September 3: Visionaries...

Visionaries are those individuals who have the ability to predict future trends and the courage to speak out on them.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Visionaries... Sir, - It's no coincidence that two articles highlighting former ambassador Danny Ayalon ("JAFI cedes N. American Aliya to Nefesh B'Nefesh" and "Galilee Arabs could declare state") were featured back-to-back in your September 1 issue. Visionaries are those individuals who have the ability to predict future trends and the courage to speak out on them. The connection here is clear: In his leadership role at Nefesh B'Nefesh, it is now down to ambassador Ayalon to actively encourage the olim coming through his organization to consider relocating to Galilee as a viable alternative to Beit Shemesh and Ra'anana. Ayalon is right. The Jewish future in Galilee is at stake. It's now time for visionaries to apply determined action behind their words of truth. NATAN GOLAN Kfar Veradim the fore Sir, - The passing of our hero Abie Nathan made those of us who were in Israel in the early '60s feel nostalgic. The signature tune of "Twilight Time" brought back memories of our young family who worshipped him for his principles of peace and his courage and determination to bring it about for the sake of all peoples in this region. His dream was not in vain, as we have agreements with Egypt and Jordan - something we could not imagine when we first came in 1962. If only our politicians would put the country first and their ambitions second, as he did, we could return to a more idealistic existence and Zionism would prevail ("Maverick peace pioneer Abie Nathan dead at 81," August 28). HILARY GATOFF Herzliya Pituah Nefesh B'Nefesh for Australians... Sir, - As an Australian who recently made aliya with my husband and five children, I would like to propose that Australia claim its right as a member of the English Commonwealth to be included in the Nefesh B'Nefesh family. I believe many more Australians would make aliya if they had the support networks in place that Nefesh B'Nefesh provides. I also believe a new generation of Australia's Jewish leaders and benefactors would get behind such a move as they follow in the generous footsteps of their predecessors, for whom Israel always played a central role ("Jewish Agency cedes N. American aliya to Nefesh B'Nefesh," September 1). REBECCA BERMEISTER Zichron Ya'acov ...and seculars? Sir, - When I wanted to make aliya, I contacted Nefesh B'Nefesh and mentioned that I was a secular Jew in hi-tech wanting to move here. The organization never helped and repeatedly refused to respond to contact requests. I later heard from other secular Jews who felt Nefesh B'Nefesh intentionally ignored them because they weren't Orthodox. As much as I had problems dealing with lazy and incompetent emissaries, at least they did move the paperwork and helped me with my decision to come here. The power of the Orthodox stranglehold on our country will help alienate many in the Diaspora from Israel. DAVID TEICH Rehovot 'God's plan' Sir, - Eli Kavon's Elul call for religious introspection was quite timely ("Religious Zionism: The future of a lost movement," August 31). However, the "messianic theology" Kavon sees as a "daunting and urgent problem" is not that of Rav Kook, but of Judaism itself. Quite correctly, Rav Kook's "genius" was to see in the idealism and success of Jewish settlement in then Palestine "part of God's plan to redeem the Jewish people and humanity." His enduring legacy is to search historical developments for opportunities for Jewish "activism" in the direction of what many believe to be the general outline of "God's plan"; and to do so with an openness which does not rule out a priori the novel, the unexpected or the unorthodox. At the same time, the "activism" must be non-violent and "lawful" by recognized international standards. There is little doubt that the situation following the Six Day War, with the unanimous Arab refusal to sit down and talk, constituted precisely such an opportunity to settle vacant areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza which were always "disputed territories." There was nothing illegal or immoral about it, and everything was historically and theologically Jewish. But whether it ultimately furthers or hinders "God's plan" remains to be seen. To suggest that the pathologies of an Amir or Goldstein stemmed from their religion or politics is like doing the same for the Pizems and Borisons. Political assassinations and domestic murder have a long history and don't need "messianic theology" to explain them. Furthermore, settlement in Eretz Yisrael was never a "supreme value" in Judaism. Today, educated religious Jews must cease being uncritical "followers" of any "personality," be he Rav Kook or Rav Soloveitchik or some hasidic rebbe, dead or alive. We should learn from all and form our own judgment, for which we accept moral and intellectual responsibility. That may well serve as a basis for individual soul-searching as we enter Elul. SHUBERT SPERO Jerusalem Sir, - I was totally unable to discern Eli Kavon's genuine concerns. He seems to be placing the blame for all the current ills of the Jewish people and the State of Israel on the collective shoulders of the religious Zionists. He indicts them by innuendo and then demands that they answer to his subjective accusations. I challenge him to supply any bit of evidence even remotely connecting the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to the teachings of Rabbi Kook. Kavon appears incapable of distinguishing between authentic and false messianism. The first has, throughout history, been the motivating force behind all human advancement, the latter responsible for much death and horror. Religious Zionists continue to make profound contributions to all aspects of Israeli life. When Eli Kavon leaves Florida, shedding his Diaspora lenses, and makes aliya, his vision will doubtless greatly improve. ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva Sir, - Watching and listening to the major speeches made by aspiring presidents and VPs during the American election conventions, one could not help but be impressed by their eloquence and articulateness. What struck me forcibly was the manner in which each candidate concluded with a vehement "God bless you all, and God bless America." In Israel, no political leader would dare thus antagonize the country's non-believers, and possibly jeopardize his career. M.U. MILUNSKY Netanya Ritalin's effect Sir, - I was glad to see Judy Siegel-Itzkovich's "Ritalin overprescribed for children, says psychologist" (August 31). Each of my three boys was diagnosed as ADHD in about 20 seconds - that's how long it took the highly-rated Jerusalem neurologist. Next thing I knew, I had a prescription for Ritalin in my hands. When I asked about side-effects, he assured me they were "extremely rare." Although one child did learn better on the drug, he suffered from tics, while the others lost their appetites and were still bouncing off the walls at midnight. The doctor angrily told me that if the Ritalin was given at 7 a.m., the effects would wear off by 11 a.m. I had to discontinue its use and help my kids get through a brutal school system not prepared to deal with "problem children." NAME WITHHELD Jerusalem