Passing the buck
Sir, - I don't buy the argument that it's no more than a few rotten Beduin spoiling the rest of the barrel. Those who are not actively doing the thieving are, by keeping silent, encouraging the ravaging that's going on, as well as protecting and sheltering the thieves ("The Wild South," March 2).
Not that I'm overly excited about the proposed law now being debated. Sanctioned vigilantism will be the inevitable outcome, and an awful lot of innocent people, both Jew and Arab, will find themselves caught in the crossfire. This legislation would be irresponsibly passing the buck, making the people rather than the police or army responsible for protecting the property and physical well-being of the Negev farmers. It may wind up making the situation worse.
Shai Dromi's arrest is indicative of a justice system gone awry. The farmer encountered trespassers who were ultimately charged with various crimes. It is not unlikely that they were armed and dangerously desperate.
Shooting was not simply the last resort Dromi had - it was likely the only one.
Talent and tzitzis
Sir, - "An 'ahava' supreme" (February 23) was a great article by Samuel G. Freeman about hard-working, successful musician Andy Statman. In addition to his amazing accomplishments mentioned in the op-ed, I learned from Statman's cousin, David Steinberg, a top French horn player who played with the Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra from 1976-80, that Andy is appreciated by the mainstream, nationally-known musicians.
When Ricky Scaggs, four-time Grammy Award winner for the best bluegrass album, came to New York, he invited Andy to play at Carnegie Hall. I heard the duel was something to behold. Since then, as Mr. Scaggs invites him on a regular basis, Andy takes his talent and tzitzis to Nashville, where he does his one-man repertoire to knowing, appreciative fans.
Justice leads to peace...
Sir, - David J. Forman's comments on the Gaza situation allow us to remind our leaders that the State of Israel can exist only on the basis of justice. And justice runs parallel in this case with common sense.
Keep Gazans in a state of hunger and we guarantee the existence of enemies of Israel forever. Give them the chance of a decent, normal life and Israel will be giving itself a chance of peace ("Feed the hungry," March 2).
...for the deserving
Sir, - When food and shelter become the moral imperative of the Gazans, rockets will cease to fall on Israel.
The Palestinian people voted in Hamas; they cheered the murderer of the IDF reservists when he showed off his bloody hands. They came 250,000-strong to mourn bomber Abu Ayyash.
He who gives bread to those who vow to eat his flesh and drink his blood is aiding and abetting murder.
Sir, - I am in full agreement with Rabbi Forman when he complains about the plight of the Palestinian population. He is quite right in saying something must be done to alleviate their suffering, and that, in the final analysis, it is in our interest to do so.
However - and there is always, unfortunately, a "however" - several things come to mind. The first is Aesop's allegorical tale of "Hercules and the Carter":
"A carter was driving a wagon along a country lane when the wheels sank down deep into a rut. The rustic driver, stupefied and aghast, stood looking at the wagon, and did nothing but utter loud cries to Hercules to come and help him. Hercules, it is said, appeared and thus addressed him: 'Put your shoulders to the wheels, my man. Goad on your bullocks, and never more pray to me for help, until you have done your best to help yourself, or depend upon it you will henceforth pray in vain.' Self-help is the best help."
For outside help to continue to be given - and in the Palestinian case it has been given, in overflowing measure - some participation is required of the helpee. It does not matter if the assistance to be given is divine or not, the principle is the same.
Secondly, Rabbi Forman tries to get himself out of a tight spot by saying that he is sure some mechanism can be found to prevent funds getting into the wrong hands. If he knows of a foolproof mechanism, he should say so, otherwise this remains a pious wish.
Worldwide experience has shown that those who really want to circumvent bans and barriers will always find a way. In order for funds to be used constructively, there must be a desire on the user's part that will overcome the urge to "invest" this money in arms and terror and personal enrichment of the few. Until there is such a desire, contributed funds will always be misused.
Like so many of us, I fear Rabbi Forman has been misled into believing that the Palestinians think in the same logical framework he does.
Sir, - The depth of Rabbi Forman's naivete is simply astounding. For decades Israel has been bending over backwards to stave off hunger and blight from the lives of Arabs living within our borders. Even Shimon Peres himself went soliciting, country to country, for global funding to improve their conditions. This of course, was to no avail. Everyone knows that needed funds continually end up in the mismanaged and corrupt coffers of Arab "government officials." So, in fact, even if Israel were to release more funds the monies would hardly reach the poor.
If Rabbi Forman were totally honest with himself, he would agree that the Palestinians would currently be living on a higher level had they distanced themselves from violence many decades ago. However, it is simply suicidal for Israel to dump more and more money into a snake-pit of terrorism whose very raison d'etre is the destruction of the State of Israel and her Jewish inhabitants.
How many times do we have to make the same mistakes before we learn the lessons?
Sir, - According to David Forman, "The ultimate test of one's moral integrity is when one is threatened." According to Judaism, however, one who shows mercy when cruelty is called for will ultimately show cruelty when mercy is called for.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Forman apparently wishes to strengthen, has often endorsed jihad against Israel when speaking to his Arab constituents.
Blot out this crime
Sir, - I share your readers' pain that, for far too many years, over 25 percent of Holocaust survivors in Israel have been living below the poverty line (Letters page, February 23). I am sure that AMCHA and Kerem do wonderful work but, as in so many other cases, they are doing the work of the government. Private donations cannot cover the costs the way the government can.
The best way to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this year would be to demonstrate outside the Knesset on behalf of the last remaining survivors, so they can spend their last years in dignity. Let us blot out this crime of all the governments of Israel.
Sir, - Yehuda Avner's articles, which recreate stories of the state in its earlier days, never fail to move me. The integrity and vision of our leaders of yesteryear is inspiring ("The Mughrabi Gate incident," February 23). I'm sorry that I did not collect and save them all - especially the detailed accounts of the rescue at Entebbe and the bombing of the Iranian nuclear reactor.
If Mr. Avner ever decided to reprint all his articles in a single volume, I would be a happy customer.
Sir, - I just love Judy Montagu's Short Order food articles. The recipes are always interesting and tasty and the tidbits in between are a sheer delight. This is the consensus of all friends and family.