(photo credit: Courtesy)
Defy the bullies
Sir, - This American, who prays daily for the peace of Jerusalem, hopes Israel will not let my country, the EU or any other entity such as the UN bully you into giving away so much land for (false) peace that you can no longer defend yourselves against attack ("Giora Eiland: Present border line is the only one affording plausible defense for the State of Israel," April 8).
I believe that your new leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, is the man best suited to look out for Israel first and not let the world's opinions rule your society.
Boynton Beach, Florida
Conflict on campus
Sir, - I consulted my staff who attended the DePaul University event featuring Jacob Shrybman and received a somewhat differing view than what he reported in "Shell-shocked in DePaul" (April 5).
Although Mr. Shrybman stated "my free speech was denied," he did, in fact, deliver the address he was invited by students to deliver. Regretfully, his question-and-answer period was cut short when a few questioners became insulting, and one, after repeated warnings, would not quiet himself.
I am disappointed that the behavior of some in the audience, comprised of students and the general public, ruined the opportunity to have everyone's questions addressed. I acknowledge the escalating tension worldwide on these issues, and have felt them personally on a trip to Israel with Jewish leaders. Thus I am not surprised that there were people in the room who held deeply personal views on both sides.
I recognize the daunting task speakers who address contentious issues face as they attempt to navigate their own and others' unwavering perspectives. In these situations, the goal is not to persuade, but rather to bring attention to all aspects of a debate.
I also see that anti-Semitism is prevalent in today's culture, which is why campus leaders must work diligently to help students address not just divisive political issues, but interreligious issues, to prepare them for success in an increasingly globalized world. As a university that values free speech and diversity, we make extraordinary efforts to ensure all students feel welcome on our campus and create appropriate venues for difficult conversations to take place.
I hope that universities around the world will continue to host such conversations and not shy away from them for fear that if conflict arises on campus, just as it does in society, they will be criticized.
I am proud of our Jewish and Muslim students for attempting to work through the hurt and history that accompanies their heritage, and hope that during their time with us they will come to understand better the value of dialogue over disruption.
At DePaul, we will continue to foster and support these difficult dialogues while preserving everyone's right to free speech.
REV. DENNIS H. HOLTSCHNEIDER
President, DePaul University
Sir, - I couldn't agree more with Jacob Shrybman's analysis. There is a sudden loss in the freedom of speech for those who wish to defend Israel in many, if not most, US college and university campuses.
About Sderot, one might ask: How can Americans comprehend the horror of terrorism when their lives are, thankfully, seldom interrupted by such egregious human behavior?
When I teach about the Holocaust to my freshmen students in English Composition I and II at a community college in northern Illinois, I encourage them to engage in empathic unsettlement and empathic imaginings, terms coined by South-African social worker Sofie Geschier. The students are asked to feel as if they, too, are Trapped Within the Story, the title of a remarkable memoir by Leslie Cohen.
When a person feels encompassed by a story, the reality it depicts may seep into the reality experienced by the individual, if only during the reading experience. This can create new understanding of an experience outside the person's own life.
Sir, - Sincere thanks for publishing the opinion piece by Jacob Shrybman. It was our organization, StandWithUs, that brought Jacob to speak on behalf of the the Sderot Media Center at DePaul and other universities, and we were shocked at how he was treated on that campus and at others on our tour. The university did not protect our free speech.
The recent media attention that has been paid to campuses across the US and Canada comes at a most crucial time. We at StandWithUs hope to continue exposing the ugly reality that far too many Jewish and pro-Israel students face. There is free speech for anti-Israel groups, but when it comes to the right to speak on behalf of Israel, equal rights are lacking.
Less than peaceful
Sir, - "Norwegian Jews tell of 'troubles,' but tolerance in Norwegian society" (March 31) had a statement from a spokeswoman of the Norwegian Socialist Left Party in which she referred to an event in Oslo attended by Finance Minister and party leader Kristin Halvorsen as a "demonstration for peace in Gaza." She added that it included appeals for interreligious peace and called upon Israel to stop the war in Gaza.
On April 2, you ran a letter from the Norwegian ambassador on the same subject, in which he said that "the minister took part in a manifestation for ceasing of hostilities in Gaza. It lasted for about an hour and was a dignified and peaceful event."
By then Tundra Tabloids, a Finnish blog in English, had already printed a picture of Halvorsen at this demonstration. So had the Norwegian business paper Dagens Naeringsliv, followed later by the third largest daily, Dagbladet.
In that picture, Halvorsen is seen smiling while very close to her someone holds a sign reading: The greatest axis of evil - USA and Israel." The event had been announced as a demonstration for peace, but in fact there were many attacks on Israel.
Power to prosecute
Sir, - The day after "'Jesus Ossuary trial' stalled after more than three years" (April 1) - about the three-year "forgery trial of the century," in which the two remaining defendants have, according to the Post article, "produced compelling evidence" that the alleged forgeries are authentic - I read a story in The Washington Post about prosecutorial misconduct in a case against former United States senator Ted Stevens. The US Department of Justice is now conducting an investigation of the prosecution in the Stevens case.
Robert Deutsch, one of the two remaining defendants in the Jerusalem forgery trial is quoted in your story: "I don't know how much lower they can get, the people who cooked up this trial."
The Washington Post story quoted a distinguished former New York prosecutor (Joseph diGenova): "The power to prosecute is the power to destroy."
As a result of the Israeli prosecution, Deutsch, according to your story, has lost his teaching position at Haifa University, his supervisory position in the archeological excavation at Megiddo and has now tried to dismiss his lawyer because of spiraling defense costs, vividly illustrating diGenova's aphorism.
Isn't this a case in which the appropriate Israeli authorities should investigate Deutsch's charge of prosecutorial misconduct? If your story is accurate, the integrity of Israel's judicial system is at stake.
HERSHEL SHANKS, Editor
Biblical Archaeology Review
Sir, - We are asked to save water ("Why throw away NIS 4m. in bottles?" April 3). According to the national Water Law, there is a minimum bi-monthly charge for household water. When I use only one cubic meter, I must pay the same as if I had used four cubic meters.
My tap leaks. Let it leak!
Well said, truly
Sir, - "Pessah illuminated" (Editorial, April 8) was a truly insightful Pessah lesson. I wish my religious authorities had the courage and intelligence to criticize exactly these sorts of religious inconsistencies in our synagogues rather than offering the dry, routine and sleep-inducing sermons they seem to thrive on.