letters to the editor 88.
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Take the first step
Sir, - Since your publication of my op-ed on Jonathan Pollard ("The case for house arrest," October 6), The Jerusalem Post has published two responses - an op-ed by Esther Pollard (October 9), and a letter to the editor from David Kirshenbaum (October 13). I wish to respond to both.
Both Pollard and Kirshenbaum ignore the fact that, approximately two years from now, the United States will elect a new president. As I noted in my op-ed, it is unlikely that such a first-term president will have the political backbone to pardon a convicted spy whom four predecessors decided not to pardon. To ignore such a fact - as both Pollard and Kirshenbaum do - is to bury one's head in the sand.
Where Pollard, Kirshenbaum and I agree is that the State of Israel has not done nearly enough for Pollard. On that precise issue, I wrote (in the original version of my op-ed piece):
"The Israeli government made the blunder of recruiting an American Jew to spy on the US... The financial burden of solving this problem should be upon the State of Israel."
A good first step would be for Israel to fund an "exploratory committee" of lobbyists to discuss the issue with members of Congress.
We in Israel could pressure our government to fund such lobbying efforts. However, given the rejection of the house-arrest option by at least one major spokeswoman for the Free Pollard Movement, it is likely that the Israeli government would exploit that rejection as excusing it from having to take an active role in exploring the viability of (and, as necessary, funding) the house-arrest option.
As in most lengthy disputes, someone has to make the first move toward resolution. Because it is Jonathan Pollard - not the governments of the US or Israel - who is serving a life imprisonment sentence, the first step needs to be taken by his family and closest supporters.
ERIC S. SHERBY
Helping the bereaved
Sir, - I am glad to see the study of bereaved parents being undertaken by Claude Chemtob and Danny Brom is under way ("The day the future died," Health, October 22). Following the April 1995 murder of my daughter Alisa by Islamic Jihad, I became one of those parents looking for answers.
While rabbis, doctors, etc. do not know the precise words to bring comfort, actions often spoke louder. We were blessed that our rabbi, congregation and community recognized that Alisa's death brought Israel closer to home and her funeral, attended by 2,000, was a fitting tribute to who she was and what she stood for.
Our decision to donate Alisa's organs for transplant also allowed us some comfort in knowing that the horrific murder of one Jew by Arab terrorists led to renewed life for three Israelis and an example of the acceptability of organ donation by Jews.
One group in particular was very helpful to us. Compassionate Friends is a nationwide group with local chapters of parents who have lost children. While we did not particularly benefit from the group session we attended, and my wife resisted returning, the monthly newsletters and other publications we regularly received provided the most important element in recovery - validation of one's feelings and the providing of valuable coping tools.
Group sessions where parents and other survivors can talk about their loss and specifically about their child, is likely the most helpful step on the road to recovery. Speaking to Jewish groups around the US and Canada about Alisa's life and its influence on our family allowed me to let out pent up emotions.
Yet, while we recover to some extent, the pain never goes away. To me, memories of Alisa's death more than 11 years ago is as if it happened yesterday. As I tell those who ask, death outside of the normal order of things is disorder, and it is up to the bereaved to put things back in order. I hope that the current study helps the bereaved with the tools to do that.
STEPHEN M. FLATOW
West Orange, New Jersey
Help save Choudhury
Sir, - I was surprised that Michael Freund in his article "Washington criticizes trial of pro-Israel Bangladeshi editor" (October 20) did not mention who invited the journalist Salah Shoaib Choudhury to Israel in November 2003 .
It was two literary organizations: the Hebrew Writers Association in Tel Aviv, which invited Choudhury to take part in a Jewish-Arab writers conference, and IFLAC: The International Forum for Literature and Culture, which invited him to speak at a meeting in Haifa on establishing peaceful Jewish-Muslim relations. Mentioning his specific hosts would help to free innocent Choudhury.
Another thing which would greatly help to save him, from his false and horrific "sedition" sentence, which may cause his death, is that Israel should officially declare that Salah Shoaib Choudhury is not a spy and has never spied for Israel. He is a brave Bangladeshi Muslim citizen who believes that a rapprochement with the West, including Israel, would develop his beloved Bangladesh.
IFLAC has put up a petition to save Choudhury, and it has been signed by thousands of people. Please add your signature, it may help to save this innocent man: http://www.petitiononline.com/IFLAC102/petition.html.
DR. ADA AHARONI
Founder and president
IFLAC: International Forum for Literature and Culture
Protecting his interests
Sir, - Re "Mother insists on proving her son is a 'mamzer'" (October 23).
Irit Rosenblum, director of the Family Organization, states, "It is absurd that in Israel of the 21st century people like Moshe have to suffer because of Halacha. I'm not telling the Orthodox to abandon their faith, I just don't want them to force me to adhere to it."
The Orthodox are not forcing Rosenblum to adhere to Halacha, rather they are trying to protect Moshe. It is not unreasonable to assume that in another 15 years or so Moshe will join the teshuva movement and want to live according to Halacha. His mamzer status would seriously limit his options for marriage. Why would any parent want to reduce his or her child's life choices?
ESTER KATZ SILVERS
A real president
Sir, - I have been reading that Vice Prime Minister Peres is once again hoping to run for president. Anshel Pfeffer analyzes his chances ("Why Peres is risky investment for president," October 23). In one paragraph he states, "As president he would command almost universal respect and could carry on pushing his pet peace project"
Unfortunately for the observation that he would command almost universal respect is the fact that people long ago started to laugh at the risks Peres takes to fulfill his ego needs. There comes a point at which even a man like Peres has to understand that an endorsement by Ehud Olmert and even Shas does not make him a real president.
Only the people make a president effective and beloved. I hope that some day the Knesset will be mature enough to select three or four worthy candidates and let the people chose.
Icing on the cake
Sir, - Re "Labor's Avital says Peretz supports her bid for presidency" (October 22).
Who said you can't have your cake and eat it too? President Moshe Katsav is under suspicion of all kinds of touching of females, which has opened up the possibility of other candidates, including Colette Avital, for the office of president. Yet we read that "sources close to Avital said Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau should not be considered for the position since he could 'not shake hands with half of Israel's population.'"
MIRIAM L. GAVARIN
Sir, - We have heard the calls to stop the immunization program ("Ministry halts flu shots after deaths of four people," October 23). If it is found that the four victims all smoked in the past, will the same voices call for a total ban on tobacco products? It makes much more sense.