letters to the editor 88.
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Guided by principle
Sir, - Irwin Cotler continues to show that he is a man of courage, compassion and integrity and one who is guided by the biblical principle "justice, justice, you shall pursue" ("In pursuit of justice," January 18).
Cotler draws our attention to the plight of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Bangladesh national who is on trial and faces the possibility of execution for trumped-up charges, while having been denied almost every single basic fundamental right that has been recognized in international law.
In alerting people to Choudhury's case, Cotler continues to defend his international clients not only in the courts, but also in the "court of public opinion." This, as he has shown in the past in defending clients such as Nelson Mandela and Natan Sharansky, is often more important than the actual legal defense in court, as it often embarrasses a rogue country into action and reminds those of us in the democratized world of the importance of continuing to fight for the rights of the oppressed and the vulnerable.
The world needs more Irwin Cotlers.
Sir, - Jim Walker is incorrect when he asserts that "the fundamental impetus for the creation of an independent Jewish state was the Holocaust" (Letters, January 17). This is a popular misconception that needs to be challenged.
The "creation" of the Jewish state occurred during the period 1880-1939 as a result of mainly non-religious Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe. During that period, the Jewish settlement in Palestine (the Yishuv) expanded and grew in size and sophistication until it was capable of becoming a Jewish state. In the period 1939-1945, when the Holocaust occurred, the status of the Yishuv remained more or less static.
Between 1945-48, very few of those who survived the Holocaust in Europe actually arrived in Palestine, mainly due to the British, and even fewer participated in the fighting that developed into the War of Independence. Only once the state was proclaimed in 1948 did significant European Jewish immigration resume.
So the concept that the Holocaust was the "fundamental impetus for the creation of the Jewish state" of Israel is a misconception that maybe satisfies the Christian guilt complex. In fact, the Holocaust finally made it clear to all concerned that there was no viable place for Jews in Europe.
Those Jews that left Europe for Palestine in the period 1880-1939 were the ones that built and fought for the creation of the Jewish state; those that survived the Holocaust, having made the unfortunate mistake of remaining in Europe, were their beneficiaries.
Time to go
Sir, - Your headline "Peretz, Olmert vow not to quit" (January 18) was a clever idea to provide the slogan for a movement to a start bipartisan effort to bring down this government.
These two leaders, neither presenting much that would instill confidence, one apparently short on ethics, and the other on wisdom, resist change and find preserving their jobs - poorly filled - far more important than preserving the stability, integrity and adequate defense of our nation.
Shame on them!
STEPHEN J. KOHN
He's the first...
Sir, - On Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz tendering his resignation: One down, two to go. ("Halutz's resignation hailed as first step to recovery from war," January 18)
...But did it wrong
Sir, - IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz is reported to have handed his resignation to the prime minister. As chief of General Staff he is directly responsible to the defense minister.
This action is a violation of military discipline and should be investigated by a military review board. The political echelon should also investigate this action, as it is an indication of the politicization of the military.
A. I. GOLDBERG
Sir, - Larry Derfner sincerely seeks improvement in education ("The racism of Israeli youth," January 18). Many readers agree with that goal.
Were his plea to appear in Al-Kuds, we could easily find partners among like-minded Arabic responders.
So, please, Larry, provide detailed percentages on cooperative neighborly peacemakers with whom we can fight bigotry, based on your valid, more widely disseminated principles.
Fair and accurate
Sir, - The article on the British loan was extremely fair and accurate (A debt the British paid -and one they didn't," January 16). Living though the period, I can remember Rabbi Stephen Wise's worry about Britain going communist.
DAVID LLOYD KLEPPER
Sir, - I am a member of the minuscule Jewish community in Kolkata, India, and have children in Israel and in the US.
I am planning to visit them in May/June this year, and had asked my travel agent to find out about El Al flights from Mumbai to New York, New York to Tel Aviv and Tel Aviv back to Mumbai. I was very surprised to hear from him that as I want to spend about a month in each place, El Al would charge me some $600 dollars or so over and above the actual fare.
This is quite a large sum of money and I do not see how such a charge can be justified.
Needless to say, I will not be travelling by El Al.
Considering the recent brouhaha about El Al's operations, I can't help wondering: Is this kosher ?
ALINE M. COHEN