letters to the editor 88.
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Understand the problem
Sir, - In "Ramadan realities" (October 18), Elliot Jager states that "the Islamist war against Western civilization is a war against modernity - representative government, pluralism, tolerance, gender equality, sexual liberation and rationalism." While Islamists may be opposed to all of the above, that still doesn't explain their anti-Zionism. After all, the Christian Right in America, a friend to Israel, is hardly an exponent of modernity.
The difference lies in Islam's insistence that equality is reserved for Muslims only. Christianity, on the other hand, separates church and state and does not condition political equality on religion, an attitude which has aided the development of democracy in the West as well as support for Israel.
While I share Jager's uncertainty as far as knowing what to do, surely the first step in solving a problem is to understand it.
Sir, - Shame on Elliot Jager. Does he know why Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is sending lots of money to Arab communities in Israel which supported Hizbullah in the war? It's called dhimmi taxes that infidels must pay to Muslims. But Israel is the only country in the world where Muslims collect this tax even though they are not in control.
After this article, Elliot will never be able to look Caroline Glick in the eyes again.
Sir, - I was outraged beyond belief by the comments and comparisons of Abraham Maslo (Letters, October 18).
While one yeshiva student may have been disturbed and arrested - I am not sure quite so innocently, as I have been told that he was warned that blowing shofar at the "little Kotel" was not permitted at that time - I would have thought that Maslo would have referred to the many hundreds of thousands of Jews who visited and prayed at the Kotel during the recent High Holy Days and Succot in complete safety under the watchful eyes of many hundreds of Jewish soldiers and policemen.
To use a phrase, of Maslo's rebbe, Rabbi Elchonon Halpern of Golders Green, to me recently when attending a function together in London: "Ordnung muss sein" (There must be order).
For Maslo to use this opportunity to run down the whole of our education here is outrageous. We all know that things need improving, but he could have referred to the many thousands of yeshiva and kollel students, quite apart from hundreds of seminary girls, we have here in the Zionist State of Israel, the largest number ever achieved in our history. They live here and walk our streets in complete safety with the support and help of the Zionist State of Israel and its security services.
Sir, - Immigration Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim and top leaders of the ministry are wasting large sums of taxpayers' money on their 12-day trip in Canada and the US ("Boim travels to US to coax Israelis home," October 17).
Instead, they should be here working on the economy so that Israel would become a magnet instead of a repellent. People don't come and immigrants and native Israelis leave because of problems finding work and affordable housing, low wages and high taxes. Fast-track economic and government reforms and Israeli governments will have fewer problems attracting and keeping a larger Israeli population.
Sir, - Re "Knesset begins winter session with a new look" (October 17). Obviously, cushioned seats for MKs' bottoms are more important than pads for soldiers' knees. How else can Knesset members think comfortably?
Only himself to blame
Sir, - Can President Moshe Katsav get a fair trail in Israel ("MKs hold off on impeaching Katsav," October 17)? Let us not forget that the president has been roundly condemned by the media, which have been fed such a steady diet of police leaks that the wider public has already found him guilty.
Most people would answer: Of course he can receive a fair trial. Our judges are entirely impartial. But our judges are only flesh and blood and they do make mistakes. Otherwise there would be no courts of appeals.
But even if the appeal is upheld, the public has already sentenced him and he will never be able to recover his good name. In brief, President Katsav is finished in public life.
One thing is certain at this point in time: Only President Katsav knows if he is guilty or innocent, and if he knows that, he is to blame for bringing his misfortune down upon himself. Surely, if he were guilty, he could have made a quiet deal with the authorities. A great percentage of all people charged with crimes haggle out a plea bargain, reduce their time in the media and in court and silently slip away before their disgrace becomes firmly fixed in the public mind.
Innocent until proven guilty
Sir, - As a lawyer and having spent several years sitting as a part-time circuit judge in England, I have always understood, and worked on the basis, that a man is innocent until he is proven guilty (Police recommend Katsav be charged with rape," October 16). That, to me, is absolutely basic.
Living now a great deal of my time in Jerusalem, I am horrified to read the attitude taken here by the newspapers and that the police should report that "there is sufficient evidence indicating that in several cases... the president carried out acts of rape, forced sexual acts, sexual acts without consent and sexual harassment."
President Moshe Katsav has been prejudged by the police, the newspapers and hence a large majority of the public before he has even been charged. It is a disgrace for the image of the country with its great Jewish legal traditions. I need only mention a quotation from the Ethics of the Fathers, "Judge not a man until you come into his place."
NEVILLE C. GOLDREIN
Sir, - The America-Israel Friendship League made a beautiful gesture hosting the all-star Israeli high school basketball team (Photograph, Page 3, October 17).
It is unfortunate that the "special luncheon" in their honor took place in a non-kosher restaurant. There are so many fine kosher eateries in New York City.
On another matter entirely ("MKs hold off on impeaching Katsav," October 17): Please note that the term "impeach," at least in American usage, means to accuse or bring to a tribunal for trial (possibly for removal from office). The word does not mean to remove from office.
Hat in the ring?
Sir, - Tal Brody for president. Forsaking a potentially illustrious basketball career in America, Brody made aliya like a true halutz (pioneer) and contributed more than any other single figure to lift Israel into the front ranks of a worldwide sport. Without fanfare, he assists the young and underprivileged. He represents all that is good in our society.
Would the elites look down on a mere athlete for lacking gravitas? Ronald Reagan proved that a mere actor could be an epochal statesman; rock stars hold summits with world leaders; athletes have become central role models in modern society. The president's major function, beyond receiving ambassadors, is to be a role model to the nation. The post has now been disgraced by politicos who take bribes or assault women.
Tal would return personal dignity and integrity to the office. And eloquence? Herzl promised: "If you will it, it is no legend." Tal was the man who confirmed that promise: "We're on the map and we will stay on the map." Let's have a president who stands tall, speaks to our hearts and of whom we can be proud.