December 16: Anti-Semitism - an issue for everyone

December 16 Anti-Semiti

Anti-Semitism - an issue for everyone Sir, - David Newman expresses one facet of a complex reality ("Smoke screen strategies," December 15) when he says that sometimes right-wing Jewish voices portray criticism as though it were anti-Semitism. Rabbi Eliezer Melamed's blood libel accusation against Defense Minister Ehud Barak is a case in point. But by failing to take seriously the anti-Semitic potentiality of the contemporary anti-Zionist movements, Newman does little to untangle the knotted relationship between anger with Israel and hostility toward Jews. We have seen how the campaign to exclude Israelis, and only Israelis, from the global academic, cultural and economic community brings anti-Semitic ways of thinking wherever it goes. We have seen activists accusing anti-boycott lawyers of being financed by stolen Lehman Brothers money. We have seen a man found guilty of hate speech in South Africa being hosted by trade unions in the UK. We have seen "critics of Israel" drawing on far-Right conspiracy theory. We have seen any attempt to raise the issue of anti-Semitism routinely howled down by the cry, "Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic!" The threat of contemporary anti-Semitism, including when it comes packaged in the language of Israel criticism, is real. There will be a significant stream of opinion at the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism, which is critical of both anti-Semitism and Israeli human rights abuses. Anti-Semitism ought not to be allowed to appear as a right-wing issue. Of course, it does not help the fight against anti-Jewish racism that this conference is hosted by Avigdor Lieberman, a man who has done nothing to demonstrate an understanding of how best to oppose racist ways of thinking. DAVID HIRSH Delegate to the Global Forum London Alienating the best Sir, - In the latest battle between Rabbi Eliezer Melamed of the Har Bracha Yeshiva, and Ehud Barak, we are all the losers ("The chasm exposed," December 15). Barak has managed to alienate the best soldiers and officers that the IDF has. And for what? The only reason one can find is that Barak's motives are purely political. The media and the Left will always demonize the religious public. The same media would not expect a Beduin soldier to participate in the removal of his own Beduin family. The time has come to reexamine and to seriously question the role of the religious soldier in the IDF. MATTIAS ROTENBERG Petah Tikva Sir, - Let's face it: Ehud Barak would be hard-pressed to find any of Rabbi Melamed's hesder soldiers drinking themselves into a stupor on the eve of their weddings on a Friday night, mingling with the dregs of Israeli society. Such a hatan would be at home, or in the yeshiva dancing and singing and listening to Torah wisdom. SARA ROTH Jerusalem A matter of rhetoric Sir, - The editorial "The real price tag" (December 14) is an overreaction to an unfortunate occurrence, the targeting of the Yasuf house of worship. Ironically, Anderson Harkov, whose article on the need for aggressive diplomacy appears on the same page ("We're not going to take it anymore," December 14), quotes a character in an American movie saying, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." While clearly Israel and its citizens, no matter how angry, should not choose violent, lawless behavior as a way to address our grievances, we also do not have to grovel apologetically or offer undeserved compliments to leaders who are proving to be less than friends. There is no need for rabbis, copies of the Koran in hand, to try "to reach the scene of the outrage to express remorse." The Jerusalem Post should rein in rhetoric stating that "the Yasuf attack, and the perfidious disregard it symbolizes, is despicable." Continuing with misplaced apologetics, the editorial describes President Barack Obama as an "eloquent man" who delivered an "eloquent address" in Oslo's City Hall. The editorial fails to comment on Obama's admission in that address, finally and reluctantly, that "evil exists in the world," something apparently, much to our dismay and to his discredit, he had not realized before he became the most powerful leader in the world. While it is always noble to encourage righteous behavior and to applaud articulate expressions of idealism and hope, it is not fitting to do so when apologies and compliments belie the reality and truth in a broad contextual sense. We face an intransigent enemy ready to divide our capital city and displace as many of our citizens as it can; our so-called loyal friends are treating us without respect and applying pressure that would be better placed on those who advocate terror and disregard the worth of human life. JOANNE JACKSON YELENIK Beit Shemesh Sir, - I am neither a conspiracy theorist, nor a denier of instances of unacceptable violence by some Jewish inhabitants of Judea and Samaria, but I would caution against immediately and without any real proof demonizing the "extremist settlers" yet again. There are other possible scenarios for this heinous and disgusting act. Unfortunately there are those in our political and security establishments who would benefit and whose work would be made easier by showing yet again what scum these "settlers" are, and by turning the public against them en masse. Remember the Avishai Raviv/Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) affair prior to the murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, which still leaves a lot of unanswered questions. There is also an ongoing feud between Hamas and Fatah in the West Bank, which must be considered. Please let us reserve judgement until the perpetrators are apprehended and proven guilty. Then punish them to the full extent of the law. VICTORIA DAUBERT Jerusalem Sir, - Your editorial aptly stated that "those who reject [the overarching Zionist authority, meaning the government] by turning to violence are flirting with treason." Unfortunately the problem goes much deeper than we might imagine, and in a sense such actions are condoned, if not actively encouraged. As the editorial also points out, not all religious and political leaders clearly and unequivocably condemn such violent acts as the real crime and desecration of God's name they are. But even assuming the perpetrators are caught, tried and convicted, we will undoubtedly see many members of Knesset, prominent public officials and spiritual leaders demonstrating, speaking, praying and rallying on their behalf in open and clear defiance of the very democratically elected "Zionist authority" they have pledged to protect and defend. Such behavior is no less sinister than the crime itself. GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit Say no to terrorism Sir, - The government of Israel must take a strong stand against terrorism toward Jewish minority groups such as messianic Jews. People such as Ya'acov Tytell ("Alleged terrorist Tytell faces victims' families as his trial begins in Jerusalem," December 10) should be punished just as fully as Arab terrorists. The State of Israel was founded for the purpose of providing the Jewish people with a homeland where they would be safe from persecution. Religious intolerance must not be allowed against Israel's minorities in any form. The government must help preserve the country's reputation as a place of freedom and enlightenment. GEORGIA CLIFTON Reno, NV All dogs go to... Montana Sir, - I was amused to read in the article "Ex-IDF dog now protects and serves in Montana" (December 15) that the dogs that make the grade have several options upon completing their tour of duty. I assume that they are given these options at Barkum. JONATHAN TOPPER Jerusalem