June 2: Attack! (not really)

Like moles burrowing into the ground, Israelis all around the country will be running to hide - albeit not for real, this time.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Attack! (Not really) Sir, - We have been told we must be prepared for an enemy attack from all sides with missiles and unconventional weapons, etc., etc. Therefore, when the siren sounds today, we must make for our "safe rooms" and shelters as quickly as possible. Like moles burrowing into the ground, Israelis all around the country will be running to hide - albeit not for real, this time. How different things could have been had we had leaders all along with the courage to tell the world consistently of our God-given right to this land, and bombard them with the truth that the Arabs were killing us long, long before there were any "settlements" ("'Turning Point 3' civil defense exercise begins," June 1). EDITH OGNALL Netanya Public behavior, private thoughts Sir, - Liat Collins's "Nagging 'Nakba' issues" (May 31) missed the point. Most rational people agree that you cannot control the thoughts of others. I don't think any supporters of the controversial Nakba or loyalty bills wish to brainwash Arab or other citizens of our state. The core issue is the need to define the nature of commitment to the State of Israel itself, and to draw distinctions between public behavior and private thoughts. Are the citizens of this country committed to the collective value of the Jewish heritage and future within a democratic state, or to a state of all its citizens with unrestrained personal freedom? The past election showed that citizens want a definition of Israel as a Jewish state. In practical terms, that means that as a democracy, we will not and cannot control people's private thoughts - but we can legislate against organized public displays of mourning on the day we celebrate the birth of our Jewish nation-state, Israel. If you expect to receive the benefits of being a citizen, you should have an equal responsibility to contribute to the welfare of the state. Being a citizen of Israel means more than being a private citizen. It means being part of the national collective. MORRIS MANN Jerusalem A bit of balance Sir, - The time has come to put the refugee issue on a balanced basis. The PM should set in motion a world master plan requiring all Arab countries which banished their Jewish populations in 1948 and confiscated their property to be obliged to offer to absorb the same number of Palestinian refugees, duly adjusted to present population levels and taking natural increase into account. As the UN fixed the number of Jewish refugees at 850,000 and Arab refugees at 650,000 in 1948, and taking into account the subsequent banishment of Jews from other Arab lands - Egypt, for example - after 1948, there should be no need to demand the return of Arab refugees to Israel or, indeed, the new PA state. Plenty of Jews from Arab countries still retain their front-door keys, just as there are Arabs who still have theirs. With the vast Arab countries easily able to absorb their fair share of Palestinian refugees, it would be only fair not to undermine either Israel or the new Palestinian state with numbers they could never economically absorb ("Israel fumes as Abbas uses Washington visit to undermine PM," May 31). DAVID GOSHEN Kiryat Ono 'Your people shall be my people' Sir, - Both Jeff Barak ("Where was Eli Yishai when the Book of Ruth was read in shul?" June 1) and Reuven Hammer ("In praise of conversion," same date) raised legitimate issues. But I wonder about the wisdom of using such slogans as "inclusiveness" and "outreach" as flags to advance one's position on conversion, even if that position is correct. We gain nothing but confusion and obfuscation when we disregard the details (where God, or the devil is) and rely upon friendly and sociable terms. "Inclusiveness," like "pluralism," suffers from lack of definition and specificity. Even Ruth had to go through a complicated process of seeking the nearest redeemer, removing his shoe when he refused to act as such. Only then was Boaz able to "include" her into the community of Jews. One may argue that large numbers of applicants should be accepted as converts and the present rules altered; not for convenience but for meaning and validity. Yet a degree of "exclusiveness" will always be present, even when the advocates of "inclusiveness" prevail. When Reform accepted the concept of patrilineality, it demanded certain training and participation on the part of the child of a non-Jewish mother. If becoming a citizen of Israel, or the US, requires more than a statement of "Your people shall be my people" but in fact a set procedure, should citizenship in the Jewish religion dispense with procedure altogether? J.M. KING Jerusalem Trial and error Sir, - At one time I had great respect for Avigdor Feldman; but after the latest stunt, no more. He and Zion Amir must think that although we live in Chelm, everyone except them is dim-witted. Over the last few days they denied rumors that they intended to resign as Moshe Katsav's attorneys. They insisted there was no truth to the matter, but have now requested that the judge relieve them of their ethical responsibility ("Katsav's lawyers want to quit," May 31). If they can't manage a trial for four days a week, they are inferior to attorneys in countries like the US and Britain, where attorneys appear in court five days per week. If the judge rejects their request, they could claim that the "conspiracy" against Katsav includes him. If Katsav is convicted, they could say he never received a fair trial. I do, however, agree with the attorneys on one point: The appearance of justice is as important as justice itself ("Katsav's lawyers reject state's request for trial behind closed doors," June 1). With a closed trial, we would not know if Katsav was receiving a fair trial. Only under totalitarian regimes are "trials" conducted behind closed doors. KEN KALCHEIM Dimona C.V. control Sir, - "Hi-tech pay plunges 25% in April" (May 25) was most informative. However, there are pitfalls to working with cyberspace, especially where candidates are employed and "looking for job alternatives." One of the biggest problems is that the candidate (currently employed or not) has absolutely no control over where his or her c.v. ends up. And a company receiving multiple copies of the same c.v. from various sources, one which doesn't necessarily meet their needs, may not treat it as if it had received a single copy of a c.v. which fits their requirements more closely. The reduction of ads on employment sites may only reflect the fact that many employment agencies and company clients are seeking confidentiality and professionally screened applicants, and not just numbers. ELAINE LEVITT, Director Kedumim Personnel, Ltd. Migdal Tefen Mission important Sir, - I commend Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman for wanting to cut down on the smoking rate in Israel ("Litzman considers harsher methods to cut smoking rate," June 1). Cigarettes are costly, and extremely harmful to one's health. If the rabbis decreed that smoking is not allowed because smokers are not only harming their own health but also the health of their families and the people around them via second-hand smoke, I'm sure most yeshiva students, teachers and others would be forced to abstain. The money spent on this nasty habit could then be put to more productive use. SHARLENE BALTER Beit Shemesh