Sir, - On the same page that you reported the words of Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz about the need for unity, followed by his nasty warning that now was the time to "pursue" so-called "inciters" ("Halutz: Lessons of Rabin's death not learned," November 8), was a report about a document from the Public Defender's Office which catalogues the breaches of judicial procedures by a judiciary which, like the police, abrogated basic rules of fairness and procedure to go after disengagement protesters ("Report talks of 'trigger happy' policy," November 8).
Among the worst sins of the government in throwing the Jews of Gush Katif out of their homes, perhaps the government's hypocrisy is the most distasteful. And perhaps its continued lack of understanding of what constitutes real democracy and protest is the most frightening.
Sir, - Despite the headline "Sharon: No talks with Syria" and the sub-headline "PM says Golan withdrawal would be a 'grave mistake'" (November 8), I am filled with a sense of foreboding that another contraction of the borders of the State of Israel is imminent.
We heard the late Yitzhak Rabin, before he was elected prime minister, say words to the effect that it was impossible to imagine that Israel would withdraw from the Golan. Yet, when he became prime minister, discussions started with Syria on that very course of action. I would not be surprised if talks are already going on about abandoning the Golan.
The bigger problem?
Sir, - Even with the events of the Holocaust becoming more distant with time, Israelis are concerned with anti-Semitism in the Diaspora, because it is usually perceived here as anti-Israel ("Israel has duty to fight anti-Semitism, 92% say," November 8). It is therefore not surprising that anti-Semitism is of greater concern to Israelis than the epidemic of inter-marriage among Diaspora Jews.
However, although not widely publicized, the rate of inter-marriage, even in Israel, has been steadily on the rise. Of course, to come out against it would smack of racism and, if done by rabbis, it is perceived as preaching. Intermarriage has insinuated itself into the American Jewish experience; in some families, Hanukka is observed one week and Christmas the next. But it seems we feel there are more important problems.
Sir, - Emanuele Ottolenghi makes a good point about careless references to the Holocaust, worldwide, contributing to its trivialization ("The new 'truth' about Good and Evil," November 7). However, he seems to have forgotten one group which is also guilty of this tactic: Israeli Jews themselves. Not only have comparisons been made between the Palestinians and the Nazis on many occasions, but recently the disengagement - which resulted in no casualties whatsoever - was repeatedly compared to the Holocaust.
Waking to tyranny
Sir, - Before Adolf Hitler launched his blitzkrieg over Europe, he threatened the annihilation of Jews and other peoples as he boasted of Arian supremacy. A short time later his armies controlled much of Europe.
In this context, how can we disregard the virulent rhetoric of Iran's President Ahmadinejad, as he threatens to annihilate the Jewish State and expounds upon his hatred of the West?
We are now witnessing an upheaval in France that threatens to spread to other European communities with large Muslim populations ("French to deploy forces as riots spread across borders," November 8). The advocates of the rioters blame social and economic injustice for the unrest. Have the European democracies been sleeping? Who could have thought that these communities would want to be integrated into Western society? If we don't sleep in our democracy, we will not awake in their tyranny.
Road map for France
Sir,- France's inability to stop the burning of Paris and other cities prompts me to suggest that the French follow the formula given to Israel for dealing with rioting Muslims.
First, a road map should be developed by the UN, the US, Russia and the other countries in the EU, excluding France, because obviously the concerned country is not capable of dealing with its own problem. This road map would dictate removing all Frenchmen from the disputed areas, without taking time to worry about how they would rebuild their lives, because "Peace Now" is the important imperative.
France should then permit the creation of a separate Muslim state, living side by side with the French. This state would probably need to have at least half of Paris as its capital since, delving back into history, there would no doubt be the discovery that Paris is actually a holy Muslim city.
Since all these concessions would only whet the rioters' appetites, the French would have to be prepared to continue giving away parts of their country under the threat of more violence. In exchange, President Chirac would be greeted warmly at the UN.
Americans For a Safe Israel
Sir, - I was heartened to learn that "Despite kvetching, 82% 'very satisfied' with life in Israel," (November 7). Listening to Israelis complain can leave the impression that the entire populace is ready to emigrate tomorrow. The next time a taxi driver tells me that I am crazy to have left Canada, I will just sit back and smile. I wonder, if the same kind of survey was conducted in Canada, what the results would be? With winter fast approaching I can just imagine.
Sir, - King Solomon said, "of writing books there is no end." The debate about evolution and "intelligent design" will never end because people who see an opportunity to make money will keep it going.
The Bible, in 31 sentences, describes the beginning of the universe and of life. What does it matter if the world was created in six days of 24 hours or over several billion years? After all, time is relative. Our perception of it on Earth is different than it would be in any other part of the universe.
Science and Jewish belief are not automatically at odds. The brief account of creation in the Bible is in accord with what evolutionists agree is the order in which life appeared. Attempting to oppose science and the Jewish view of creation is simply artificially fostering debate.
Sir, - While the term "ordained" has never been used by anyone connected with the Nishmat Center for Advanced Jewish Study for Women, your coverage of the fourth graduation of Nishmat's Yoatzot Halacha used the word ("12 new women halachic advisers ordained," October 27).
Nishmat's Yoatzot Halacha in no way aspire to replace or compete with rabbis. Following two years' intensive study, they are certified to work alongside rabbis, teaching and assisting women in observance of taharat hamishpacha (family purity laws).
Sir, - Having recently found out that the name of Jerusalem's German Colony neighborhood is connected with members of the Templar sect whose origins were in the Crusader period, I am filled with a sense of dissonance.
According to Indestructible Jews by Max I. Dimont, "Jewish history books portray the Crusaders as despised barbarians, who combined holiness with horror. Jews who had the bad luck to reside in the paths of Crusaders en route to the Holy Land were the first to feel the lethal effects of their mobilized zeal."
Under these circumstances, I would suggest a change of name for the German colony to the "Simon Wiesenthal quarter," or if the residents prefer a German appelation maybe it could be named after the Jewish poet Heinrich Heine.
Sir, - The fact that Israel ranks among the worst in the Western world in poverty rates among the elderly is upsetting ("25% of elderly are poor," November 8).
Equally bad is the way the elderly are treated in their everyday lives. The high step up into the majority of buses, people not getting up to give the elderly a seat, disregard of a senior with a cane in queues or walking on the sidewalk; all these make the lives of the elderly even more difficult. They deserve more consideration in all ways.
We will all be old some day. Let us show, and teach our children, respect and kindness for seniors. Maybe we can make life better for us all.
... but vitriol please
Sir, - If the "review" of the reality show Of all the girls in the world is the start of a series, that's great ("And his Jewish Princess is..." November 7). But where was the vitriol that this dreadful program deserves?
And while on the subject of television, why has there not been an outcry from religious viewers that the best program, Eretz Nehederet, is now being shown on Friday night without a repeat?
Sir, - With the passing of Nathan Gilboa we have lost one of the truly unique founding fathers of Israeli theatrical production. I personally have lost a dear friend and partner with whom my late parents and I had the good fortune to work for many years.
Nathan was the epitome of that theater personality which hardly exists anymore: the impresario. He loved the theater and he loved producing and presenting performers both from Israel and from abroad. His greatest love and contribution was as producer of Yiddish theater. He was among the first and the most successful, despite many difficulties in the early days when Yiddish was being officially shunned.
But his most special qualities were his humility and his honesty. His word was his bond.
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