letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - I agree with Rabbi Stewart Weiss that the latest "creative" scheme - selling Israeli land to Diaspora Jews in order for them to participate in shmita - is kind of sleazy ("'Spiritual access' to Israel, in Diaspora comfort," October 21). However, let's be realistic. Most Jews outside Israel aren't making aliya. So let's at least give them something of Israel to hang their hat on.
Jews around the world, especially in the US and especially young Jews, are feeling disconnected from Israel these days. I'm all for anything that helps. Even if it's selling them a bridge over the Yarkon.
Sir, - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert traveled to Paris Sunday for talks that will focus on Iran, carrying in his pocket what he said was a guarantee from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia would not "put Israel in a place where it could be threatened." In 1938, Neville Chamberlain, then prime minister of Britain, returned from a visit to Adolf Hitler waving a piece of paper and saying "Peace in our time." Could we please see Mr. Olmert's piece of paper?
("PM: Moscow won't let Israel be threatened by Iran," October 22)
Labeling women curtails their power
Sir, - It was moving to read Judy Siegel-Itzkovich's interview with Rachel (Bambi) Chalkowski, the retired head midwife of Shaare Zedek Hospital. She is indeed a legend, and three generations of Jerusalem women have reason to be grateful for her expertise. But it is sad that after all her years of experience and all the modern research studies she must have read, she still does not support women's choices in birthing methods and positions, and stereotypes women who do not necessarily agree with her views.
It is no coincidence that in the last few years episiotomy rates have spiralled downwards, even for first-time mothers, because it is during this period that alternative birthing positions have been offered in Israel's maternity wards and more and more women receive quality preparation and education in order to utilize these options. The traditional position of lying on one's back with legs up in stirrups is, according to women's experiences and research studies, the most difficult in terms of pain, difficulty of pushing upwards and effect on the baby because of the pressure on the major vena cava. A birth that is easier, less painful and leaves the mother with an intact perineum significantly improves post-birth physical and psychological health.
In addition to the advantages of alternative birth positions, women today are asking to have control of their births, supported by midwives who are prepared to work with them and their partners or support persons in a team effort to achieve a healthy, satisfying birth experience.
While no woman should suffer intolerable pain, many do prefer to decline pain relief medications because of their known effects on the birth process, postnatal well-being and the start of breastfeeding. Labeling women, according to their cultures, as noisy or quiet, or "spoiled" because they make their choices clear, diminishes women's power and lowers their self-esteem.
However, Ms. Chalkowski is to be commended for her dedication. Midwifery is a physically and mentally demanding profession. In caring so devotedly for so many women throughout her working life, she truly deserves the tributes that have been awarded her.
Israel Childbirth Education Center
Sir, - Having spent Pessah with the Jewish community of Bobruisk two years ago on the YUSSR program, I believe I can contribute to the current debate ("Bigotry in Belarus," Editorial, October 19).
The Jewish community of Bobruisk is very small, and very warm and welcoming. It is not rich. At its height Bobruisk was home to 80 synagogues. Now there are only two. The town itself is nothing to write home about. Walk 15 minutes from the city core and you'll find farmers grazing their sheep. Young Jews who are interested in strengthening their Judaism are leaving for either Israel or the United States.
I find it unfortunate that President Lukashenko persists in spouting the same anti-Semitic canards that should have been washed away with the fall of the Soviet Union.
Good can triumph
Sir, - I was a medical student at Cambridge in 1952 when the Cambridge Union invited Sir Oswald Mosley, Britain's leading fascist, who was interned in Britain during WW2, to debate the proposition "This House believes that all British Jews should be deported to Africa." It caused a similar uproar then as the current invitation to Holocaust revisionist and liar David Irving to debate issues relating to Israel at the Oxford Union.
Mosley was extraordinarily polished and eloquent; however, the Cambridge student picked to oppose him was even better. The student concluded the debate by saying: "There is a little of Sir Oswald in all of us, and we have to recognize the good in us over the evil in us, and fight for it with passion." The student, on points, won the debate.
The same situation prevails today at the Oxford Union, where it may be said that the dastardly side of the David Irvings and other anti-Jewists and anti-Zionists of today's generation can, like the Mosleys, be put asunder by clear, rational, articulate, passionate and truthful advocacy of the quality that Alan Dershowitz and others like him provide ("Oxford Union is Dead," On-Line Edition, October 21).
SANFORD F. KUVIN
Palm Beach, Florida
Sir, - Why do you report the stunts of Bar Refaeli on your front page? There is not a chance in hell of her not bringing her next "boyfriend" here - by the way, only the Israeli media referred to Leonardo DiCaprio as her "boyfriend"; he never called her his girlfriend at a time when he was pictured in the world press with a string of more famous and beautiful women - as the gullible Israeli paparazzi will fight to photograph this publicity seeker with her next famous "boyfriend."
Let her sink into the oblivion she merits in the gutter press, and keep your front page newsworthy ("Celebrity surfer comes to promote peace in Israel - and wipes out in pre-dawn brawl with paparazzi," October 21).
Sir, - Model Bar Refaeli clearly doesn't regret dodging the draft. It seems she has learned only how to enjoy her freedom, and not how to defend it. Truly sad.
Worst month ever
Sir, - I have just spent the worst month I can ever remember here in Israel. After many years of going back to the States for the High Holy Days (including Succot), I decided to spend this year's period of the hagim here in Israel.
What a terrible decision! No newspapers on the holidays, no TV to speak of - on Yom Kippur, there was a 30-hour TV blackout. What does someone who can't get out and about do in such circumstances? Grimace and bear it.
There isn't another country in the Western world that would accept such an outrageous situation, and I cannot understand why the huge majority of non-religious citizens accepts it. Don't any of you so-called free persons care anymore?
Rise up and throw off the shackles!