(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - Larry Derfner stated that "Blowback" (July 6) was concerned only with the possible cost in human lives of a US or Israeli preemptive attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities. Seldom are solutions and consequences so easy to see as the Iranian nuclear situation, and while looking for the trees, some experts miss the whole forest.
Regardless of how bad the consequences of a preemptive strike would be, they would pale by comparison with the consequences of allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapons capability, resulting in the ultimate holocaust. While a preemptive strike could not be assured 100% success, it would weaken a regime already in serious economic trouble and ensure major setbacks to its nuclear program.
Given the message that a preempt would bring to the Iranian people, and the knowledge that it could always be repeated, it is reasonable to assume that economic survival and full Iranian stomachs would seem infinitely preferable to having nuclear weapons.
Sir, - Amotz Asa-El's "Moshe Katsav and the end of Zionism" (July 6) was brilliant. It should not be forgotten that it was the Likud that engineered the election of Moshe Katsav as president seven years ago. It may not necessarily be a bad thing to have a plea bargain in order to avoid a protracted, scandalous trial that would be much enjoyed by our enemies. On the other hand, legislation must be passed to strip a person of all privileges relating to the office of the presidency if he or she is found guilty of criminal charges.
...and true symbol
Sir, - They say it's the job of Israel's president to serve as a symbol of the state. I think no one has symbolized us more trenchantly than outgoing president Moshe Katsav.
Here's a fellow who wants to display a clear conscience, but who's been told by his best friends that a claim of complete righteousness, given the weight of public opinion against him, would only isolate him from any prospect of sympathetic treatment.
So, like the State of Israel itself, for the sake of reconciliation he yields some points to his enemies. And of course that breach in his self-defense, rather than opening the way to compromise, renders his moral standing vulnerable to unlimited attack. The more extreme the accusations, the less the public - most of whom would never make up such things - can believe anyone else would make them up; and the more the inclination to defend the victim becomes the inclination to victimize the defendant ("Moshe Katsav and the end of Zionism,"Amotz Asa-El, July 6).
MARK L. LEVINSON
In the current climate
Sir, - It struck me as very apt that Rabbi Berel Wein, one of the most erudite and eloquent scholars of this generation, should write about "Climate control" (Judaism, July 6), linking the topic to former president Katsav. If we had more leaders of the caliber and stature of Rabbi Wein, the moral standards and values in this Jewish country of ours would doubtless be infinitely higher.
Reaching out to Jews...
Sir, - I commend David Forman on his solid analysis in "Wanted, more Jewish visitors" (July 6), but take issue with his conclusion: to reach out to mixed marriages, gays and lesbians and others to connect them to Israel and the Jewish experience. What does he really expect to accomplish?
Orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians need no coaxing to visit Israel. Why? Why do Conservative and Reform Jews need to be coaxed? The Orthodox and fundamentalist Christians are not Zionists and also religious; their Zionism is an outgrowth of their religious belief. As an Orthodox Jew, I am a Zionist because the Torah demands this as part of my belief system. If someone is bereft of authentic religious values, all the trips to Israel will have little impact.
Look at the Conservative and Reform experiment in America, and in Germany before it. Watering down the Torah has never created an environment for more "Jewish" activity or involvement. It has led to the very mixed marriages Mr. Forman wants to reconnect to.
ABRAHAM E. DANZIGER
Lakewood, New Jersey
Sir, - David Forman asks why more US Jews are not visiting Israel. I can give him a reason - the high cost of airline tickets combined with no availability on flights. For the first time ever, I am flying Turkish Airlines instead of El Al. The cost of flying El Al was $600 more, and that is a considerable difference. I assume most visitors like to travel direct, and not go through a foreign country, but cannot afford those direct prices.
My children are already wait-listed to return to Israel for Rosh Hashana, Succot and Pessah. How is it possible that all flights for next Pessah are already booked?
Sir, - Re Buzzy Gordon's Jewish participation in the American War of Independence ("Revolutionary Jews," July 6): When Nathan Levy's son died, he was able to buy from William Penn a small plot of land to bury his son. Two years later he was able to buy a larger plot for his family. Nine years later he tried to increase it and turn it into a cemetery for the Jewish community. First rejected, the request was later approved.
The "legend" referred to in the box was a real occurrence. Joseph Phillips, who owned a store next to the printer selling copies of the Declaration of Independence, bought a copy. At the time, writing a letter in Yiddish to an acquaintance in Amsterdam, Gumpel Samson, he enclosed the copy of the declaration. The letter was sent to Amsterdam via the Dutch East Indies.
The ship carrying the letter was intercepted. The letter never reached its destination as the English could not decipher it. It was sent to the Public Record Office in London, where it remains.
Haym Solomon was born to poor parents in Lezno, Poland. He was multilingual and very knowledgeable about European finances. This made him a valuable asset as a broker. He was very successful in converting loans into money, which gave Robert Morris the money he needed to support the new government. Solomon took much less payment on each conversion than the usual 4%.
What took away much of his money was the loans he gave to patriots like James Madison. He didn't charge interest and, like other Jewish merchants who gave loans, wasn't repaid. He did, indeed, die a poor man. Morris, on the other hand, went on to have a very successful career in government and died poor because of his speculations after the war. It should be noted that he was repaid by the government, while Haym Solomon was not only not repaid but denied the recognition he deserved.
For further information, I recommend The History of the Jews of Philadelphia by Edwin Wolf and Maxwell Whiteman.
Coffee with Dennis
Sir, - Dennis Turner, of blessed memory, was for several years my frequent 6:15 a.m. fellow coffee drinker at the Aroma Cafe. I often chided him about his addiction to The Jerusalem Post, which he read and reread each morning while using his laptop. We also talked about some elegant mathematical equations and numerical series; he was a far better mathematician than I, but he was patient and often smiled his sweet, slightly sad smile at my errors.
We agreed that the Post's best writers are its women: Caroline Glick, Sarah Honig, Liat Collins, Barbara Sofer and everyone's valued health consultant, Judy Siegel-Itzkovich.
I was abroad when Dennis died. The (Arab) staffer who prepared our coffee stopped by my home to tell me. I miss and mourn him. Thank you, Ms. Sofer, for your sentient eulogy ("Just a plug," July 6).