Good for Jews
Sir, - Re "Rally: Olmert is 'bad for the Jews'" (February 6): I wish to inform the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza that they have not cornered the market as Jews. The majority of Jews reside outside Yesha and there are many, many of us who who say "Olmert is good for Jews."
No one could, or should, tolerate a bunch of teenagers prepped and prepared to do harm to the law and to their fellow human beings in so violent a manner. Something is, indeed, wrong when parents and religious leaders misuse their authority as role models for their children and urge them to emulate those they purport to struggle against and rise above.
ROBERTA B. SLOTNICK
Sir, - If "it is a 'victory' for settler protesters to prove that the state is brutal" it is sadly obvious that Ehud Olmert made a conscious decision that "brutal" tactics against settlers would be the catalyst to a sure election win for Kadima under his leadership ("Step back from the abyss," Editorial, February 5).
The prominence The New York Times afforded the mounted police force charging into unarmed protesters hardly evoked a flattering image of a democratic, humane Israel.
The deliberate media-wide and politically-driven demonization of Israeli settlers seems to be working as planned.
Lakewood, New Jersey
Sir, - Our patting ourselves on the back has started again. In the cabinet Ehud Olmert takes some credit for moving the Iran issue to the UN. I heard about it on the radio. Is that necessary? How will it play in the rest of the world? The IAEA is a pawn in Israel's hands; Europe and America do Israel's dirty work.
Is that good for Israel? Ariel Sharon would not have mentioned it.
Try a little togetherness
Sir, - After seeing all those horrible photos about Amona I am disgusted and outraged - not at our elected leaders but at our religious leaders, who for the sake of getting another member onto the Knesset list cannot get together and have one unified party ("National Union, NRP still balk at unity," February 6).
If, by some miracle, they became united - wow, how much they could accomplish! They would show the world what it is to be a proud Jew.
Don't rewrite history
Sir, - Broadly speaking, I agree with the conclusion of Yosef Goell's "The full pioneering spirit" (February 6), having always called for the establishment of large settlement blocs, extending from the "Green Line" into Judea and Samaria, as opposed to wildcat hitnahaluyot.
What infuriates me, however, is Goell's tendentious rewriting of history, his flat assertion that religious Zionists played no significant role in pioneering endeavor before, during, and after the War of Independence.
Has he forgotten the epic of Biriya, where Bnei Akiva youth, helped by 3,000 volunteers, successfully resisted British attempts to destroy their hilltop kibbutz in March 1946? Would he have us believe that religious pioneers never halted the Egyptian army in 1948 at Be'erot Yitzhak, Sa'ad and Kfar Darom? Is it not a fact that Tirat Zvi - a "Stockade and Watchtower" outpost like the one illustrating the article - provided a base for Orde Wingate's Special Night Squads and beat off repeated attacks from 1937 down to the late 1960s? Has Goell really forgotten the Etzion Bloc saga and the story of the Lamed-Heh?
The pioneers of Bahad, Bnei Akiva, Hashomer Hadati and Hapoel Hamizrahi were by no means "on the sidelines for nearly all this formative period." Whatever Goell may think of later "settlers," he has no right to belittle the achievements and sacrifices of those heroic halutzim who made a glorious contribution to the building up of Israel.
GABRIEL A. SIVAN
Gen. Barker 2006
Sir, - In 1946 General Evelyn Barker, commander of the British forces in Palestine, introduced a collective economic punishment against the Yishuv. He said: "We will hit the Jews where it hurts them most - in their pockets." Sixty years later, according to "Sticks and stones" (February 3), a "high-ranking IDF officer" made a similar suggestion. "Israel needs to... cut off the funding to regional and local councils in the West Bank... When they see they don't have any money, they will begin to obey the law."
Haim Nachman Bialik is reputed to have been pleased that "we now have our own thieves." Would he have rejoiced now that we have our own Gen. Barker?
Sir, - Why is it that Muslims resort to incredibly violent acts when they are insulted? ("Danish mission in Lebanon torched," February 6). And why does the world feel compelled to bend over backwards to appease violent Muslim protesters? Perhaps they are afraid the Muslims will turn on them next.
With so many Muslims reacting so violently, is it any wonder non-Muslims are finding it hard to believe Islam is a religion of love and tolerance?
Sir, - It seems that after Christian Europe wanted to rid itself of its Jews, God rewarded them with twice as many Muslims.
Sir, - The rampant hypocrisy is especially disheartening. Muslims don't defame Moses or Jesus because they revere them, too. But Islamic media worldwide routinely publish anti-Jewish slander, to a warm reception by Muslim publics. The silent approval of Iran's Holocaust denial was deafening. Most strikingly, demonstrators have no qualms about defaming one religious symbol, the Danish cross or a Maronite church, to protest the defaming of another religious symbol. This is sheer myopia, at best.
Sir, - Why can Muslims condemn other religions - yet no one can draw a cartoon about the Islamic faith?
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Sir, - This Muslim violence was neither spontaneous nor popular. The Muhammad cartoons have been in the public domain since September 2005 and most Muslims didn't pay the slightest bit of attention to them. Until last week, when extremist Muslim political/nationalist groups, seeking to divert public attention - perhaps from UN pressure on Iran or charges of Syrian government murder of a Lebanese politician - began to publicize these drawings and sent their leaders out to provoke violence among their fanatical followers.
In the Syrian police state, for example, several European embassies were burnt down; but no demonstrations, much less riots, take place in Syria without government approval. There also remains a powerful Syrian and Iranian presence in Lebanon so it is very likely that the Beirut riots had Syrian and Iranian origins.
Thus while it is important to confront Muslim intolerance, extremism and violence, it is far more important to confront the Syrian and Iranian Muslim dictatorial political echelons, which are directly responsible for this recent wave of destruction and rioting.
KENNETH S. BESIG
What's in, what's out
Sir, - You report that the draft for a constitution for Israel is ready, and that fundamental problems such as the Jewish identity of the state, separation of religion and state, and the validity of referendums have been addressed ("Eitan: Constitution's framework complete," February 5).
How is this possible? The American Constitution was possible, with its combination of freedom of religion and separation of religion and state, because the United States was not defined in the constitution, and not even in the Declaration of Independence, as being a Christian country.
However, the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence did identify Israel as being a Jewish state. Will the proposed constitution omit such an identification of Israel?
Bucking a trend
Sir, - I was incensed by certain comments in "New York attorney-general ends probe of WJC finances" (February 2). It is never easy to be a whistle-blower and suffer opprobrium from the leaders of the organization you have called to account.
Isi Leibler claimed that the World Jewish Congress did not have its house in order. The New York attorney-general has now shown that allegation to be absolutely true. Ex-chairman of the WJC's governing board, Rabbi Israel Singer, "violated his fiduciary duties." His statement that "I sincerely regret that at times my almost exclusive focus on execution of our mission diverted my attention from important administrative activities" left me almost speechless. Was he so "diverted" that he did not notice receiving $300,000 in "inappropriately paid personal expenses"?
We need more people like Isi Leibler, and more transparency and accountability in our public organizations. President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk: "The Buck Stops Here." Too many of our public leaders think the same way. Literally.
'Comeback King' who overcame all
Sir, - Many in the Holy Land knew the late Marcel Krauthammer only as "Menachem Elimelech ben Tova Matil," through their misheberach prayers. For 18 years, while struggling with metastasized brain cancer and its horrendous complications, which he fought with the greatest courage, hope and trust in God, Marcel received blessings from all over Israel and the world.
Richard Macales (Letters, January 31) recalled Marcel's passion for reading the Torah at two separate minyanim each Shabbat, and for his father's Torah teachings, and for helping others in medicine outside of his being UCLA professor of medicine, specializing as a pulmonologist, while serving as director of the Sepulveda ICU at the Veterans Administration in California.
Marcel was passionate about Torah, Gemara and Jewish medical ethics; about Scrabble, dreidel, golf and comedy; about poker, computers, softball, skiing, tennis, ping pong, wind-surfing and Nok-Hockey; and about teaching our daughter to be an athlete and menschette. He worked beyond all physical straits to reach his highest potential. The "comeback king" never gave up, and never complained about his pain, even after two dozen serious surgeries.
As Marcel's wife of 31 years may I express the family's great appreciation of all those who prayed for him, those now saying Kaddish for him, and all the condolences we have received.