Letters to the Editor, May 1st, 2006

Moral imperative Sir, - Reader Steve Amdur blasts the US, the EU and Israel for their "concerted move to destabilize the Hamas-led PA" (Letters, April 30). It seems they are interfering with Hamas's nation-building efforts (ha) as shown by their current "tactical cease-fire" (ha, ha). He then opines that "the moralistic excuse for denying funding for Hamas is the ideologically and politically impossible demand that it explicitly renounce violence, recognize Israel, and endorse agreements previously negotiated by the PLO." Is Israel's demand for recognition and an end to violence - in other words, to exist - nothing more than a "moralistic excuse"? No, sir. It's a moral imperative. REUEL E. TOPAS Lakewood, New Jersey Clear, honest Sir, - Jonathan Tobin's "The limits of sympathy" (April 30) was remarkable for its clarity of thought and honesty. American Jews fall into the mind-set that pervades Europe when they adopt the view that the poor Palestinians may be having a humanitarian crisis. I have not seen such pictures of despair and horror as those from Darfur, which the world has chosen to ignore until it seems that a real genocide has occurred there. The Palestinians evidently have money to launch fund-raising campaigns. France's president has made an appeal ("Chirac proposes paying PA salaries via World Bank," April 30). I cannot fathom why the super-rich Arab oil countries are not doing more to help their brethren. Perhaps they are waiting for the West to spend so much money on the Palestinians that they will have little left for their own impoverished citizens? TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem Nadia & Na'amat Those of us involved with Na'amat are very proud of Nadia Hilou, her entry into the political arena, and her success in being elected as an MK on the Labor list, but I was disappointed to see that her important role as deputy chairperson of Na'mat in Israel was overlooked ("Labor's Nadia Hilou hopes to shine as first female Christian-Arab MK," April 28). Nadia has been working to advance coexistence between Arab and Jewish women through Na'amat and has made great strides in bringing the two communities together. I hope she will continue these efforts as an MK, and wish her luck. JUDY TELMAN Mevaseret Zion Ehud & Amir Sir, - It is amazing that Uri Dan places the onus of the Defense Ministry appointment of Amir Peretz on Peretz only. What about the blindness of Ehud Olmert, who is appointing him? It seems our lives are less important than money as the Treasury must, at all costs, remain in Kadima's hands ("Defense Minister Amir Peretz?" April 27). SUSAN SHAUL Nitzan 2 Sir, - Ehud Olmert is apparently willing to sacrifice Israel's security in order to bring Labor into his government. Where's the outrage? PAUL SCHOENBAUM Williamsburg, Virginia Mini-stries, please Sir, - Maurice Ostroff was correct in describing the decision to create a new "Ministry for Senior Affairs" as alarmingly wasteful and precedent-setting ("No, Minister," Letters, April 30). Public pressure has already caused Amir Peretz to forgo deputy ministers. Let us hope it will persuade the powers that be to reverse the folly of creating unnecessary ministries. We do not need more than the original 18 ministers allowed by law, before the law was tampered with. JUDY COHEN Tel Aviv Great injustice... Sir, - Having made aliya from London, I was saddened and ashamed to be Jewish when I read that of the 250,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, one-third live below the poverty line. Over $40 million was spent on the new building at Yad Vashem. What is the point of remembering the murdered millions with this museum if the survivors are treated with such disrespect; if the country that was founded and fought for in the dark shadow of this mass murder so disregards them? Is it just to satisfy our own egos with self-indulgent grief? Or is it to further the cause of Zionism, which I was proud to associate myself with? It is food for anti-Semites when the supposed "light unto the nations" appears so dim. The Iranian madman recently referred to Israel as a rotten tree. Perhaps he has a point. I would like to know about any organizations that directly help the survivors to live with some dignity, as I intend to try and raise funds to help correct this terrible injustice ("Olmert says appeasement is recipe for holocaust," April 25). MITCHELL BARNETT barnettmitchell@gmail.com Tel Aviv ...to the survivors Sir, - As a child of survivors I am very grateful to the State of Israel for making a real effort to commemorate the Holocaust. But do we really? On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day I could not get food or water because the supermarket was closed. At first I was annoyed, even though I understand the gesture of closing all businesses. But then I read in the paper that many Holocaust survivors in Israel live below the poverty line. Maybe all restaurants, supermarkets and grocery stores should be allowed to open on that night, with one caveat - all the profits go to benefit the survivors. LAURA GOLDMAN Tel Aviv Believe it Sir, - Filmmaker Micha Shagrir made a good point when he discounted the quantifying of evil; but slipped when he summarized his message: "It is forbidden to kill or expel people because of their beliefs." I wonder if a single Jew was killed in the Holocaust because of his or her beliefs. I have no doubt that each and every one was murdered because of Hitler's beliefs. The perpetrator is entirely accountable ("The bitter ties that bind," Arts and Entertainment, April 27). PHYLLIS STRAUSS Efrat Lost in the clouds Sir, - United 93, the new film which so movingly recreates this young century's most notable day of infamy, is flying into an unseemly turbulence caused by some on the political Left. They apparently fear it will reawaken security concerns among Americans comforted by the Bush administration's astonishing success at protecting us from further al-Qaida outrages on US soil, and thereby revitalize Republican prospects in the fall elections. How tawdry such partisan concerns must seem even to those who now act on them by seeking to marginalize this film and its celebration of bravery and sacrifice. With terror yet all too threatening, and every reason to be grateful for heroes protecting us from its awful grasp, cannot we agree to lay politics aside for the brief length of this cinematic tribute to 40 such, lost among the clouds? ("Not quite ready to roll?" Billboard, April 14). RON GOODDEN Atlanta Fur your information Sir, - When Rabbi Shmuley Boteach next writes about fur, he may like to consider: • There is no known incident of red paint being hurled at a woman wearing fur in England. • In most Continental European countries fur-wearing is completely normal. It is becoming much commoner in the UK now. • The vast majority of fur available in the West, especially mink and fox, is farmed there. • The trade in endangered species is very heavily monitored and controlled by international treaty, and has been for decades. No endangered species are used by the legitimate fur trade. • Fur is no more "ripped from the backs" of innocent creatures than milk is ripped from the udders of cows. • The idea that women are less prone to swank than men is hardly borne out by the story of fashion and display through the ages. • Orthodox rabbis have for generations been proud of their trapped sable tail fur hats. • The fur trade - predominately Jewish as it is - is already the victim of vicious protest, and it behooves commentators to avoid inflammatory nonsense ("The fur coats of Englewood," April 20). RICHARD D. NORTH London The writer is author of Fur and Freedom: A Defence of the Fur Trade. Out of step... Sir, - While not wishing to detract from the very impressive achievements of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, I would like to point out that the judging of the Mia Arbatova Competition was very controversial ("Dancing tall," Letters, April 27). In previous years only classical and neo-classical variations were allowed, both on pointe for the girls. This year, for the first time, candidates were allowed to perform a neo-classical, modern or contemporary solo as the second variation. As this competition is specifically aimed at furthering the future careers of classical ballet students, it was not surprising that quite a few candidates performed a neo-classical solo in the semi-finals. What was surprising was that none passed through to the finals. Initially this was assumed to be nothing more than the judges' personal preference. However, it became apparent that it was the result of a deliberate policy. At the finals, in front of the audience, the chairman of the judges panel announced that several very good dancers in the semi-finals had not gone on to the finals specifically because they had not performed a modern solo. This is not a competition to find the most versatile dancer. Previous prize winners have joined top classical ballet companies in Israel and abroad. It will be interesting to see, in a few years' time, if this year's winners are dancing with modern or classical ballet companies. GEORGINA YACOBI Tel Aviv ...with moderation Sir, - Those marvelously engineered structures that will become roaring bonfires in two weeks' time are already visible around my neighborhood. The trees on the periphery of Har Nof and at the edges of the Jerusalem Forest still bear the scars of last year's Lag Ba'Omer torching. A little over a month ago we were treated to the sight of budding Torah scholars puking on the street and driving drunkenly as they celebrated Purim. It would be prudent of the arbiters of Halacha to demand moderation in these questionable practices, lest they lead to tragedy. ZVI STONE