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August 3 Upfront: Helping the stranger...
Helping the stranger...
Sir, - l have just returned from Eilat, where l met several gentle and hardworking Sudanese refugees working in the hotel where l stayed. Thank God for Eytan Schwartz helping these desperate people, who reminded me of our own situation during the Holocaust, when nobody wanted us.
We have the privilege of showing that we are different and will, as the Bible says, look after the stranger among us, instead of turning them out and doing what the world did to us ("The ambassador's new posting," Larry Derfner, July 27).
...just a quick fix
Sir, - Sustainable Development is an efficacious program for helping refugees return to citizen-status in their own homeland, culture and religion. It includes the dissemination of medical hygiene, inoculation, information on birth-control and experts to teach agricultural self-sufficiency. Were the UN to focus on Africa in general and Darfur specifically, international troops would already be there, maintaining calm, and a care program would be in place.
Absorbing 2,400 or 4,400 Darfurians may grab hearts and headlines, but it is a quick fix in the short term for the few, while ignoring the long-term needs of the many.
Away from the event
Sir, - Jonathan Rosenblum mourns the absence of haredim from the recent Jewish People Policy Planning Institute Conference in Jerusalem ("Haredim in absentia," July 27). Yet as he himself admits, haredi representatives were invited, they chose not to come. Surely this reflects the sad fact of haredim choosing not to come to the greatest event of Jewish renewal ever - the State of Israel. While content to exploit the state for support and blackmail it whenever possible, haredim daily show their contempt for the state's legitimacy, its flag, its army, its institutions, its essence.
No surprise, then, that they weren't at the conference. Haredim believe that Jewish tradition and culture is purely religious in nature, and that Jewishness is their own private property, as the sole true believers. And they defend their property with a neurotic obsessiveness that can drive them to verbal and physical violence, intolerance and coercion.
Certainly it is possible to ensure one's future by brainwashing the young, denying them contact with the outside and surrounding their lives with an impenetrable cultural barrier. But this is not the recipe for Israel's survival as a modern state. It is an echo from centuries of oppression, from which we have escaped. We are not about to return there.
Sir, - Jonathan Rosenblum quotes a haredi rabbi who isn't bothered by the fact that haredim weren't invited to the conference on the Jewish future. "They will have conferences and we will have babies. We'll see who wins," he declared. Perhaps Rosenblum can explain who will support and defend those babies.
Sir, - I have cut out Batya Ludman's column about "Brotherly love" (July 20), highlighted features and studied them. As a very involved savta, the only thing that defeats me when coping with five adorables from age eight downwards is sibling fighting. With Ms. Ludman's guidance, I feel better-equipped. And my kids already implement her advice.
Thanks a lot!