letters to the editor 88.
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Pride in Israel...
Sir, - Well said, Tommy Lapid ("Vive la Difference," April 5). I have lived in Israel for 32 years and I too remember how much I missed being able to get even the simplest of things, from food to cosmetics. Living on a moshav in the Negev didn't make it any easier.
But for me materiel things were much less important than they are to people today. To me Israel was a wonderful place where a Jew could walk proudly, without fear. I was so proud of our army, of the way we carried on as usual no matter what, of how people helped each other and how we lived without all the trappings of the Western world.
Today we have everything - but I hear people complaining about not having a second car, a holiday abroad, or a bigger home, even about having to serve in the army. What's the matter with them? Where is their sense of achievement? We have a country of our own so full of wonders, ancient and modern. And I am still proud to call myself an Israeli.
Moshav Sde Nitzan
...but there's work to do
Sir, - Astute and experienced as he is, Tommy Lapid fails to understand the Israeli problem. The "despondency and doldrums engulfing us," despite our prosperity, point to the problem Lapid does not address: What is it all for? Our leaders show few ethics or pride in our country, history or Zionism.
Just about everyone who shares in Israel's economic wealth could emigrate and be more prosperous. If you are looking for Zionists, it is those who could leave but remain to defend and build a better Israel. What we are crying out for is leadership to bring meaning back into our lives.
Tommy, your work is not over.
'Take, for example...'
Sir, - In "Learning from the Germans and Czechs on refugees" (April 5) Hillel Shuval attempted to give an evenhanded account of the displacement of Palestinians in 1948. However, he failed to mention that in the - fortunately - few instances where Arab armies overran Jewish localities, an example being Eastern Jerusalem, the Jewish residents were without exception extirpated - killed, imprisoned or expelled. This was immeasurably far from being the lot of the Arab localities conquered by Jewish forces.
The historical lesson seems to be that in 1948, as in World War II in many places, loss in battle was followed by a flow of population as a natural sequel.
Sir, - Hillel Shuval pointed out how two countries were big enough to admit and forgive past injustices after WWII, providing a model for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Germans and Czechs were aided by Christianity, which emphasizes forgiveness and brotherhood. Once the Nazi ideology of racial superiority was discredited, Germany could return to her ethical roots, treat the Czechs as equals, and reconcile with them.
Islam teaches that unbelievers are to be tolerated as inferiors (dhimmis), or to be warred against until subjugated (9:29 of the Koran). This doctrine of religious supremacy forms the basis of jihad.
True reconciliation between Israel and her neighbors can happen only when jihadist supremacy is discarded, its past injustices acknowledged and Jewish political aspirations accorded full respect.
Kollek in context
Sir, - "Taking Kollek out of context" (March 30) attempted to mitigate the severity of Teddy Kollek's informing on his fellow Jews, causing their arrest and incarceration in Kenya. Anshel Pfeffer's justification: 1. Despite Kollek's known campaign against the Irgun, he was consistently reelected mayor of Jerusalem. 2. Other members of the Yishuv's (Mapai) leadership carried out worse acts such as kidnapping, torture and liquidation of Irgun fighters. 3. There were no reprisals or revenge as hostility between Right and Left remained at the political level.
In response: 1. Judaism takes the harshest stance against informers. The most reverent part of the prayers recited thrice daily by observant Jews includes "To the informer let there be no hope." It is inconceivable that this population would have supported Kollek had the facts been verified.
2. That others' deeds were more serious does not lessen Kollek's.
3. The absence of civil war was due to Menachem Begin's statesmanship, not to the tacit acceptance of betrayal of Jew against Jew.
History has shown that unilateral actions at the expense of our fellow Jews to curry favor with our adversaries has not only gained us nothing, but caused great harm. This was true with the British, who left strategic resources to the Arabs, the Oslo Accords, the flight from Lebanon, and the disengagement.
Sir, - As an English teacher, I am responding to "Reading time" (Letter, April 2) about reading in English classes.
Some children read very well, but spend so much effort trying to read correctly in front of their teacher and friends that they do not actually understand what they have just read! Even children who read fluently and with understanding may not read loudly and clearly enough for the others to hear. Students may often not be interested in hearing others read, and so will not pay attention, leading to misbehavior. Some may indeed be embarrassed to read aloud.
Reading time can be well spent by reading silently, or in unison as a class (as in choral reading, chanting, or repeating after the teacher). Children can also read prepared selections, as in a play. It is also worthwhile for children to hear the teacher read passages, providing a model for pronunciation and expression.
The teacher can and should listen - individually and privately - to children reading aloud to check their ability to read correctly. This way corrections can be made without embarrassment, each child improving at his or her own level.
Sir, - We used the method noted by Harold Jacobson - called SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) - 25 years ago. We had homogenous class levels and five teaching hours a week, not today's four. There was an English school library housing 40 copies of over a dozen books on various levels, so that not only did the entire class read the same book (and chapter) at the same time, the book was appropriate for their level in vocabulary, content and interest. A short oral or written quiz preceded each weekly SSR lesson.
Where are the books? Where are the class hours? These issues have not been addressed. I do not agree that those 20 minutes are wasted in every single class. Not every student today has Mr. Jacobson's daughter's excellent level of English. For weak and very weak students, listening to an interesting story in English is a prelude to developing their own reading proficiency.
Sir, - It gave me great pleasure to read about Dr. Orna Blondheim's dedication to her work as the female director of The Emek Medical Center in Afula ("A woman hospital chief's work is never done," March 25). One gets the impression, on several accounts, that our citizens in the North are the "poor relatives" or, for want of a better expression, "second-class." This must change, urgently, and it should be one of the nation's priorities. I can only wish Dr. Blondheim much success in her endeavors.
A shot in the dark: Could the good ladies of Hadassah in the US be persuaded to adopt the Emek Center for a certain period, helping the hospital establish a better foundation for achieving its goals?