February 7: Stopping the fire

Readers need to hear how widespread the problems are of having a child with special needs.

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February 6, 2008 21:46
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Stopping the fire Sir, - In the 1950s Israel was plagued with groups of armed Arabs (fedayeen) who attacked farmers and sabotaged their crops and infiltrated into villages, terrorizing the inhabitants. Our then leaders did not seek refuge in saying it was not possible to stop them. They set up specialized army units such as Unit "101" under the leadership of Ariel Sharon. These men, highly-trained volunteers, succeeded in eliminating the fedayeen. The Kassam crews attacking Sderot and the Western Negev consist of three or four Palestinians who set up their assault weapons, fire and disappear ("Kassam hits Sderot home after deadly Gaza strike," February 6). Our forces enter and then withdraw, leaving the ground clear for the Kassams to be fired again. Would it not be possible to set up several groups - say, four soldiers per group - to continuously patrol the areas from where the terrorists are known to operate so the areas would be under constant watch? It's a risky undertaking - but so is living in Sderot. For the Palestinians, the uncertainty of not knowing from where, or when, they might be attacked on their own ground would certainly put a spike in their pernicious activities. SAM LEVY Caesarea Tears & fears on campus Sir, - A friend of mine cried today. She is a typical university student, concerned about her grades, her friends, where she's going out this weekend. Also, my friend is a Jew. And like the typical Jew, she has a connection to the State of Israel. Another thing: She has experienced anti-Semitism on campus. The reason she came into the Hillel office bawling her eyes out wasn't because her boyfriend broke up with her or because she failed her final; it was because she is a Jew who loves Israel. In between her sobs, I got a small piece of what had happened: hundreds of people in downtown Toronto were spreading their propaganda to the masses, accusing the state she loves of the most atrocious sins known to man. "Israel Apartheid Week" kicked off February 4 on campuses all over North America, and the demonstrations were just too much for my friend to handle; there are so many of them, and so few of us. And while she knows deep down that the accusations are false, she doesn't know the facts enough to refute them. Her parents never taught her, the media doesn't tell her, and Hillel's general response is to set up "Falafels for Peace" stands. This is, unfortunately, becoming the typical story of most Jewish university students on campus. A place where students are supposed to learn and seek truth is becoming a hotbed of intimidation and hate. It is a scary place. So scary that it left my friend in tears. This is the reality, and it is a shame the universities let it happen. But really the shame is on us, the Jewish people. We have failed to educate. We have failed to instill certainty in our cause. We have even failed to acknowledge that we are under attack. Before a solution can be found, we must acknowledge there is a problem ("Jewish Agency spokesman to coordinate government PR efforts," February 6). MICHAEL GREENSPAN Thornhill, Ontario Sir, - If pro-Israel college students in the US and UK were clever, instead of just reacting to "Israel Apartheid Week" on campus, they'd organize a "Palestinian Terrorism Week" displaying photos of buses, cafes and schools - all bombed in the name of "Palestine." MEL GOLD Brooklyn Why be negative? Sir, - "Israel is not a good value for the money, tourists say" (February 6) was a perfect example of selecting a sensational headline to catch readers' attention. In this case, they may be left with a false impression of tourism here, in which the high ratings received by tour guides, personal security, our nature reserves, parks, seas and beaches, road system, passport control and restaurants are overlooked. MATTHEW SCHEIN Jerusalem McCain's credentials Sir, - Douglas Bloomfield is in far left field with "John McCain and the Jewish vote" (February 6). There isn't a single verifying statistic for his claim that Jewish Democrats have a lot of ammunition against McCain. Everything he cites as reasons Jewish voters won't support McCain comes from his own perceptions, not from any solid facts. The only solid fact he cites is McCain's 25 years of pro-Israel votes. I am a Jewish Democrat from Connecticut who is behind McCain and who worked hard to get Joe Lieberman elected as an independent. One thing I'm sure of is that you can judge a candidate by the company he keeps. McCain/Lieberman, McCain/Feingold, McCain/Kennedy are all examples of critical legislation sponsored in a non-partisan effort. McCain's credentials as an independent thinker who stands for issues not based on party affiliation gives the lie to Bloomfield's claims that McCain's "'maverick image appears more flimsy by the day." I would claim that it is only Bloomfield's image of McCain that becomes more flimsy by the day. He cannot speak for any Jewish voter except himself, and the final election will show how wrong he is. JAN GAINES Stamford, Ct/Netanya Peace on Earth... Sir, - Being an Indian, when I was a child I heard the word "Jerusalem" through the holy books and the godly men's prayers. Now it is very sad that when I am grown old, I hear the word for all the wrong reasons such as attacks, destruction, etc. etc. My prayer to God is to shower His blessing and spread peace everywhere around the globe, crossing the various borders. SUNDARESAN SIVARAMAN Dubai, UAE ...and goodwill to all men Sir, - I read with interest "Pope writes new Good Friday prayer following protests by Jewish groups" (February 3) in which Jewish leaders were quoted as being deeply offended by the reintroduction of "insulting anti-Jewish language" that would "now permit Catholics to utter such hurtful and insulting words." Now that the pope has taken such positive steps, can we expect Jewish leaders to rewrite the insulting anti-Christian language of the Talmud and remove those hateful slurs against Christians and their Messiah? FRANCIS RODRIGUES Burlington, Vermont Halacha & special needs Sir, - I enjoyed and was very moved by "Learning from Lior" (February 6). However, readers need to hear how widespread are the problems of having a child with special needs. I was one of those parents caring for a profoundly disabled daughter, Miriam, together with three other very active young children. As a family we met many obstacles and felt very isolated. I therefore started, in the UK, the Under-5s Organisation for parents of very young disabled children. The Jewish Attitude to Handicap (JATH) was gradually added to educate the wider Jewish community; internationally known speakers such as UK Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks and David Bleich from the US were invited to try to amalgamate Halacha with special needs. The widespread publicity prevented many unintentional hurts, such as that of the parents who applied to a well-known Jewish religious school in London, where they already had five other children, and were told: "Yes, (although he's in a wheelchair) he can come to the school... but you have to sign a form agreeing that you will consent to his coming out last if there's a fire." LYNNE SHAFFER Jerusalem

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