letters to the editor 88.
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Tears of shame
Sir, - When I read Greer Fay Cashman's article about the lack of funds for Holocaust survivors, I cried tears of shame. What has happened to the Jewish people and the State of Israel and its moral compass, to the compassion Jews are famous for?
Holocaust survivors built this country with their blood, sweat and ashes, and how do we honor them? We ignore their warm, live bodies, leaving them to die, bereft of medical care, and instead waste their money on building cold, empty monuments ("Katsav urges raising allocation for Holocaust survivors," February 14).
Sir, - I have just returned from Norway, where I have been giving some lectures about Israel around the country. Israel has many good friends and supporters in Norway.
However, I was also there when you had the fight over Amona. The local newspapers were full of terrible pictures. Oslo's Dagbladet had a two-page picture spread. We saw how police were coming on horseback against civilians. Even before this happened Israeli soldiers had a bad reputation in Norway; after these photographs it's even worse. It was a really difficult time to try to get more support for Israel.
People also told me they had seen a terrible clip on the Internet, and asked: How is this possible in a democratic country with human rights?
Many Norwegians like to see Jews fighting Jews. Witnessing such brutality, of course they suppose that the Israelis treat the Palestinians even worse. Please stop this fight!
("Knesset panel narrowly votes to probe Amona evacuation, clashes," February 14.)
Where's our resolve...
Sir, - Kol Hakavod to Shlomo Riskin for articulating so magnificently what so many of us are feeling ("A settler bares his soul," February 14). Like many elderly, our nation seems to have lost its stamina and resolve to forge ahead, and the conviction to fight for what we believe in. Some of us may even have forgotten it in our desperation for a respite from our difficulties.
Our presence in this Land is nothing but miraculous. It has little to do with UN agreements or Camp David summits. The Talmud states that God gave three precious gifts to the Jewish people: the Torah, this Land and the World to Come. The verse concludes by stating that they can all be achieved, but not without adversity and challenge.
Above all, before any of us demonizes any segment of our population, we must remember that "united we stand, divided we fall."
...to live together?
Sir, - Everything Rabbi Riskin wrote is true... yet where do we go from here? Settlers, by definition, live in settlements. Perhaps we should consider 2006 the start of the post-settlement era. Perhaps it's time for the national-religious (dati leumi) population to begin living among the populace, be it Tel Aviv, Haifa, or wherever. Let's show the beauty of a Shabbat, for example, by inviting our not-yet Shabbat-observers into our homes.
Let's start showing we all have more in common than we might think at first glance. Let the era of the religious living in their own, insulated communities come to a close.
We are one nation. Let's live like it.
Pick it up
Sir, - "Iranian paper wants Holocaust cartoons" (February 14) in order to test the West's alleged principle of freedom of the press? This is a contest Westerners should enter. The entries could show, for example, the Mufti of Jerusalem advising Hitler on how to treat the Jews.
Let the contest begin and we'll see what principles are upheld.
Sir, - To those Jews who say Iran's Ahmadinejad is sick, insane or unstable: Wake up! Belittling him may make you feel better, but the truth is he is extremely dangerous. He has held up to the world that he can constantly call the Jews' right to their ancestral homeland into question, and constantly and blatantly deny that the Jewish nation suffered a genocide by the Nazi regime and its accomplices. Most disturbing has been the world's reaction - no sanctions, no recall of ambassadors, nothing.
Iran's president is a very clever man and master propagandist, a would-be Haman and Hitler in our time.
Sir, - It's great to see not everyone going berserk over this tragicomic, ludicrous episode of the Muhammad drawings, even and especially in Jerusalem, which has been hardest hit by those extremists who may have been targeted by the Jylland-Posten cartoons (though I'm rather skeptical about that Danish paper's real motivation).
I can understand that anti-immigration sentiment soared in Holland after the Theo van Gogh assassination, and there are a lot of immigrants there - perhaps far more than can be assimilated by one country alone. But what about Denmark? There anti-immigration sentiment just grew and grew, and nobody seemed to give a damn.
It's baffling. Here we have a country that (like my country, Morocco) welcomed Jews who tried to escape the Holocaust... and yet in the last couple of years Denmark has mutated into one of the most xenophobic countries of Europe. I just don't get it.
Thanks for the sense and sensibility your paper has shown - far more than some papers in Europe ("Turban-bomb tragedy," David Horovitz, February 10).
Ain't it ironic?
Sir, - How's this for irony - violent Muslims rioting, bombing, burning and killing over a cartoon implying that violent Muslims go in for rioting, bombing, burning and killing.
Sir, - The extract from Reuel Marc Gerecht's article in The Weekly Standard (Elsewhere, February 14) was surely a major statement. Religion, including Islam, can be nudged out of its inherited torpor. This task Gerecht hands over to democracy, but he recognizes that do-it-yourself is a first principle rarely if ever in the past violated with impunity.
Put Putin where
Sir, - It doesn't matter what Vladimir Putin's motives are. As "Turkey follows Putin Hamas lead" (February 12) admits, his actions hurt Israel.
Two possibilities: Putin may want to be a major Western player in the Middle East; or he may have simply decided to throw his hat into the Arab ring, where he now sees his opportunity. If the latter, there's little Israel can do except mirror this disengagement. But if Putin wants to remain an influential "honest broker," he has forgotten he needs leverage on both sides, Arab and Israeli. His Soviet predecessors ultimately concluded that their post-1967 attempted marginalization of Israel was a failure.
Either way, Israel should respond to Putin's actions by unilaterally disengaging from his influence, or, as your editorial advises, "Marginalize Putin" (February 12). I hope Israel tracks this situation and responds.
Sir, - Your February 10th issue showed photographs of many, mostly male candidates for the Knesset. But only a few were wearing kippot and so couldn't be identified at all as Jewish - they looked like political candidates of any Gentile nation. Wearing a kippa shows a connection to Israel, to Judaism and to the Bible given to us over 3,500 years ago together with this Holy Land.
I have no doubt the candidates feel like good Israelis. But why don't they demonstrate their Jewishness to the world?
Sir, - In the Jewish world kippot are an essential item of clothing, almost like part of your body. But some people think they aren't cool. We shouldn't be afraid. If a person is discriminated against where he works, or in any other place, he should ask his rabbi about wearing his "Yid-lid."
L. JEROME, 11
Humor in threes
Sir, - Thanks for Sam Orbaum's refreshing "'I could really use a hug right now,'" (February 13). I miss his columns in which he wrote about a common theme to both our families: triplets. Sam really knew how to turn a seemingly difficult situation into something quite comical.
Sir, - I am mystified by the awarding of the Winter Olympics silver medal to Chinese figure skaters Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao. Just 38 seconds into their choreographed program Zhang Dan took a terrible fall and seemed incapacitated. But after four minutes of limping and rubbing her injured leg she and her partner picked up where they had left off and completed their program, to a standing ovation.
I too applaud them for their courage and formidable performance under such circumstances - but I just don't see the rationale of awarding a silver medal to a pair who did not put on a peak performance when other couples performed to perfection. They may not have been as technically or artistically fine-tuned, but they did not falter.
The Zhangs made a Herculean effort, but this was not an Olympic performance.
Sir, - Through the auspices of your newspaper let me thank Ro'i, my bus driver yesterday morning on the No. 4 route from Malha into town. I was totally immersed in reading the Post when I suddenly realized that he had stopped for much longer than usual, to enable a mentally challenged young man to board. Not only that, he climbed down off his seat to help him on.
Everyone was smiling at this act of loving-kindness, and it certainly started my day off on a bright note.
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