letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - Another weekend of slaughter on our highways. Two of the victims, a father and daughter, were murdered by a truck driver with 195 traffic offenses, Some suggestions: Hold the company employing such a driver financially and criminally responsible for his actions. Hold the driver financially and criminally responsible. Remove the judges who allowed him to continue driving ("Father, son killed in Highway 1 crash," August 12).
I told you so
Sir, - In the summer of 1999 I wrote an editorial for an Israeli security magazine advocating that the police change the ammunition they use in their 9mm pistols. I explained that just about every modern police force in the world uses ammunition with an expanding, hollow-point projectile rather than one enclosed in a full metal jacket. I argued that bullets were needed that would not hit the target and then keep on going, endangering innocent bystanders; or miss the target and ricochet, ditto. I was ridiculed and inferred that a more efficient bullet was evil, and so must I be for advocating its use.
Friday's gunfight in the Old City resulted in numerous innocent bystanders being wounded, many, if not most, by ricocheting bullets ("Israeli Arab killed after stealing gun and shooting Ateret Cohanim guard" (August 12).
HANAN (HOWARD) LINETT
Sir, - Haim Watzman argues that soldiers should not question commands. "Orders are orders" he insists (August 12). Opposed to Israel's attempt to quell the first intifada "by brute force," he adds that he served, albeit reluctantly.
But his argument is profoundly wrong. Ordering the army to evacuate Jewish communities, and destroy homes and property, directly violates the IDF Code of Ethics, which states: "The goal of the IDF is to protect the existence of the State of Israel and her independence, and to thwart all enemy efforts to disrupt the normal way of life in Israel."
If the objective is military - preventing terrorism, protecting citizens, winning a battle against our enemies - there is no basis for refusal. But who is "the enemy" in Jewish communities, and how are they a threat to our well-being and security? Using the IDF to carry out a highly controversial government policy like evacuating Jews from their homes, especially by force, has no military purpose and is a blow to our democracy and to our army itself.
The "our" is critical. The IDF is a citizens' army. Its strength and character are rooted in the mission to protect us. Its morale depends on the fact that we support the soldiers wholeheartedly and are proud of their sacrifices. They are us. If the government wants to remove Jews from their homes, it should be done by the police, whose job is enforcing law and order. It is obscene to compare fighting terrorism with evicting Jews from their homes.
"The rule of law is the foundation of democracy" - as Watzman writes - when it expresses the will of the people and stands for justice. It is the obligation of every citizen, in and out of the army, to oppose injustice and follow his/her conscience.
with a cloud
Sir, - Your headline notwithstanding, I found "Rotten to the corps" (August 10) very encouraging. Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has a proven track record. He inspires leadership, confidence and an ability to get things done, and he will certainly restore the IDF. I believe he can raise it to a totally new competency and combat capability level. If the Israeli ground forces fought as well as they did in the Second Lebanon War, with so little and in such organizational disarray, Syria, Hizbullah and the rest would be well advised to stay in their bunkers and pray for peace.
The dark cloud is the chief of staff's unenviable additional problem: contending with the worst possible government this country could have, and a new defense minister whose apparent solution to everything is to say little, retreat or concede.
Sir, - Re "Olmert says problems in North exaggerated" (On-Line Edition, August 9): There has never been an Israeli prime minister so out of touch with the vast majority of citizens in his country as Ehud Olmert. First it was the Jewish evacuees of the Gaza Strip, then it was the Holocaust survivors, and now it's the turn of the residents of the war-battered North - all complaining bitterly that the government has neglected them and reneged on commitments made to them. How dare they?
If it wasn't for the kindness of the multitudes of Jewish Diaspora donors through UJC, JAFI, Galila and others during and after the war, the North would never have recovered from the desperate situation it was in. Their donations served to cover up the disastrous behavior of our government toward the residents of the North during, and after, the unprecedented, month-long war that ripped through our region.
Instead of thanking these philanthropic organizations for their purest expression of brotherhood, Olmert patronizes their donations and takes them for granted - as he does most of his own citizens.
Galila - the Northern Galilee Development Foundation
Hooliganism in Poland
Sir, - Larry Derfner's "The breeding of Israeli louts" (August 9) brought back a very painful experience. Some years ago, I was a parent chaperon on a roots trip to Poland with my daughter's religious girls' high school. There was barely a minyan of men in our group, so when we got to the Warsaw airport for our return trip it was a pleasure to join a large group of yeshiva high school students for the Ma'ariv service.
Afterwards, I went into a souvenir shop and was horrified to see some of the fellows I had just davened with behaving loudly and obnoxiously, making a mess of the place by moving items all over the shop, taking them off the shelves with no intention of purchasing them. I pointed out that they were guilty of hilul hashem - desecrating God's name - especially since they were all wearing kippot and their tzitziot were visible. They mocked me and continued. Eventually they left the store.
When they attempted to reenter, one worker, an elderly man, refused to let them in. They called him all kinds of names connected with the atrocities perpetrated on Polish soil. They refused to tell me which yeshiva they attended, and a group of yeshiva teachers I approached denied having anything to do with them.
They were a small minority of the boys we had prayed with, but it is their actions that will be remembered and not the vast majority of the young people who were courteous customers in the Warsaw airport.
Sir, - Re the widespread story about Hitler's "record collection": An illustration carried in some newspapers showed an album of records which were not recorded until 1947! This immediately aroused my suspicions about the entire story. I suspect that its promotion was helped by the claim that Hitler listened to Jewish musicians.
There is in fact absolutely no evidence that Hitler himself either owned or played records by any Jewish musicians - least of all Huberman. I have been interviewed about this on BBC Radio 4 ("Hitler listened to Jewish composers," August 8).
Historic Masters Records
North Thoresby, UK