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End this insult...
Sir, - In his letter about the recent expulsion from Hebron, Max Singer does score a few points ("Obeying orders," August 17). But as presented to us by the media, the event was upsetting in the extreme: Who expects to see Jews dragging large numbers of struggling Jews along the ground? (Even if ambulances are standing by and attempts made to minimize injuries.) Our reactions to similar scenes at Gush Katif were, perhaps, muted by the warnings over several months.
A solution needs to be found for these insults to democracy and to Jewish ethical values. No wonder people like Prof. Hillel Weiss lose their cool!
I agree with Mr. Singer that in the army, orders are orders. But the maintenance of law and order is the task of the police force. The government should enlarge the force, if necessary, so evacuations of Jewish civilians do not become routine for our young soldiers.
Sir, - Haim Hanegbi, heir to the Jewish marketplace in Hebron, doesn't want Jews to return there. As a leftist "anti-Zionist" he is quite content to remain in Tel Aviv and let the Palestinian Arabs take over the place. But does he realize that as far as most Palestinians are concerned, he is as much on "occupied" land in Tel Aviv as he would be in Hebron?
Let us suppose he gives up claim to the land his grandfather legally bought in Hebron and was thrown out of by marauding Arabs in 1929; and then, later on, Palestinians come to him and demand his apartment in Tel Aviv. Will he give it up? They will say to him: Your ancestors came from Spain, North Africa and Egypt, so why don't you go back there? As far the Palestinians are concerned, he should "return the stolen property" on which he is living.
No; there has to be an end to this self-abnegation. If it's Jewish-owned land, then Jews must live on it until there is a negotiated political settlement. And we can't wait for that forever ("Jewish Hebron marketplace heir doesn't want settlers there," August 26).
Degrees of learning
Sir, - One of the strategies of our Arab enemies is to wear us down over time, a tactic they claim succeeded with the Crusaders. To counter this we have to be physically strong and strongly committed to our belief in the mission of Zionism within modern Judaism. This can be achieved only via education.
The Shalem Center's approach to developing a broader liberal arts view through the study of history and literature is the correct one, but it should be implemented on a simpler level in high school and more deeply in all universities. A student should be required to have a basic grounding in a broad spectrum of knowledge before receiving any degree at all ("Choosing between courage and despair," Jonathan S. Tobin, August 26).
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - In her strong letter to UpFront defending the pursuit of secular knowledge in addition to committed Torah study, Debby Koren deleted a basic component indispensable to the discussion ("Standing up for Torah with worldly knowledge," August 24). In emphasizing primarily the natural sciences, art and music, she omitted any reference to the expansive framework of the humanities. Her emphasis was thus on the pragmatic and esthetic benefits of a general education.
Perhaps the greatest justification for general studies - literature, philosophy, history - is their impact on the soul of the student. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, in 19th-century Germany, valued secular studies for their intrinsic value rather than as necessary for building bridges and earning a livelihood. And Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik didn't spend years studying general philosophy in Berlin in order to learn a profession.
Academic degrees are not required for an individual to obtain vast general knowledge, even as rabbinical ordination is not the ultimate goal of serious Torah study. When serious Torah learning confronts human creativity, the result is ultimately a more sensitive and humble human being.
Sir, - Jonny Paul's "One-sided, partisan and anti-Israel" (On-Line edition, August 21) was a wake-up call to the civilized world, which must challenge the normality and banality of current European notions about Palestinian statehood and the existential threat to Israel's survival. Where is the voice of decency, morality and memory that refuses to go along with this travesty?
The forthcoming UN conference hosted by the European Parliament in Brussels is a mockery of all the United Nations and the European Parliament stand for. The hatred that fueled European anti-Semitism is now blistering throughout the Islamic world. That the UN and EU would energize such odium is revolting.
The destruction of Europe's Jewish soul did not only decimate the Jewish people, it seems. It destroyed Europe's conscience.
Perpetuators of racism
Sir, - Even if you hold that everything in The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer is true - which it is not - and that all the old blood libels scapegoating and blaming Israel for every problem (including stale bagels) are not fantasy, conspiracy (or fattening), what really bothers me about the book is the following:
As Iran's Ahmadinejad builds nukes and swears that "Israel must be wiped off the map"; as countless innocents die in Iraq, allegedly by al-Qaida bombs; as London, Spain, Bali, India, Israel, the US and France are all thoroughly mobilized due to deadly bombings of their citizens by fanatical Islamic terrorists, the only thing that bothers Walt, Mearsheimer and their ilk is a bunch of Jewish accountants, doctors and caterers who happen to be pro-Israel and try to help their fellow Jews - just like all other minorities in America do with their own people.
These liars and alarmists have done their fair share in perpetuating racism, hatred and fear of a tiny vulnerable country that sits in a sea of huge, aggressive, militant Islamic nations.
When will they open their eyes? ("So is real debate over Israel possible on the Hill?" August 24)
Sir, - I enjoyed reading "Train more doctors" (Editorial, August 24) and agreed with your conclusions, but one sentence irked me. Not all Eastern European medical schools produce doctors "with less knowledge and skill than that imparted here."
Our son has just completed five years in Budapest at the Semmelweiss Medical Faculty, and I can assure you that my wife and I, Sydney University medical graduates, have nothing but praise for the depth and quality of the teaching there.
Unlike In Israel, nearly all the examinations are oral, with the student having to answer questions put by a panel of examiners who can very quickly determine the students' depth of knowledge in any subject. Compare this with the multiple-choice questions mainly used here, where one can at times make a logical guess.
However, there is no doubt that any student's knowledge is to a large part dependent on how serious he is about his studies, and how much time he spends "hitting the books."
DR. CHAIM HEITNER M.B. B.S.