Sgt. Elor Azaria
With regard to “IDF: Elor Azaria is lying, violated rules of engagement” (May 10), I believe the military has indicted the wrong man. It should indict the soldier who merely wounded the terrorist for not having shot one more bullet and finishing off the killer beast right away.
Sgt. Azaria simply did what his fellow soldier failed to do.
MOSHE KOLIN Kiryat Motzkin
Have we gone mad? A terrorist who attempted to kill an IDF soldier is shot by another soldier, and now there is confusion as to who is the victim. It is rather academic – the victim is not the terrorist lying on the ground. What is important concerns a consideration of action versus reaction.
Are we so advanced as to set aside old fashioned crime and punishment in favor of moral relativism and political correctness? Jewish tradition is rather clear: If someone comes to kill you, kill him first, and whoever is kind to the cruel will end up being cruel to the kind.
But oh, you probably say, that is religion and we believe in realpolitik.
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ALEX ROSE Ashkelon
According to your report, the terrorist had already been shot six times before being shot by Sgt. Azaria. While the autopsy determined that the bullet fired by Azaria was the cause of death (which in itself might not be that certain), the presence of six bullet wounds must itself have constituted a significant risk of the victim dying after much suffering. In that case, the accused is guilty of euthanasia.
While illegal, euthanasia is being practiced on a regular basis in Israeli hospitals, with the perpetrators not being indicted. The case against the young soldier should therefore be dismissed.
MONTY M. ZION Tel Mond The writer is a retired physician.
Those who saw TV news footage of Sgt. Azaria’s mother stroking his head while in tears would have to be made of stone not to have been moved.
Maybe Azaria made a mistake in judgment, but the terrorist he shot had tried to murder his friend and, God forbid, would have killed many more if he had not been neutralized. Most of us have sons and grandsons who could have been this boy, who every day was putting his life on the line in defense of Israel.
For whom should our hearts bleed? For the would-be murderer of our people? Or for our boys in uniform, who have to make life-and-death decisions at an age where their counterparts in other countries are out having fun? Rules of engagement notwithstanding, Azaria deserves a stainless life – to study, marry, have children – and we must pray that mercy be extended to a young man who could be from any one of our families.
DVORA WAYSMAN Jerusalem Delicious irony
Did anyone besides me notice the delicious irony of Rabbi Reuven Hammer’s reaction (“Judaism and racism,” Comment & Features, May 10) to “Jew and gentile” (Editorial, May 6), which praised the Conservative Movement’s new responsum? The erudite rabbi complains that the editorial writer went too far, stating that some of the sources for the responsum were from non-Jewish sources and that the Jewish God is vindictive.
But doesn’t Conservative Judaism itself go too far? Born as a response to the extreme positions of Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism could never place any limits on how far it would go to rationalize the increasingly non-observant behavior of its membership.
I am sure the founders never intended gay clergy or the welcoming of non-Jews.
Instead of being the bridge between ultra-Orthodoxy and modernity, the Conservatives find themselves rushing to become Reform, even as the latter become more observant – to the undoubted consternation of their founders. The success of this approach can be seen in the free-fall of membership in the Conservative Movement and the closing of Conservative schools and synagogues.
It has always been better for Jews to simply not follow Halacha as a personal choice rather than change Halacha to match one’s behavior. Can’t take the cognitive dissonance? Just change the rules!
YISRAEL GUTTMAN Jerusalem
It would be impossible to count the number of newspaper column inches and television minutes that are currently being devoted to telling us about the weirdness of Donald Trump’s presumptive nomination as the US Republican presidential candidate, the latest example being “Is Trump more dangerous as friend or foe?” (Comment & Features, May 10).
The universal theme is that it is a unique event reflecting a break with precedent and history.
Unfortunately, what these writers and reporters display is their ignorance of the past. I would draw their attention to a section of the excellent book One Summer: America, 1927, where Bill Bryson writes about president Warren G. Harding’s nomination in 1920.
“[H]ardly anyone outside of Congress had heard of him. He was simply the junior senator from Ohio. By background and temperament, he was a smalltown newspaper proprietor, and that was as far as his talents should have carried him.
His nomination for president was one of the great astonishments of the age. It came about only because the delegates to the 1920 Republican Party Convention...
grew hopelessly deadlocked over a slate of poor candidates and settled on the worst one on offer.”
Substitute the appropriate dates and names, and you pretty much have Trump and the Republican party of today. As they say, ces’t plus ca change – the more things change, the more they stay the same.
HENRY KAYE Ashkelon
Donald Trump made a major statement about the settlements, saying he endorses their expansion. If this truly reflects his position, it is a good sign for the future of Israel if he is elected.
The standard approach adopted by President Barack Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton – the presumptive Democratic candidate – is to always pressure Israel to make concessions, particularly a settlement-building freeze. This is based on two concepts: first, that the Israeli/ Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are illegitimate, and second, that to pressure the Palestinians would anger their Arabs allies.
Neither of these assumptions is true. In fact, by continually choosing to pressure Israel, the US has given a negative impression to the Arabs, first that the US does not stand with its allies (and this includes the Saudis), and second, that the Palestinians don’t have to concede anything in order to achieve their goals.
If Trump follows the policies of former US president Ronald Reagan, he will conclude that the settlements are not illegitimate under international law, and further, that the best way to achieve a two-state solution is to pressure the Palestinians by cutting the millions of dollars in aid money, especially by stopping the funding of UNRWA (of which the US is the main benefactor), which only perpetuates the conflict because it provides welfare support to the Palestinians. This would be in line with his oft-repeated statement that he wants to reduce US foreign spending.
In order for Trump to earn my vote and that of many other Jewish Americans, he should formulate a coherent policy that would put pressure where it belongs – on the Palestinians, who are enemies of the US, rather than on its best ally in the Middle East. And the best way to do this is to continue to build settlements until the Palestinians get the message.
YAAKOV BEN-MEIR Netanya
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