letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - Prime Minister Menachem Begin was a leader, and he had the courage to do what had to be done in destroying the Osirak nuclear reactor. Had he first sought international support, from the US, the UN or whoever, the cost to Israel would have been immeasurable, its annihilation a probability.
We now have a repeat scenario with Iran - more difficult, but far from impossible to deal with militarily, should it come to that.
What is worrying is President George Bush's declaration that the US stands four-square with Israel when it is bogged down in Iraq; his pressuring the Israeli government to talk to Mahmoud Abbas, and his belief that "gifts" or UN sanctions against Iran will be the solution ("Begin said Psalms, lambasted Peres as he waited to hear if the IAF had destroyed Osirak," June 1).
...think out of the box
Sir, - I was reading The Jerusalem Post, as I always do when in Tel Aviv, and I came across the article "Osirak raid leader's top fear was... running out of fuel" (June 1). In it, Lt.-Col. Ze'ev Raz was quoted as saying: "For Americans, everything is by the book, forbidden really means forbidden. They are not Israelis."
I have spent many years in the US Air Force flying various fighters. Like almost all sweeping generalizations, this statement is wrong. One must be careful about assessing large organizations or countries when one has seen only a small piece of them.
I am not downplaying Lt.-Col. Raz's outstanding accomplishments, but there are many instances of "out-of-the-box thinking" in fighter aviation of all nations.
For a truly amazing feat I suggest reading up on "Pardo's Push" during the Vietnam War.
Sir, - I'd like to express my gratitude to Commander Raz and his pilots for their heroic efforts in destroying Iraq's Osirak nuclear station. However, Raz's comment that "If I were religious, I would tell you it was the hand of god," was unsettling. His words reflect the bias that God only exists for the religious among us.
Last time I checked, God belonged to everybody, religious and secular.
So, Commander Raz, it's okay to say that it was God's hand that escorted you on that fateful day in 1981. And, Israel Air Force, keep up the good work!
Young man's courage
Sir, - The chief of staff's reaction to your question about the young soldier who saluted but refused to shake his hand was most disappointing ("Halutz: The Islamists are on the rise," June 1).
Lt.-Gen. Halutz said that "those who complain should look in the mirror." If he took his own advice he would perhaps ask himself if he achieved any benefit for the Israeli army by allowing this young man to be expelled from his unit.
As a keen follower of the Middle East conflict I believe that leaving Gaza was the right thing to do. Nevertheless, I respect the strength of character exhibited by this soldier who, despite the trauma he suffered when his whole family was evacuated from Gush Katif, wishes to continue serving his country in a combat unit.
Did the general's personal pride prevent him from recognizing this young man's courage, typical of what we in the US admire about Israel?
Sir, - There is one remarkable change in the interviews Chief of Staff Dan Halutz gave for Rosh Hashana, and now for Shavuot. The Rosh Hashana interview did not mention Islam. This one is replete with references to Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic extremism, Islamic and jihad-driven groups, and global jihad.
It is encouraging that our politicians and military leaders have finally begun to understand that naming the enemy is an essential prerequisite to defeating it.
Sir, - Dan Halutz concluded with his concern that the IDF would turn into a mediocre army. After reading this lengthy interview I am more concerned about the army being led by a mediocre chief of staff at such a time of crisis and danger. He comes across as an ineffectual yes-man, with no ideas on how to deal with our security problems.
Bring back Moshe Ya'alon, who shines ever brighter by comparison.
Payment in kind
Sir, - I much enjoyed reading "The challenge of Ruth" (May 31) in which Berel Dov Lerner talked about kindness and pointed to some remarkable contrasts between the stories of Esther and Ruth, the most marked being the hand of God, or the lack thereof.
It has long been my belief that the surest way to bring about redemption is not by headstrong political force but through small acts of kindness.
Today the religious Zionists who so fervently believe in the timeliness of redemption (as do I) are acting in counterproductive ways. By ignoring their deteriorating image in Israeli society and forcefully pushing an agenda not favored by the majority they are actually increasing the baseless hatred that brought about our exile.
They are not like the beloved Esther, who bravely approaches King Ahasuerus, without being called, to plead the case of the Jewish people, and more like someone who forces his way into the king's chamber and beats the king about the head, shouting about the unfairness of the plan to kill the Jews. He might be well-intentioned, but the only thing he'll accomplish is getting himself killed.
We need to recognize our limits and understand that political events are in God's hands. At the same time ordinary people, through their kind deeds, can be instruments of redemption.
Pope is a man, and men err
Sir, - I read about the pope's visit to the Nazi death camp with deep sadness - not only for the victims of the Holocaust but for the pope's words: "Why, Lord, did you remain silent?" I thought to myself that the pope had made an error of judgment in two ways.
1. God has not remained silent. In the Bible He has very clearly expressed, over and over again, His feelings about man's inhumanity to man. God usually speaks through people who love Him.
2. The Church, not God, remained silent during the Holocaust. I feel Pope Benedict XVI needs to follow in the previous pope's footsteps and apologize sincerely to the Jewish people for the church's silence during and after the Holocaust.
The previous pope went to Israel and apologized for the Crusades, etc. Benedict XVI needs to do the same. It seemed to me he was passing the buck to God. I feel this was wrong.
He may be the pope but he is still a man, and men make mistakes ("Pope visits Auschwitz as 'son of the German people,'" May 29).
Sir, - What the pope should have asked at Auschwitz was: "Why were pope Pius XII, the prime minister of England and the president of the US silent?"
God was not silent. Nazi Germany became rubble. Britain lost her empire and is a toothless nobody. Russia lost its Soviet Union and the only remaining superpower is a Goliath pinned down by Lilliputians.
But Israel is a strong country. If God was silent, how did these things happen?
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Sir, - Samuel G. Freedman's eloquent eulogy for Timesman A.M. Rosenthal was also the most concise unveiling of the ghastly record of the newspaper that ignored the Holocaust I have ever read ("Abe Rosenthal, American Jew," May 16).
Freedman said a lot that Gay Talese left out of his The Kingdom and the Power. From my own experience, the Times's bias showed most during the years of the revolt against Ernest Bevin's Britain when the activities of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, of which I was a member, were reported as though they had been carried out by Hitler's SS, and Ben Hecht and Peter Bergson were looked down on as not newsworthy.
STEPHEN GIDON ESRATI
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Sir, - Samuel G. Freedman writes: "[A.M. Rosenthal] did not have a bar mitzva ceremony. He married and had children with an Irish Catholic. He worked on the High Holy Days. He kept none of the dietary laws."
If this is the definition of an "American Jew," how would one define an "American Gentile" - maybe "married and had children with a Jewish girl, ate kosher food, etc. etc."?
Forget the frills - just do the job
Sir, - I have been corresponding with the Postal Authority for years about the local service - or lack of it. My telephone has been disconnected several times because of non-payment of accounts I never received; checks I sent were not delivered. Letters correctly addressed ended up elsewhere or took months to arrive.
Communications sent from abroad never arrived; books ordered have gone astray. Eight letters I sent to addresses in Beit Shemesh on March 16 were delivered on March 31.
In one instance, a demand for payment from Bezek arrived a month late - and the phone was again disconnected.
Instead of offering "everything from theater and airline tickets to insurance policies and cell phones" the "transformed company" would do better to concentrate on improving the main purpose for which it exists: to provide a reliable postal service ("Transformed company overhauls postal service," May 28).
Message from Mexico
Sir, - I'm in Israel twice a year, and I always rent a car to travel all over my beloved country.
I must say the roads are perfectly well-maintained - how I miss that in Mexico! But many Israeli drivers are a different story: They're abusive and irresponsible.
I thought only in Mexico did I have to drive defensively, but it's much worse in Israel. C'mon, guys and girls, stop the carnage on the roads!
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