor donations to the Palestinian cause as they have never really wanted to solve the refugee problem. The passing of control to Hamas only helped make the true economic situation clear.
The crisis would have come sooner or later regardless who was in power, and there is no need to prolong the agony.
Appalling poll results
Sir, - I was expecting to see many letters regarding "Poll: 'Gov't should encourage Arabs to emigrate'" (May 10).
I was appalled by the disturbing results of this poll and wonder if our Jewish Israelis have any memory of the countries that arbitrarily expelled Jews from their homes, of the centuries of discrimination, pogroms, inquisition and every other abominable treatment of Jews because they were Jews.
What gives us the right to encourage Israeli Arabs to emigrate, to leave the homes their families have lived in for generations? What are we teaching our children about tolerance, respect for the rights of others, civil law and the right of every citizen to follow his or her own beliefs and traditions?
Back to basics
Sir, - Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai has an innovative solution to the increase in bread prices: increase child subsidies commensurately. I would like to hear him explain to elderly, fixed-income grandparents how this would work for them.
Slaves in waiting
Sir, - While closing businesses on Shabbat is a very big issue for the health of our families, I hope the real prevailing disgrace will be addressed. Every day restaurant owners take their waiting staffs' tips and use this money to pay their wages.
Do they pay taxes on this ill-gotten gain? No. Social security? No. To add insult to injury, should an employee leave and work for another restaurant, he/she must often work between two and five days without pay to qualify for the job, regardless of past experience.
Isn't this called slavery and worthy of investigation by the authorities? ("The return of Shabbat cops," Editorial, May 7).
Sir, - The caption to your page 1 photo "Squatters evicted" (May 8), which showed the police evicting the residents of Beit Shapira in Hebron, was inaccurate. The dictionary defines "squatter" as "a person who takes unauthorized possession of unoccupied premises."
In this case police investigators decided that the sale documents were forged despite the fact that they had not yet examined the original papers.
The Supreme Court accepted the government's position and ordered that the case be transferred to Jerusalem's Shalom Court to determine legality; in the meantime, the building would remain empty.
The residents considered their documents legal; and given that money had changed hands with the previous Arab owner, they were certainly not squatters.
COLIN L LECI
Sir, - "Court holds final hearing on barrier near Givat Ze'ev"
(May 9) was inaccurate. There will be another hearing, probably this week, in which a legal team representing both the Givat Ze'ev citizens and the local council will present arguments against the current route of the security fence.
We would like to make some minor changes that will benefit all in the long run.
Sir, - In the past 58 years heroic IDF units have gone out over 22,000 times to fill an unsung role very few volunteer for.
"Harbingers everyone dreads to see at the door" (May 2) described the feelings of a family when the bell rings and the door is opened to reveal a solemn group of soldiers standing there; and also the feelings of the soldiers who bring families news of the death of their beloved son, husband, brother, daughter or sister.
I am the father of one such as Capt. Nahum, and I have heard many different stories.
Our son had to struggle with a soldier whose rifle had accidentally gone off, shooting his friend, and who then attempted to kill himself.
He has been attacked physically, kissed, cursed and spat on. He has been apologized to and lauded for his sensitivity and help to the families to whom he brought the worst possible news.
He has done this voluntary reserve service for the past 23 years and has no thought of retiring; but he wishes he would become redundant.
Sir, - I truly admire the way Stewart Weiss has chosen to honor his son Ari's memory ("There is only one thing we can give to our fallen," May 2). As the mother of a soon-to-be soldier I pray for all who serve in our army.
Rabbi Weiss wrote: "When secular Israeli Jews - as many as 40% of those eligible, by some estimates - seek to escape army service and avoid conscription, I cry bitter tears."
I'd like to remind him that many self-declared pious Jews also seek to escape army service by different means, for example, by falsely registering as yeshiva students.
Both phenomena should be eradicated, but let us be fair and acknowledge that this shirking goes further than secular Jews.
Smoke sure does get in your eyes
Sir, - Yes, I agree that Lag Ba'Omer bonfires are great fun for some - but not so much for those of us who have to breathe in the smoke for hours afterwards. (Way back in time, items like plastic and clothing and rubber tires were not fed into the bonfire.)
Surely it is time for the grown-up adults among us to see that the fires are put out, either by covering them with sand or dousing them with water.
As it is, they are a health hazard ("Lag Ba'Omer's wasted wood," Letters, May 11).
Can anyone help?
Sir, - I have been given an ashtray by my father-in-law to find out about and am hoping someone out there can help me identify it. It has "Vienna Cafe, Jerusalem" printed on it. Underneath is a stamp which says "Decor depose, Bosshardt & Co S.A. Lucerne 1932."
Any information would be appreciated.