This tourism's great, but where's our pride?
Sir, - A new impetus to bring Israelis to Arab Israeli villages and scenic sites has caught the imagination of Jews, American philanthropists, some Arab residents and assorted government agencies. In a challenging article Orly Halpern describes hope for this effort ("Israeli Jews walk a path to new tourism in Umm el-Fahm," April 7).
Unfortunately, the beginning of this initiative took place on Saturday, and while I like the idea of secure tourism to many sites in Israel, Arab or Jewish, I am upset that official government agencies would approve funding tourism on Shabbat.
Individually, we act according to our consciences; but for the Tourism and Housing ministries to provide incentives for tour groups to violate the Sabbath is a sign that Jews have no pride in themselves. A Jewish government has a moral obligation to observe certain standards.
Inter-ethnic tourism should be encouraged, but not at the cost of being obsequious.
Entering a war zone has consequences
Sir, - Re "Extradite IDF officer, Miller's family urges" (April 9): Anybody - reporter, photographer or "do-gooder" - who goes to a war zone anywhere exposes himself to mortal danger and should take the possible consequences into account. The killing of British filmmaker James Miller, however unfortunate, was no breach of the Geneva Convention but a terrible war accident.
Louise Christian, solicitor for the Miller family, betrays an attitude of anti-Semitism. To say "there is a culture of impunity of killings of civilians by the IDF and that is not just for foreign nationals but Palestinians" is to callously ignore the brutal murder of Israelis by Palestinians. Why is there a war going on?
We Israelis, our government and security forces have to look out for our fighters, the people who defend us, and not surrender them to a bunch of English hypocrites whose own military behavior, certainly during the Mandate here, bears none too close a scrutiny.
Extradite one of our soldiers? Certainly not. If any punishment is in order, our IDF should take care of it.
Let's take a look at this blame thing
Sir, - In "Prospects for negotiations" (April 6) Daoud Kuttab, predictably, blames Israel for everything that went wrong in the past and may go wrong in the future. His most amazing statement: "It is clear that once again the Palestinian negotiating power is mostly a negative one." This comes right after a mention of Camp David II, implying that Yasser Arafat had no choice but to say no to the most generous offer the Palestinians will ever get.
But he did have a real choice. He could have lived up to his claim of aspiring to "the peace of the brave" and said yes - or, at the very least, "yes, but" and continued negotiating, rather than unleashing his bloody intifada.
Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
In the name of honor
Sir, - I read "Pediatrician held for 'honor killing' of sister, 19" (April 7) with a mixture of sadness and fury. This is a triple tragedy: A young woman is dead; her five brothers, accused of her murder, may be lost to their families. One of them, a pediatrician, will possibly never again use his medical skills to tend sick children. All in the name of honor.
It is perverse that Islamic society cannot grasp the fact that killing one's child or sibling is not honorable; that it is barbaric and uncivilized on any terms and only brings dishonor to the families concerned and to their religion and culture. It is frightening, too, that higher education has not mitigated a societal propensity for violence, as shown by the suspected participation of the young woman's doctor sibling in her murder.
This Middle Eastern "value" has no place in a world which at least tacitly acknowledges that society is the better for espousing values that lead to more tolerant, restrained and gentler behavior. Just as human sacrifice has disappeared, and killing female children in certain societies is deemed no longer acceptable, honor killing as a cultural tenet must be stamped out. And if it takes place here, the perpetrators must be prosecuted with the full force of our legal system, no allowances made for "cultural diversity."
Sir, - Rivka Maor is concerned that in Sweden it is permissible to call Jews apes and pigs (Letters, April 9). This is an obvious pandering to the large Muslim community that has been allowed to accumulate there. But this name-calling is another example of Muslim illogic, because how is it possible that for the past 60 years the apes and pigs have continually won in battles against the Arabs, who grossly outnumber them?
One might ponder the nature of the beasts that can be beaten by these animals.
Sir, - Pity the civilized Western country that can be intimidated into sanctioning incitement against an ethnic group, sanitizing it as "everyday rhetoric."
Which Western country's next?
Sir, - Those who call the Jews the offspring of pigs and apes claim to be descended from Abraham through his son Ishmael.
MORDECAI BEN NATAN
Sir, - I am pleased to have the opportunity to write about Pinchas Landau's Global Agenda column and to commend him for consistent quality and interest.
In "Slush and sleaze" (April 7) Mr. Landau wrote that many Western immigrants believe Israel is the most corrupt country, and proceeds to show that Western countries are not immune.
For this Western immigrant it matters little whether Israel is most corrupt; we should aspire to root out corruption.
Instead, the Israeli attitude seems to be that "it's only to be expected."
What was interesting was the juxtaposition of this column with "BOI: Report preaches to the converted," which conveyed smugness over the fact that the Bank of Israel had already acted to clean out the long-term abuse of staff benefits reported by the state comptroller.
The hidden message, however, is that it took a Western oleh (appointed by a Western-educated finance minister) as governor of the Bank of Israel to effect the clean-up.
If we disappear, how will they relate?
Sir, - I think it is important to hear from the people Jonathan Tobin discussed in "If you build it, will they come?" (March 27).
We Jews owe a significant part of our success in America to our visibility. From a very young age we are the fellow classmates who look and act just like everyone else, except that we happen to celebrate different holidays. This positive personal interaction early on helps mold strong, favorable pro-Israel public sentiment later on.
If we were to disappear from public school classrooms non-Jews would not be able to relate to us as well, and would therefore be less likely to support us.
Gooh, gooh, gooh!
Sir, - With the advent of special-interest parties such as the Pensioners Party, for the next election I intend to found the Children's Party, whose platform will be that kids deserve to have fun and be paid for it.
If anyone can seriously suggest making Amir Peretz defense minister with the reality of Hamas and Iran, anything's possible.
So remember, as things get worse and you want to escape reality, next time vote for the Children's Party.
Slogan: Gooh, gooh, gooh!