Letters: Remembrance Day

Once again, we watched the ceremonies on our television screens and mourned and grieved over those who lost their lives in defense of our country.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Remembrance Day
Once again, we watched the ceremonies on our television screens and mourned and grieved over those who lost their lives in defense of our country, and others who were victims of random Arab terror (“Nation mourns its fallen,” May 1). And sad as all this was, we were aware that this was exactly what we had done last year and what will be happening again next year, with the only difference being fresh names added to that grim list.
As much as the day of remembrance is our day, it is also the Arabs’ day to rejoice at the suffering they have succeeded to bring upon the Jews. And so it shall be, year after year, until the State of Israel can exact a price on its enemy that is so heavy and so painful, that maybe, just maybe, it will not be worth their while to set out to extinguish Jewish lives whenever the whim takes them.
DAVID S. ADDLEMAN Mevaseret Zion
The greatest honor to those who sacrificed their lives for Israel is to secure that for which they did so.
Of course, this applies to the whole country. But at this point in time, when the world’s covetous gaze once again falls on Jerusalem (“Israel, Palestinians battle for votes at UNESCO,” May 1), one small gesture to the fallen – and to the world – could be the placing of an IDF unit permanently on the Mount of Olives, a Jewish cemetery in continuous use for 3,000 years.
This location in east Jerusalem has continually been vandalized by those who dispute Jewish sovereignty even over the graves of our ancestors – including that of the grandfather of Israel’s current prime minister, who may, like the rest of us, soon need UNESCO permission to visit.
Secure the cemetery for visitors, demonstrate sovereignty, honor the fallen.
Optimism helps
In “The perfect recipe” (Comment, May 1), David Brinn captures most of the recipe for happiness that has elevated Israel to the 11th-happiest nation for the fourth year in a row: “a feisty resilience that combines stubbornness, optimism, arrogance, idealism and pragmatism in equal measure.”
Comparative research shows that Jewish liturgy is the most optimistic of world religions, and also the extent to which this pervades the Israeli mind directly and indirectly: It generates a culture inclined toward hope and positivity. But this recipe is not complete without noting the capacity for transformation, the ability not only to survive and endure, but to flourish in the face of misfortune and oppression.
Countries that surpass Israel in happiness, such as Denmark and Norway, with homogeneous populations, higher standards of living and peace, might have an easier path to joy. But the quintessential trait of the Jew, forged through millennia of suffering, is to be a light unto the nations by transforming darkness into light, and thereby sounding the message that we must not only choose life, but also celebrate it.
The writer is a retired assistant professor of psychiatry.
Offensive term
In “IDF closes West Bank, Gaza ahead of holiday” (May 1), it says that “Palestinians will not be allowed to enter Israel” although “settlers will be permitted to move freely.”
Settlers? There is no difference between Tel Aviv and where those Jews live.
No surprise
Benjamin Weinthal’s “German FM fishes for antisemitic vote in row with Israel” (Analysis, April 30) seems to overlook a sad fact already evidenced in a 1976 version of a poem attributed to the late German pastor Martin Niemoeller: The Communists were the first to be rounded up by the Nazis; next would come the Social Democrats, followed by trade unionists, and only lastly die Juden.
To the “original” version, which I translated from German into English for my book Ethics, Politics and Democracy, I added the following proviso: “The poem reproaches the indifferent silence by German intellectuals when, upon rising to power, the Nazis began purging targeted groups one after the other, supposedly in that order: none of those not (yet) harassed would stand to speak up for those purged, until there was allegedly no one left who could speak for the self-engrossed whose turn had come.
Unwittingly, the poem gives equal pride of place to political incarceration and systemic murder.
It’s as if it saw no moral difference between group imprisonment and system-wide genocide.”
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s matter-of-fact banalization of evil 41 years later should surprise no one.
By any other name
In his Encountering Peace columns, Gershon Baskin likes to present himself as a reasonable, unbiased commentator. So in “The day after Independence Day” (April 27), he tells us that the blame for the failure to find a workable solution, despite multiple efforts by US presidents and other officials, must be attributed equally to the Israelis and Palestinians.
Fair enough, I say; that’s balanced and reasonable.
He then goes on to attribute, albeit in a very indirect way, a single negative attribute to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he describes as being “in the twelfth year of his four-year term.” Not another word about how the Palestinian leadership has failed its own people.
But the next two paragraphs comprise a diatribe about how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed in multiple areas, leading, in Baskin’s words, to growing dissatisfaction in the Israeli electorate and constant attacks by Netanyahu against the basic elements of democratic government such as the press and the judiciary, the police and our “allies” in Europe.
Isn’t it strange that Baskin criticizes the prime minister for exercising the basic elements of a democratic government – Netanyahu has been chosen not once, not twice, but three times to lead his people – whereas the single oblique criticism he manages to level against Abbas is that he in fact isn’t elected, making him nothing more than a dictator? I would like to suggest that Baskin change the name of the institute he heads (IPCRI) from Israel Palestine Creative Regional Institute to I Prefer to Create Reckless Illusions, which is much more in keeping with his actual output.
Out of context
Your article “Palestinian Federation of Chile warns Jewish leadership not to ‘play with fire’” (April 19) takes a statement made in the wake of Israel’s entry ban on the federation’s executive director, Anwar Makhlouf, out of context.
The statement, seen as a direct threat to Chile’s Jewish community, was rather a hint to the community’s representatives to moderate the language in their unfettered support of Israel’s policies, including the ban on Mr. Makhlouf, who is a Chilean citizen and was heading to Bethlehem to spend the Easter holidays with a Chilean delegation, some of whose members also had Palestinian origins. Certainly, the tone and content of those declarations befitted more a personal diatribe than a political statement.
For some time now, we feel and fear that the direction taken by the representatives of the Jewish community in Chile might lead them to back certain words and actions that do not constitute a step forward toward peace in the Middle East, nor toward the safety of any community in Chile.
The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian Federation of Chile.