letters to the editor.
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Sir, - It is about time someone told the truth about us as a society, and Isi Leibler did just that in "What to do about Tel Aviv" (August 28). His use of the word "rot" exactly evoked the nature of our national crisis of spirit that he so well illustrated. A better construct would be a modern form of Hellenism.
I have said many times to many different people that we must go back to what we were in the beginning: builders of a country. Perhaps it's time to begin from the ground up and reeducate our young to love this place like no other. It's all we have, after all.
Sir, - Isi Leibler's op-ed was very troubling, not for its point about the supposed decay of Israeli elites but for the fact that the writer, a former leader of Diaspora Jewry, thought it a valid point at all.
If the article had only trumpeted the religious sector over the secular one as greater contributor to the IDF, without mentioning the vast numbers of Orthodox [haredim] who opt out of military service altogether, I would have said "Dayenu." And if it had only condemned the humanitarianism of Israeli liberal circles and advocated a harsh and insular form of religious-based nationalism to which contemporary Israelis can barely relate, I would have said "Dayenu" and put the piece aside in frustration.
But it went on to condemn the sons and daughters of Tel Aviv society for emigrating in substantial numbers to the "fleshpots of the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe." That observation is so unfair, and so misstates reality, that it demands a response.
No one whose own background is in the Diaspora business world is in a position to pass judgment on Israeli entrepreneurs who seek opportunity where they can find it. Moreover, many of those Israelis who have emigrated are populating the halls of academe in the Western world, making vast contributions that would be impossible to replicate in Israel with its excellent, but limited, number of universities.
Finally, let me say that if one goes into the Israeli coffee shops and restaurants here in Toronto, or for that matter in New York, Miami, or Los Angeles, one will find Israelis from all economic and social brackets. There are certainly as many small contractors and kiosk owners - the "amcha" - as there are economic and cultural "elites."
Before getting on a high horse, opinion page authors should survey the terrain they're about to ride, lest they trip on their own self-absorbed ideas.
Canadian Jewish Congress
Sir, - Isi Leibler quotes Ehud Olmert's infamous "We have become tired of fighting, tired of winning...." This warning was given to me 23 years ago by an Arab colleague.
"One day," he confided, "you Israelis will be weak and tired, and then we will throw you into the sea."
DAVID S. ADDLEMAN
Half of Iran?
Sir, - Re "Ahmadinejad would sacrifice half of Iran to wipe out Israel" (August 25):
I'm a retired engineer, and I've worked with the Belgian nuclear research facility in Mol, Belgium.
It seems to me that Iran's president is either mentally ill, terribly arrogant, or both. He clearly didn't ask his scientists about the outcome of a nuke exchange between Iran and Israel.
Had he done so he would have been told that the Iranian nuclear rockets fired at Israel would also wipe out the surrounding people and countries: Jordan, the Palestinians, Lebanon, half of Syria (the south), a third of Egypt, and a part of Saudi Arabia.
They would be only the first victims. The fallout of radioactive dust from the higher atmosphere, with high-velocity winds, due to rain, would affect at least three to five times this surface area; newborn babies would be genetically affected. This high level of radioactivity would persist for at least 10,000 years.
Alas, the same would be true if Israel shot nukes toward Iran. An equal number of surrounding countries would be "sterilized," for the same period of time.
Half of Iran? No, the whole of Iran, plus the others!
In my opinion, it would be advisable for the Israeli government to signal this potential disaster to the surrounding governments, and to the Palestinian Authority. Are they ready to be destroyed by Iran?
Sir, - Evelyn Gordon's "Kicking the global habit" (August 24) was brilliant. She focused on the key to reducing the Islamist threat: Reduce its flow of oil wealth.
The unbelievable wealth accumulating in the hands of Arab dictators devoid of social responsibility and national pride has them obsessing about using this wealth for our destruction rather than their betterment.
Instead of focusing on a reduction in demand for oil, very difficult to achieve in the short run, the price of petroleum can be reduced by a radical rise in its supply. The US could bring this about by putting Iraq's immense oil reserves back on the market; similarly, by increasing the output of Alaskan oil fields that have been declining due to neglect, and encouraging African and Latin American output.
We forget that only 30 years ago petroleum sold for just $4 a barrel, and the Muslims were quiet. Today it's above $70 a barrel, and they want atomic bombs with which to destroy us all.
If they try to keep prices high by cutting back their own output their wealth will decline with their declining sales volume. It's a win-win situation.
Sir, - Re Sunday's TV interview in which Hassan Nasrallah more or less said he made a mistake in abducting two Israeli soldiers, thereby igniting the latest Israel-Lebanon war ("Nasrallah: No 2nd round looming," August 28):
Given his previous speeches in which the sheikh claimed victory and promised more violence to come, I can only conclude that we are seeing the workings of a very clever diplomat.
The effect of the interview is obvious; a "senior diplomatic official" already sees in it proof that Israel has regained its deterrence - a very odd conclusion given the facts on the ground. Mr. Olmert and Ms. Livni likewise are confirmed in their self-serving delusion that the war strengthened Israel at home and abroad.
All this plays into Hizbullah's hands. Allowing ourselves to believe this type of propaganda, we will go back to sleep; the Left will be strengthened and the Right weakened. We will make the next round (which Nasrallah proclaims is not looming) all the easier for our enemies.
We must not delude ourselves a second time, placing our trust in leaders and policies that have been shown to be fatally flawed. It is time to admit we failed, learn from our mistakes and make the necessary corrections.
The clock is ticking.
ARNOLD I. KISCH
Know thine enemy
Sir, - Ghazi Hamad says the Palestinians must fix their own screw-ups ("Hamas spokesman: Gaza is caught in a nightmare of anarchy and thuggery," August 28). Has the penny really dropped after more than 50 years?
F.A. Sayegh, one-time Arab spokesman at the UN, provided his own evaluation of Arab psychology:
"The Arab's apparent incapacity for disciplined and abiding unity, his self-centeredness, manifesting itself in chaos and disorganization, his fascination with criticism of the foreign, of fellow countrymen, of leaders, of followers, always the 'other,' never of oneself... serve to thwart collective and personal accomplishment... [H]is reluctance to assume responsibility for his personal and national misfortunes... his impatience, his lack of steady perseverance and unyielding persistence in the pursuit of objectives... is but an echo of [the] half-heartedness of his faith in those objectives, or in himself" ("The Search in Our Souls," Muslim World, p. 252, 1952).
If the West had spent more time studying the character and temperament of the Arabs before negotiating with them, we might not be in the dangerous situation we are today.
So unlike the Scots
Sir, - I attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years in a row in the late '80s. It was glorious - an outpouring of talent and creativity seldom seen and an environment of appreciation for what the artists were doing.
Now I read that the festival has been infected by Muslim hatred and, sadly, that there were no protests against the blackmail and threats should an Israeli film be shown ("Unwelcome in Edinburgh," August 24).
I'm shocked - this is so unlike the Scottish people! They know better. The old Hitlerian techniques of threats and violence against a perceived common enemy - Jews - must be opposed.
It's still not cricket to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. Let's hope our Scottish friends understand the threat to their freedom and way of life, and do something about it.
Sir, - It seems Democratic Congresswoman from Texas Sheila Jackson Lee has little better to do than embarrass herself, her race, and her party by insisting that hurricanes be given black names. She says giving white names to hurricanes discriminates against black people.
If a white man had suggested doing this, can you imagine the response? Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be the first to say that naming a hurricane La Shawn, Denzel, La Toya or Leroy denigrates their race.
Get real. Name a hurricane after people who blow things up, kill people and lay waste to civilization ("New Orleans residents worry about another hurricane as Katrina anniversary nears," August 28).
Sir, - I used to read lots of books, mainly fiction. Then I started reading The Jerusalem Post on the Internet. I have become a JP addict.
Where else in the world can one read such accurate news about your region? I love the comments, and love to add my own. I have learned so much more than books could ever teach me about our beloved Jewish State of Israel.
P.S. I have never been addicted to anything before. I am really enjoying it. And my wife says at least she knows where I am.
Sir, - I am only one Christian voice, but I defend the Israeli cause whenever I have an opportunity.
Glendale, Rhode Island