By JERUSALEM POST STAFFParalyzing the wrong party...
Sir, - The first headline in the December 21 paper is "'The time has come for a decision on Schalit,'" and we are witnessing the whole country holding its breath to see the final results.
The second headline is "Barak: IDF won't need to use force if settlers adhere to the freeze." In the background, the army is standing ready to "paralyze" the settlers with its strength if it fails to comply with orders. This includes the air force with over flights.
Instead of paralyzing the settlers, shouldn't the army be paralyzing Hamas and securing Gilad Schalit's freedom? The brother of our prime minister set an example and rescued a planeload of hostages. But then, the army is so busy with the settlement freeze, who has time for a rescue?
... and disempowering the people
Sir, - With all due respect to David Horovitz's earnest and high-minded editorial ("Wanted: Wisdom," December 18), I don't think the struggle over Judea and Samaria is principally a clash of conflicting but legitimate ideals and values. Rather, it's about how a disempowered citizenry deals with political thuggery and with the abuse of the coercive powers of the state.
The destruction of Gush Katif didn't happen following a civil and fair-minded public airing of the issue according to democratic process. It arose out of thin air, contrary to all of prime minister Ariel Sharon's electoral promises and positions. When a referendum of the ruling party members rejected the plan, Sharon broke his promise and disregarded the referendum results. Government ministers who opposed the plan were summarily fired. Mass demonstrations on a huge scale were blithely ignored.
The situation in Judea and Samaria is shaping up the same way. The army document leaked Saturday ("Military will use 'paralyzing power' to enforce freeze," December 20) details a military campaign against an enemy civilian population - and the enemies are the parents, siblings and neighbors of the soldiers meant to carry out the Left's war against the settlers.
Hijacked? Not exactly
Sir, - Liat Collins "wonders what it will take for Britain to realize it is being hijacked by Islamic extremists - especially if it didn't get the message during the 7/7 London transport bombings in 2005" ("Prosecution or persecution in the UK?," December 20). I think she answers her own question with the rest of the article, as she cites the many Israel-bashing actions of which London seems never to tire, not to mention what she calls "hypocrisy" in England's treatment of Israel.
If you add the often sadistic and unbridled enthusiasm with which both the British government and many grassroots UK organizations pursue their boycotts and other anti-Israel actions, it doesn't seem to be a case of London being hijacked by Islamic extremists, but of its joyfully tagging along for the ride!
Sir, - I would like to congratulate Liat Collins on her article about the British. It was clear, hard-hitting and beautifully written.
A tree under any other name
Sir, - It is disturbing to learn that Zara was forced to remove its Christmas trees from store windows, and indeed, if stores in Spain were forced to remove Hanukka candles from its stores (I wonder if any store in Spain has actually put such a display it its windows), there would have been a lot of bitter feeling among Jews ("Unfashionable display," Letters, December 21). I think whoever did the forcing was wrong. Zara is a legitimate business, pays its rent and should be allowed to put up any display it chooses to sell its goods.
More disturbing, however, is that the JNF is using the money it collects from Jews all over the world to donate Christmas trees to Christians ("JNF funds Christmas tree distribution in J'lem," December 17). This is not why my friends and I put our change in that ubiquitous blue box all through my childhood. My father made sizable contributions to the JNF twice a year, on Pessah and Rosh Hashana, all of his adult life, proud that he was helping our Jewish state. Buying Christmas trees for Christians in Israel is not the reason we stood on corners in Times Square, our flag displayed, and asked for contributions to rebuild Eretz Yisrael.
JNF stands for Jewish National Fund, and funds collected in its name have no business being diverted for Christmas trees.
Sir, - Accept their donations? Absolutely! They give billions of dollars to Israel and Israeli projects.
Support their lobbying efforts? Of course! They have the ears of politicians, business executives and influential leaders around the world.
But merchants displaying Christmas decorations, ornaments, wishes and trees, bringing Christmas cheer to these donors, lobbyists and visitors? Forbidden!
These are certainly not the "Jewish Values" I learned from my rabbi.
Sir, - I thoroughly enjoyed Abe Novick's article "Unimpressed with celebrigods" (December 20). I found the way the piece examined modern society through the lens of traditional Judaism, focusing on the deeper ramifications of Tiger Woods's recent scandal, to be refreshing, relevant and contemporary. He's managed to prove the timelessness and universality of Torah ethics and the Jewish way of life. He does so in a way that is unconsciously inclusive of all Jews, without reference to observance or affiliation, yet he never compromises the traditionally Jewish understanding and behaviors that have preserved us throughout history and can continue to support us in the postmodern age.
Without preaching or belaboring the point, Mr. Novick provides strong arguments for maintaining our traditions in order to escape the cycles of meaninglessness in which most of the world - or at least the world as represented in the media - seems to be trapped. We Jews have everything we need already; we can do more than survive, we can thrive and continue the Jewish mission. This is a message we all need to receive more often, and captures perfectly the essence of Hanukka. Mr. Novick has my sincerest admiration, and I hope he shares his thoughts with us much more often.
Sir, - Jeremy Last's article "The Magnificent Seven of 2009" (December 18) was a fitting tribute to accomplished Israeli athletes of the past year. Nevertheless, there is one glaring absence from the list.
While all those on the list have excelled in their sports, none has reached the status of World Champion as Yuri Forman has. He currently holds the title of Super Welterweight Champion of the World. Forman's accomplishments have been well-documented in The Jerusalem Post, and I certainly would have expected his name to be prominent on the list.
The sports editor writes: Yuri Foreman's achievements in 2009 were certainly impressive, and he was considered for the shortlist of Israeli Sports Personality of the Year, but just didn't make it. If he achieves consistency over the next 12 months, he will be a likely candidate for next year's award.
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