letters to the editor 88.
(photo credit: )
Sir, - Uri Savir's "Re-engage Rabin's road map" (November 3) was a eulogy for the late prime minister, and since Jewish tradition permits exaggeration in eulogizing our beloved ones it is possible to accept such statements as: "Rabin never tried to gag the Right." Nevertheless, outright falsehood is another matter, even during eulogies.
To this category belongs Savir's fantastic assertion: "The PLO's transition from terrorist organization to a national government was a slow and painful process." The only transition we have witnessed thus far has been from terrorist organization to terrorist organization, plus a terrorist national government.
And, sadly, it has indeed been a painful process.
Sir, - Yitzhak Rabin was a good son of Israel who served his country with honor and dedication. His assassination was a heinous crime and the killer, Yigal Amir, should have been executed. However, the deification of Rabin by the Israeli Left is a gross insult to his memory, as the motive is purely political.
He was definitely not a champion. His legacy contains many flaws, including his involvement in the Oslo debacle, one of Israel's worst errors of misjudgment.
The Israeli Left has a lot to answer for.
Sir, - After reading Uri Savir's column and listening to speakers at the memorial demonstration for Yitzhak Rabin, it's clear that the Israeli Left has no intention of relinquishing its stranglehold on Rabin's memory. It continues to distort and corrupt what it calls the "legacy of Rabin" for its own partisan political purposes, demonizing those who think differently.
But there is no need for those many citizens who mourn and respect Rabin, yet reject defeatism, appeasement and self-flagellation, to abandon his legacy.
Let us remember the man whose military record was excellent, and who built a war machine which defeated three Arab armies in six days.
Let us remember the man who said at the start of the 1987 intifada, that we will break their bones.
Let us remember the man who warned that Israel should never give up the Jordan Valley.
Let us remember the man who warned the nation that would-be president Shimon Peres was an inveterate schemer.
And let us all remember the man who, when asked what would happen if the Palestinians attacked us from the areas we turn over to them, said: That will mean the end of them.
Rabin's legacy is too big to be squeezed into the Left's corner.
Smiles with a suicide bomber
Sir, - In a letter I wrote to Dr. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, in response to "University of Pennsylvania president poses with costumed suicide bomber" (November 5), I asked her: "At what point do we cross the line from liberal, free-to-express-yourself American to acceptance of a terrorist's method of expression? This man was bringing his sick, twisted creed of killing innocent people to achieve a political goal into your home and your university.
"By not ousting him from your party, you were, in essence, accepting his freedom of speech. But his speech is something you and the world must stop before more innocent people are killed. His is not an expression of opposing philosophies. He stands for coldblooded murder.
"Don't you see a very dangerous trend building in the world? I hope so, because those who were non-Aryan in the 1930s missed the handwriting on the wall. Please stand up and let your voice be heard in condemning the message your student very successfully got across."
Talk to me
Sir, - Just to let you know: Pat Robertson was not only here during the Oslo suicide bombings, he also recently visited us in our bomb shelters during the Lebanon war, when we needed real friends.
Also, it would be nice if Nachman Shai, director-general of the UJC, asked the ordinary people of the North, like me, who suffered here for 34 days, how we would like some of the donated money to be spent. He's free to contact me! ("'Mr. Reassurance' sounds the alarm," November 3).
Sir, - I would like to remind the elderly, diehard atheist Zionists of Kibbutz Ruhama, who object to the building of a synagogue on their kibbutz, of Ruhama's past history before the present-day kibbutz came into existence.
It was founded in 1912 as the first Jewish settlement in the western Negev, the most southern part of the country inhabited by Jews. The land was purchased on behalf of a group of Russian Jewish religious idealists called Sha'are Israel, who financed its development under the sole management of my late grandfather, Zvi Hirshfeld, a young religious Jew from Riga, Latvia. Together with a group of hard working young Jewish idealists, he prepared for crops, dug a well and built a water tower and other buildings on land legally purchased from local Beduin. Sha'are Israel hoped to come later and settle on the land.
If "Jewish history, the Bible and Jewish thought are all important" to the Ruhama veterans, I would have thought they'd show more tolerance toward a synagogue - one that would, moreover, help increase the profits of their guest house.
If atheists want tolerance, they should show it ("No shuls please, we're atheists," November 3).
...means room for all
Sir, - I have known atheists and learned that one need not be affiliated with organized religion to be an outstanding example of the highest moral and ethical conduct. The atheists I've known have been fine citizens, good workers, excellent parents and good providers - compassionate and charitable, too, maybe more so through being fully accountable for their actions.
But not everyone is as strong as these individuals. Many of us need fundamental structure in our lives - community ties, holidays, festivities, a common place of worship, etc.
Nothing is forever and nothing stays the same, and I believe the elders of Kibbutz Ruhama should, with their sense of fairness, acknowledge that some of their fellow kibbutzniks have their own needs. Surely there is room on the kibbutz for adherents of both these ideologies, each respecting the other to the fullest extent.
I appeal to the elders: Let the building of the synagogue begin.
Sir, - Once again the Chief Rabbinate, in canceling a rabbinic conference dealing with the scandalous problem of agunot, has demonstrated its total lack of courage ("Yielding to haredi pressure, Amar cancels agunot conference," November 5).
This was the result of a dictate from haredi leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elayshiv. Based on this conduct, who needs the Chief Rabbinate? And why should it bow to the haredi community, which doesn't recognize the Chief Rabbinate as far as kashrut is concerned but wants the seal of approval of its own kashrut supervision.
The outcome will be civil marriage and divorce - long overdue - and the only ones to blame will be the Orthodox community (to which I belong) due to its lack of creativity in halachic rulings that could address the agunot problem. It should ignore the rulings of the haredi rabbis, who can rule for their own members.
Sir, - I loved everything about "Courting the Jewish vote in south Florida" (November 2) except for one thing: My name is Rabbi Steven Westman, not David Westman! Other than that, as we say in shul, a hearty yasher koach!
West Palm Beach