Herzl, Olmert & A.B. Yehoshua
Sir, - "Herzl and Olmert" (Editorial, May 9) opines about what Herzl would think of Ehud Olmert's policies. Permit me to cite three positions Herzl takes in his book Der Judenstat:
â€¢ He prefers a constitutional monarchy to a democracy.
â€¢ He is opposed to a referendum because he does not trust the general public.
â€¢ He wants "the clergy in their cloisters as the army in its barracks."
As a postscript to these thoughts, let me add that I am not sure if Herzl would agree with A.B. Yehoshua's disdain for the Jewishness of the Jews of the Diaspora ("A.B. Yehoshua sparks uproar by saying only Israel can ensure Jewish survival," May 4); but I am sure he would not accept Yehoshua's emphasis on "Israelism" above Judaism, and his almost Canaanite preference for Israeli Arab citizens over fellow Jews living in Brooklyn.
J. M. KING
Sir, - Seldom do I have the need to comment on an article, but Charles Krauthammer's "Impeccable logic, clear intentions" (May 8) was too close to the truth for comfort. Of all his columns this was one of the most disturbing in its clarity.
Perhaps a miracle will surprise us all, for that is what it will surely take to overcome what is on the way.
I love this land, so rich in music, the arts, landscape and the freedom to live as I please in my Jewish heritage. I have lived here for 27 years and every day is an adventure. I am truly grateful for that gift, however it may end.
Sir, - For the record, I supported this past summer's disengagement. Nevertheless, I was shocked by the official IDF reaction to First Sergeant Hananel Dayan's refusal to shake the hand of Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz. Especially galling is the claim that Dayan brought "politics" into an awards ceremony. This implies two terrible misconceptions: that politics is a dirty thing that has no place at a military award ceremony; and that there are some areas of life that are not political.
The army and our elected officials are desperately wrong on both counts. Politics is the system through which power within a group is distributed. In a democracy such as ours power is distributed evenly throughout the group. In fact, no activity in a democracy is devoid of political implications. A standing military and an award ceremony are political activities. Nothing is politically neutral.
The army brass's response to Dayan essentially said: Only we have a right to parade our opinions. Such a position smacks of totalitarianism. Its stupidity frightens me regarding the future of our people's army and democratic political system ("The IDF's suicide attempt," Caroline Glick, May 9).
Sir, - What Caroline Glick failed to set forth is that the politicization of the IDF commenced not with the disengagement, but rather when former prime minister Ariel Sharon replaced Moshe Ya'alon as chief of staff because he apparently disagreed with the disengagement policy. I believe that most people agreed that Ya'alon would have followed the policy decided by the government even if he disagreed with it personally and professionally.
Everyone should have understood that the person chosen to replace Ya'alon was selected primarily because he would adhere to the current political correctness.
Decisions such as removing an exceptional soldier for failing to perform a social grace should serve as a warning sign to all of us that the hierarchy of the army has decided to involve itself in the country's political debate - something that could have disastrous consequences for us all.
Sir, - The army has a right to require respect from a soldier for his officers. The vehicle for showing such respect is a salute. This Sgt. Dayan did as he approached the chief of staff. A handshake, however, is a sign of friendship. Considering what the army, under the command of Lt. Gen. Halutz, did to his family, such an expression of affection would have been the height of hypocrisy.
It may be true, as Yvette Porter stated (Letters, May 5), that to embarrass a person publicly contradicts Jewish ethics; on the other hand, expelling a person's family from their home is no great mitzva, either.
Sir, - Caroline Glick - outrageously - ties alienating the national religious community to the army's "dangerous politicization." The army, and the police, are the military wings of all democratic governments, having the sworn duty to carry out all legal orders of the government regardless of whether they agree with them or not. If any group is responsible for the rift between religious and non-religious in this country it is the extremist elements in the religious camp, who take any public opportunity to berate our government and our country.
As a religious person I strongly object to going along with a disreputable act done in public without raising a strong protest. I truly believe the majority of young religious soldiers in the army were appalled by Sgt. Dayan's open rebellion.
Sir, - I am a Caroline Glick fan. I think that she walks on journalistic water. Sadly, though, this time I must disagree with her premise. Ms. Glick condemns the army's actions and the words of some officers regarding Sgt. Hananel Dayan's refusal to shake the chief of staff's hand. I was not, and am still not in favor of the disengagement, but I found Dayan's action reprehensible.
He knew what he was doing when he did it, and probably before the award ceremony. He had ample time to inform his commanding officers, in advance, that he would not accept the award in the manner expected. He could even have told the media of his intention. Instead he waited until the ceremony honoring the nation's fallen, and then insulted his chief commanding officer. By his action he also insulted the uniform he wears, and the army and nation it represents.
He knew what he was doing, and deserved what he got.
Sir, - There has been much talk of fireworks and the lack of flags on Independence Day. These are considered icons, ways of displaying national pride.
But what about the disgraceful littering of your land? I am always appalled at the disgusting mess left in Tel Aviv's Charles Clore Park and in Park Hayarkon. But how ironic the mistreatment of Israel's public places on this of all days!
Fireworks and flags mean little when this beautiful country is so poorly treated on a daily basis.
Chomps & champs
Sir, - As a lifelong Tottenham fan, I was obviously upset to see my team denied Champions League football because of food poisoning and a sublime Yossi Benayoun goal ("Tottenham considers suing over food poisoning claims," May 9). I wish this Israeli international player the best of luck in next week's FA Cup final.
Sir, - Another Israeli citizen has made an impact on the world outside Israel and outside Judaism. Our man in English soccer, Yossi Benayoun, played a fantastic game on Sunday for West Ham United, and significantly influenced the final outcome of the Premier League. A constant threat the whole game and eventually scoring the winning goal, he ensured that North London rival Arsenal reached next season's Champions League in place of Tottenham Hotspur.
Although Yossi usually struts his stuff on Shabbat, he still managed to turn the league upside down on the final day of the season to always be favorably remembered by Arsenal fans the world over.