Sir, – Seth J. Frantzman’s “Extremely Unnecessary: Falk’s big fat waste of time” (Terra Incognita, February 20) forgoes the opportunity of outing UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur Richard Falk’s affiliation with the left-wing Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).
Steven Powell’s 1987 Covert Cadre – Inside the Institute for Policy Studies exposes the most successful of lobbying groups populating Washington, and its extraordinary bending of public policy to its own ends.
The IPS owes its continuing existence to old-Left die hards, three in particular: Peter and Cora Weiss, and her father, Samuel Rubin, a Communist Party member from the Stalin epoch whose fortune provided the IPS with its chief source of financial support. Powell notes that Falk accompanied Cora Weiss on their infamous 1970 sortie to the Hanoi regime while aviator John McCain, now a US senator, was suffering cruel incarceration in a North Vietnamese torture compound.
Astonishingly, one of the five shortlisted candidates to succeed Falk was Phyllis Bennis, a latter-day IPS fellow (“US law professor is lead candidate to replace Falk,” February 13). The shortlisting by a UN consultative group of a second IPS affiliate is a reflection of the powerful influence still wielded by the “covert cadre” in both national and international institutions.
Berlin Israel is Jewish
Sir, – Gershon Baskin (“Mutual and reciprocal recognition,” Encountering Peace, February 20) says we are not a Jewish state, but merely a state of the Jews. I don’t agree.
It’s not just that this was always the Jewish homeland.
Most of the inhabitants of Israel are Jews, the country’s national language is Hebrew and its national ways and days are Jewish.
Whatever their level of religious commitment, the vast majority of Israelis accept that Judaism is the most Jewish of Jewish ideologies. Most believe in God, however they define Him. The study of Jewish texts is proliferating even among so-called secularists. We think Shabbat and the commandment are a good thing even if we make compromises with their observance. And Jewish ethics motivate our values.
We have no wish for a disconnect with Jewish history. We feel part of a long line of Jewish continuity that begins in the Bible and inexorably leads to the messianic redemption.
Israel is not perfect, but it is definitely a Jewish state. Perhaps Baskin would agree to call it “a Jewish state in the making.”
Jerusalem Home for good
Sir, – With regard to “Keep the emblem” (Letters, February 20), the most important reason to keep the state emblem as the present logo of the Knesset is that, although it probably bears little resemblance to the original that stood in the Temple precinct (many archeological discoveries show a triangular base, others the same polygonal base as the present, even with animals), this one is a replica of the menorah on the Arch of Titus, which depicts the booty carried off with other spoils at the fall of Jerusalem.
The point is, it has returned home.
Tel Aviv Simply outrageous
Sir, – At long last in the Hadassah crisis, your paper publishes something that gets to the heart of the matter (“New HMO board member optimistic about end to crisis,” February 19).
It was not difficult to see what went wrong at Hadassah when your paper reported two weeks ago that, unlike public hospitals, which give the health funds a 16-percent discount for each treatment/surgery, Hadassah is required to give a 26% discount. However, nobody from the Health Ministry has been prepared to explain why this requirement is considered fair, and nobody from the ex-management of Hadassah has been prepared to explain why HMO reluctantly or otherwise accepted such a stipulation.
That the Israeli healthcare system has gotten used to being totally dependent on donors for most of the costs of buildings and capital equipment is bad enough in itself.
But in the case of Hadassah, the system, which seems to have been designed by the government to ensure that no operating deficit could be avoided unless the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America also contributed toward operating costs, is simply outrageous.
No wonder the really guilty parties – the Treasury and the Health Ministry – can only point their fingers at others or, worse still, claim they had no knowledge of the affairs and then set up an inquiry to try to whitewash themselves.
Bravo that people like Avi Balashnikov should volunteer to help sort out this government- made mess.
Tel Aviv Inexcusable, but swift
Sir, – With regard to “Denmark 2, giraffes (and Jews) 0” (Comment & Features, February 19), the killing of Marius the giraffe was inexcusable, but his swift death – a shot in the head as he bent to eat his favorite food – cannot be compared with the terrifying ordeal endured by animals that are brutally and terrifyingly slaughtered for kosher meat.
Although kosher slaughter is meant to be “compassionate,” undercover investigations have repeatedly revealed horrific cruelty being inflicted on animals in kosher slaughterhouses.
An investigation at Agriprocessors, in the US, revealed almost 300 instances of inhumane slaughter. Cows’ sensitive faces were shocked with electric prods, and fully conscious cattle had their tracheas and esophagi ripped from their throats with meat hooks or knives. Writhing animals, with blood gushing from their throats, tried desperately to stand for up to three minutes.
Instead of seeking to defend kosher slaughter, wouldn’t it be better to seek to end this brutal and grisly custom of executing innocent and defenseless animals for flesh, milk and eggs that we don’t need? As Jewish Nobel prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote: “There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is.”
Monbulk, Australia Is it really terror?
Sir, – Lately, there have been many opinions, voiced by political, military and media personalities, on the “price tag” phenomenon being as much a form of terrorism as real life-taking terrorism (“‘Price tag’ attacks are terror,” Comment & Features, February 18). I find such claims to be not only hysterical, but also insulting, mendacious and basically dangerous incitement.
When left-wing graffiti and stickers appeared all over Tel Aviv some years ago calling on people to “kill a settler every day,” no one criticized that as promoting terrorism or said that those who painted or hung up these slogans were “terrorists.”
It is shameful that people call price-taggers terrorists, thus putting them on the same level as real terrorists – those racist, murderous suicide bombers, throat-cutters, rock-throwers, ax-wielders and snipers who murder both soldiers and civilians, including babies, without blinking an eye.
I would, therefore, like to ask those who fear that opinions painted on walls, cars and houses of worship might lead to physical attacks don’t call for the shooting of anyone caught in the act of price-tagging, or at least for them to be put on trial for “terrorism” and imprisoned for life.