(photo credit: Courtesy)
Right this, now
Sir, - The plight of Aregash Gudina Terfassa is truly disgraceful ("Ethiopian woman, here 16 years, is being denied any formal status," September 10).
We're talking about a woman brought to Israel as an orphan by a priest, who abused her in the worst sense and was then deported, while she was allowed to remain. She worked for years even though she was legally required to attend school. Now well past school age, she has no right to work and lives in fear.
In the name of justice, her case should be heard immediately. She has been here long enough to qualify for naturalized citizenship under the law, and this is what the judge should grant her, with the ministry's recommendation.
It is an embarrassment that something like this could happen here. The authorities must right this injustice immediately, if only to save a little face.
Boost for crime
Sir, - Stopping the scourge of crime in the country really got a "boost" when a policeman was given a prison sentence for trying to arrest a car thief in action. After the thief attacked him with a screwdriver and then tried to escape, the cop opened fire and fatally wounded him.
Why should any sensible police officer try to do his duty, thereby exposing himself to the possibility of a prison sentence? ("Cop gets 15-month sentence for killing car thief suspect," September 4).
Ideology trumps all
Sir, - Carried away by his gushing praise of the Swedish and Norwegian leadership in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and eager to point out how slow Israel was to climb on the bandwagon, Alon Liel conveniently overlooked context ("Getting our house in order first," September 10).
During the oil crisis of the early 1970s, Israel was forced to import the oil to operate our power stations - at exorbitant cost for both oil and freight - from the other side of the world. To alleviate this problem, the Hadera power station, then in its final stages, was designed to operate off coal and not oil.
The logical thought was that an extended contract to purchase coal from the embattled collieries of the UK would save them from closure and solve an economic crisis in the UK. But the UK, fearful of the Arab oil embargo, preferred to close the mines and add thousands of redundant miners to its unemployment statistics.
The only country prepared to buck the Arab oil embargo was S. Africa, and to boycott it then would have meant a critical shortage of electricity throughout Israel.
Incidentally, the South Africans who gained the most from the contract to sell coal to Israel were the underprivileged Africans who mined the coal.
But from the socialism of Lenin to the liberal philosophy of today, ideology is more important than the man in the street. Let the people suffer today for the greater cause tomorrow (maybe).
Sir, - Just because Norway and Sweden fought one injustice elsewhere, are we to excuse them for their disgustingly unjust behavior toward Israel?
Sir, - If anything, Sweden's leadership in the anti-apartheid struggle makes current criticism of the Swedish government that much more valid. Sweden proved that it was capable of identifying policies that delegitimized an entire people and that it was willing to act strongly against an immoral regime even when much of the rest of the world maintained ties with South Africa.
The classic definition of anti-Semitism includes application of a double standard (treating Jews differently than others) to delegitimize or demonize the Jewish people.
Sweden's recent failure to denounce a modern-day blood libel, when compared to its principled opposition to apartheid, clearly meets this definition.
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Flowers, no fruit
Sir, - While we are assured by Karen Berg, co-founder of the popular Kabbalah movement, that after 13 years of study Madonna has become more humble, the same unfortunately cannot be said about it having the slightest influence upon her modesty.
The Spanish Jewish poet and philosopher Yehuda Halevy cautioned about the study of Greek philosophy by characterizing it as "having flowers, but bearing no fruit." If the Bergs' program succeeds in making some people feel happier about themselves, this might be a worthy thing; however, Judaism is much more concerned about making us into better people.
The Bergs' program has no relationship to the commitment required in order to effectuate the Torah's challenge to "love your neighbor as yourself," or to the prophet's call to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."
The best thing that can be said about their endeavor is they have realized the ancient alchemists' dream of being able to transform Kabbalah into gold ("Popular mysticism," David Brinn, September 10).
Armenian allegations lack legal basis
Sir, - Marilyn Henry's comparison between the tragic events of 1915 and the Holocaust is baseless and unacceptable ("Denying the other Holocaust," August 30). History can be construed only on the basis of indisputable evidence, not through distortion or manipulation of the facts. Comparing the events of 1915 to the Shoah also dishonors the victims of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust is a reality that was established by international law, while the Armenian allegations lack such a legal basis. Moreover, these unfounded claims are gravely distorted and challenged by several eminent scholars.
The common history of the Turkish and Armenian peoples should be analyzed on the basis of objective, independent and scientific evidence. Turkey stands ready to work in this direction, and its proposal to Armenia in 2005 to deal with the issue by setting up a Joint History Commission remains unanswered.
Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey
Marilyn Henry responds:
Many would welcome the ambassador's call for a truly objective, independent and scientific evaluation of history. There are numerous scholars who have publicly denounced Turkey's denial of the Armenian genocide, including Yehuda Bauer of Yad Vashem, as well as the American historians Deborah E. Lipstadt, Robert Jay Lifton and the late Raul Hilberg. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum itself uses a famous quote of Hitler's, made shortly before the invasion of Poland, 70 years ago this month: "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
Faith and pride
Sir, - Thank you for highlighting the efforts to memorialize brave soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser in such a meaningful manner ("Nahariya yeshiva and families of soldiers commission Torah scroll," September 10).
The Nehar Deyah Yeshiva, under the leadership of Nahariya's chief rabbi, Yeshayahu Meitlis, and yeshiva head Rabbi Eliyahu Blum, does much to unify the community through its many educational and charitable activities, including a relief center that distributes food to thousands of residents for the holidays.
The students, excellently trained combat soldiers, enhance the atmosphere of our city with their faith, national pride and passion for Torah study.