Choosing the lesser evil
Sir, - I rarely agree with anything Larry Derfner writes, as his agenda is too far left for the likes of myself. But his latest article ("Netanyahu cuts the Gordian knot," December 24) was superb and focused right on the terrible dilemma in which our government finds itself in trying to free Gilad Schalit. Giving in to Hamas blackmail just invites more of the same. The present idea of not letting "heavy terrorists" back into their various folds is making the best of a bad choice.
When interviewed (which they should not be in any case), these terrorists show no remorse and openly admit that they will continue their nefarious activities as soon as possible.
Let us hope and pray that this lopsided agreement will work to Schalit's advantage and that we shall see him back home soon.
Sir, - It was a pleasure to learn that the Lithuanian Foreign Minister in his visit to Israel spoke about the fact that the European Union focused too much on the Middle East ("Lithuanian FM to EU: Stop talking so much about the Middle East," December 23). It should not be the No. 1 priority of the European Union. Instead, the EU must reflect and act on its own problems - for example, the continued rise of anti-Semitism, the lack of understanding of how the Holocaust affected its countries, and the terrorism that impacts all of Europe.
No identity clash
Sir, - A comment on your enlightening articles on the conflict over entry to the Jews Free School, which my mother attended ("'E' versus JFS," December 18).
It is not unique for a cultural group to have both religious and ethnic identity. John S. Mbiti, in his book African Religions and Philosophy (Heinemann, 1969) describes the strong religious ties that bind many African cultures. The threefold structure - the people of Israel in the Land of Israel, living by the Torah - would not be found strange there.
But of course the distortion of Torah that is the current mode of thought puts everything out of joint for the ordinary Jew, both in Israel and in the Diaspora.
Saluting Capt. Aranne
Sir, - The article about the captain of the Exodus ("Captain of the 'Exodus,' Ike Aranne, dies at age 86," December 24) told a great deal about the spirited man that Ike was.
His role was crucial from the first days in Baltimore. He gave a boost to the volunteer North American crew, most of whom had no experience (this vessel was one of 10 manned by North American volunteers to sail from the US to carry some 35,000 survivors in the battle against the British).
The Exodus left France without a French pilot. It was Ike who knew he could get the ship out of the port (no small feat). When the ship got stuck on a sand bar, he never lost his cool and wriggled the vessel free.
He was also captain of the Second Aliya ships Pan York and Pan Crescent, with some 15,000 survivors. The Jewish Agency reached a deal with the British - the survivors on board would go directly to the Cyprus detention camps. Ike was against this, but accepted the decision.
Upon arrival in Cyprus, however, the British demanded that the crew leave the ship with the survivors - but Ike said no. The passengers, yes, but not the crew.
The Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, not being aware of the legalities of such action, argued, but Ike continued to refuse and demanded the vessels receive fuel for heat. Ike believed if the crew left, the vessel would become abandoned and therefore belong to the British.
Because of Ike, the two ships were ready to carry some of the survivors to Israel.
MURRAY GREENFIELD and PERRY NEMIROV
Gefen Publishing House