(photo credit: )
Can you, or can't you?
Sir, - On June 27, 1976, as my plane crossed the waters from New York to Tel Aviv on my first trip to Israel, another plane that originated in Tel Aviv, carrying 238 passengers and a crew of 12, was being hijacked to Uganda. By the time my jet-lag wore off, the Israeli government and IDF had taken control of the situation and brought the hostages home. No prisoner exchanges, no negotiations, no media.
With all the advanced technology today, we can't manage to bring one young soldier back to his home and family - almost 1,000 days after being captured.
What am I missing? Bring Gilad home ("Last-ditch bid to clinch Schalit deal," March 16).
Sir, - Just several hours following a "goodwill gesture" by Israel in removing a checkpoint near Nablus, two Israeli policemen were murdered in a terror attack not far from that area.
It has yet to be determined where the terrorists came from, but why haven't we learned that every time Israel makes a gesture that hampers our security, we end up paying the price in Jewish blood? ("Two traffic policemen shot dead in Jordan Valley attack," March 16.)
Hebrew-speaking foreign agents
Sir, - How totally cynical for the Dutch to present a "prestigious human rights award" to B'Tselem as an "Israeli organization" ("Israeli, Palestinian groups get rights medal," March 15). They are really giving the award to themselves.
The technicality of registration aside, B'Tselem is funded in large part by foreign governments - including the Netherlands, Britain, Germany and Norway, whose policies are often not helpful to Israel - and its purpose is to be a camouflaged surrogate for the foreign ministries of its donor nations. Yet, in a prize-winning example of double-speak, the award praised the group for its "independent and critical" monitoring of rights abuses.
But there is more here than irony. Advocacy NGOs such as the Association for Civil Rights, Adallah and Yesh Din, which are funded by foreign governments, operate freely here and thus can infiltrate our judicial and legislative systems to achieve their foreign policy goals. They do so by constantly filing petitions in the Supreme Court on very sensitive issues, and by lobbying in the Knesset for legislation to minimize the Jewish identity of the state.
The government of Israel must wake up to this outrageous affront to its sovereignty and require these NGOs to register as agents of foreign governments, like in the US.
True children of both Covenants
Sir, - In response to David Horovitz's "Another pope" (March 13), I would like to address the relationship between the Jewish people and those who would take the name of Christ.
Starting with the account in Genesis, we read of a man called Abram being called of God to leave his home to go to a land of promise. If Abram obeyed God he would be greatly blessed, become the father of a great nation and be given a name that would be revered throughout the ages. He was told that any who blessed him would be blessed and any who cursed him would be cursed, and that in him would all the families of the earth be blessed.
Abram responded in total, complete and faithful obedience. His experiences from then on are well documented.
Those who would take the name of Christ are encouraged to look to Abraham and Sarah as wonderful models of faith in God. The books of the Old Testament are kept in the Bible for good reason. God's plans for all of humanity are revealed in His dealings with the Jewish People, and those who in any way mistreat them should remember that they are hurting the "Apple of God's Eye" and will be answerable to God, as the Pope must have realized.
The true children of the second Covenant know that even without Jewish ancestry, without Sabbath worship and without the Law given to Moses, they are still 100 percent Jewish as they seek to worship the God of Abraham and Sarah in all fidelity.
They look for the day coming when the true children of both Covenants will worship together with no partition wall between - the natural and spiritual Jewish worshipers.
Ok Falls, British Columbia
Sir, - The pontiff must tangibly show an ongoing Vatican policy of protecting the welfare of Jews worldwide and a genuine feeling that Jews and Christians are exactly how his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, described them - "dear brothers," being children of Abraham. The pope's words and actions need to be heartfelt, and not artificially parroted for appearance's sake.
Being Roman Catholic myself, I feel a deep regret that John Paul II is no longer on the scene. During his pontificate, I was honored by becoming a Papal Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. I hold The Holy Land near and dear to my heart.
I can only hope that the current pope will not only "tick many of John Paul II's boxes," as David Horovitz put it, but put his heart and soul into his upcoming visit to Israel to show that although religious persuasions may somewhat differ, religious ideals can meet on "common ground" that is considered by both Christians and Jews to be "sacred ground."
JAMES A. MARPLES
The original God
Sir, - I have been a religious skeptic for almost 75 years - since I first heard that only "people baptized in the 'blood of the Lamb' can go to heaven." I knew then, from reading National Geographic, that many people had never heard of Jesus. I am equally suspicious of Muhammad's claims.
I now am 85, and have been thinking more about religion.
My thought is to leap-frog backward many thousands of years to reach the original God, without having to deal with the Christian and Islamic intermediaries that claim to hold the keys to heaven. I think this is something the Jewish faith should consider in appealing to the world's growing number of skeptics.
Why deal with pretenders when the real God is still available?
The option of no God is we are all just animals, and anything goes.
Don't be funny
Sir, - Roy Runds' screed against India would be amusing if it weren't so dangerous ("China and Tibet," Letters, March 12). It's China that first invaded Tibet, claimed portions of India as part of China and began the conflict. It was China that first got nuclear weapons, which is the reason India felt it needed weapons.
Sir, - Regarding El Al security personnel asking a passenger to sing Lecha Dodi, I worked in a sensitive position in England and would ask men what their bar mitzva portion was (most had forgotten), what kiddush after a shul service is, or even what you eat at a kiddush.
The El Al staff in London ask you where you learned to read Hebrew (correct answer: Hebrew school or heder) - but they are not really interested in the answers to these questions.
What they are looking for is body language; so if I break out in a sweat when asked where I learned to read Hebrew, my eyes are flashing from right to left and my knuckles visibly white, this tells security something ("Did you pack your Jewish identity yourself?" March 16).