letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - So Larry Derfner has suddenly woken up to the fact that Yasser Arafat was not a peace-maker and the Palestinians are not basically a peace-loving people ("Giving up on the Palestinians," July 6). What took him so long? I've known this since the second suicide bombing after Oslo; I gave Arafat the benefit of the doubt after the first.
The op-ed's ending - "They're unlucky. History found them in the wrong place at the wrong time" - just perpetuates the Palestinians' feeling that they're victims.
Those who kept quiet and blamed Israel for the conflict gave Arafat endless time to rewrite history, indoctrinating Palestinian children to think that they were the only ones with a claim to this land, and that their glorious future lay in being suicide bombers.
By not holding the Palestinians accountable for their actions the Left created two generations with no hope for any kind of future.
Yet it's not too late. The Palestinians must be made to understand that their plight is their own fault, and that their future is in their hands.
Sir, - Israel must bring a bill to the floor of the Knesset: capital punishment for terrorists who commit homicide.
Hit and miss
Sir, - Shlomo Avineri cogently depicts the conundrum facing the conflicted Hamas government - whether to accede to the Quartet's unarguably valid conditions for resuming financial support and achieving international legitimacy, or remain true to its principles and charter calling for the destruction of Israel. The world community has an overriding obligation to "put pressure on the Palestinians" to choose wisely.
But Abba Eban's immortal and prescient observation "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" will doubtless foretell the decision, which Mr. Avineri posits "remains in the hands of the Palestinians alone" ("Put pressure on the Palestinians," July 5).
Lakewood, New Jersey
You have my support
Sir, - I would like to express my support for all activities that Israel performs to defend her right to exist within the human community. Also I apologize for the fact that the European media present data starting from a negative point of view toward Israel. Example: a headline saying "Israel missile attack on Gaza" and the article specifying that the attack came after home-made missiles were fired at Israel.
Verano Brianza, Italy
Finally, a country that stands tall
Sir, - As an American citizen I watch my own country die a little more each day as it tries to please everyone. I take heart to read that Israel will commit everything to save one soldier from those Hamas monsters. I think they are insane to kidnap an Israeli and then ask the world to make Israel stop attacking them.
The efforts being made to free this one soldier are very inspirational. Finally we see a country that stands up for its citizens!
Gilad Shalit and all of Israel are in my prayers.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Let's be accurate
Sir, - Ash Perez claims in "Too Ashkenazi" (Letters, June 6) that "Conservative or Reform... movements are almost entirely Ashkenazi in nature and tradition, [with] absolutely no place for Sephardi or Mizrahi Jews or their traditions [and] have never made any effort to include the oldest Jewish communities in America and Israel."
As it happens, the first congregation in the US to go over to Reform was the Sephardi one in Charleston, South Carolina. While it consisted of Western Sephardim originating from Spain and Portugal as opposed to those Mizrahi Jews, incorrectly called Sephardim, from Oriental lands, they were certainly not Ashkenazim.
The same is true of the first Reform congregation in London, England. While I hold no brief to defend the heterodox, I do believe that propaganda should not be allowed to replace truth.
MARTIN D. STERN
Sir, - When my grandfather came to the US a century ago he addressed every policeman on the streets of New York as "Captain." Everyone understood that as a boost to the policeman's self-image. Back then the druggist was called "doctor" because he gave out medicines, removed specks from one's eye, and treated skin infections. The chiropodist was also addressed as doctor, maybe because he wore a white coat.
Today, too, some people who treat ailments by various unapproved means are called "doctor." And there are people who attend to the spiritual needs of communities and are called "rabbi" by their adherents even if they have not fulfilled the requirements of study and receiving smicha which the title demands.
Time was when we understood that using these titles was a kind of accepted farce. Now we are being brainwashed to accept these unearned titles as legitimate ("Dear President Katsav," Steven M. Cohen and Yossi Klein Halevi, July 5).
DR. LORELL BLASS
Sir, - I was very sad to read of the death of Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs, a brilliant man. He would have been chief rabbi of England if he had had a closed mind like the majority of orthodox rabbis.
A great loss to British Judaism ("UK Conservative Judaism leader dies," July 6).
Inequality at the Wall
Sir, - Further to "Ramp leading to Mughrabi Gate to be removed from Wall Plaza" (July 6): If the powers that be truly want women to have a comfortable prayer area at the Western Wall and not be "cramped and crowded," let them move the mehitza divider and make the men's and women's prayer sections the same size, indoors as well as out.
Mayor Lupoliansky and Rabbi Rabinowitz: As long as you keep the women's section roughly one-third the size of the men's, your words mean nothing. As long as you reserve nearly all the indoor space for the men - especially during Israel's long, hot summers when the broiling sun turns the Wall into the equivalent of a stone oven - you are endangering lives.
There can be no justification for the current inequity in either Halacha or Israeli civil law.
Why this insult?
Sir, - For more than a decade our Post of American veterans has been proud to present the colors of America and Israel at the annual July 4th Independence Day celebration of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. Each year a request was made to the US Embassy in Israel that the American ambassador, or a suitable representative, be available to receive our colors. In past years the embassy's excuse for the absence of the ambassador was the party hosted in Tel Aviv.
This year AACI chose July 3 for our observance and we felt we could expect the ambassador to attend. We were snubbed and insulted by his absence.
As members of Jerusalem Post 180, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, we have remonstrated with the embassy and pointed out that our membership is in the 80-90 age bracket, but we still are proud to present the American colors.
Past Commander and Historian
Jerusalem Post 180
Jewish War Veterans of the USA