September 16: Three fliers

Don't just mourn from afar but write to Rona Ramon and tell her personally how terribly saddened you are.

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September 15, 2009 22:01
September 16: Three fliers

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Three fliers Sir, - Your coverage of the Assaf Ramon tragedy reminded me of an incident in my teenage years. Back in the 1950s, a close friend, Jewish, decided he wanted to learn to fly. He badgered his parents and at age 16 and a half, shortly after he received his driver's license, he was allowed to take flying lessons. He received his pilot's license at 17. There were stipulations about flying alone; but a few years later he did. His father had by now died, and his mother and brothers pleaded with him to stay grounded. He refused. A year later, his plane crashed and he was killed. I visited his mother during the shiva and for months thereafter - trying, trying to comfort her. I do not know Rona Ramon, but I can feel her pain, as I think we all do. Her heart is broken, and we all want to reach out and offer her our expressions of sympathy. Therefore, in these few days before Rosh Hashana, I urge all Israelis: Don't just mourn from afar but write to Rona and tell her personally how terribly saddened you are. My friend died fulfilling his own personal glory; Assaf and Ilan Ramon died for Israel, our nation ("Astronaut Ilan Ramon's son dies in F-16 crash," September 14). DAVID GEFFEN Jerusalem Misguided tour Sir, - I failed to see the newsworthiness of two young girls refusing to serve in the IDF and, moreover, instead of doing a stint of national service, deciding to "go on tour" to US colleges to explain why they are against army service ("IDF draft dodgers embark on US college speaking tour," September 15). While I admire the girls' drive and initiative, I frown upon their impulsiveness. Why give their mission free publicity? MATTHEW BERMAN Jerusalem Sir, - I am very interested in knowing where these girls got their "education." SHARON ALTSHUL Jerusalem Sorrow, pride, and disgust Sir, - My eyes were still filled with tears after reading the reports of the funeral of Assaf Ramon ("You should have buried me, tearful Rona Ramon tells son at funeral" September 15) when I turned the page and read the story of the two young draft dodgers spreading their views in a sponsored tour of the United States. My sentiments of profound sorrow coupled with pride in a great and patriotic family were replaced by disgust at the actions of these girls in perpetrating what must surely come close to treachery. It is a consolation to know that there are many more young Israelis who share the sentiments of the Ramon family rather than of these draft dodgers. MYRA ZION Tel Mond Israeli unhelpfulness in the peace cause Sir, - The message in David Horovitz's "Tactical victories" (September 11) was clear, although never explicitly stated. It is a "victory" for Prime Minister Netanyahu to please the extreme rightists in his party with more settlement construction, rather than to honestly confront them; and it is a triumph that Netanyahu can swindle the Americans and build more, though it is just a "stale bone," to use Horovitz's words. As the writer doubtless knows but never mentions, the "relentless, maximalist" Palestinians, including President Mahmoud Abbas, have agreed in the past that Israel keep the settlement blocs. But he toes the eternal government line, in which "they" are unbending fanatics and "we" are always the willing moderates, although there is plenty of serious evidence showing that from the Oslo years through Ehud Barak's Camp David to Ehud Olmert's secretive negotiations, Israel was far from helpful in producing peace. How was Israel unhelpful? Mainly, via the same incredibly blind view that it is a "victory" to continue building settlements - dangerously ignoring that it is nothing but a grave Pyrrhic victory. Netanyahu can get away with appearing as a moderate with his imaginary freeze, but the time will come when the true, painful core issues of this conflict will be at stake. It will surely be another victory when Netanyahu manages yet again to avoid confronting them honestly, while our fateful time is eaten away. Score one to the prime minister, but a terrible defeat for Israel. JODY KOHN Jerusalem Hamas's key weapon Sir, - With respect to the recent conflicting reports regarding the proportion of civilian deaths to those of combatants among the Palestinians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, I'd like to report on a discussion I had with a friend in America some years ago. While I was emphasizing the horrors of terrorist activity on the Palestinian side, his response was: "What do you expect? Since they can't beat the Israeli army on the battlefield, they fight with the only tools that they have." The same line of reasoning can help people understand the recent situation in Gaza. Of course there will be civilian deaths; given the superficial manner in which the world media are inclined to report, facilitating greater numbers of civilian casualties is the key weapon left to Hamas ("B'tselem: Far more Palestinian noncombatants were killed in Cast Lead than IDF admits," September 9). MOSHE KAPLAN Herzliya The way it is Sir, - Kudos to Shlomo Goren for pointing out the true facts regarding alleged discrimination against Ethiopian Jewish children in some Petah Tikva schools ("It's not about racial discrimination," September 6). One of the many serious problems in our society is the depths to which the media will sink to sell newspapers or TV time by resorting to unfounded sensationalism, stretching the public's credibility regarding these sources of information. That could have dire consequences. HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva Right, on a technicality Sir, - It took me a couple of days to even try to react to Hillel Goldberg's letter of Sept 10 ("It was the Germans"). Technically, I guess Mr. Goldberg is right: The Germans invented the death camps. However, to come to the defense of Poland (or any other nation, for that matter), was unbelievable and made me quite sick. The Germans would not have been able to murder six million Jews without the help of almost entire Europe. Of course there were some righteous people here and there. In Holland, however, where, percentage-wise, most Jews were deported and killed, some so-called righteous people who saved Jewish children did so to convert them to Christianity and never returned them to their families if the immediate family did not survive. Again, yes, they were German camps; but if the nations of Europe had prevented those camps' creation, or at least protected their Jewish countrymen (in Holland, the police rounded up the Jews and the trains transported them to the camps), a lot of Jews would have survived the Nazis. MIRIAM NATHANS Rishon Lezion Who's bedazzling whom? Sir, - Re "Madonna bedazzles Israel" (September 2): Where are the days and moments when Israel had everyone sitting on the edge of their seats? Israel would bedazzle the world, and the world would look on in disbelief. Remember those headlines, those moments? They amounted to much more than just a good concert. SETH CLYMAN Jerusalem

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