letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - Iran has come out strongly in response to a British newspaper's report that Israel plans to attack Teheran's nuclear sites, declaring that any assault will be met with a response and that "anyone who attacks will regret their actions very quickly."
Something tells me that we Israelis might regret even more sitting on our hands and waiting for Iran to test its weapon on us! ("Israel rejects report of plans to bomb Iran," January 8.)
What a world!
Sir, - The Sunday Times article seemed to be an indirect message to the US to either do it right and destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities with conventional forces, or Israel will achieve the same result using tactical nuclear weapons.
The moral implications of such a move for Israel are staggering. But faced with extinction, Israel would only have to do less than the US did in 1945, when its existence was not at stake.
Sin of hypocrisy
Sir, - David J. Forman is indignant at the mere suggestion of transferring Arabs from Israel, while advocating the transfer of Jews from Judea and Samaria. Likewise, I do not recollect Mr. Forman taking up the cause of Jews driven from their homes in Gush Katif, from "legal settlements" erected and encouraged by successive Israeli governments, most prominently by Ariel Sharon.
He is correct in stating that hypocrisy knows no boundaries ("'I'm ashamed, I have transgressed, I have sinned,'" January 8).
Answer HOT & YES...
Sir, - Re "Get tough on HOT, YES" (Editorial, January 7): The most effective protest against HOT and YES depriving their viewers of the programs they most want to watch would be to deprive these cable companies of their income; that is, every subscriber should cancel his or her subscription.
Unfortunately, we in Israel tend to accept whatever is dished out to us, and what begins as a roar usually ends as a squeak. Let us hope that won't happen this time.
...with a ROAR
Sir, - HOT's arbitrary decision to drop more TV stations from its basic program package is nothing new to veteran Israeli TV-watchers. TEVEL, MATAV et al. did the same in the past. We used to enjoy quality TV such as Sat3, RTL, Fr2, Mezzo, TCM, BBC World - to mention just a few channels - before they disappeared from our screens.
Some stations, not all, were replaced by a (disproportionate) number of Russian-speaking channels. And the grand Israeli citizenry, so fearful of being seen as freiers - suckers - quietly put up with this scandalous behavior.
It has taken just a couple of English-language TV channels' threatened deletion and the esprit de corps of the Anglo community to stand up and fight back. Kudos to you people.
Threat from within
Sir, - Congratulations to Shirley Zauer for expressing what many of us living in Israel feel about the corrupt state of affairs in our country ("The existential threat from within," January 7). Since the Jews came into this world as God's chosen people the despots and anti-Semites of this world have tried to obliterate them. They all failed. We survived.
However, as corruption continues to engulf our country we just might accomplish what all our enemies failed to do. We might end up annihilating ourselves with the weapons of greed, corruption and insensitivity that seem to abound.
We are called the People of the Book and the State of Israel was founded as a direct result of the Holocaust, which took the lives of six million Jews. You would think, therefore, that this country would epitomize moral and ethical standards and truly be a light unto all nations.
J. & S. DORTZ
How US kids behave in Israel
Sir - Shmuley Boteach's "Keep an eye on our children" (January 8) unfairly misrepresented the current situation of yeshivot and seminaries for American students in Israel.
Is there a problem? Of course there is. Was the reaction of that girls' seminary administrator typical? Absolutely not. Most mainstream institutions do have a zero-tolerance policy regarding substance abuse and parents can be confident when sending their children to Israel that these policies will be enforced.
However, these are 18-year-old, college-age students who need some space to breathe and they must be given free time. It is impossible for the schools to be on top of their students all the time.
Boteach mentions the "extremely pious and God-fearing men and women who work for paltry salaries out of love for their students and Torah," but neglects to mention those who take their spouses out for "dates" on Thursday and Saturday nights to patrol the streets of downtown Jerusalem in an attempt to monitor the situation.
A small number of schools tolerate substance abuse and are specifically geared to assist students with such needs. Many do employ professionals and are extremely effective. Proper research should clarify to parents what each yeshiva or seminary does or does not tolerate.
Finally, we should ask ourselves: Does the small percentage of boys and girls who are drinking or doing drugs during their year in Israel come anywhere close to the other option for these children - the American college campus? The answer is self-evident.
The year in Israel is the only chance most American students have to gain enough spiritual strength to deal with the spiritual perils of the college experience. One would think that sending a child to what, for most, is a positive spiritual experience - where a small minority abuse their freedoms and do not get turned on spiritually - would be the wise choice versus sending them straight to the college campus, where such behavior is not even viewed as an abuse of their freedoms - it is the norm.
RABBI DOV LIPMAN
Sir, - How can Shmuley Boteach write about American yeshiva students carousing in Jerusalem without mentioning the core problem - the utter failure of religiously-observant parents, rabbis and teachers, who have been massively unsuccessful in inspiring their children/students to understand the "whole picture" of Jewish spirituality?
When are educators going to take the emphasis off which approach to use for teaching Hebrew grammar, or which program to employ for the study of Mishnayot, and begin discussing seriously the gestalt of what this all means in a young person's life? When will we begin to teach the difference between trees and the forest?
Sir, - There seem to be so many families where everyone does his or her own thing and parents have no time to be with their children. The children have plenty of money to spend, with not very much supervision. Seeing the way their youngsters are developing, parents try to make use of the Israeli yeshiva system - but they still provide them with plenty of cash, which goes on alcohol and drugs.
It may well be that some of these Israeli institutions are not doing their very best for these youngsters, but parents need to be made aware of how they should spend the year before their children come here: trying to teach them how to behave.