letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yigal Amir's baby
Sir, - How can the courts allow the murderer of the prime minister of Israel to not only get married while serving his life sentence but to also father a test-tube baby through artificial insemination? What a travesty! Whatever happened to the Decalogue with its time-honored commandment forbidding murder? Can a murderer have any rights whatsoever?
Yigal Amir physically invalidated Yitzhak Rabin's right to live. The value system of the Jewish people is being denigrated, and Israelis are standing by and allowing it to happen. Shame on your government, and on the court system ("Yigal Amir permitted to father child from afar," March 8).
Sir, - The case of Yigal Amir raises an interesting issue. Who says prisoners should lose their right to conjugal visits? We do. But when we marry people, we say: "What God has put together, let no man set aside," or words to that effect. But we do try to "set aside" the marriage.
When people are imprisoned their penalty is always said to be a loss of freedom - not the loss of a human right. And so we are inconsistent. We punish those who are not guilty - often wives, who then "break." And because of this so do their children.
I would say: Only convicted sex offenders should lose the right to conjugal visits.
ADRIAN M. SHRYANE
First and Last Church
How Oslo's failure
aids Israeli security
Sir, - I can agree to a lot in Jonathan Tobin's piece without losing sleep ("The Jewish Left repeats its mistakes," March 7). However, top-of-the-league powers can do what is not permitted to minor powers, whatever the minors' private interests, if their actions harm the interests of the major powers.
The 1956 Suez operations were stamped on by the US, in the US interest, to prevent nuclear war by showing the USSR that the US could discipline its allies.
In these democratic times even major powers have to persuade their backwoods electorates to spend blood and treasure on "far away countries of whom we know nothing."
Oslo has been a disappointment, but it is also a case of "Give a villain enough rope, and he will hang himself." Oslo failures led the Arabs to put their heads in the Hamas bag. It closed ranks in Israel around basic patriotism and survival.
Spare us the 20/20 hindsight: At the time, it was reasonable to expect that the Palestine Arabs would want to get on with the rest of their lives. Oslo and its disappointments are Israel's ticket to defending itself from Hamas, and from the Iranian mullahs' aim to return to 1947, if not 1917.
Deny these guys the PR they crave
Sir, - A logical means to quash terrorist activity is simple in concept, but possibly much more difficult to implement in our news-obsessed culture. Since the terrorist's prime motivation is publicity - to get his message heard as widely as possible - the solution must be to silence exposure of his actions.
Should international and local media agree to a blackout on terrorism, ignoring every terrorist event for a significant period of time, say, over two months, the terrorist's incentive would be extinguished.
To satisfy the citizen's right to information, the media or governments might publish a weekly broadside sheet listing terrorist events in the unglamorous format of classified ads - a line or two each, no headlines, no photos, only gray print. It could be made available to the public for a few shekels and a phone call, satisfying its right to information but requiring real effort and interest to obtain. I suspect that takers would be few.
Such a solution would cost no lives and little money.
Kfar Bialik/New York
Why two must...
Sir, - I read with interest both the state comptroller's report ("Comptroller slams Gaza resettlement failures") and Sela Disengagement Authority Director Yonatan Bassi's response to it, alleging partisanship on the comptroller's part ("Gov't presents its resettlement figures," both March 8).
The only conclusion that can be drawn from the two reports is that either the comptroller should be compelled to resign because he is a partisan hack in someone's service in a position that demands objectivity; or Mr. Bassi should go, together with other members of the government, for their gross incompetence, insensitivity and bungling. The two versions cannot be allowed to coexist.
...give way to one
Sir, - "Shouting from the rooftops" (March 7) and Rabbi Elyakim Levanon's call for a (new) Jewish state, based on Jewish values, calls for a reexamination of the idea of a Jewish state. Very few Israelis want a Jewish state that is not democratic, and very few want a democracy that is not Jewish. The problem is that we keep talking about two values instead of one: Jewish and democratic.
In Democracy and the Halakhah, in the chapter called "A democratic state according to Halakhah," Prof. Elie Schweid points out: "Nationalism is the expression of the independence and freedom of the peopleâ€¦ the relationships between Torah and Life embrace and exemplify this approachâ€¦ In the opinion of Rabbi Hirshensohn, the authority of the Sages is anchored in the obligation the Torah thrusts upon them with respect to the people."
RABBI JACOB CHINITZ
Movies shape public opinion
Sir, - MJ Rosenberg argues that the "Jewish Right's" reaction to two recent motion pictures is "mindless hysteria" that is "truly offensive" ("The Jewish Right's movie madness," March 7). Why worry when Israel is so militarily powerful and even possesses nuclear weapons? Furthermore, he suggests, Paradise Now, Munich and Syriana are tasteful and worth seeing.
It is commonly stated here in Israel that while we have won the wars on the battlefield, we have lost the propaganda war. Israel gets hammered in most of the world's press, and it is often physically dangerous to speak in its favor on college campuses, even in the United States. The obvious implication of this is that Israel's military options are severely restricted, and its strategic vulnerabilities, which are multitudinous and severe, are exacerbated.
Hollywood plays a major role in shaping public opinion. Munich is now frozen on celluloid, and Steven Spielberg's account is now the collective awareness of the event it describes. The fictional Mossad hit team is composed of a bomb-maker who commits suicide because he thinks that "we are different" (meaning passive in the face of violence); an agent who states that we are no different than anybody else, as evidenced by our taking land from the Arabs; a hardened agent who, one must assume, is "right-wing" because he states that he cares only about Jews; and the team's leader, a fine, romantic figure who in the end winds up in left-wing yuppie heaven, Park Slope, Brooklyn, where Israelis who want to cleanse themselves of any Zionist identity go to live. Our leader is hounded even in Brooklyn by other Israeli agents, and the film ends with a not very subtle zooming in on the still-standing World Trade Center (connect the dots).
The mentality thus fostered contributes to the decline of our willingness to defend and even believe in ourselves, let alone have our enemies believe that we would ever use our nuclear muscle if shoved against the sea.
Bring the Oscars back - for free!
Sir, - Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was one TV channel in Israel, and with a suitable antenna you could watch Jordan TV. Then came Channel 2, followed by cable TV, satellite discs, 50 channels, no end to it. But back in those good old times we could enjoy direct broadcasts of the Academy Awards; and for those who didn't want to stay up or tape the program, there was a shorter version the next day.
Not any more. Now we have to pay extra for the Oscars - as if we do not already pay enough for stations most of us never watch! I hope somebody in charge will read this, as I and many of my friends want the Oscars back on normal, everyday TV without having to pay extra ("Oscars shun 'Munich,' 'Paradise Now,'" March 7).
Height of tragedy
Sir, - I read with interest the letter from Martin Lewis (March 6) regarding the collapse of two cranes with the regrettable loss of life, and his comments comparing Israel to Britain. However, I vividly remember a similar accident involving a very high crane at Brent Cross, Hendon, in London, which also resulted in two lives being lost.
We all must learn from past errors and tragic faults.
Sir, - Many greetings from Germany. I write with a request: I collect used stamps and phone cards from Israel. I wonder whether The Jerusalem Post could help me locate other collectors? Please write to me at Dutschke Str.16, Ewald, Germany.
Sir, - Hand guns, machine guns, rockets and launchers, tanks, armored troop carriers, fighter planes and army camouflage apparel are not really things children should be playing with - or are they?
It is distressing - no, absolutely alarming - to see the so-called "toys" in toy shops that are aimed at our children; there are shelves upon shelves of these items in all shapes, sizes and styles of warfare. There must be a market for them, or those shelves would not be so well stocked, especially now, just before Purim.
Self-defense and survival are unfortunately a reality in Israel, but glorifying the "tools of the trade" by having our children act out with them, or their replicas, is not. I believe an urgent reappraisal is needed when children, in their daily interactions with each other, play at shooting each other "dead."