letters to the editor 88.
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Words & deeds
Sir, - Words fail me in trying to describe my dismay over "Haredi protests against detention of alleged baby killer continue" (April 16). These (let's be kind) misguided individuals, during one week of protests, have caused NIS 140,000 worth of municipal damage, according to the Jerusalem Municipality spokesman.
I have many questions, but here's just one: How do these "ultra-Orthodox" explain their flouting of the talmudic concept of "The law of the land should be your law"?
Up-front on Pollard
Sir, - Re "Report: Pollard, Barghouti deal in works" (April 16): Working for the possible release of Jonathan Pollard is too important to remain "behind the scenes," as the government maintains it has been for more than 20 years. My feeling is that the issue is being raised at this time to deflect any possible opposition to the appointment of Rafi Eitan as a minister in the new government.
Your item, citing "Jerusalem officials," reinforced this view. If it is not the case, why doesn't the interim prime minister, or those unnamed "officials," give this story some real credence and make the announcement to the public themselves?
JACK DE LOWE
Lost Pessah dream
Sir, - Last year I was astonished at what transpired in Israel in preparation for Pessah. Today as I sit in a neat, modern apartment in Long Beach I recall the hustle and bustle in Safed. It was unbelievable to me that people could go to such extremes as using a blowtorch to clean the pipes in bathroom and kitchen "just to make sure the house is pure."
Terribly complicated rules apply to Pessah in Israel; so complicated that we were not even invited to a Seder with any of the religious because we might have contaminated their Seder. We were invited to a secular Seder, which proved fun... no hours of waiting to eat, no reading of the Haggada until the wee hours, just a nice time for recalling why we celebrate and for sharing our feelings about Israel.
If I could see that because we remember the bitterness of enslavement we have changed things in this world, I would feel pride. However, this is not the case. We stop briefly every spring and we recite the Pessah prayers, follow the traditions, eat reclining and do a million other acts of remembrance; but that has not changed the fact that in this world there are millions who are not free.
If the Pessah cleaning effort in Israel became an everyday affair it would be a shining star of a place, with white streets, clean houses, no garbage anywhere and people as clean as newborn babes. Alas! The poverty, stench, garbage in the streets and depression of the land continues, and so does the lack of empathy.
For 50 years the Palestinians have had no country, and for the most part no dignity. How dare we celebrate our freedom from slavery when we have been party to the virtual enslavement of other human beings?
Safed/Long Beach, California
They mean it
Sir, - Gershon Baskin's op-ed on freedom was remarkably full of false conclusions. He appeared to justify Palestinian terrorism because Israel enslaved the Palestinians. But there is no justification for homicide bombers. He wrote that we Jews achieved freedom from the "Nazi Pharaoh," and then proceeded to compare Israel to a modern-day pharaoh. Was this an attempt at moral equivalence? ("Freedom in our time," April 11.)
This writer appears to represent that part of the Jewish community which doesn't understand plain speaking. When Hamas leaders say they want to eradicate you, they mean it.
Read their lips.
Sir, - Tzipi Livni said that an attack by Palestinians on Israeli soldiers is not terrorism. Has she fallen off her rocker? ("FM Livni slammed for new 'terror' definition," April 12.)
Is this a situation of declared war by one country on another? Bad enough if it were, but such a situation would justify maximum effort by each side in its self-defense. If this is indeed a war between nations, why are we being so relatively gentle?
There are not two countries involved here. And that being the case, what qualifies a Palestinian as a soldier fighting in defense, or under orders to commit aggression? Just giving him a gun and dressing him in a uniform does not exclude him from the category of terrorism.
Our children in the IDF are no less dear to us than those who travel on public transportation. Ms. Livni's statement was a step toward recognizing the legitimacy of the Palestinian-Hamas regime, seen internationally as a terrorist structure. It seems to be a step in the wrong direction.
Israeli Arabs: It's your choice
Sir, - When I pledged allegiance to the United States of America, not for a moment did I feel disloyal to Israel. On the contrary, I was proud to become an American citizen while loving Israel no less, just as every new US citizen's oath of loyalty does not imply that he is any less in love with his country of origin.
Larry Derfner, listen carefully to Avigdor Lieberman, and you will hear loud and clear that minorities in Israel who are loyal to our country are welcome citizens ("Israel is their home, too," April 11). But when some state clearly that their loyalty is with our enemies, it is time to call a spade a spade.
Whoever calls for the destruction of the State of Israel is a traitor, and should not walk about freely while we are at war. As to the population exchange, according to Mr. Lieberman it will be up to the minorities to decide where their loyalty lies.
I have good Arab friends in Umm el-Fahm who love Israel. They are deeply disturbed because their children have turned against the state. Unlike their parents, these children want nothing to do with our family.
Mr. Lieberman is addressing these children, who are now young adults: If your hearts and minds are with our adversaries, then live in peace elsewhere, and leave us alone.
Learn from India's blunder
Sir, - I understand that Mr. Ehud Olmert has set the goal of Israel as a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. There are a number of settlement towns in the West Bank and a few tens of thousands of Jews are settled there. There are one million Arabs in Israel's territory, and they are furiously growing. Now that there is talk of drawing final borders and having a final settlement, I suggest an exchange of Arab Muslims in the national territory of Israel with the Jews in the settlements in the West Bank.
The great Indian statesman and Constitution writer Dr. Ambedkar, as well as Md. Ali Jinnah, the Muslim League's supremo, who achieved the partition of India, advocated the exchange of minority populations in India and Pakistan. This advice was not heeded by Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru, with the result that while all the non-Muslims were ethnically cleansed out of Pakistan, India continues to have a growing and disaffected Muslim minority, telling terribly upon communal harmony and internal security, and producing terrorism.
Israel would do well to take a lesson from the blunder of India when it implements a final settlement with the Palestinians.
Sir, - Re "Pessah teddy bears plagued by taxman" (April 12): There is something unclear in the matter. Toys without commercial value, like any other item manufactured without commercial value that originates in the US, are exempted from customs duties according to the Free Trade Agreement between Israel an the United States. The only payment required should be VAT, and this should be the exemption requested from Customs and the VAT Authority.
As per my personal experience, this authority has the responsibility, and ability, to solve the problem within 24 hours.