(photo credit: Courtesy)
Mind and heart
Sir, - My unending gratitude to Amnon Rubinstein for taking the trouble to be properly informed, and for applying his mind and heart to what should be of uppermost importance to our nation - the well-being of our beloved soldiers, and our peculiar chronic illness of being our own very worst enemies ("When 'human rights' groups look the other way," April 17).
Loose them, lose lives
Sir, - Rabbi Weiss is right on ("A recipe for terror," April 13). I speak as a sister who lost a brother in Lebanon, and as one who has worked for the cause of the MIAs. We cannot allow thousands of murderers let loose to be allowed to murder more citizens.
I would like to add that I am the sister-in-law and aunt of Rabbi Dr. David Applebaum and his daughter Nava - may God avenge their blood - killed three and half years ago in the Cafe Hillel suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
Every single day of my life I pray for the return of our soldiers. Their faces are always in front of my eyes. Nevertheless, we have to keep our wits about us and think of what the release of these terrorists could mean for all the people of Israel.
YEHUDIT TRINA SPERO
Sir, - Since we have no contact with the kidnapers and the Red Cross has not been able to see our soldiers to verify that they are alive and well, let us withhold all privileges to those convicted of terrorist acts.
I assume Marwan Barghouti has phones and television and visitors - he even managed to win an election from jail.
Let us take all privileges away from terrorists in our jails. People will yell and the Red Cross will scream, but nobody is screaming loud enough on behalf of our boys held by the enemy.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
My role in this war
Sir, - Three times since 2000 I have passed through Ben-Gurion Airport. I can honestly say I didn't enjoy the scrutiny, but I fully understand the necessity. I have therefore come to these conclusions:
1. There is an aggressive war being waged by extremist Islamists worldwide. Physically, I bear a general resemblance to them. To complicate things, my appearance does not resemble my German last name. I look more like my Panamanian relatives than my German-American one. This leads to more enquiries, but ends well once explained.
2. Of the many roles I could be playing in this global war on terror, that of a passenger traveling through an airport is not a bad one, say, in comparison to a soldier on patrol in Iraq or on the perimeter of Gaza. If the soldiers can suck it up and do that, I can handle a few suspicious looks and penetrating questions.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Start from the known
Sir, - Despite the very best of intentions, the kindergarten lesson on the Holocaust depicted by Ruth Eglash in "Never too young to learn 'Never Again'" (April 17) could have created a reaction contrary to the goals of the Yad Vashem curriculum.
On hearing that the Jews were victimized simply for not having blond hair and blue eyes, "the children look at their classmates and nod their heads." What if there had been children with blond hair and blue eyes present? Wouldn't they have been distressed, perhaps even traumatized?
When we teach, we start from the known and move on to the as yet unknown. Suppose that when the teacher asked, "What was the name of the man who wanted to kill the Jews?" the children had been led to answer "Haman." The Holocaust is a logical sequel to the Purim story, and the teacher could then have asked, "Why are we happy on Purim and sad on Yom Hashoa?"
With the best curriculum in the world, it is the teacher in the classroom who makes the difference.
RABBI MORDECHAI SPIEGELMAN
The writer is former director of the Department of Yeshivot, Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York.
Sir, - Isi Leibler was quite right to point out that "It's time to reform the Claims Conference" (April 10). Two years ago the Israel office of the conference advertised for Jews who had fled Austria after March 12, 1938, inviting them to apply for a one-time compensation payment from the German government. To date the only information the Tel Aviv office will give you is that "the matter is handled by our German office, and here is their address." One would think there might be some link between the two offices, and that they would be supplied with up-to-date information.
One also wonders what kind of pension Claims Conference retired staffers receive, as against the payments made to survivors. Regrettably, Israel is not the one to demand Claims Conference reforms as it first needs to reform its own treatment of survivors. Israel should be the first to remember the survivors living here; not only on Holocaust Memorial Day, but on the other 364 days as well.
Message of Easter
Sir, - I was interested to read your accounts of Easter celebrations in Jerusalem, as well as your well-timed update on the so-called Jesus family tombs in East Talpiot ("Scholars featured in 'Lost Tomb of Jesus' backtrack," April 11). I fully understand why your reports focused primarily on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City, not least because of this year's unusual convergence of Latin and Orthodox Easter celebrations. As you rightly said, it was at that ancient church "where many Christians believe Jesus' body lay for three days after he was crucified."
What you failed to mention is that many Christians also believe that the site of Jesus' death and burial could have been the Garden Tomb, outside the walls of the Old City. It was to this alternative site that over 3,000 Christians came on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
It is a core Christian belief "that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion." For evangelical Christians the actual site of Jesus' burial is of far less importance than the glorious fact of his resurrection. As it says on the door of the empty Garden Tomb: "He is not here, for He is risen." That's the true message of Easter!
The Garden Tomb
Sir, - Despite Freda Keet's contention in "Word to the naive" (Letters, April 17) I did not in my April 12 column "Coming home from the land of miracles" accuse Israel of being an apartheid state. Instead, I accused Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs of rejecting each other in favor of a life of mutually hostile segregation, and concluded that each side's attitude reflected the spirit of apartheid. I did not write about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, or about Zionism but, rather, repeatedly and exclusively about the social attitudes of Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs toward each other.
I do not believe Israel's treatment of its Arab citizens can be compared to apartheid - although I do think there are some important comparisons that can be made between apartheid and Israel's settling of the West Bank; but then there are important differences, too, and at any rate, that's not what my column was about.