letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - When my family arrived in Dallas from the Soviet Union in 1976, Leo Laufer (a semi-Russian speaker) and his wife took us in, looked after us, integrated us into the Jewish community, "kashered" myself and my brother, enrolled us at Akiba Academy and altogether offered the warmest reception imaginable to a dazed family of Jewish wanderers. At age four I awoke from my brit to see Mr. Laufer, together with my parents, peering over my crib. While my parents struggled in our early immigrant days, his wife read Bible stories to me. His daughter, Lisa, with her long, curly red hair, played with my brother and me.
It was with a mixture of sadness and pride that I read David Horovitz's column about the passing of Mr. Laufer, his father-in-law - sadness from the loss of such a great man, and pride in having had the opportunity to have known him well in my childhood ("Leo Laufer's victory," August 3).
Sir, - David Horovitz's story about his father-in-law was incredibly touching and beautifully written. My mother came to the US in 1926 from Poland and her name was Devorah Laufer. (I had never heard of anyone else named Laufer until this article.) Her father's name was Bernard Laufer, and I can't help but wonder if there is a family relationship to Leo Laufer.
If anyone has information about my family, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Begin settles it
Sir, - Re "Sparks fly over Holocaust Museum's decision on Bergson Group exhibit" (August 5):
I believe that Menachem Begin settles the issue in favour of including the Bergson Group within the permanent exhibition of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. In The Revolt, Begin praises Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook) who, having the ingenuity to "keep a fierce light of publicity" upon Nazi intent - the destruction of the Jewish people - ultimately contributed to the success of those who countered Nazism and facilitated the national liberation of the Jewish people.
Sir, - When a British union leader recently compared Israel with Nazi Germany and called for a boycott of Israeli goods, many Jews in America reacted by comparing Britain with Nazi Germany and calling for a boycott of British goods. This has merely had the effect of making British Jews distance themselves from American Jews.
Jews need to maintain a united front on this issue - and you don't achieve this by portraying British Jews as "wimps" just because they tend to go about their business in a typically British sort of way.
The truth is that many British Jews resent being told what to do and how to do it by "smart-assed" Americans ("No gumption," Letters, July 31).
Wellington, New Zealand
Sir, - It occurs to me that the problem of draft dodging is most properly seen as one of motivation; and although it is correct to point the finger at the failure of our educational system, it is important to emphasize that joining an army whose goal has apparently not been the vanquishing and subjugation of the enemy but, rather, the subjugation and dislocation of one's fellow citizens, is not only unattractive but positively off-putting ("IDF goes to battle against draft dodging," August 1).
Sir, - Am I the only Israeli not suffering from amnesia, the only one whose blood pressure rises when Ehud Barak complains about the "people's army" being turned into an "army of half the people"?
Excuse me, but isn't this the same Ehud Barak who came up with the theory that Israel needs a "small and clever army" and claimed we did not need masses of soldiers - thereby introducing the concept that not every ordinary Yossi out there is necessary to the national endeavor, only the elite? It was this same Ehud Barak, I recall - the one who fled from Lebanon like a thief in the night and let Hizbullah take over - that is now the tough guy ready to save us from Hizbullah.
Are we ever going to regain our national memory, or are we going to allow con-artists to lead us, hypnotized, into the abyss?
REENA RIBALOW BEN-EPHRAIM
Sir, - The main reason so many "non-religious" youths shamelessly do not go into the army is that day and night they hear slogans like "End the Occupation!" and "IDF = Army of Occupation!"
These should be removed from our lexicon.
'End the occupation.' What does it mean?
Sir, - The imprecise nature of Condoleezza Rice's recent call on Israel to end the occupation will, unfortunately, lead to unrealistic expectations ("Rice will ask Israel to move 'to the next level' with PA," August 1).
Some will interpret the secretary's call as referring only to territory gained by Israel in 1967; others will expect a retreat to the 1947 partition boundaries, yet others an evacuation of every inch of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Haifa. Yet Rice cannot be faulted, for she is merely using the careless language of many Israelis - very few of whom realistically desire Israel to relinquish, for example, the Western Wall and access to Mount Scopus, which was inaccessible to Israel pre-1967. Nor would many consider giving up Gush Etzion, which existed prior to 1948.
If suggestions for a settlement are to be meaningful, the misleading "End the occupation" must be replaced by the concept of territorial compromise, as contemplated in the careful wording of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
It is equally important to understand that the Green Line denoting the 1949 cease-fire line was not intended as a recognized international border; it only marks the line separating the armies until permanent borders are eventually established by negotiation. The Armistice Agreements were intended to serve only as interim agreements until replaced by permanent peace treaties.
Beg to differ
Sir, - It is with some hesitation that I differ with the statement attributed to Attorney Edwin A. Freedman, to the effect that it is not common legal practice for a judge to have "young children speak" ("Raised Jewish in Israel, or Christian in Belgium?" August 5).
In more than 40 years of legal practice in the US, my experience has shown that such action is crucial in complex situations such as this. Generally, in the US, in this kind of situation, the judge will take the child into chambers alone, establish good relations and listen to what the child has to say. Critical information can be learned from the body language exhibited by the child when he or she discusses, or even mentions, either or both parents.
Sir, - Your article about using pedometers in a 10,000-step program was right on target, but have you tried to purchase a pedometer here? It is almost impossible; most store owners don't even know what a pedometer is. And if you do find one, it costs more than double what you would pay in the US ("The 10,000-step health plan," August 5).
Beit Shemesh/New York