(photo credit: )
Something about Judaism...
Sir, - The Latin patriarch has helped us in two ways in his statements ("Latin patriarch: Israel should abandon its Jewish character," December 20).
First, he provokes us to think about what it means to be a Jew. For those of us who are secular, for the halutzim who returned to Israel, for many others such as Freud or Einstein who identified as Jewish and were devoutly secular - there is meaning to being Jewish that is not religious. There is something about Judaism that has included a balance of "secular" and "religious" at least since King David's time; this differentiates Judaism from Catholicism and Islam. There's a cultural aspect to Judaism independent of religious belief: Imagine a person claiming to be Catholic, but not believing in Christ or the Trinity.
Second, Patriarch Michael Sabbah seems to be more openly honest than many others: He tips his hand by denying the Jewish character of this state. We could respect him for his painful, undiplomatic honesty. We should use his gaffe to think about ourselves and our national identity more openly. A Jewish state is one for all Jews (not just religious ones) to live in and support.
No apologies needed.
Sir, - In "We're behind Ehud Olmert" (December 19), Michael Felsen - while perhaps well meaning - adds his voice to the tiresome chorus of Israel bashers.
Felsen writes that we must acknowledge that Israel came to the Annapolis table with "hands that need washing." Indeed this is so. Certainly, though, a Boston attorney should be able to distinguish between the dirt on the hands of Israel that is indicative of positive and constructive efforts to build a secure home for the Jewish people and the bloody hands of Palestinian terrorists who raise and educate their children in a culture that glorifies hatred, destruction and death.
Two to tango
Sir, - Michael Felsen states that one of the reasons that he is "behind Ehud Olmert" is because at Annapolis, for the "first time in seven long and painful years, there is serious talk of peace," and because Olmert has "directly acknowledged" the hardship of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
Glaringly absent in the article was any quotation of a reciprocal statement by PA President Mahmoud Abbas acknowledging the hardship and suffering of the Jewish people under Arab attack. That's because Abbas made no such comment.
Felsen also reminds us that many Arab states participated in the conference. What he neglects to say is that they demanded the Israeli delegation enter the conference hall separately so that the Arab delegates would not be forced to mingle with the Israelis.
This was followed the next day by an information clip on Palestinian Authority TV showing a map of Palestine that included all of Israel.
It is no secret that Israelis have wanted peace with the Arabs for the past 60 years. This desire is even stated in our Declaration of Independence. But it takes two to tango. We are still waiting for some indication - any small sign - that the Arabs desire peace as well.
Sir, - Perhaps the Pollyanna statement of the year is Michael Felsen's comment that after Annapolis "there is serious talk of peace."
The first stage requires the Palestinians to cease terrorist attacks. The terrorist groups have not bound themselves to do so and deny any obligation to halt their activities. If Prime Minister Olmert really means what he said to the cabinet about each side fulfilling its commitments, it would not be well to hold one's breath until the missiles stop flying.
Sir, - The winning stamp design shown in "'Typical Israeli' to feature on 60th year stamp" depicts a strikingly European, non-Jewish looking youth. Is this "model for history in the making" telling us that our future is total assimilation and loss of identity into a waning Western culture?
Sir, - Hey, can you blame people for voting the way they did on the 60th anniversary stamp? Look at what the other choices were.
Maybe one of the other 97 or so designs was better, but we didn't see them. If the boy shown on the stamp were the "typical" Israeli, I am sure he wouldn't have been a redhead.
Way to drive!
Sir, - Re "Bus passenger wins suit for years of service disruptions" (December 19): I would like to mention a different experience.
On the 421 Egged bus to the Dead Sea that left Jerusalem's Central Bus Station on Tuesday morning, December 18, we had the most outstanding driver, and he should receive an award. He greeted every passenger with a smile; waited patiently at Ein Gedi as a stream of young ibex crossed the road; played delightful music from a CD; waved to trucks coming from the opposite direction and weary young soldiers we passed on the way; and pointed out anything he thought might be of interest. The two-hour journey to Ein Bokek was a delight and I was disappointed when it came to an end. I would like him to know that all the effort he expended to make the trip pleasant was very much appreciated.
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