Jerusalem Post Letters to Editor: the Imaginary universe
In truth, I am much more inclined to believe in the validity of the last page article on music than I am in going along with Baskin’s ravings.
By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Imaginary universeOn the back page of the June 15’s back section, the Arts and Entertainment section has an article dealing with how music would sound in an imaginary universe where Japan and Germany had won the war (“What if the Nazis won? This is what American pop music would sound like”). On the front page of the back section, the Comment and Features section has Gershon Baskin’s Encountering Peace column (“Observations June 2017”), which seems to be written from a similarly imaginary universe.He makes a statement that Hamas in Gaza responds to internal pressure, largely political and economic, by inciting its people against what he calls “the common enemy”. That’s an interesting choice of words in itself, since it implies that in his view Israel is rightfully “the enemy” of all the population.He than makes the outrageous statement that Israel “managed each time to fall into the trap that led to three wars.” In which version of reality does responding to relentless barrages of rockets, aggressive cross-border encroachment and the other manifold activities of Hamas, constitute “falling into their trap.”His imaginary “solutions” to the conflict also take flights of sheer fantasy in which he envisages some form of miraculous deliverance coming either from the people of Gaza actually staging a revolution against their brutal masters, or the external Arab world sending in the myriads of troops and trillions of dollars that it would take to overthrow Hamas directly.In truth, I am much more inclined to believe in the validity of the last page article on music than I am in going along with Baskin’s ravings.WATKA NAIDOO Dianella, Western Australia Accurate score Regarding the new broadcaster Kan’s first few weeks, it is understandable that a new undertaking does take time to work out all the kinks.The article in the June 15 issue, “Growing pains: KAN’s first month,” was a very accurate scorecard from what I have seen.However there is no excuse for lack of response to three letters addressed to their “Contact Us” site.I wrote to the broadcaster to ask about the problem that the Post’s national media correspondent Greer Fay Cashman raises regarding the lack of an archive section, for as she pointed out this was one of the main features of the old Israel Broadcasting Authority.Living in Chicago and being eight hours behind Israel time, it was impossible for us to watch certain key programs in real time and had to rely on the archives.Yes, I sent three letters three different times in different formats and received zero response. This is a plain and simple lack of professionalism.BENJAMIN SHANDALOV Chicago Blame Israel May I thank letter-writer Lela Klein (“Swift action,” June 13) for drawing attention to the report in Sunday June 12’s paper that “Police arrest woman for disrobing at Western Wall,” which I must have missed.One could imagine what would have been the Muslim reaction had the lady done the same on the Temple Mount.I very much doubt if the security guards would have been able to remove her from the holy site alive. And, of course, Israel would be blamed for its “deliberate desecration of the Aksa Mosque.”The reason for the different outcome in the actual case is summed up by Leonard Kahn (ibid.): “Israelis are not terrorists, do not stab innocent men, women and children, do not teach their children to hate and kill and, most assuredly, do not incite violence”.MARTIN D. STERN Salford, England An abuse Much has been said about the proposed code of ethics for in the last week : Bennett proposes banning professors from expressing political views in class,” June 11, the June 13 editorial “University ethics,” Ethics code is yet another step in making Israel fascist, says Herzog,” June 13, and “University students protest proposed ethics code that restricts faculty’s political views,” June 15.Students attend classes to hear professors profess about subjects that they have studied and acquired expertise. Professors are given a captive audience to expound on such matters.It is an abuse of their position for professors to expound on matters outside the subject that they have been hired to teach and that the students have come to their classes to learn.This applies not only to political subjects but also to other matters about which they have strong views outside the subject they teach.A professor of political science will quite properly deal with controversial political issues.On the other hand, there is no reason for a professor of say, linguistics, to expound his views on Brexit or the Middle East in class.Outside of the classroom professors have the same rights of free speech as all other citizens.ARTHUR KRUGER Jerusalem The writer is emeritus professor of political economy and the former dean of arts and science at the University of Toronto.Berlin Jewish salons I read with interest Eli Kavon’s article about Historian Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg book The French Enlightenment and the Jews in his June 14 column, titled “Rahel Varnhagen: An enlightenment tragedy,” I have not read the book so I can only respond to the article.But I was disappointed that Kavon repeats the same ignorant arguments about antisemitism and the Jewish or European enlightenment that are common with people who idealize the shtetl or ghetto.From this perspective Jewish assimilation was misguided and fruitless.Of course, in some ways that was true – Felix Mendelssohn (despite his father’s conversion of the family – which Heinrich Heine quipped was the most Jewish thing Abraham Mendelssohn ever did) was not saved from antisemitism in his circle.His teacher referred to him as the Jew-boy Mendelssohn.But there were also clear benefits of the growing social equality of Jews in Prussia that culminated with their emancipation under Friedrich III in 1812.Mendelssohn’s great-aunt Sarah Levy (who never converted) was the most prominent harpsichordist of her day, a student of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and patroness of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, called by contemporaries the Berlin Bach.When you come to salons, think of Amelia Beer, who made her son Giacomo Meyerbeer, (born Jacob Liebmann Beer) who was the most performed opera composer of the 19th century, promise he would never convert to Christianity.She had two other sons, a prominent poet and a prominent astronomer. One must go back to Renaissance Italy to find Jews occupying such prominent positions in the life of their societies.And a ringing defense of Jews can be found in the end of Honoré de Balzac’s Splendeurs et Misères des courtisanes. He says people say the Jews have no heart, that is the opposite of the truth.BILL HALSEY Seattle, Washington
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