letters to the editor 88.
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Returning our children
Sir, - By giving the families of the captured soldiers our total support we make it very clear to our enemies that we care for our children and that, if they are truly interested in a peace settlement, they must be sensitive to our needs with regard to their welfare. Far from being an "Achilles heel," our concern for these soldiers is our strength ("Lest we forget," Erica Chernofsky, February 23).
Sir, - The United Jewish Communities has a neutral, non-commercial Web site www.freethesoldiers.org on which there is a petition. It should be signed by every viewer and forwarded to family and friends.
The correct Web site for aiding the MIAs is www.banim.org/en/index_en.html
Gazan fat cats get the cream
Sir, - Ksenia Svetlova's "For richer and for poorer" (February 23) opened our eyes to the fact that political and business leaders live luxuriously in Gaza while their compatriots are mired in poverty and unemployment. Andrey Demidov, acting ambassador of Russia, claimed in an interview in your February 13 issue that "misery is what caused the Palestinian terror... There are no jobs, no money, nothing," but he seemed unaware of how international help is being siphoned off to the cats nearest the cream. You might have accompanied the article with pictures of where these "fat cats" live.
BEVERLY A. LEWIN
Sir, - Reading this "La Dolce Vita in Gaza," I was fascinated by: "After 1993, we had two kinds of multimillionaires that emerged in Palestine. There were the expats who made their fortune abroad... and there were also homemade millionaires, who benefited from their ties with the occupation."
What about those who got rich pocketing foreign aid money? I asked myself - then realized that that's what Gazans mean when they say "benefited from their ties with the occupation."
Very revealing indeed.
Sir, - I was only seven when the two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My father, a judge advocate in the US Army from January 1941, had been in camps in Oakland and San Francisco from January 1945, waiting to join the invasion of Japan.
In a letter to my mother in mid-August 1945, he wrote: "These bombs, which fell and ended the war, make it very clear that President Truman could not bear the thought of more Americans dying in combat with the Japanese." He continued, "I do not know how horrific these bombs were, but for the Jewish people, who have suffered so, the end of the war can only be for the good."
On August 8, 1945, my grandfather wrote in his diary, in Yiddish: "If it is true the war will end, fine, but if the war continues - it means the end of the entire world. America has discovered how to manufacture a certain kind of bomb that has the power to destroy a country... now the US has the atomic bomb"' ("Atomic perspectives (I), Amotz Asa-El, February 23).
IDF's public relations
Sir, - Amotz Asa-El's "The IDF's forgotten failure" (February 16) made sense to me here in the UK. For instance: I could not understand (along with others here) the incident of the "missile strike" on the Lebanese ambulances; that the UK news reporters were allowed to be taken in so effectively was a disaster. Because no valid argument seemed to be made to refute the claims, particularly to the UK ITN reporter, we felt very despondent.
The fact that the incident was later challenged in the international press - well, it was too late. I myself tried to get a reply from the ITN reporter as to how he now viewed the incident in hindsight, but he would not reply.
Something very rotten
Sir, - In "Something worse than murder" (February 16) Calev Ben-David called our attention to the unforgivable leniency with which the killers of taxi driver Derek Roth were, and are, treated by a judicial system that has lost its moral compass. In this we see reflected a pathological, across-the-board decline in differentiating right from wrong.
I shall never forget the answers I received right after the murder, when I interviewed students at the Smadar school in Herzliya Pituah, near my home, where Moshe Ben-Ivgi and Arbel Aloni studied. Asked what they thought of their classmates' deed, they gave answers like: "They did a foolish thing" (shtut); "fouled up their lives" (histabchu), and so on. The focus was on the consequences for the perpetrators; seemingly not one teenager there had been taught, either at home or in school, that murder is - murder: the ultimate crime from the beginning of time.
Sir, - The recent case involving convicted killer Ami Popper may be added to the casualties of the policy of granting weekends out of prison to convicted murderers. During one such leave Popper drove a car without a license, apparently too fast, and caused a fatal accident in which his wife and one of his children were killed.
But can one expect a change in the prison system's policy when Israel's occasional wholesale release of terrorists, who have committed murder, has resulted in many more murders by those given their freedom?
Again and again
Sir, - Larry Derfner's "Never again?" (February 16) astonished us hidden children and child of Holocaust survivors. It quoted Jenny Rozenstain, 71, saying, "There are days I don't eat, but I'm used to not eating. My medicines I have to take."
How can the State of Israel, sprung from the ashes of the Shoah, allow one in four of these 70,000 survivors to suffer insufficient nutrition, medicine and housing? These Jews came to this country out of faith, risked their lives over and over again in its wars and built Israel into what it is now. "With one hand I worked over 50 years, and what do I get from the government?" asks Leopold Rosen, 85. If not now, when should these survivors be allowed the security of living without hunger and financial worry?
In these late stages of their lives they are our living testimony to the Shoah. The State of Israel is just one of the long list of institutions founded and consecrated in the name of the Holocaust which has seriously benefited from its lucre, at the expense of the surviving individuals and families.
We call on MK Colette Avital, and the government to address the issue now. It is a question of ethics and morality.
NICO & SUZY SPRECHER
Sir, - Immediately after reading this article I sent it to six MKs across party lines: Zehava Gal-On, Gilad Erdan, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Avishay Braverman, Colette Avital (who'd like to be president) and Shelly Yacimovich. Only the last acknowledged my e-mail. So why should be surprised about the predicament our Holocaust survivors are facing?
Heart and soul
Sir, - Yehuda Avner's "The Mughrabi Gate incident" (February 23) was slightly off-target. When Menachem Begin wrote of "the House that once stood here, of kings who once knelt here in prayer, of prophets and seers who declaimed their messages here, of heroes who fell here, dying," he was not speaking of the Western Wall. He was speaking of the Temple Mount; the same Temple Mount where today a Jew attempting to pray would be immediately dragged away - by the Israeli police.
It is a shame that in our democratic Jewish state Jews are still restricted to praying at the Western wall, which is merely a retaining wall for the Temple Mount. When will we Jews be allowed to pray on the Mount like our Muslim neighbors? Isn't that the "heart and soul of the matter"?
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