Sherwin Pomerantz correctly asserts (“Secure world freedom,” March 7) that “history has taught us that force must be met with force and the West may have no choice but to go to war with Russia if the free world is to retain its freedom.” It’s true that the western democracies failed to defend Ukrainian freedom just as they failed to check Hitler’s aggression until it was too late.
But they could have opposed Putin without resorting to war. In the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion they could have armed Ukraine to the teeth with advanced missiles, drones, fighter aircraft and so forth. The 40-mile army convoy is a sitting duck which the US or Israel Air Force could have decimated in a matter of hours. Maybe the Ukrainian pilots are not as good but they could inflict a lot of damage and change the outcome of Putin’s Ukrainian gambit. Yet no western leader had the wisdom and daring to give the Ukrainians what they needed and are begging for to make this more of a fair fight. However the brave Ukrainians, under the spirited leadership of President Volodymyr Zelensky, are still holding out. If they received a substantial infusion of advanced lethal weaponry they could yet turn their country into a Russian graveyard.
Sherwin Pomerantz attempts to make the case that the western world needs to go to war with Russia, and we need to do it now. He, understandably, falls back on historical precedent in making his case. And while he gives a nod to the issue of nuclear weapons, their presence in abundance makes any and all historical references pretty much irrelevant. We’re in uncharted territory. A nuclear war, which Putin has already threatened, could be a species ending event.
Contrary to Pomerantz’s assertion, it would seem that in order to ensure both the survival of democracy and humanity, all avenues of modern technological and economic warfare, which are currently being utilized to great effect, must be exhausted before nuclear superpowers engage in direct conflict.
Boarding up the door
In Micah Halpern’s “Of two minds about Ukraine” (March 7), he writes about the two sides of Ukrainian Jewish history, one that is “robust and exciting... creative, rich...,” and the other that brought us horrendous pogroms, in fact the original (Chmielnicki) pogroms of the 17th century. As an example of the positive side, he reminds us that Golda Meir was born in Kyiv. However, in her memoir and many other places, Golda always said that her earliest memory was of her father boarding up the door to their home in fear of a coming pogrom. He left for the US in 1903, as soon as he could. And Golda also often mentioned that the sound of her father hammering closed that door in fear was the main thing that made her determined to come on aliyah.
Of course, today’s young generation bears no blame for all this, and we must give them all possible help in their horrendous situation. But I’m not sure that today’s Jews need to be conflicted with “two minds” about the history of Ukraine. Whatever great heights the Jewish community of Ukraine achieved, they did so themselves.
Regarding Micah Halpern’s excellent article, while I appreciate his take on Ukrainian history vis-a-vis the Jews, especially Bogdan Chmielnicki, the “Hero of the Ukrainian People,” I have an additional take on the current unfortunate war.
Because of this war waged on Ukraine by Putin of Russia, tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews are leaving their homeland and applying to make aliyah to Israel. And this is a good thing. It’s called the “ingathering of the exiles.”
Natan Sharansky’s speech at a Sheva Brachot party made the rounds on the Internet last week. In it he compares being a Jew in the Ukraine when he lived there, with all the latent antisemitism, to being a Jew in today’s Ukraine (or what’s left of the country), where your exit from the country to safety in Israel is assured.
This unfortunate war is accelerating aliyah from countries in Eastern Europe: countries like the Ukraine where Jews have had a storied history, but have absolutely no future there today or tomorrow.
I shudder to think what events will precipitate a massive aliyah from North America and the rest of Europe.
Jews the world over should come home to Israel now, while they can still make aliyah on their own terms.
Not even once
Regarding “Ukraine Ambassador: Zelensky expects Israel’s assistance because he’s Jewish” (March 1), great way to bring out our Jewish guilt! It made me feel really bad, so I decided to check out how Ukraine has voted in the UN since it elected Zelensky in April 2019 as its first Jewish president.
According to the UN Watch website, there were 17 UN resolutions against Israel in 2020 and 2021. Since Ukraine had a Jewish president that entire period, I was sure I would find that Ukraine voted consistently with Israel. To my dismay, Ukraine voted against Israel 13 times and abstained four times – they did not vote with Israel even once. I, for one, have higher expectations from a country with a Jewish president.
To add insult to injury, there were only seven UN resolutions against all of the other countries. Two of these seven were sponsored by Ukraine and Israel voted with Ukraine both times. Reciprocity? No – hypocrisy!
The lesson to be learned is that Israel, like every other country, must first be concerned with its own security.
Regarding “As Ramadan nears, spike in Palestinian violence anticipated” (March 7), the violence engulfing, and emanating from, Israel’s Arab community is a product of Arab society and not due to Israeli neglect.
Organized crime is family-based everywhere in the world. Arab society is family-centered. Loyalty is to the family and then the clan. The concept of the nation-state is a western one. Police are more effective in Jewish towns, where they can expect community cooperation, than in Arab ones, where neighbors fear revenge from the gangs.
Arab culture is the same throughout MENA. Lebanon, for example has dozens of clans. Inter-clan rivalries have destroyed any national cohesion and allowed Lebanon to fall under Iranian control with Hezbollah being the occupying army. Civil wars in Syria and Iraq are other examples.
If Arabs in Israel, including the territories, saw themselves as one people, i.e. Palestinians, their loyalty would be national. They would respond to police the same way other Israelis do and could expect the same outcomes. However, as the “Palestinian people” was a KGB construct developed in 1964 to drive out the Jews, Arabs will continue to see themselves as families and clans, more closely associated with where they originated from than where they are now.
Will this attitude or loyalty change once there is a two-state solution and a Palestinian entity created? Probably not.
‘One for the books’
It was extremely enlightening to read about the advances in women’s Torah learning (“A unicorn in the world of women’s Torah Learning,” March 8). I was somewhat aware of the advances that have been made in opening spheres of what previously were men-only.
Having attended traditional yeshivot for high school and college (Telshe Yeshiva for the former, Netzach Yisrael for the latter), I honestly can say that I did not foresee living long enough to see the likes of the Matan Women’s Institute for Torah Studies! The accompanying photo of two young women studying Talmud together is “one for the books.”
Kudos to all those responsible for this tidal shift in the sphere of Torah learning/education, and may their efforts continue to flourish.
MICHAEL D. HIRSCH
Falling on deaf ears
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited Russian President Vladimir Putin (“Bennett holds surprise talks with Putin in Moscow,” March 6) in an effort to mediate an end to the Ukrainian invasion by Russia. Meanwhile an increase in attacks on populated areas by Russian forces means that calls to negotiate a peaceful conclusion to this senseless war has fallen on deaf ears in Moscow. While I applaud Bennett’s efforts, it seems that Putin (acting true to his dictatorial ways) couldn’t care less about the cost in human lives and destruction. We’ve seen what dictator Putin’s intentions are, so waiting is a waste of time. The free world must respond to dictator Putin’s evil agenda with whatever it takes to bring about a return to adhering to international law and that includes prosecuting war criminal Vladimir Putin.
For years Menachem Begin was my hero (“Jewish-democratic backbone,” March 2). Here was a Jew who understood that it was his duty to stand up to the British during their Mandate here as they tried to destroy us in favor of the Arabs. He asked for no accolades or self-aggrandizement. Ben-Gurion, on the other hand, I saw as a megalomaniac whose self came before the land and people; something we unfortunately saw in future leadership.
Rather than embrace the extents to which Begin went to procure men and weapons from other countries, Ben-Gurion’s only concern was that Begin might usurp him which he had assured him he wouldn’t. The tragedy that followed was unforgivable. Ben-Gurion ordered the total destruction of the Altalena ship carrying Begin, the volunteers and weapons.
Begin started falling when he refused to fight back when the Altalena was attacked. A Jew must never accept death by another Jew. He then went on to further alienate his hero status when he succumbed to American pressure and surrendered Sinai, and Yamit, to Egypt after a war we won that claimed thousands of our peoples’ lives.
Josep Borrell, the EU foreign minister, has stated (“Might makes not right,” March 1) that “Putin lied to the faces of all who met him, pretending to be interested in a peaceful solution. Instead, he opted for a full-scale invasion.” He added that “Russia must cease its military operations immediately and to unconditionally withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine.” He then goes on to say that “this is a matter of life and death.” Borrell adds that the “international community will now in response opt for a full-scale isolation of Russia, to hold President Putin accountable for his aggression,” and will cripple “the Russian banking system and its access to international reserves.”
Every word of what Borrell said about Russia applies to Iran. Iran has consistently lied to everyone about the peaceful intention of its nuclear program. It has exceeded every limitation stipulated in the JCPOA agreement of 2015. It has supported radical Islamic groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. It has provided funding for Hamas to carry out its terrorist policies from Gaza. It has entered into an alliance with the Houthis who have destabilized Sudan and have sent drones and rockets to attack Saudi Arabia. Iran threatens international shipping in one of the most important sea routes of the world. Iran has played a major role in destabilizing Iraq. If this is not bad enough, Iran is driven by a religious obsession about eliminating the State of Israel. The world seems to have a double standard when it comes to anything concerning Iran.
The same countries which are determined to impose sanctions and financial hardships on Russia, are proposing the lifting of sanctions on Iran and granting Iran a massive infusion of billions of dollars. The inevitable result will be the spread of mayhem throughout the Middle East. Instead of recognizing that Iran is a direct threat to world peace, the world has simply turned a blind eye. This is a historic mistake. Iran needs to be treated with the same pressure that the world is aiming at Russia.
The irony of all the above is the present negotiations in Vienna concerning Iran. Under the present circumstances, could anything be more absurd than Russia being a party to the negotiations to lift American sanctions on Iran while America itself is not even sitting at the negotiating table? The world needs to regain its moral compass. Ignoring reality is nonsensical. The world has at last woken up to Putin. Both Russia and Iran pose a direct threat to world peace. It is time to wake up to the threat that Iran poses to the world and to act accordingly.