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Sir, - I have nothing but praise for Jonathan Tobin's "Venerating powerlessness" (September 23). It expresses clearly and concisely feelings I always had, but could neither justify nor verbalize so well. I was limited to wisecracks in response to the querulous comments of my North American relatives.
When my cousin wept on seeing a photo of my son in uniform, I replied: "It beats the hell out of the gas chambers, sweetheart!" To comments about the terrible wars and terrorist activity: "Israel is the only place in the world where I can shoot back at the people trying to kill me."
Kol hakavod, Jonathan!
Sir, - I find difficulty in understanding why Israel's plan to reduce electricity supplied to Gaza is considered "unhumanitarian" because "innocent Arab civilians" may be the victims - while the deliberate targeting of children in Sderot is acceptable. Are Israeli children not "innocent civilians"? ("Lightless in Gaza, Letters, September 23)
Where's the respect?
Sir, - I was mortified by your choice of photos in "Yom Kippur and Ramadan - A weekend of worship (September 23). The Ramadan photo showed religious worship. The Yom Kippur one depicted the Jewish response to this holiest of days via a couple sitting embracing in the middle of the street, with bicycle riders in the background. While this exists, it does not represent the overwhelming reality of the Israeli experience of Yom Kippur.
Better late than never
Sir, - The belated investigation by Col. Shlomi Am-Shalom of the IDF Spokesman's Office into the truth of the al-Dura affair is a case of better late than never ("IDF demands uncut al-Dura tape," September 17). The real questions are: Why so late; and is there a lesson for the future?
An important correlating issue was the cases of video fraud broadcast as news during the Second Lebanon War. Unfortunately, then too the revelations came after the damage had been done. These investigations were also carried out by individuals unaffiliated with the official Israeli government press institutions, in the pursuit of journalistic honesty and integrity.
Past experiences teach us that in any future wars or violent encounters with the Arab states, Hizbullah or the Palestinians, the probability of fraudulent news reporting should be regarded as very high. In recognition of this, I propose that the IDF Spokesman's Office and/or the Government Press Office prepare by organizing a core group of people to carry out real-time investigations of foreign press reports during times of crisis. This could possibly contribute to the issue of using highly motivated and educated olim appropriately in the Shlav Bet draft system of the IDF, as outlined in "Be all you can be" (UpFront, August 16).
Sir, - The Zion Oil & Gas company does not address my hesitation to accept the extended Christian hand of friendship at this time ("Just plain wrong," Letters, September 23). The relatively paltry sum of $650,000 does not counter the countless generations of suffering and death of our ancestors in the name of Christianity.
As to "the thinking of the past," the very essence of our return to Zion and Jerusalem is based upon our history. Without it we could very easily have stayed in, and been integrated into, the cultures of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, South Africa, etc.
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - As a licensed Israeli tour guide, I am sure that I also speak for many, if not most of my colleagues. We love the Christian pilgrims. We love these groups. They are kind, considerate, loving, supportive, always respectful, on time, and the list goes on. They spend a lot of money here. Every tourist should be like them!
Rabbinate in hara-kiri mode
Sir, - Once again the Rabbinate, in hara-kiri mode, has launched an attack on the nation more damaging than many of the foreign boycotts we suffer ("Chief Rabbinate bans Jews from annual Feast of Tabernacles March," September 19). After encouraging a potentially disastrous shmita boycott of Jewish agriculture, the Rabbinate is now attacking the last large constituency in the world that unconditionally supports the Zionist idea, the Evangelicals. It's time to ask the haredi leaders and their allies just what side they are on.
On the other hand, the International Christian Embassy is being disingenuous. True, it does not itself proselytize among Jews, but almost all its supporting organizations and ministries do so vigorously. We should let the Evangelicals know that for deep historical reasons we view their proselytizing with the same distaste that they feel about people who disseminate drugs and porn. Spreading the Gospel is the only mitzva Evangelicals have, and this subject will always be an issue between us. We must let them know we accept their sincere political support, but view their missionary activities among our people with odium.
The relative success of their endeavors can be seen at the Feast of Tabernacles celebration itself, which often seems like an international convention of so-called Messianic Jews. The rabbis fear that ignorant Jews may be tempted by these missionaries; but they should first consider how their policies have made Judaism unpalatable to so many Jews, who then seek spiritual comfort in foreign cultures.
Sir, - I was excited to see the ad from the Ministry of Absorption in your September 21 issue offering immigrants a course on investment consulting and portfolio management. However, when I read the details, I became disappointed.
One of the requirements is that applicants live "in Tel Aviv/centre of the country." I am an oleh of three years. I know many people who commute to the US for work, weekly and monthly. For the ministry to limit participation in such a public course, funded by Israeli taxes, to people in a limited geographic area is discriminatory.
It is not for the government to decide how early a participant would have to wake up to be on time, or the distance of the commute. We have Route 6 and a steadily expanding train system.
Over the past six decades, olim have devoted themselves to making it in Israel and doing things above and beyond the norm to excel. That is one of the many beautiful things about this country. Why on earth should the government engage in such discriminatory practices?