Letters to the editor, April 27

Sir, - Lee Jakeman appears to despise all Jews who, he claims, have a persecution complex and blame everyone else for their own misfortunes ("Anti-Semitism is in the Jew," Letters, April 26). Has he heard about the Holocaust, in which the legally elected leader of Germany killed, raped and tortured six million Jews in ways too horrific to mention? Does he know that 500 hundred years ago a Christian mob carried out an orgy of killing newly baptized Jews? ("The forgotten massacre," Michael Freund, April 26.) Or that some years earlier in Spain the Inquisition burnt Jews who did not agree to be baptized? He would be surprised at how many Jews died rather than accept this new religion. Then there were the Crusades, during which Christian soldiers on their way to their "holy" mission burned down whole Jewish villages and killed all their inhabitants, just to "warm up." Mr. Jakeman clearly has no idea of the Jewish narrative. Jews are a proud race that has overcome great difficulties. And we are still here. RAISEL RAUCHWERGER Ramat Gan Sir, - As someone who regards himself as experienced in both recognizing and combating anti-Semitism on-line and in the real world, I can only express my absolute bewilderment, my outrage, that Lee Jakeman's letter should have been published in a Jewish-orientated newspaper - and on the day after we remembered the victims of the Holocaust. All Jews who have lived in the Diaspora have come in contact with the disease that is anti-Semitism; Israelis may have problems recognizing it, but they feel its force far too often. To pursue Lee Jakeman's argument logically and say that an exceptional Jew "who saw the light" would have, in Auschwitz, accepted personal responsibility that "he brought it all on himself," is to begin to walk down a propaganda road neither I nor my fellow Jews should wish any victim to walk, let alone our own family members who were so brutally decimated. History is my witness that it is human depravity that causes anti-Semitism, and Jews' position of weakness came about through anti-Semitism itself. It is difficult to believe anyone suggesting that a Jew in medieval Europe might have projected a strong and un-victimized persona as the church persecuted him from town to country and country to town. I am fully aware that beliefs such as your correspondent's exist in extremist elements throughout the world, and even among some of our "apologist" Jewish writers, but they are not just errant beliefs; they constitute a vile opinion, one that removes responsibility from the mass murderers of the Jews and places it directly on the heads of the poor victims. I hope that your publication of such a provocative letter was more through naivete or oversight than a deliberate move. DAVID COHEN Tel Aviv Sir, - I know that The Jerusalem Post tries to achieve "balance" by publishing letters and articles that are obviously opposed to the opinion of its editors. Still, I must go on record as disagreeing strongly with Lee Jakeman that "there is hardly a Jew alive who does not believe that his feelings of fear… are the effects of persecution, rather than the causes of it." Mr. Jakeman could have made the valid point that we Jews contributed to our vulnerability by establishing the State of Israel too late in history to prevent the Holocaust; and that more than half of us have refused to come to Israel after its establishment, that we have perpetuated the "wandering Jew" label by insisting on living in the widest Diaspora possible. But no, our critical friend blames us for our troubles, as juries sometimes blame rape victims for theirs, thus whitewashing the rapist and the Nazi and the suicide bomber. Criticism, from others and from ourselves, is legitimate. But exactly how was our cultured behavior in Germany responsible for Nazism? What did the Jews who were burned or buried alive do to deserve their fate? Did they persecute their Gentile neighbors? Perhaps Anne Frank caused her own murder by writing a diary. Does the ADL create anti-Semitism because it reveals its presence and fights its expansion? Finally, does Israel create Arab hatred by its fears, or are those fears caused by Arab hatred? SAMUEL SAMUELSON Jerusalem Sir, - As a counselor with 28 years of experience on the issue of "Jewish Lib," I must say that Lee Jakeman got it half-right. The power of every oppression is that its target people first internalize the bigotry, then start oppressing themselves all day long, sowing divisiveness in their ranks. Our lives improve when we shed this internalized anti-Jewish oppression, strive for unity and learn to think about treating every person we meet as if she or he is eager to be our close, warm, dependable ally and friend under any and all conditions. The half he got wrong is his seeming blindness to where this Jewish self-oppression might have come from. While we try to rid ourselves of the scars of the past and immunize ourselves against upsets in the present, it behooves Gentiles to busy themselves with uprooting anti-Jewish oppression the world over. And not for our sake, but because it's unbecoming and unacceptable for them. That Mr. Jakeman is not an isolated case of confusing cause and effect in this area we can see in the results of a nationwide poll in The Netherlands, published this week in the respected De Volkskrant, on what its population knows about World War II. According to that poll, a whopping 83% believes that one of the causes of the war was... the Holocaust! M.M.VAN THIJN Jerusalem Risks Israel has taken Sir, - Re "Why isn't Israel willing to take risks?" (April 25): Of course the Holocaust is ineradicable from our collective consciousness. But Tommy Lapid's answer should have included at least a partial list of the risks Israel has taken, starting with the acceptance of the 1947 UN Partition plan and, most recently, the unilateral disengagement from Gaza. G. MANDELL Jerusalem Peril dictates prudence Sir, - On Holocaust Remembrance Day our public figures are wont to declare that we will never permit another holocaust, that Masada will not fall again, and that we have the means and the will to defend ourselves. Let's hope they mean it ("Never again," Editorial, April 25). In Iran, the loquacious Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his less voluble colleagues vow they will wipe Israel off the map. They certainly do mean it, and we ignore the fact at our peril. Under these circumstances, would it be prudent to get our retaliation in first? OSCAR DAVIES Jerusalem Wake up, Likud MKs! Sir, - Any respect I had for Likud veterans Silvan Shalom, Limor Livnat and Michael Eitan is fast diminishing in view of their recent attempts to depose Binyamin Netanyahu, the legitimately elected head of the party ("Likud's Eitan: I'll lead transition," April 25). The Likud's poor showing in the election was not a vote against Netanyahu but a reflection of the self-promoting posturing of many Likudniks, who seem to have forgotten what the Likud stands for in the hope of joining a winning party. Wake up, Likud MKs! Where is your loyalty? There is nothing wrong with leading the opposition. Demonstrate commitment, idealism and loyalty, for it is that and not Bibi-bashing that will vitalize the party and bring about success in the next elections. GLENDA HAROW Karnei Shomron Language lesson Sir, - Who knew how many applications the word "convergence" could have until Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showed us ("Olmert lays groundwork for 'convergence,'" April 24). It replaces "disengagement" as a synonym for "retreat." It describes the process of bringing the number of ministers closer to the number of MKs. And it depicts the ever-closer physical proximity between our major metropolitan centers and our terrorist neighbors seeking our destruction. Thanks for the language lesson, Ehud! MICHAEL D. HIRSCH Kochav Ya'ir Sexy satellite Sir, - As someone involved in international sales and marketing, I heard about the new satellite launched by IAI and cringed in anticipation, waiting to see how it would appear in print ("Israel launches satellite to spy on Iranian nukes," April 26). Sure enough - with the spelling as "Eros B," it seems we launched one fine, sexy product. Wouldn't "Aeros B" have been more appropriate? Other than that, it was indeed an exciting and newsworthy event. JUDY ERNSTOFF Jerusalem Dancing tall Sir, - Your item about the winners of the Mia Arbatrova Competition ("Twinkle toes," Arts and Entertainment, April 26) did not mention our involvement, but we are very proud of the students of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance High School who have won first prize in this competition for the past three years. This year, out of the nine contestants who reached the finals, five are our students. Dana Zachariah, who took the first prize, is a ninth-grade student, Idan Yoav-Boger, second prize, is a graduate, Zohar Ben-Israel, fourth place, is in 10th grade, and Hagar Enosh is in 12th grade. Doron Perek in 10th grade was also awarded a prize. May I add that we have a conservatory as well as a high school. SORINA DINUR Jerusalem Academy of Music & Dance Jerusalem