Letters: Week of July 8

I wonder how many of the current college liberals calling for ‘BDS’ are children and grandchildren of those of us who fought to integrate the US south in the 1950s and 1960s.

This time around
Sir, – As an architect and former resident of Manhattan, there are two points referred to in Jordana Horn’s “The architecture of memory” (Cover, June 24) that I feel need to be made.
First, regarding architect Daniel Libeskind’s fivetower scheme for the World Trade Center site, it is on the ground plane and not on the 100th floor that the life of any city takes place. It is critically important that there, at the level of the street, his master plan will succeed.
Second, worth noting is that while spectacular from afar, the original World Trade Center complex, dominated by twin towers surrounding a giant barren square, was brutal, frightening and alienating from close up. The message it sent out clearly was time is money, money is God, man is incidental.
Let us pray that this time around, Libeskind’s spirituality, informed as it is by his Jewish consciousness, will convey a far more inspiring message.
Victimhood not the way
Sir, – I find the feature article “Is Holocaust education the solution to resurging anti-Semitism?” (June 24) to repeat the old fallacy that the cause of anti-Semitism is ignorance. I question Jeremy Sharon’s basic premise that the anti-Semitism in Europe today is due to the fact that knowledge of the Holocaust is not sufficient.
According to Sharon’s words there has been a wave of teaching, legislation and museum-building in European countries that is related to the Holocaust. Why, then, did that knowledge not prevent the current hatred of the Jews? My answer to this question may be heresy to the promoters of Holocaust consciousness, but I believe that knowledge of the Holocaust does not work in our favor. On the contrary, it deepens the stereotype about us as victims.
I disagree with the oft-quoted saying that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Again, on the contrary, it is precisely those who do learn from history who are encouraged to repeat it. If Germany and Europe could perpetrate a Holocaust against the Jews and survive in prosperity and dignity, why should the Holocaust not be repeated? It is often pointed out that the 1947 vote in favor of the partition of Palestine was a reaction by the states of the world to the suffering of the Jewish people. I disagree. Several years earlier, US president Franklin D. Roosevelt knew what was being done to the Jews of Europe but did not sympathize with them enough to bomb the tracks leading to Auschwitz.
The bitter truth is that a combination of Harry Truman’s respect for the Bible, and Josef Stalin’s belief that the Jewish state would be communist and join the Soviet Union, brought about the vote.
Even with the token compassion of that vote, the Jews of Israel were left to fight for themselves. Truman declared an embargo on arms to the Middle East, and Stalin soon chose to support the Arabs.
During the Middle Ages it was not ignorance about Jewish suffering that maintained inquisitions and burning at the stake. Again, on the contrary, it was the assumed knowledge by Christians that the Jews rejected Christ and were thus destined to be the Wandering Jews of Christian mythology that sanctified their persecution.
In the United States during the 1950s I was told by good Christians that Jews were meant to die for their sins, and that Hitler proved it.
No, increased teaching about the Holocaust will not lessen anti-Semitism. The stamp of victimhood, certified by the past, will encourage more anti-Semitism and victimizing of the Jews.
The solution? We should remember, develop Yad Vashem and teach our children about what was done to us. But to non-Jews we should stop preaching the Holocaust and posing Israel’s right to exist as a consolation prize for past suffering.
We must destroy the myth of Jewish martyrdom and victimhood, and prove our right to exist by having a strong army, a strong economy and an atom bomb.
Good article, bad memories
Sir – I enjoyed “Intermingling in Mamilla” (First Person, June 24), especially the discussion of apartheid in South Africa.
I assume the writer is of an age to have lived through the “integration” of the United States. Being a US expat now living in Jerusalem and a conservative thanks to JFK, I surely remember those times.
I see no difference between apartheid and what existed in the southern US until well into the 1960s. I remember all too well the riots and attempts to block integration following the 1954 US Supreme Court decision in “Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka.”
Some examples of “non-apartheid” US incidents come to mind: • Washington, DC, the capital of the United States, was a segregated city, and to this day has de facto neighborhood segregation.
• Lester “Axe Handle” Maddox, governor of Georgia and lieutenant governor under Jimmy Carter, used a gun and an axe handle to prevent the integration of his restaurant, eventually closing it rather than integrate it.
• Governor Orville Faubus called out the National Guard to prevent the integration of schools in Arkansas.
* And let’s not forget all the senseless murders of civil rights figures, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
I wonder how many of the current college liberals calling for “BDS” are children and grandchildren of those of us who fought to integrate the US south in the 1950s and 1960s.
I posit that Israel is probably the only country in the entire region that does not have an apartheid policy – only Muslims are allowed in Mecca, and no Jews, according to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, will be allowed in Palestine – but we do too little to avoid this label.
I regret that such a beautiful article brought back such memories.
Sir, – In an excellent op-ed piece (“Aliya is a fig tree, not Coca-Cola,” Keep Dreaming, June 24), David Breakstone clearly enunciates the measures needed to increase aliya. He states that among what’s needed is for all of us who live here to receive with open arms those who come.
He expresses concern that a worrying number of our youth believe Israel should stop promoting aliya. However, it is not only the youth who often attempt to hinder the progress of olim.
I believe the situation today is not much different from that existing 33 years ago when I made aliya together with three medical colleagues from South Africa to take up senior positions at Shaare Zedek Medical Center. We were all subjected to attempts by fellow medical personnel to make our professional lives a misery, and my three colleagues returned to South Africa.
I remained not due to less discrimination, but to my determination to win despite strenuous efforts by a colleague holding high positions in the Israel Medical Association to make my work unbearable. Not only was this person involved, but so was the jewel in the crown of the Hadassah Medical Organization, when its teaching hospital and medical school in Jerusalem put many obstacles in my path.
Some methods must evolve to obtain a change of philosophy among Israelis and to annul the phrase so often heard, that “we like aliya but dislike olim.”
MONTY M. ZION Tel Mond The writer is a retired physician