letters to the editor 88.
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Clear case of confusion
Sir, - As I read your report "PA Hamas leaders now a fair target" (April 6), I was also listening to Reshet Bet radio reporter Avi Sacharov reporting that Hamas leaders were traveling freely on the West Bank without any interference from the IDF. Sacharov commented that he himself was totally confused as to the government's policy since it acted in ways quite different from its expressed intentions.
If the government appears confused, that's hardly news.
Jewish morals must triumph
Sir, - Further to "Date rape drugs" (Letters, April 6): Judy Goldin can't believe that Israel's hospitals are unfamiliar with Rohypnol, known as the "rape drug." I am more surprised that some Jewish parents can bring up children who would want to be in places with such moral and physical dangers.
There are people who would like Israel to be like all other countries. If you are among them, don't be surprised if these tragedies happen to your children. Is it too late to realize that this is not the direction we should be heading? This week's Pessah Seder is a good time to start giving our children a basic knowledge of Jewish moral standards and letting them know the risks involved in going to bars and discos and unsupervised parties.
Sir, - In Israel the drug Rohypnol, which is officially classified as an hypnotic agent and whose chemical name is flunhitrazepam, is sold under the name Hypnodorm. For years now the Ministry of Health has imposed the strictest form of control over the dispensing of this drug. It is handled in the same manner as a narcotic agent, and is even stored in a safe in the local pharmacies. A doctor cannot prescribe more than a 10-day supply without a special reason.
The Health Ministry does have the best interests of the public at heart.
Sir, - It is now several years since the Ministry of Health issued a directive to all physicians to refrain from prescribing this drug and similar but differently-named brands. All doctors were required to prescribe alternatives, often to the disadvantage of patients, who were used to its aid to perfect sleep.
Rohypnol can be prescribed, but it is rigorously controlled.
Sir, - I assumed Greer Fay Cashman was writing tongue in cheek - indeed, I thought it must be April 1. But judging by your letters page there are people who actually took her seriously and seem to approve of the idea of polygamy ("Why not Mr. and Mrs. - & Mrsâ€¦ & Mrsâ€¦? April 4).
So, let's see... if it's ok for men to have multiple wives, why not multiple husbands for women?
Oh, of course, Silly me! While polygamy has been justified by the three main religions, polyandry is totally forbidden.
I wonder why? If men can't share one wife, why should women even consider sharing one husband?
My advice? Before even considering marriage of any kind, let all those sisters out there seek to fulfill themselves on their own terms.
Sir, - Reading this op-ed, I wondered about the writer's sense of self-respect. It seems to me that any right-thinking person would immediately reject the idea of polygamy as unnatural and completely unacceptable. While she points out that many societies practiced it, "including Ashkenazi Jews until just over 1,000 years ago," she fails to recall the countless problems, heartaches, humiliation and denigration it has caused for women throughout history, including the unloved Leah, who had to constantly stand in the shadow of her sister, the cherished spouse. Do we really want to go back there again?
Regarding polygamy not being forbidden, the Torah clearly states: "For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) Can anyone honestly rationalize that the intent here was for three, four or five to become "one flesh"?
As for the suggestion of polygamy possibly being the "ideal solution to Jewish continuity, bringing about a drop in the divorce rate," I suspect quite the opposite. Polygamy in modern-day society would be a legitimized excuse to validate infidelity in an already decaying society.
Seems it can be legal to call Jews apes & pigs
Sir, - It seems that defaming Jews in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict is OK in Sweden.
The Swedish attorney-general has decided to drop the case against the Mosque of Stockholm in which which the mosque was charged with agitation against an ethnic group by distributing tapes of lectures containing an invitation to kill Jews, "the brothers of apes and pigs."
The attorney-general explained that this wording could not be viewed as illegal under Swedish law because the statements were "part of the everyday climate in the rhetoric that surrounds this [Israel-Palestine] conflict."
He argued that here freedom of speech took precedence over agitation against an ethnic group.
It is noteworthy that when the Swedish Democratic Party, a right-wing party with an open racial agenda, published the infamous Muhammad cartoons on its Web site it was instantly shut down by intervention of the government.
Meanwhile Radio Islam's Web site continues to publish anti-Semitic material and lists of names of Swedish Jews and their so-called supporters.
Sir, - I am puzzled by all the newspaper articles about how to get aid to the "poor Palestinian people."
When the Israelis reluctantly left the Gaza Strip, they left behind a well-developed industry of greenhouses (equipped with computerized instruments for growing food that was shipped to the welcoming European market). As soon as the Palestinians came onto the land, they stripped the pipelines and ruined the greenhouses that held out the opportunity for them to become financially independent.
All through the years, I can remember US children collecting funds for UNICEF on Hallowe'en - for the benefit of the poor Palestinian children - but those and other funds never seemed to reach their destined targets. Instead, Yasser Arafat became a very wealthy man. When he lay dying in Paris his wife took off, with her "inheritance," back to wherever she was living. Rightfully, that money belongs to the Palestinians.
I do think that someone should get her address for the Palestinians so they can collect the money that was always intended for them. Perhaps then their problems will sort themselves out.
Monroe Twp., New Jersey
Numbers can prove anything
Sir, - A recent letter challenging an op-ed defending B'Tselem reminded me that numbers can be used to prove anything ("'Evil' of Zionism," March 28).
The writer pointed out, for example, that "popular anti-Zionist daily Web sites counterpunch.com and electronicintifada.net have published 13 articles mentioning B'Tselem since July 2002, and 29 since April 2002, respectively," proof, as it were, that B'Tselem is of the same ilk. Using this logic, what can we make of the fact that a search of counterpunch.com comes up with 188 mentions of The Jerusalem Post (Haaretz warrants 176 mentions) over the past 12 months? A search of electronicintifada.net came up with 29 articles mentioning The Jerusalem Post and 53 mentioning Haaretz since April 2002.
The writer called Britain's Guardian "arguably the most hostile daily paper to Israel in English-speaking countries" (which may or may not be true) and says it has printed "an astonishing 84 articles mentioning B'Tselem since September 1999." While I question the connection between the two statements, I'll accept the writer's number and give it some perspective.
According to a search of The Jerusalem Post Web site, since July 1, 2002 the paper has mentioned B'Tselem in 142 articles. Or, from a different angle, The Guardian has mentioned the Post in 131 articles since 2002 (and Haaretz in 259 articles since 2002). I couldn't get clear numbers from my search of The Guardian's Web site.
In any case, I think the letter writer would find the number "astonishing." Yet, I, for one, do not question the Post's pro-Zionist credentials.
Do a search for "B'Tselem" on The New York Times Web site, a "neutral on the Arab-Israeli conflict," as the letter writer says. You will find mention of B'Tselem in 70 articles since 1993 (not six, as the writer stated) - not much of a difference from the hyper-hostile Guardian. By the way, a search for "B'Tselem" on The Globe and Mail Web site turned up 36 hits since January 2002 (not none).
Numbers aside, the allegation that B'Tselem provides fodder for anti-Israel organizations is a red herring. On occasion, security officials, Cabinet members, Knesset members across the political spectrum, justices of the Supreme Court, and, of course, newspaper columnists have stated that Israeli security forces' actions have caused unnecessary humiliation and injury to innocent Palestinians and their property, and have condemned these actions.
Should we extend the witch-hunt to cover these persons as well?
Excellent scholars with positive values
Sir, - We were thrilled to read about one of our AMIT students, Doron Levin, in your article "Israeli brainchildren forge new paths" (April 2).
Please note that the full name of the school is the AMIT Harry and Bina Appleman Junior and Senior High School. It is the only religious junior and senior high school in Beersheba, and the only religious school in the area open to all students (no entrance examinations).
The school is recognized for its excellent science program and for the level at which the students achieve a science bagrut. They will have the opportunity to pursue higher education in the sciences. The weaker classes achieve bagrut success rates significantly higher than the national average. For many years the school has received an award for excellence in academic achievement.
We take pride in the achievements of all our students, who embody the positive values of religious Zionist youth promoted by the AMIT network of schools throughout Israel.
ELLEN R. HELLMAN