February 14, 2018: God will determine our fate

Our readers weigh in.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
God will determine our fate
With regard to “Netanyahu warns Tehran: Don’t test us” (February 11), I pray that our prime minister will read this letter.
We beg you, Mr. Prime Minister, do not commit the error of boasting about our superior military power! Boasting about our power is a bonus to our enemies, God forbid. Boasting about our power is abhorrent to God – and may have a catastrophic effect on our security.
The Master of the World will decide our fate. We are best advised to pray to Him to guide our forces to victory.
Need for post-surgical support
“The fight against fat” (Health & Science, February 11) omits one important factor contributing to the success or failure of surgeries for morbid obesity: Patients must have psychological assessments and support before and after surgery.
It is critical to determine why they became morbidly obese in the first place. After the surgery, they must have continuing emotional and psychological support to maintain the necessary changes in eating habits. If eating had been a response to stress, they must acquire healthy strategies and alternatives to food. Otherwise, they could regain the weight or adopt undesirable ways of managing their stress.
Sadly, I have a number of family members who underwent operations in the US and did not get appropriate psychological support. One put much of the weight back on. While I have no certifications in the field, I have studied addictions (of which food is one) and I believe that ongoing support is important.
Knesset’s Holodomor bill
With regard to “Bill to remember mass-starvation of Ukrainians under Stalin treads tricky ground” (February 7), reporter Lahav Harkov writes that the facts are disputed when actually the causes and outcomes of the Holodomor have been established.
The famine in Ukraine of 1932-33 began with forced collectivization followed by imposition of impossibly high grain requisition quotas that demanded more than the peasant farmers had to give. When the quotas could not be met, the authorities raised them and sent troops house to house to seize not only grain, but remaining foodstuffs.
Stalin voiced concern that Ukraine could be lost and intensified his repression against the republic’s leadership. The borders were closed, preventing the starving from seeking food elsewhere. In June 1933, at the height of the famine, 26,000 people were dying every day while grain they had grown was sold abroad to finance Soviet industrialization. At the same time, the Kremlin unleashed a campaign of repression against Ukrainian cultural, religious and political leaders. One in six people in the Ukrainian countryside would perish.
Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Applebaum eloquently and persuasively described these events in Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine.
Members of minority communities in Ukraine also suffered, particularly those living in rural areas. The Kazakhs were also victims of a brutal famine, caused largely by the confiscation of their livestock, redirected to feed the citizens of Moscow and Leningrad.
That an even greater percentage of Kazakhs died demonstrates Stalin’s ruthlessness and willingness to inflict more than one genocide in achieving his aims, as Norman Naimark explains in his book Stalin’s Genocides.
There is no question that the authorities knew what the consequences of their actions would be.
The Holodomor was a calamity for Ukraine and Ukrainians (the effects of which are felt to this day), and it should be recognized, as at least 14 nations have already done, including Canada. All the rest is politics and scare tactics.
The writer is executive director of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta.
Lahav Harkov responds: When I said there were details of the Holodomor that are disputed, I was referring to the number of Ukrainians it killed, as I made clear in that same paragraph.
My grandfather is Jewish, my grandmother is Ukrainian. I never thought it was necessary to rank tragedies. No atrocity from the past should be repeated, and each should be understood and named for what it was.
Hitler officially called to eliminate the Jewish people. Although Stalin didn’t put his plan down in words, he declared his goal of crushing Ukraine as he unleashed a genocidal famine against its inhabitants. Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer from western Ukraine who coined the term “genocide,” called “the destruction of the Ukrainian nation” the “classic example of Soviet genocide, its longest and broadest experiment in Russification.”
Calling for the recognition of the Holodomor is a matter of justice, an act of remembering the four to five million Ukrainians who died. Stalin and his associates starved to death one in six people living in rural Ukraine in 1932-33.
Those who suffered and died in the Holodomor were our grandparents, great-grandparents, greataunts and -uncles. The Holodomor was a calamity for the Ukrainian people that Ukrainians have a responsibility to study, understand and commemorate. It isn’t about comparisons to other genocides. Acknowledgment of the horrible crime against these victims – that is all Ukrainians want.
On the state level, we commemorate the victims of both crimes on the appropriate dates, and I would like to express my gratitude to my colleague from the Knesset for raising the matter of commemorating the Holodomor in Israel.
We are restoring our state, as the Jewish people have restored Israel. Unfortunately, Ukraine has a powerful neighbor to the east that is intent on preventing us from living in peace and prosperity. Ukrainians and Jews have much in common. Of course, Hitler’s racist policies destroyed millions of Ukrainians, and Ukrainian Jews died in large numbers in the Holodomor. Many Ukrainians risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, and many Jews helped their Ukrainian neighbors during the Holodomor.
It is my sincere hope that the Israeli people will recognize the Holodomor for what it was, as we in Ukraine recognize the Holocaust. Mutual recognition deepens our humanity. It is as natural for me as the Ukrainian and Jewish blood that harmoniously streams in my veins.
The writer is chairman of Ukrainian delegation to the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Animals would appreciate it
I would like to praise the Knesset for holding an annual vegan meal (“Knesset’s meatless meal munch,” February 7). However, why limit it to once a year?
Now that members of the Knesset have discovered that food can be “delicious, colorful, healthy” and “cheap... without making animals suffer,” why not make vegan meals available more often – once a month or, dare I suggest, once a week? I’m sure the animals would appreciate it.
Beit Shemesh
Photo a powerful message
Regarding the picture of an empty refrigerator in a Palestinian house in the Gaza Strip accompanying the article “Eisenkot: War with Gaza could break out this year” (February 5), what a powerful message that empty refrigerator is, standing as it does next to what appears to be an empty bag clearly marked UNRWA!
If this is not proof of the absolute failure of that UN agency to provide the most basic needs for the Palestinians, I don’t know what is. That is the picture US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley should hold up when explaining why that expensive, yet worthless, organization should be defunded and disbanded.