letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - IDF officers are worried that today's soldiers are not ready for battle, and will provide them with lectures by psychologists and social workers ("'Troops not mentally prepared for feared new spate of violence," April 21).
These are obviously an entirely different subset of young men from the ones who create most of the carnage on our roads. I don't know how they would fare against armed Palestinians, but they certainly show no fear, let alone concern for human life, as they speed through residential neighborhoods, barrel through red lights, and generally show themselves ready to mow down anyone who doesn't get out of their way in time.
Sir, - "Livni calls for EU unity against Hamas" (April 21), about the visit of Britain's foreign secretary to Saudi Arabia, omitted to mention that the purpose of the visit was to secure armament sales contracts for Britain, which is competing with France in this regard.
For the sake of money Jack Straw seems happy to sabotage the struggle against global jihadism, as well as to undermine Israel's vital interests.
Don't insult us!
Sir, - In an illogical, almost hysterical commentary titled "Peace is better than the West Bank" (April 18) MJ Rosenberg doesn't just insult your readers' intelligence, he also manages to gratuitously insult the Middle East's most informed and educated expert, Dr. Daniel Pipes.
Dr. Pipes is as concerned a Jew as anyone, especially concerning the Jewish homeland, and his considered commentary on the situation in the Middle East and Israel is far more valuable and effective than any screed by MJ Rosenberg.
KENNETH S. BESIG
Sir, - MJ Rosenberg refers to Daniel Pipes as "best-known for running an outfit called Campus Watchâ€š which enlists college students to monitor their professors in an effort to curb free discussion of Middle East issues."
Exactly the opposite is true. Campus Watch encourages students to report on efforts of their professors to curb the free discussion of Middle East issues, focusing on cases where professors use their academic status to intimidate their audiences (numerous such cases have been documented and reported in the media, including in many of the US's most prestigious academic institutions).
It is a fact that in most academic institutions Daniel Pipes cannot deliver a lecture without police protection. None of the professors whose right to a "free discussion of Middle East issues" is "threatened" by Campus Watch faces such a problem.
Highland Village, Texas
Saudi 'peace' is no peace
Sir, - "A-Sanaa: PA will accept Saudi initiative" (April 20) reports that the Hamas-led Palestinian government will accept the Saudi Initiative, yet neglected to mention the initiative's most vital element, which would negate any possible peace with Israel: the full implementation of UN Resolution 194 - the repatriation of Arab refugees and their descendents to the areas of pre-1967 Israel, to the 531 Arab villages that have been replaced by Israeli cities and farming communities.
On April 9, 2002, only 10 days after the initiative was adopted by the Arab League in Beirut, Tel Aviv University president Prof. Itamar Rabinovich issued a position paper in which he noted that both the Lebanese and Syrian foreign ministers had declared that, indeed, their support for the Saudi Initiative was based on its explicit endorsement of the "right of return" for all Palestinian Arab refugees.
Resource News Agency
Religion in flux?
Sir, - I empathize with Elliott Jager and share his distress at the increasing radicalization of Jewish groups ("The rebbe and the chancellor" April 17). However he is Diaspora-oriented. If he looked at the Israeli scene he might be heartened by the totally different religious spectrum.
Here our novel situation - political independence, geographical propinquity and, equally important, understanding the languages in which our sacred texts are written offer life-style opportunities that don't exist outside Israel.
Hundreds of people are learning to read the sources and to decide their priorities. No one knows where this is going, but it is a healthy development, and may well affect the Diaspora. Certainly it is a more positive phenomenon than either the insularity of Satmar or the feebleness of conservatism.
Sir, - For 100 years of Jewish moderation the center pulled from the right and the left, in a process of fusion. In the last 30 years of crisis the right has gone right, and the left has gone left. The result: fission.
RABBI JACOB CHINITZ
Sir, - In your report on the death of Dame Muriel Spark, Scotland's greatest contemporary novelist, you stated that her mother was "an English Anglican" ("UK novelist Muriel Spark dies," April 16). This was indeed what Muriel Spark claimed, but certainly it was not the whole truth.
Muriel's only son, Robin, a well-known Edinburgh artist, was brought up by his grandmother, Mrs. Camberg, received his Jewish education and was bar mitzva at Edinburgh's Orthodox Hebrew Congregation. There was never any doubt about Robin's status as a Jew and he taught at the local heder. To this day he is a regular haftara reader when called up as a Levi.
I have seen a copy of the ketuba of Muriel's parents, whose marriage was solemnized in an Orthodox London Synagogue.
JOHN A. COSGROVE
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
...alive in Cuba
Sir, - Visiting Cuba over the last year I was extremely inspired by the work of the Adath Israel synagogue ("Pessah in Cuba: A tale of two synagogues," April 20). It is a beacon of Jewish life, almost miraculously maintained during the darkest years of the Castro period. Services are held twice daily and a meal or snack given out to all who need it. Things are in short supply but with help of Chabad, other Central American communities, relief organizations, Cuban expats and friends large numbers of people receive healthy kosher food daily. There is a free pharmacy for all, including the wider community, and a range of social and educational services. To maintain these traditions in such circumstances is awe-inspiring.
People, including the young, are returning to rediscover their roots in what is becoming a popular tourist destination. Everyone should visit the synagogue to receive a warm welcome. Better still, bring along good-quality clothes, religious articles and books, especially in Spanish; non-perishable kosher food, toys, and medicines and vitamins. All of these, as your article showed, are in short supply.
Your story about the maror being seized by customs was quite true; luckily another local source was found.
Have teddy, will fly
Sir, - I was saddened, but not surprised, to read about the teddy bears intended for sick Israeli children not getting through customs tax-free ("Pessah teddy bears plagued by taxman," April 12).
We at Ziv Tzedakah Fund have had a "Mitzvah Messenger" program in place for many years. We learned a long time ago that "customs is customs, and VAT is VAT." So instead we have people flying to Israel (alone or in groups) carry the items with them. It is safer and easy to do.
We are happy to help organize the project.
I'd like to add a special mention to The Five Synagogues Israel Action Committee of White Plains, NY, for being outstanding participants in Mitzvah Messengers, sending hundreds of people over in the last few years.
Ziv Tzedakah Fund
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