(photo credit: )
Sir, - We regular citizens were of course not privy to the internal leadership debate that resulted in "Gov't permits Hawatmeh return" (July 15); but I feel sick. While Nazi criminals are still being hunted worldwide ("Austria offers reward for Nazi fugitives," same date), we are planning to allow in a terror chief responsible, among other heinous acts, for the 1974 murder in Ma'alot of 26 Israelis, most of them schoolchildren on a field trip from Safed - all in the name of the dubious proposition of "strengthening Mahmoud Abbas."
Pragmatism may have its place, but in this case my heart is with Avigdor Lieberman, who "said Saturday, according to Israel Radio, that Israel should let Hawatmeh enter so that he could then be arrested and tried for murder."
Sir, - I cannot imagine that the US would let Osama bin Laden onto its soil without arresting and killing him. What must the families of the murdered Ma'alot children be feeling? What will be the reply when the terrorists continue their antics?
...to the stomach
Sir, - To let the DFLP's Nayef Hawatmeh in under a white flag of immunity would be worse than appeasement or cowardice. To have even allowed this inhuman creature to have lived these past 33 years is an act of unspeakable shame. Allow him into Judea and Samaria? Only to greet him with the same welcome that was accorded the murderers of Israel's athletes in Munich.
ALAN B. KATZ
Melville, New York
Sir, - As a secular oleh of two years, I remain grateful for the opportunity to live the miracle of Israel. Of course I am sickened by the state of Israeli politics.
After reading Anshel Pfeffer's "Advice to the new hasbara czar" (July 13) and before reading Amotz Asa-El's "A tale of two pities" (UpFront, July 13), I had the following fantasy:
Former Israel ambassador to the UN Dore Gold as prime minister (clean); former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen (Ret) Moshe Ya'alon as minister of defense (competent); former PM Binyamin Netanyahu as hasbara czar (credible). Without doubt, he's the best we have for hasbara.
Clean, competent, credible - what a great concept for the New Likud!
Bolstering the faithful
Sir, - I would like to make a point that both Jonathan Tobin ("Lost is the message," July 1) and Amy Friedkin and Larry Weinberg ("Our 'human-lens' approach to hasbara," July 8) may have missed.
Hasbara needs to target the unconvinced and win minds and hearts for the cause, and in this regard what these writers had to say was valid and certainly not mutually exclusive.
But what of our loyal and committed friends out there, who risk being suffocated by a media-generated miasma of toxic anti-Israel methane, and on a daily basis? You only have to read the English and US dailies or tune into their radio and TV broadcasts to see what I mean. Surely these good, faithful and philo-Israel friends deserve to have their already positive views on our country reinforced.
To this end we distribute a weekly newsletter entitled GN Israel, which, as its name indicates, summarizes the good news for the week. It includes finance, culture, business, economics, sport, science, medicine, and more. We estimate that it reaches 10,000 readers in all the Anglophone and some of the Francophone countries (we also have readers in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany and Switzerland) and of course, Israel.
The email, approximately 1,200 words long, is provided free of charge or any obligation on the part of the recipient. All the costs are born by Anglo-Saxon Real Estate Ra'anana/Caesarea as its contribution to the hasbara effort.
If any readers are interested in subscribing, they can contact me at email@example.com
Is Safed next?
Sir, - Re "Beit Shemesh 'Casbah' on edge over controversial modesty demonstrations' (July 15): Together with many other secular residents of Safed, I view the events taking place in Beit Shemesh with great trepidation. The general feeling here is that it is "Beit Shemesh today, Safed tomorrow."
Haredi aggression and intolerance is on the increase in Safed, which was always an example of mutual tolerance and understanding. Modesty signs, anti-Zionist graffiti and assorted posters are to be seen in many places, especially in the Old City. Tourists have been accosted by holier-than-thou fanatics. Cries of "Shabbes" are now heard with greater frequency, and on Friday nights garbage bins and stones are placed on the road at the main entrance to town.
There is anti-Arab agitation aimed at the Arab students in the Safed Academic College.
To date, the intimidation is still relatively low-key, and with some sincere effort by the municipality, the police and local community leaders representing all of Safed's population, it is still possible for cooler heads to prevail. However, if the handwriting on the wall goes unheeded, the mutual violence and hatreds will surely spread north to the Galilee.
Sir, - Josef Gilboa opposes any pressure on the Catholic Church to prevent restoration of a Catholic mass in Latin that contains an anti-Semitic prayer ("Why worry about others' prayers?" Letters, July 13). He asks how we would we feel if the pope demanded removal of the "Pour out thy wrath" (Shfoch hamatcha) prayer from the Haggada.
This is a poorly chosen example. The pope, a reputed Bible scholar, would know full well that the shfoch hamatcha prayer does not originate in the Haggada, but was copied, verbatim, from the Book of Psalms 79:6-7. He would not demand the removal of material from a biblical book in common use in the Catholic Church, written 1,000 years before the birth of Christianity. Any attempt to do so would result in a flood of demands to censor the New Testament, which has many unfortunate references to Jews.
It is my feeling that the pope should leave the Latin mass alone because, at present, it is in a cleaned-up form. He should not attempt to restore the mass in its offensive version.
RABBI STANLEY WEXLER
Light to the nations
Sir, - In Judy Montagu's fascinating story about Taiwan's only rabbi, the episode where her newly lit Shabbat candle blew out brought to mind an anecdote I heard from my father, of blessed memory.
His "intellectual" uncle in the Old Country liked to read a book in the evenings, and one Friday night he was reading by the light of the Shabbat candles. The village home was drafty, however, and the candles blew out. He was in mid-chapter. What could he do? He couldn't relight the candle, so he opened the door and waited until he saw a peasant trudging home through the snow.
"Hey Ivan!" he called. "Cold out there, no?" "Da, cold," said Ivan.
"Want some vodka?" Now what Russian peasant turns down a free drink? Ivan accepted, and the uncle brought him inside.
"Dark in here, I can't find the bottle," he muttered. Ivan scratched a match and lit the candle. "Ah, that's better," said uncle. He found the bottle and poured a drink. Ivan lifted his glass.
"Nazdrovia," he said. Draining the glass, he blew out the candle - and left!
It shouldn't happen to you ("How Taiwan's sole rabbi keeps the faith," June 24).
RABBI BARUCH COHON