October 5 UpFront: Local neo-Nazis

Why do Russian-Christian anti-Semites choose to live in Israel?

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October 7, 2007 08:40
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Local neo-Nazis Sir, - Larry Derfner's article on "Neo-Nazis in the Jewish homeland" (Cover Story, September 28) explained the problem well. However, it did not explain why Russian-Christian anti-Semites would want to live in Israel; nor why the Israeli government allowed them to become citizens. Furthermore, I fail to understand why we tolerate this despicable behavior in the Jewish state. We came here to avoid persecution, and these anti-Semites have no place in the State of Israel. What is our government going to do about it? J. DANIEL Jerusalem Optimistic glimpse... Sir, - Barbara Sofer's "Meeting beyond the comfort zone" (September 28) certainly did touch the spirit. It only confirmed my thought that the women of the world would be much more successful sitting around the peace table! Thank you, Barbara, for a truly hopeful and optimistic glimpse of the other side. JACKIE SNYDER MALUL Judean Hills Sir, - I would like to state my amazement, and disappointment, that there are individuals living in Israel such as Barbara Sofer who attend a workshop with the purpose of creating "dialogue" and are then surprised to find that the non-Jewish participants are actually intelligent, educated and articulate working people she can watch a movie with, talk to about religious traditions, share intimacy with and - in the presence of her Palestinian roommate - sleep tight, no fight. This element of surprised delight probably causes the most damage to those trying to open dialogue for the purpose of mutual respect. DEBORAH SHLIDER Rosh Hanikra ...so what? Sir, - After reading Barbara Sofer's "Meeting beyond the comfort zone" my comment was - so what? We also have Arab friends, people who come to work in our home, and acquaintances of many years with whom we speak about what's happening in Israel. But they're all pawns in the hands of their political leaders. They have no say because there is no democracy. The man in the street may want to live with us in peace, but like I said - so what? RIVKA DEMSKY Efrat No to work, yes to jihad Sir, - I agree with Steven Emerson's opinions about extremist Muslims and the policy of the West toward them ("'Jihad is jihad,' interview with Ruthie Blum, September 21). There is no doubt about the problem with the ideology of radical Islam, but I also blame the Western world for aiding and abetting terrorism, or at least promoting it passively. Countries like the US, Canada and particularly France and England allowed unskilled immigrants or "refugees," mostly from Muslim countries, to receive citizenship, believing they could use them as cheap workers - a horrible mistake. Most had little education or will to work, preferring to collect unemployment. In their ample free time some of these immigrants decided to become religious and pray at mosques, the vast majority of which, as Emerson suggested, support radicalism. The immigrants are easily manipulated, especially by the terrorist organizations. Eventually, many become radicals themselves, ready to murder for the sake of jihad. DAVID SAHADON Beersheba When 'I'm sorry' can be left unsaid Sir, - Jonathan Rosenblum should stick to defending the haredim and dissecting the Israeli jurisprudence system. Of the heart, alas, he knows little ("I'm sorry," September 21). True, "Love means never having to say you're sorry" is undoubtedly over-syrupy and sentimental. But the line is far from being stupid, as Rosenblum claims. On the contrary, there's more in those few words than, I suspect, even Erich Segal was aware. For between two people who share deep affection, emotions and feelings need not always be expressed; rather, they are more often than not intuitively understood. For sure, saying "I'm sorry" is often essential, particularly when motivated by political, economic or legal circumstances. No one knows, though, the intent or sincerity behind those spoken words, and more often than not, they're no more than just that: words. All sorts of scoundrels, criminals and politicians have gotten themselves off one hook or another by issuing a public apology. It's where relationships in marriage, family or friendship are intense, however, that words are unnecessary. Communication there travels over unseen lines, and silent expression is more poignant than verbalization. But where relationships are shallow and empty of substance... well, shouting "I'm sorry" from the rooftops won't help. So you see, in the movie Jenny was right on the money. She was well aware of Oliver's distress over her illness and fully understood what he was going through. There was, as she pointed out, absolutely no need for him to tell her how sorry he was. AMI SHIMON BEN-BARUCH Karnei Shomron Things ain't so bad Sir, - Naomi Chazan's "Split image" (September 21) is a product of her own astigmatism. With the customary statistical sleight of hand that the "social lobby" uses to bedazzle the gullible, she proves how alarming our social conditions have become even though things have never been better in all of Israel's short, exciting history. She complains that poverty is still at 20 percent. That is how the National Insurance Institute defines poverty; the two lowest income deciles. If some Saudi sheikh donated a million dollars to every Israeli, the millionaires at the bottom of the scale would still be considered poor by the NII and Ms Chazan. She is concerned that of those so classified, 45.9% are "working poor." If instead of an arbitrary statistical cut-off point poverty were defined in terms of an income below which it is not possible to provide basic needs, I am sure that most people who work would not be considered poverty-stricken. They would certainly not be wealthy, but neither would they be in need of public assistance. She is staggered by the 35.8% of impoverished children. Actually, that number seems quite reasonable when the socioeconomic behavior of the haredim and the Muslim Arabs are taken into account; together, the figure is approximately their percentage of the population. Significant proportions of both these groups have large families that are economically unviable. Many haredi men do not work, and few Muslim women join the workforce. They have chosen another set of priorities that inevitably leads to poverty. The responsibility lies with them and not with Israeli society, the free market, globalization, Binyamin Netanyahu or any of Ms Chazan's bugaboos. Both of these groups are provided with social safety-nets which have the deleterious effect of encouraging their behavior. To what extent are the state and society required to sustain their ways of life? Would Ms Chazan be kind enough to publish the poverty figures without Muslims and haredim? These would be be much less alarming. Of course there are pockets of poverty, particularly among elderly immigrants and in certain other communities. Alcohol-fueled violence is becoming a social problem, but it is not one limited to Israel. Look around you, Ms Chazan, the people of Israel have never been so prosperous. Last year's war was barely a blip on the economic charts. Even the "social lobby" is prospering; my mailbox this holiday season is filled with expensive, glossy mailings requesting money, telling me how bad things are. JOSEF GILBOA Jaffa A bit more gratitude Sir, - I was quite disappointed with Celia Goodman's story (Veterans, September 21). It seemed to me that she put England down whenever possible, not thinking it was a country that took her in at the most awful time of her life in Austria. A great shame. JUDY GOLDIN Kiryat Ono ...and clarification Sir, - I read with great interest the article about Celia Goodman and the subsequent letter from Aryeh Shore on September 28 concerning the 93 Bais Ya'acov girls who committed suicide. Some years ago, I saw a copy of the letter written by Chaja Feldman to a Mr. Schenkalewsky of New York. This letter was written in German/Yiddish and passed on to Harry Goodman, World Secretary of the Agudah Movement in London, amongst others. The letter describes the plight of the Bais Ya'acov girls and their plan to commit suicide together rather than become prostitutes for the German army. I hope this clarifies this matter. LIONEL BERGER Jerusalem

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