letters to the editor 88.
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David and Rachel...
Sir, - Wendy Mogel advises Jewish parents, for their children's sakes, to soft-pedal Hanukka in favor of the flash and dash of Christmas: "Let's call a magnificent holiday a magnificent holiday, and let our minor holiday be minor" ("Why can't David and Rachel enjoy the Christmas glitz," December 17).
She has it backwards. Hanukka is not about dreidels, candles and jelly doughnuts. It is about the defeat of the existential threat to our survival as a Jewish nation at the hands of the conquering Greek army. That's major. If not for our victory then, Ms. Mogel would not be around as a Jew today to write that article.
Her apologist attitude was reflected on the same page by "Humor's in the cards to boost lagging Hanukka sales," Hanukka greeting cards being the Jewish version of Christmas cards. This attempt by Jews to "fit in" to the dominant Christian society in which they live dilutes Jewish observance and culture, making it likely that future generations will lose them entirely.
I would advise her to come to Israel, where she wouldn't have to apologize to her children for being Jewish.
..& Christopher and Mary
Sir, - One might ask why Christians don't celebrate Hanukka. After all, they state that their savior was born, in accordance with a divine plan, as a Jew in a Jewish land, and not as a Greek, a Roman, or an Egyptian. Had the Maccabees not defeated the Greeks, Judea would have ceased being Jewish, so that even if a new religion had come about, it would not have been Christianity.
Christians celebrating Hanukka thus makes much more sense than Jews celebrating any aspect of Christmas, even disguised as a childish frivolity.
...& Ahmed and Ismail
Sir, - From reading UK newspapers it appears that a great deal of thought is being devoted to the question of Muslim integration into British society. It seems to have escaped the attention of many that, decadent and materialist as that society is, there isn't much to motivate a morally upright young Muslim to integrate.
In Israel, too, it should be asked if the secularist nature of the state isn't one of the factors that leads to confrontation with Arabs in and outside the country.
Sir, - How exciting that the number of American Jews should be front-page news on Hanukka eve ("1.2 million more US Jews: Hanukka gift or flawed study?" December 15). The "hidden yidden" are finally being counted, and whether the community population studies are accurate can certainly be debated.
However, I've lived in three American communities where scientific population counts were held in the last decade. In each of them - Delaware, Pennsylvania and, most recently, Georgia - these studies showed growing numbers of Jews. The late, noted historian Prof. Salo Baron used to tell us: You will never know the true size of the American Jewish community until you have an accurate census of the smaller communities, which provide the national number.
We native American Jews are delighted to see such numbers in "Uncle Sam's land."
Sir, - Re Roseanne Skop's concern with how the "other half" feels concerning conversion to Judaism ("From a fool," Letters, December 15): Intermarriage is often considered a danger to the future of Judaism in the US. But to my mind, it means we have not lost another Jew. And the possibility of getting an additional one is still there. We Jews are in bad enough shape that we needn't worry about the feelings of the goyim in this respect.
Sir, - Israel, existing in one of the most volatile areas of the world, is surrounded by vicious nations striving for its destruction, an aim fueled by Iran, which seems to have endless money for the purpose. Sam Ser's "To hell with ambiguity" (December 17), in which he advocates a policy of straightforwardness and honesty about any atomic capacity Israel might have, would only add fuel to the raging fire and legitimize a nuclear arms race in this region.
Better policies would be "Walk softly and carry a big stick," or "Silence is golden."
Lion and the lamb
Sir, - Look at history, or even nature. In battle it is always the strong that win; but in peace it is always the weak that survive. The wolf, the bear, the shark, the lion are slowly disappearing from the world, while the rabbit and the lamb live on.
My advice would be to be as strong as the lion and as meek as the lamb, that you might both win in battle and have a place in the future.
Mulberry Grove, Illinois
Sir, - I was appalled by the fawning TV interview with Jimmy Carter on Channel 1's Seeing the World on Saturday night, conducted without a rejoinder from any of the many who have claimed that Carter's book contains inaccuracies and lies ("Carter explains apartheid reference in letter to US Jews," December 17). Might the former US president be profoundly disappointed by not having made history as bringer of peace to the region?
Not the least of Carter's inaccuracies was calling Ramallah and its environs "Palestine." As former prime minister Menachem Begin declared, he too "was a Palestinian before the declaration of the state" since there has never been an independent Arab nation of Palestine.
Mr. Carter called Gaza "one percent of the Holy Land," without clarifying that it was holy only because it was promised and given to the people of Israel. The land was never promised to its Arab dwellers. Since Joshua brought his people over the Jordan there has never been a time here without a Jewish presence.
Carter also ignored the Palestinians' repeated declaration that they will not rest until Israel no longer exists as a Jewish state. Here I can understand his blind spot, since he is equally blind to the fact that the Arab world will not tolerate any non-Muslim or democratic state in the region.
Sir, - Is Jimmy Carter connected to Natorei Karta, or is it just coincidence?
Sir, - This past week 16 more people were killed and a larger number seriously injured on our roads, the second time in a month that the week's figures have been so high. Many young people are among the dead. Recklessness, fatigue and lack of responsibility at the wheel prevails, and the authorities continue to fail miserably in reducing the carnage, despite the constant messages over the airwaves ("Son kills mother with tractor as 8 die in road accidents," December 17).
Metuna, Israel's leading voluntary road injury prevention organization, has embarked on an innovative program for potential drivers (11th grade) but, as usual, budget constraints are holding us back. We appeal to the caring public to get involved. If enough people care we can move mountains in changing government policy and nurturing a new generation of responsible road users.
For more information, call (09) 884-4667 (www.metuna.org).