April 30: Dire threat of ignorance

The low level of our kids' education is as serious a threat to our existence as Kassams, suicide bombers and the Hitlerite lunatic in Teheran.

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April 29, 2009 20:27
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Dire threat... Sir, - The frighteningly low level of our high-school kids' education is as serious a threat to our existence as Kassam rockets, suicide bombers and the Hitlerite lunatic in Teheran. We've gone from having one of the best educational systems in the world to having one of the worst ("High school pupils in dark about national history," April 28). The government must deal with this problem in the same manner as it would deal with a military invasion by one of our countless enemies. We can no longer afford to allow the situation to go on unabated. If we want to continue as the Jewish State of Israel, we must teach our youth our history, Jewish heritage and Jewish values. HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva ...of ignorance Sir, - It is heartbreaking to realize that high school students here know so little about the miracle of what makes Israel Israel. It is not only that their ignorance shows appalling changes in curriculum; it's that our top leadership has never been concerned with inculcating that sense of the miraculous about Israel. Israel is like no other country in the world. It underwent an invasion of five Arab countries at the beginning of its independence. The UN was even then totally unconcerned about Israel, and ever since has manifested that same disregard for the state it helped to create. Despite being at war since its inception and the near-continuous hatred of the world, Israel has achieved what no other country has. There is a greatness here, and an idealism that is unmatched anywhere. Our new minister of education, Gideon Sa'ar, must imbue the educational system with this feeling. The living proof that miracles exist ought to be seen as a beacon of light, cherished by all. THELMA SUSSWEIN Jerusalem Why a Jewish state? Sir, - I am not one to blame ourselves instead of our enemies for our problems. But when reading about our population rise ("Population hits 7.4m. as Israel reaches 61," April 28) and David Breakstone's op-ed "Ahmadinejad and my sister - why a Jewish State? (same issue) we have to ask: Can we realistically demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state when we ourselves do not seem bent on creating a truly Jewish state? If only 75 percent of Israel's population is Jewish - a five percent drop from last year - how much longer are we going to have a majority in this country? We have just mourned the loss of six million Jews in Europe. Our numbers here are still less than that figure, according to your article. Add to that the fact that the majority of the 13 million Jews in the world do not live in Israel. We may surpass the Jewish population of the US - but is that enough to convince the world that the Jews of the world want a Jewish state? If the young lady in the op-ed can ask: "How can a state be Jewish?," can we blame the Arabs for asking the same question? JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem Getting into step Sir, - David Newman is mortified by the "bull in a china shop" straight-talking approach of the Netanyahu-Lieberman government ("Destroying 50 years of ties in 50 days," April 27), which he views as damaging European Union-Israel relations. He decries the major deviation in our policy in negotiations with the Palestinians from the stance taken by all governments in the past decade. But where have those failed policies led? The Barak government's offer of massive concessions to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in July 2000 were followed by the second intifada - preceded several months before by the hasty IDF withdrawal from Lebanon that brought Hizbullah to our northern border and culminated in the Second Lebanon War. Ariel Sharon's Gaza disengagement has allowed Hamas to bombard Israel from the south. All these missteps have, in fact, brought us closer ties with our European democracies - but at the same time, they have worsened Israel's strategic security position while placing the quest for peace with our Palestinian Arab neighbors further out of reach. Unfortunately, many Europeans would rather memorialize the Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day than celebrate our existence on Yom Ha'atzma'ut. What the new government is saying is that a new approach is needed in trying to find a way for the two peoples to live together in harmony. As to Newman's observation that many young Israelis are returning to Europe in droves because of a preference for European lifestyle and culture, that can be blamed on the educational system here, which has often succeeded in dissociating our youth from their rich Jewish heritage and love of the land. However, those who choose to remain here, who appreciate their own culture and rich legacy will constitute a stronger and more loyal citizenry with a greater understanding of how to seek peace than the misguided policies for which Newman yearns. The February election showed that the majority of Israelis agree that a new direction is required. Mr. Newman: Give this attempt at peace a chance. FRED EHRMAN New York/Ra'anana Sir, - I would like David Newman to explain: How exactly does the European Union "defend our right to exist," especially at a time when Israel is facing an existential threat from Islamic fundamentalist Iran? Surely the key to that issue lies more in Moscow than in Brussels because of the Russian capacity to influence Iranian policy. Hence, our new foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who speaks fluent Russian, seems the right man for the job. Also, Israel's backtracking on a two-state solution can be explained in practical terms. As Henry Kissinger once said: "If I want to call the European Union, who do I telephone?" Though there is an EU center in Brussels, it has no influence on international affairs, let alone conflict resolution. Hence, along the same track, Israel may today ask: If I want to call the Palestinian state administration, who do I telephone, Ramallah or Gaza City? When the European Union knows the answer to that question, then and only then will it be in a position to put pressure on Israel to accept the two-state solution. LILY POLLIACK Jerusalem Their own medicine Sir, - So foreign journalists are complaining of "unfair treatment" in Israel. Apparently they can't take a little of what they regularly dish out ("Foreign journalists allege harassment, unfair treatment at airport and elsewhere," April 28). GERALD FLANZBAUM BARUCH BAARON Givat Olga Did you know Fruma Block? Sir, - My grandmother, Sylvia Mendelson, was born in Toronto in 1911 to Mr. and Mrs. Max Mendelson. I believe she had cousins named Block, and that a Fruma Block emigrated to Israel. If any Post reader has some information about her, please contact me at Burman3@gmail.com. PETER BURMAN Toronto Thanks, Bea Sir, - From All in the Family and Maude to The Golden Girls, Bea Arthur's timely take on life, combined with her razor-sharp, wry wit, was the perfect fit for the classy comedienne. Thanks for bringing a smile to us, Bea ("'Golden Girls' star Bea Arthur dies," April 27). HERB STARK Massapequa, New York

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