January 29: Where's the sense?

The unfortunate people who streamed into Rafah with token resistance from Egyptians will find a different reception at Erez.

letters 88 (photo credit:)
letters 88
(photo credit: )
IDF's basic duty Sir, - "Courting security" (Editorial, January 27), dealing with aspects of the attack on two young conscripts, failed to ask one important question: Why was there not a greater force employed at the crossing? The army has a duty to protect all soldiers at all times, yet in this case the "victims were described as 'sitting ducks.'" If they were so exposed and the danger was so obvious, why were they not properly protected? The High Court had decreed that the crossing had to be open, but it did not state that only a few soldiers should be stationed there. Why didn't the military set up concrete barriers and narrow approaches, as described at another crossing nearby? It seems hardly fair or correct to imply that the High Court shares some of the blame here, when in fact this was, at its simplest, a failure of the army to do its basic duty. MIKE FINESTONE Ra'anana Where's the sense? Sir, - Re "What if 500,000 Gazans marched on Erez?" (January 28): If one has seen the Erez crossing, and there are pictures available on the Internet, the question makes no sense. What possible incentive could Gazans have for marching on and destroying buildings? It would take sappers and bulldozers to destroy the complex, and they would not find any food or other goods there. The unfortunate people who streamed into Egypt were told that they could make purchases in Rafah and El-Arish, thereby creating an incentive. They were also told there would be only token interference by Egyptian border guards. At Erez, they would encounter an entirely different reception from the IDF and our Border police, and they know it. YOSEF GOLDBERG Alon Shvut Hi-tech vs low aims Sir, - Intel board chairman Craig Barrett says it could be possible to promote computer and hi-tech education in Gaza and the West Bank, but only in cooperation with the governments and banks, etc. Presumably he means the Palestinian Authority ("Private-public cooperation, hi-tech studies can transform Mideast, Intel chairman says," January 28). Some 20 years ago, speaking to an American tourist who asked about the Arab population of the West Bank, I said I believed that an Arab father wanted the same thing for his children as a Jewish father did: food, shelter and education. However, after experiencing the intifadas, and knowing that the "education" provided in Palestinian and other Arab schools concentrates on promoting hatred of Israel and the Jews, I have modified my opinion. I now believe that Arab governments deliberately withhold from their citizens the ability to better their lives economically, the object being to keep them at a low level of prosperity, and thus subjugated. The bogey of Israel is cynically used to strengthen their hold on this power. CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh The devil's arithmetic Sir, - As Yosef Lapid explained in "Our answer to Hassan Nasrallah" (January 24), the way in which Jews treat their dead works against them. Alas, the dignity, privacy and stoicism of <shiva does nothing to foster sympathy from Christians when compared to wailing Arab parents in front of gullible photographers. The arithmetic of exchanging 1,150 Arab prisoners in 1985 for three Israeli soldiers still failed to demonstrate the Jews' value for life. When anti-Israel proponents point out the imbalance of the death count between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, they should be reminded of these prisoner swaps, and how Jewish values have made Israel's defense against terrorism all the more difficult. JOHN LALOR Dublin Dual Koran? Sir, - This question is not meant to cause anyone to get angry, or to start an argument. I just need an answer. There are people who say that they practice Islam, then you have people who say they practice "radical" Islam. I don't understand how someone can practice two different kinds of Islam, when they both read the Koran. Are there two different versions of the Koran? And if there is only one version, why is there so much of a difference between Islam and radical Islam? DAMIEN LUSK Winston-Salem, North Carolina Crying out for regulation Sir, - Evelyn Gordon's "The Third World according to Aharon Barak" (January 24) was excellent. Three or four decades ago the Supreme Court was the "jewel in the crown" of Israeli society. Today, it has become the "Kotel" for the Israeli Left. Almost all political aspirations that the Left cannot attain in the Knesset or in government are referred to the unelected plenum of High Court judges. The limits of power of the Supreme Court should be be clearly defined by parliament, and for this, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann is taking the right steps, at the right time, in the right direction. The Supreme Court is not above legislation, but must regulated by legislation. SHLOMO FELDMANN Givatayim Time to act, fast Sir, - "Lights (off). Camera. Action" (Amir Mizroch, January 25) dealt with the lack of PR or hasbara. Unfortunately, because we Jews have suffered the worst man-made disaster, the Holocaust, we take it for granted that we do not have to explain our actions. That is no longer the case. We are dealing with new generations, even among ourselves, who either are not aware of our history, or deny it. It is time to act, and fast. DAVID AMINI Jerusalem Not quite so Sir, - There was nothing in "Gov't report overall drop in anti-Semitism" (January 27) about anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism in Israel. While Larry Derfner wrote an article about this last year ("Neo-Nazis in the Jewish homeland," UpFront, September 8), some people might come to the conclusion that there are no more neo-Nazis in Israel, and all that is left is what happens in the Diaspora. Well, it's not quite so, as one can easily see by reading the Russian- and Hebrew-language press, or by visiting our site, the Israeli Information and Assistance Center for the Victims of Anti-Semitism, www.pogrom.org.il (tel. 0544-691-955 or 02-585-6873). Z. GILICHENSKY Jerusalem Idolatry? Oh, no Sir, - Kenneth Besig writes that he has "seen (many Orthodox and haredi) Jews stand directly in front of the Holy Ark to recite Kaddish, apparently believing this will have a positive impact on their prayer" (which to him) "comes perilously close to idol worship" ("Close to the abyss," Letters, January 24). I am aware of this custom only in the older, larger Ashkenazi communities such as the one in Amsterdam, which introduced it when they decided to modify their original custom - of only one person reciting each Kaddish - to that of the Sephardim, among whom Kaddish is recited by all mourners in unison so the congregation should be able to hear it distinctly and make the required responses. Unfortunately, Ashkenazim have tended to a more individualistic style, giving rise to the unintelligible babble heard in many shuls today. It was to avoid this problem that communities such as Amsterdam and Frankfurt arranged for all mourners to stand at the front - without any trace of idolatry! MARTIN D. STERN Salford, UK