Back from barbarism
Sir, - While I may agree with Sam Ser that it is inappropriate to condense the Holocaust experience of the Jewish people into one single memorial date, this does not trivialize individual lives ("Fascinated by Jewish death," January 29).
I was born after my grandmother Chaya Ellashowitz was murdered; however, it was the tragedy of her death by a barbaric act that stimulated me to find out everything about her life - so that today I can clearly envisage her standing, at dusk on Friday night, June 20, 1941, lighting the Sabbath candles in a little Lithuanian village called Kretinga not far from Hitler's headquarters at Rastenberg. He was there preparing for Barbarossa, the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, which began at 3 a.m. on Sunday, June 22.
The invasion sealed my grandmother's fate; but only physically, for her memory lingers on. She is my time link with Jewish culture, but also with compassion. For through her spiritual presence I have learned that the same way she, as an individual, has been redeemed, so can those who caused the Holocaust be redeemed by finding the way back from barbarism to civilization.
LILY ELLASHOVITZ SINGER
Let realism rule...
Sir, - It is time we Israelis abandoned our negative stance ("Israel grapples with reality of 'Hamastan,'" January 27). For a year or more we have raised a variety of reasons to evade repeated calls by the Palestinian and Syrian leaderships for final-status negotiations and an international peace conference. I call upon our government to issue a bold and realistic Israeli initiative along these lines:
â€¢ The Israeli government congratulates the Palestinian people on its recent democratic elections, and has noted the emergence of the new Palestinian leadership.
â€¢ We call upon the new Palestinian government to join us in reaffirming the mutual recognition of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and their right to self-determination.
â€¢ We propose the declaration of an immediate truce and the cessation of all combat activities.
â€¢ We propose calling a peace conference immediately after the Israeli elections. It should be under international auspices and its point of reference might be the widely-supported Geneva Accord.
A dramatic Israeli initiative on such lines would receive worldwide acclaim, and is unlikely to be rejected by the Palestinians.
...wait and see
Sir, - Now, with Hamas and Fatah killing each other and not Israelis, seems like a good time to sit back and see how it turns out ("Rioting Fatah members turn on Abbas," January 29).
In full view
Sir, - After years of futile talks with Fatah dancing around a pinhead, Israel can at last see the face and body of its adversary. It may not be a pleasant face, it has sharp claws, but we know what it is, where it is, and, more importantly, where and how to hit it if necessary.
What is more, the rest of the world can see it.
Sir, - The old PA regime refused peace offers, sent people to murder you, stole and mishandled aid money and convinced most of the world they wanted peace. The new regime is not interested in peace talks, sends people to murder you, hasn't had aid money to steal yet, and most of the world does not think they want peace (yet).
Are things really that much worse with Hamas in control? ("'The Palestinian people voted for resistance,'" January 27.)
Why in the world?
Sir, - I was struck by the former US president's suggestion that the US ensure funds continue to flow to the Palestinians outside government channels, which will now be dominated by Hamas ("Carter: Keep international aid flowing to 'destitute' PA," January 27). Carter thus continues to promote the infantalization of the Palestinians, ensuring that they not suffer the consequences of voting for a terrorist organization.
If aid continues why in the world would the Palestinians apply any pressure on Hamas to disavow terrorism and negotiate with Israel?
Keep the funds flowing
Sir, - Re "Cut off the PA" (Editorial, January 29): It's important to keep Fatah's secular troops paid. The US made the mistake of disbanding Iraq's regular army. If international funds are stopped to Mahmoud Abbas, Israel should keep up the tab.
Boynton Beach, Florida
Why liberty's enemies won
Sir, - The election victory of a vicious terrorist organization resulted from an insidious, albeit clever, gimmick. Since the discrediting of communism, leftists have been championing a purposely vague thing called "democracy" as the essence of political freedom. But democracy in the true, historic sense means unlimited majority rule - which leads to mob rule, erosion of liberty and self-destruction, as in ancient Greece.
Aware of this problem, America's Founding Fathers created a constitutional republic based on the principle of the individual's right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" regardless of majority vote. Protecting individual rights is liberty's essence.
Leftists downplayed individual rights, pushed "freedom to vote" as the essence of liberty and referred to the US and other constitutional republics as democracies, hoodwinking many into equating democracy with liberty. One major consequence has been the erosion of individual rights protection in Western countries such as Canada and the US; another has been in foreign policy. The West's focus on pushing the "right to vote" instead of protection of individual rights has led to the grotesque spectacle of enemies of liberty being voted into power.
The Irish parallel
Sir, - Occasionally Israel needs to look for precedents in other historical moments similar to the victory of Hamas in these laudably democratic elections.
Look at what happened in Ireland, when two sides fought each other bitterly after the British left in 1922. One group, the IRA, forerunner of the modern IRA now in government in Northern Ireland, was defeated in the civil war and became an outsider terrorist organization bent on winning back the Northern Irish territories by force. However, several years later the political party that represented the IRA won in national elections and was "forced" to confront the reality of being the government - like Hamas today.
That party, led by ex-terrorist stalwart Eamonn DeValera, rose to the challenge and governed the country peacefully for several decades during which there was little or no terrorism.
While the parallels between Israel then and Ireland now are not of course perfect, they and other recent examples can surely help ordinary Israelis come to grips with the victory of a group dedicated to the destruction of Israel, who, at the same time, despite the alarmism, cannot bring about that destruction. At the very least Israelis should not be stampeded into voting into power Likud and an ex-prime minister, who, if nothing else, has demonstrated his own inability to learn from history and rise to the level of statesmanship we saw in Ariel Sharon.
Israel will come through this. And Israel's leaders will do what all political leaders have done through time: sit down with their enemy to forge the lasting peace their respective peoples so earnestly desire.
Sir, - I don't understand why the Hamas victory was such a surprise to Europe and the US ("Islamist victory puts US in a bind," January 27). Since I subscribe to The Jerusalem Post I knew what was going to happen. Maybe our world leaders will now get their own subscription.
Think instead of hate
Sir, - Being a Palestinian refugee down the generations has become an occupation and status symbol ("Eternal refugee?" Letters, January 27).
I was a real refugee: a child escaped from Hitler to a strange country without parental support and no oil wells in the background to send dollars, or EU to send monies. I had to make my way alone, and I did. After a year I stopped being a refugee; after two I was a full member of my adopted society. For the past 58 I have belonged to one of the most advanced countries in the world.
Think, professional Palestine refugee - think, instead of hate!
Sir - As an observant Jew and a Zionist, I am sick and tired of people portraying the Greater Land of Israel issue as cut and dried ("What's at stake in Hebron," David Wilder, and "Time to let go of Hebron," Avi Hoffmann, both January 26.) Relinquishing land from Eretz Yisrael is a complex issue with opinions from respected halachic decisors (poskim) on both sides.
As for how one responds to government policies one disagrees with, being an observant Jew does not give carte blanche to act as one pleases. On the contrary: The self-proclaimed representative of Torah Judaism has an even greater responsibility to behave in the most respectful manner possible.
Throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers is wrong, no matter how you slice it, a desecration of God's name. Anyone who condones such behavior has no concept of Jewish values.
Sir, - "Time to let go of Hebron" read like that old brainwashing ploy of introducing enough issues about a belief that its essentials become diluted. Hebron is Israel, uniquely Jewish forever. Lose it and our enemies will be fortified in their conviction that all Israel will be theirs.
Sir, - Why is it that the current US administration, praised up and down by Ariel Sharon as being the best friend Israel ever had, is facing elections in the US next year where about 80% of the Jewish voters will vote for the other party?