Derfner's selective memory
- In commenting on Israel's heroic response to the tragic Haitian
earthquake, Larry Derfner wonders, "When will this big-hearted nation
stop being heartless to the people in Gaza?" ("The pride and the
shame," January 21) Unfortunately, he fails to mention that thousands
of trucks carrying humanitarian aid have flowed from Israel into Gaza
during and after Operation Cast Lead. He also forgets the many Gazans
who continue to receive medical treatment in Israel. And what other
country in the world would have stopped fighting for three hours each
day in order to allow humanitarian supplies into Gaza during a war?
(Hamas regularly transferred weapons and personnel during those three
hours, secure in the knowledge that the IDF would not fire at them.)
It is unfair to assume that Gazans are simply innocent
victims of a political battle between Israel and Hamas. The
Gazans gave overwhelming electoral support to an organization openly
dedicated to Israel's violent destruction.
In the end, Derfner refuses to see the fundamental
difference between the two situations. While the Haitians' horrible
suffering is the result of a natural disaster, the Palestinians have it
in their own power to improve their circumstances. They need only
recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and stop the
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Sir, - The IDF teams in Haiti are winning kudos around the world
for their modest dedication and bravery in the midst of chaos and
suffering. Now a request has been extended to Israel to send a
contingent of Israeli policemen to join "peacekeeping efforts" in Haiti
("UN, US ask Israel to send police to Haiti," January 21). And our
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch is planning to comply.
We wonder what is behind this plan and what the intentions are. Surely the thousands of
soldiers from America and other countries can cope with the
possible outbreak of violence while masses are clambering for food and
water. To us, it seems like a trap by those who want the image of the
brutal IDF, the cruel Israeli, to be in the forefront; to change the
positive response and respect the Israelis are earning over there.
The cameras will be ready to catch even one act of violence by
one of our policemen, even if he is unarmed. That will make the
headlines and feed the tabloids and once again we will be on the
defensive. The IDF's reputation will be diminished, its achievements
looked upon with suspicion.
Why, we ask, have we lost all sense of proportion and
foresight. Can we not let good alone? There are enough countries able
and equipped to lend a strong hand.
RUTH AND GIDEON STERN
...or a show of appreciation?
Sir, - The headline in the Jerusalem Post ("UN, US ask Israel to
send police to Haiti") on January 21 made me aware of what Israel means
to the world. It was a headline that made me read the story twice. The
United States and the United Nations have asked Israel to send a
contingent of police to Haiti. What a remarkable story.
Little Israel, the country that the UN loves to criticize and
denigrate and pass countless resolutions against, has finally been
Israel has send more aid proportionately to Haiti than any
other country, including the mighty United States. Little Israel has
shown itself to be an enormous country of compassion and efficiency. It
supplied much needed direct relief and was able to rescue so many
people. Its worth is beyond rubies as the Bible states.
Israel is truly a light unto the nations and may it continue to be so.
Sir, - Our hearts are bursting with pride for our wonderful and
courageous teams working non-stop in Haiti ("Two local Jews helping
Israel's relief effort in Haiti," January 20). You are amazing.
ART and JACQUI LIEBERTHAL
Tit for tat
Sir, - The Palestinian list of demands is very short. In fact,
it can be summarized in one word: Everything. The Jerusalem Post
reported in "No Israeli presence in our state" (January 21) that chief
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected a call by PM Binyamin
Netanyahu for an Israeli presence in a future Palestinian state.
"Palestinians want to create an independent state in the West Bank,
Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem with no Israeli presence, military or
civilian, the senior PA official said."
Fair enough, it's a valid point. Does this now leave the door
open for Israel to demand that there be no Arab presence in the Jewish
state? After all, Erekat continuously exhorts Israel's Arab citizens to
express their Palestinian nationhood. And many do just that, not least
MK Ahmed Tibi and his colleagues.
Same rule for all?
It's just human nature
Sir, - It was interesting to read that the Immigrant Absorption
Ministry apparently found it surprising that Israelis like aliya but
are ambivalent regarding olim ("Israelis favor aliya but are mixed on
olim, poll shows," January 20). For more than 30 years, starting in the
1970s, Shirley Goodman, the director of Volunteers for Clevelanders in
Israel, began preparing Clevelanders for aliya by educating them with
seminars on what to expect in Israel from banking and the various
bureaucracies, to buying or renting a home, purchasing health
insurance, and getting children into school. Clevelanders became
successful olim - out of approximately 500 families who have made aliya
over the past three decades, I recall only one returning to Cleveland.
But the 'joke' was always: "Israelis love aliya but hate olim."
Dr. Ze'ev Khanin, chief scientist of the Ministry wants to
blame the media for causing this discrepancy which, he says,
"...highlights the negative instead of reporting on the norm." But this
isn't a new phenomenon. It's human nature. And it's why Shirley advised
us to participate as fully as possible in Israeli life and to socialize
with all Israelis, but "live with your own.
Where's the praise?
Sir, - Permit me to differ from the review of the new opera,
"The Child Dreams" (January 20). The impression given by your reviewer
is that the opera is a failure, that it was "an almost impossible task"
to turn the play into an opera and that the only part of the production
that came even close was the set and the production. The music is
damned with faint - very faint - praise. If the reaction of the
audience is any measure, the opera is a resounding success. Seldom have
I heard such long and resounding applause for any opera here, much less
a new, modern work.
Personally I found the evening to be profoundly moving and
meaningful and the music itself was the center of this. I would have
appreciated a fuller analysis of the music. It was most listenable,
unlike many modern scores, and seems to have been influenced by Debussy
and Ravel, along with echoes of Alban Berg and even Kurt Weill. The
singers were all excellent and each received the applause so richly
deserved. The Israel Opera undertook a courageous act in this time of
financial difficulty in sponsoring a serious Israeli opera by a serious
composer and it succeeded.