Too terrible for words
- Liat Collins's thought-provoking article "Preserving the (real)
memory" (January 24) revived my memories of participating in the
Normandy landings with the British Second Army and the horrifying
discovery and opening up of the Belsen concentration camp. Why didn't I
use the word "freeing"? Because I have always considered that the
released concentration camp victims were never freed from the terrible
memories of their years of unimaginable sufferings. I, who was only a
British soldier who witnessed the aftermath of this suffering, have
never - not even for a single day - been able to forget the sight of
the survivors, barely living, skeletons clothed in rags, shuffling
forward to some unknown destination.
So I wish to congratulate Ms. Collins on the word "trivialize."
The Shoah is not a piece of cardboard history to take its place
alongside 1066, the Spanish Armada or the Napoleonic Wars but a
deliberate policy to exterminate every single Jew. Too often the word
"Shoah" is used in accusations against Israel by our enemies, and even
our own writers and journalists are guilty of using the word too
lightly without considering the true impact of its meaning.
NORMAN W. COHEN
In the righteous spirit
Sir, - The rescue efforts displayed by Israel in Haiti is a clear example of ahavat chinam
love). Such a tiny country as Israel has sent to quake-stricken Haiti
an impressive contingent of 220 highly trained medical and IDF
personnel, setting up a state-of-the-art hospital in less than 24
hours, giving hope to thousands of Haitians. This is a humanitarian
gesture that has nothing to do with political considerations or cynical
calculations. After all, even before the earthquake, Haiti was the most
impoverished country in the Western hemisphere. So what could Haiti
possibly offer Israel in return?
parallel can be drawn between Israel's help to Haiti and the heroic
legacies of the saviors of Holocaust victims. The latter stood up
against a huge, evil human-made monster. The former reached out to
millions of people battered by the forces of nature. The saviors of the
Holocaust are referred to as The Righteous among the Nations. Israel is
a Righteous Nation.
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
Sir,- I never miss a Larry Derfner article, and I
never cease to be amazed at his convoluted conclusions. But his article
on Haiti is by far his best ("The pride and the shame," January 21). To
draw a parallel between the "big-hearted" Israeli-run hospital in Haiti
with the Israeli "heartlessness" in Gaza requires real intellectual
On the one hand, Haiti: a dictatorship with its largely poor,
uneducated and subjugated people suddenly hit by a dreadful earthquake,
killing tens of thousands and leaving hundreds of thousands without
food, water, medical attention and a roof over their heads. On the
other hand, Gaza: with a democratically elected Hamas government
squandering the billions received annually in aid from all over the
world to dig tunnels in order to smuggle in bigger and better rockets
to fire on innocent Israelis.
And his conclusion? Israel should show as much care for the people of Gaza as it is showing for those of Haiti.
But Derfner conveniently overlooks the fact that the situation
in Gaza, as awful as it may be, was the result of the actions of the
people of Gaza themselves and their elected leaders and, should the
Palestinians show a willingness to end the conflict, is instantly
The earthquake in Haiti was not caused by the people of Haiti, and most of the tragic results are irreversible.
Sir, - It is interesting to note that in the photographs of your
columnists that appear with their articles, only Larry Derfner is
wearing tinted glasses. Are they rose colored by any chance?
Free speech or incitement...?
Sir, - The article "Tel Aviv scholar advocates Israel boycott at
London event" (January 21) describes an attempt by yet another Jewish
pseudointellectual from one of Israel's universities to gain
recognition and fame by demonizing the Jewish people. Is this free
speech or incitement? Some day a book describing the effect of Jewish
intellectuals in pre-Holocaust Europe will make the seriousness of this
There is a law in Israel regarding incitement. At the very
least, it should be employed to remove these enemies from within from
our universities. Demonizing Israel and fostering anti-Semitism is
serious business and should be treated as such.
...practice what you preach
Sir, - So Dr. Anat Mazar of Tel Aviv University is to call for
Israeli universities, including presumably her own, to be boycotted by
academics around the world. Dr. Mazar should be allowed the freedom to
make such a call, no matter how repugnant it is to others. But being a
rigorous academic, she should follow the logic of her position.
To call on every other academic to boycott her university while
she remains there and draws a salary is the height of hypocrisy. If she
wants other academics to break their relationship with TAU, she should
lead by example. Indeed, any call by an Israeli academic for others to
boycott their university should be regarded by the university as a
letter of resignation.
PROF. LESLIE WAGNER
Another school of thought
Sir, - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recognized the Ariel
University Center of Samaria as a "university center." Ignore the fact
that "university center" has no legal meaning, that designations for
centers of learning are not part of the Defense Ministry portfolio,
that Barak has no training, certification, background in education, and
that the Council of Higher Education objects to Barak's decision.
Ignore the fact that the center is built on occupied territory,
violating numerous international conventions. But do not ignore The
Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 50: "The Occupying Power shall ...
facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care
and education of children."
While Barak unilaterally proclaims an educational
institution in occupied territory a "university," he denies basic
school supplies to children in another occupied territory. The
schoolchildren of Gaza are not allowed to receive pencils, paper,
textbooks. Their schools are inadequate: damaged, overcrowded,
message is tragic: If you're Jewish and an occupier, you receive
millions of shekels and lofty designations. If you're Palestinian and
occupied, you don't even receive a pencil. As a teacher, this is
heart-breaking. As a Jew, whose culture values and extols education,
this is an abomination.
Sir, - It was disturbing to read about Arad and yet another
factory with hundreds of employees that is under threat of closure and
of the consequences that will be borne by the far too many hapless
families "(Is Motorola quitting Arad?" January 21).
A few weeks ago we heard about another plant that was closed in
the North in favor of a manufacturer in China that would produce the
items a bit more cheaply. The items in question, however, are the metal
insignia for the uniforms of the IDF. I submit that this violates
several of the core elements of the Zionist dream.(1) It borders on
sacrilege to have the insignia of the Zionist state's uniform to be
made outside our country. (2) The unemployment payments to the hundreds
of dismissed employees will be several times greater than the
difference in manufacturing costs. (3) The indifference to the fate of
those who have lost their incomes is abhorrent in a Jewish state.
a boycott by our soldiers of the uniforms bearing these offending
insignia could win the approval of a wide consensus and serve as a
wake-up call to all that are responsible for the well-being of our