(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Right & wrong
Sir, - Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On has announced that the contract of Yaron Zelekha, appointed to root out corruption, will not be renewed in October. Bar-On resigned as attorney-general in 1997 following allegations that certain officials had recommended his appointment in order to aid organized crime.
In disembarrassing himself of Zelekha, what message is Bar-On sending? ("Corruption-buster to fight for his job," August 31.)
Sir, - I'm thrilled we have people like Yaron Zelekha around.
Call him corrupt
Sir, - Re "Idaho senator resigns over sex sting in airport men's room' (September 2): The guy gets caught with his pants down, then pleads guilty, then says he is innocent. Go figure. Sounds like corruption to me, the disease of greedy politicians.
Pain for the righteous
Sir, - In addition to Stewart Weiss's very proper critique of Ovadia Yosef's highly improper attribution of sin to fallen soldiers, we could mention biblical and talmudic statements that contradict the cruel concept of death in battle as punishment
for non-observance of mitzvot.
One such passage is: Skhar mitzva behai alma leka (the reward for good deeds in this world does not exist). Another is: Ein lanu mishalvat hareshaim umiyesurei hatzadikim - we do not know why the wicked are at peace and the righteous suffer pain.
Certainly the encomium of Kedoshim which we attach to our martyrs implies that when they fall for the sanctification of God's Name, they fall even though they are righteous. A biblical passage in connection with the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron who die in the very midst of serving in the initiation ceremonies of the Tabernacle in the desert, reads: "I am sanctified by those close to Me."
Are we to assume, according to Rabbi Yosef's theory, that the Ten Martyrs we pay tribute to on Yom Kippur during the Musaf service, and also on Tisha B'Av, were sinners?
("Rav Ovadia: Get to know our army," September 2.)
RABBI JACOB CHINITZ
Sir, - Stewart Weiss's urging Ovadia Yosef to "Get to know our army" is appropriate not only for this rabbi but should apply to all rabbis involved in educating soldiers prior to their IDF service. I would like to see a law requiring such educators to have combat experience so they truly understand the conflict they create when they advise a soldier to disobey a lawful order. Only through a process of education of our rabbis in the reality of army life can we hope to narrow the gap between secular and religious in the IDF.
Who's out of touch?
Sir, - Among the 90 or so Talkback comments that the online Jerusalem Post published as a response to "British Zionist Federation cancels Israeli reporter's talk over 'apartheid' comment" (September 2) there was hardly one in defense of Haaretz columnist Danny Rubinstein, who considers that "Today Israel is an apartheid state with different status for different communities."
Moshe Arens recently expressed it not very differently: "In a democratic state one cannot condone laws that discriminate between citizens on ethnic grounds. That was certainly not part of Herzl's vision of the Jewish state."
Could Prof. Arens also be "out of touch with reality"?
Sir, - So what's the big deal? It's the same here, in Quebec. English speakers are second-class citizens, and we live with it, or move.
What about Israel's...
Sir, - After reading M. Perkins's letter sent from Collinsville, Illinois ("Hebrew land," Letters, August 31), I wonder if he, like me, can also pray to our Lord to enlighten Israel's political and military leadership in order to let the country live peacefully side by side with an independent Palestinian state within the rules of international law. If our Lord accepts our prayers, we will have Israel living in peace for the next centuries. Otherwise, there will be no Israel in some years from now.
Santiago de Chile
Sir, - Please, ask the UN secretary-general to organize an international Conference of the Inalienable Right of the Israeli Jewish State to be Recognized by all UN Members. This may add much respect to the status and behavior of the UN and the European Parliament ("European parliamentarians attack UN conference as propaganda that presents only the Palestinian narrative," September 2).
Sir, - Re "This wasn't genocide" (Letters, September 2): While there are many legitimate doubts and questions regarding the genocide of Armenians during WWI, Shlomo Bar-Meir misrepresents the facts and ignores much of the history of that period.
He writes that Armenian soldiers deserted the army, but neglects to mention the mass execution of those who remained; he mentions attacks by Kurds, but not of the near-systematic abuse and murder of the Armenians by the Turks themselves, in the desert and in Armenian villages. He also ignores completely the murder of intellectuals and political leaders on April 24, 1915, widely considered a turning point in the history of the genocide.
It must also be noted that Turkey had a dark history of oppressing and massacring the Armenians, and that genocidal statements were made prior to WWI.
He correctly notes that many Armenian organizations were themselves guilty of criminal and immoral actions, but this is not relevant; after all, the same is true of the RPF in Rwanda, and few would deny the authenticity of that genocide.
A single letter cannot do justice to this terrible history, but I suggest Vahakhn Dadrian's History of the Armenian Genocide for further reference.
Sir, - What a cute new strip! Even if the wife does not seem too happy about having her father-in-law in her home, my husband and I will sure enjoy him in ours. (Back2Basics, Matt Zalen, September 2).
Sir, - I've lived in Jerusalem for 15 years now, and never been hectored or even accosted by beggars ("Where beggars can be choosers," Letters, September 2). But I do often feel an inner turmoil when they plead their cases. Yes or no to give, and how much? Maybe they deserve their poverty - or my money; or maybe they have plenty?
It isn't the beggars who cause this unpleasantness, though - it's a fight between my stinginess and my saintliness. That can be upsetting; but why blame these people in need for our own moral weakness?
M.M. VAN ZUIDEN