What Zionism is
Sir, - The Zionist movement has achieved its central goal of establishing an independent, viable Jewish state. However, there are those who see this achievement as ushering in a condition of "post-Zionism" - an erroneous premise.
Zionism is basically the promotion of Jewish pride, encompassing a thorough knowledge and understanding of Jewish culture, which includes Jewish religion and history. Once this is attained, aliya becomes a natural function of life. And once an individual truly attains Jewish pride, intermarriage and assimilation become irrelevant.
To reach this goal, Zionist leadership must be controlled by people who have this awareness and wrenched from those who practice it with the checkbook. The big financial supporters do, indeed, play a key role in the scheme of things and without their contributions nothing can be accomplished. However, policy-making and direction must be left in the hands of those who thoroughly understand where we're going ("Zionism at the crossroads," Isi Leibler, October 13).
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - Re "UJC changes name and logo, hoping to connect to younger Jews" (October 13): $1.4m. to change a name and logo? Jewish people took their hard-earned money and donated it to help poor Jews, for social activities, free loan funds and all kinds of Israeli causes - and the federations used that money to change their name?
What a disgrace!
Quit these hysterics
Sir, - Tzipi Livni fears that if Israel doesn't convince the Palestinians to accept a small state in the territories, a Palestinian state will arise "between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and it will rise by the simple power of the right to vote" ("Netanyahu slams Goldstone in Knesset," October 12).
Livni's fear is based on a premise that is neither informed nor ethical: that when the Arabs become the majority of the total population in the Land of Israel, Israelis will be obligated to grant them the right to vote the Jewish state out of national existence.
The premise is misinformed because 1. It is far from clear that there will ever be an Arab majority; and 2. there is absolutely nothing in the Fourth Geneva Convention that obligates an Occupying Power to grant citizenship to protected persons; nor any obligation to remove restrictive measures while there is still a state of belligerency (Article 46).
The premise is unethical because it assumes that the right to vote is greater than the right to self-determination. Taking Livni's premise to its logical conclusion, Israel never had the right to come into existence at all, as the Arabs were the majority prior to 1948.
Interestingly, the Palestinians have no compunction about insisting on their national claims despite currently being a minority of the overall population. Democracy, it turns out, cannot define what the "demo(s)" is; only after a nation's independence is honored can democracy be ethically applied.
It's high time politicians like Livni desisted from their unjustified and unethical hysterics over the so-called demographic threat and started spreading the message that it is the Arabs who must quickly make painful concessions before it is too late for them to get anything.
Life is about risk
Sir, - Judy Montagu's "Embracing risk" (October 7) spoke to me. How true that so many friends and relatives have not come to visit us here in Israel because they think it's "dangerous" - and how glad we are that we took the "risk" of aliya!
Most important was the point about continuing to meet challenges throughout life. When we stop taking those kinds of risks, we stop. Period.
Half a century too late
Sir, - David Bedein's expert analysis of the true intent of Salaam Fayad's statements concerning the creation of a Palestinian state needs clarification on one point ("Read the Salaam Fayad plan for what it is," October 13).
Bedein quotes Fayad's reliance on Security Council Resolution 194 as support for the refugees' right of return. It should be noted that Resolution 194, adopted in December 1948, provides "that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date."
I submit that the more than half-century of Arab refusal to recognize, negotiate or otherwise come to terms with Israel's existence goes beyond the "earliest practicsable date" contemplated in Resolution 194, making its current application moot.
As for the resolution's "live in peace" requirement, the last 61 years of continued Arab war against Israel speaks for itself.
A joke, really
Sir, - What an absurd world we Jews live in! Two of the most prominent South African human rights activists are Judge Richard Goldstone and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The former denounces Israel while the latter talks about "Apartheid Israel." Yet both appear indifferent to the most horrific human rights violations in the world - in their own native country.
There is no greater right than the right to life, and to a secure life. Outside countries at war, South Africa is the world leader in wanton violence, which beggars belief (Venezuela comes second).
Each day 50 people are murdered and 1,000 women raped, according to the Economist of October 3. And this is a vast improvement over 15 years ago! Add to this the barbarism of men infecting millions of girlfriends and wives with the deadly HIV virus, making South Africa also a world leader in the number of infected women.
Imagine the potentate of Sodom and Gomorrah coming to our patriarch Abraham to teach him justice. We Jews - the compassionate children of compassionate ancestors, as our sages describe us - should ridicule the Goldstones and Tutus of the world to their faces ("Investigate the investigators," October 11).
He means well
Sir, - The Nobel Peace Prize has now been awarded for good intentions. We know what is paved with good intentions ("Eyes on the prize," Editorial, October 12).
Sir, - Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv, who ruled "No Crocs on Yom Kippur" (September 27), received backing - from no less than The New York Times, which headlined a September 27 piece "The devil wears Crocs."
Stub it out
Sir, - Rabbi Elyashiv is concerned that a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount could lead to loss of life? ("Elyashiv to Peres: Jews mustn't visit Temple Mt." October 12). He should lead a campaign against smoking by yeshiva students.
Sir, - Waiting to see your doctor in his surgery is a sure way to pick up germs. Surely we should be issued with face masks at the entrance? ("Hospitals not prepared for swine flu outbreak: IMA warns, September 27.)