September 5: Let me respond

I am saddened by the responses to my letter ("More than misguided," August 27) on the high Palestinian civilian death toll in IDF anti-terrorist action.

September 4, 2008 22:32
4 minute read.

letters 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Let me respond Sir, - I am saddened by the responses to my letter ("More than misguided," August 27) on the high Palestinian civilian death toll in IDF anti-terrorist action, as they do little to indicate that the lot of the Israeli and Palestinian populations is going to improve in the forseeable future. The incredible examples of outright denial, which either refuse to accept that any Palestinian civilians are killed, or more insidiously that any Palestinians are innocent civilians, are flatly contradicted by every credible international source, and even partially acknowledged in the official figures issued by the IDF itself. Other responses fairly pointed out that many of the Palestinian civilian casualties are due to their being used as human shields. While this was never under dispute, it does not make them any less innocent, or any less dead, nor does it diminish the sense of loss and injustice suffered (just like their Israeli counterparts) by surviving family and friends. If anything, it clearly illustrates that many innocent Palestinian civilians are equally the powerless victims of terror. Yet far from uniting the long-suffering populace, there is clearly little social empathy or sympathy for their plight, despite the horrendous disparity in the respective civilian death toll. Perhaps the saddest aspect of this unacceptable civilian death toll is its counterproductivity, in that it serves as a far greater and more efficient recruiting agent for the forces of terror than any other tool at the terrorists' disposal. ANDREW CAREW-MORTON Edinburgh It doesn't help Sir, - It is not just foreign journalists who consistently fail to distinguish between "occupied" and "disputed" territory in the case of the West Bank, it is foreign governments as well, the EU as main financial sponsor of the Palestinian Authority being the prime example. Is it not time somebody challenged them to explain why they think their objective of ensuring the creation of a Palestinian state will be achieved by reliance on such deception? ("What 'occupation'?" Ashley Perry, September 3). PETER SIMPSON Jerusalem Bad history Sir, - I wish to comment on the letters in your August 29 issue accusing Rabbi Stephen Wise of "acquiescence in suppressing information" about the Shoah ("Why Yad Vashem is wrong," August 29). Wise held onto the information he received in August 1942 because Sumner Welles told him the State Department would look into the story. Wise calculated, rightly, that an announcement with the backing of the US government would be far more effective than an announcement by him alone. Indeed, in December 1942, a declaration by 13 Allied governments appeared on the front page of The New York Times which condemned, for the first time, the German plan to murder all the Jews of Europe. Furthermore, finger-wagging at the "breakdown of courage and judgment" of the US Jewish leadership is bad history. Jews were far less integrated in US society and immensely less influential in the 1940s than they are today. Jews rightly feared an anti-Semitic backlash and the charge that they wished US soldiers to fight and die in a war for the Jews. They were as smart and courageous as Jewish leaders today, but their room for maneuver was extremely limited. JACQUES KORNBERG Professor Emeritus Department of History University of Toronto Ra'anana Why be populist? Sir, - Re "The rescuers must get their due" (Letters, August 29): It is not my intention to get into a discussion of what was and wasn't said at the meeting between Prof. Wyman and myself some two months ago; it is enough to say that the quotes from what I said are incorrect. I received Prof. Wyman, Dr. Kook, Mrs. Kook and Dr. Medoff, at their request, to exchange views on the Bergson (Hillel Kook) Group and Yad Vashem. I expected that we could discuss these issues on the level of historical erudition that is Yad Vashem's approach, taking into account the variety of venues in which Yad Vashem is active. It is unfortunate that Prof. Wyman has chosen a populist approach argued through the press rather than treating the issue like the serious scholar he is. PROF. DAN MICHMAN Chief Historian Yad Vashem Jerusalem Thanks to Tehilla Sir, - Barbara Sofer's excellent "Toward self-realization - and contribution" (UpFront, August 29) describing the Nefesh B'Nefesh aliya movement was heartwarming and enlightening. The success of this organization was reinforced this week by an agreement with the Jewish Agency that essentially gave Nefesh B'Nefesh prime responsibility for encouraging and processing olim from North America. This outstanding achievement should not allow us to forget the efforts of Tehilla, the voluntary North American aliya organization. For 25 years, with minimal support from official agencies and with a bare subsistence budget, Tehilla has encouraged and assisted thousands of North American Jews to make their homes in Israel. Founded by Yosske Shapira, former head of Bnei Akiva, Tehilla was based on the concept that North America was the greatest reservoir of potential, motivated olim who could contribute to Israel's growth and development. Indeed, many of the communities into which today's Nefesh B'Nefesh olim are being welcomed and integrated were established by Tehilla olim. Nefesh B'Nefesh is the fulfillment of the dream kept alive by Tehilla. JAY SHAPIRO Karnei Shomron

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