Letters to the Editor: Grateful to Van Leer

We should be grateful to the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute for its initiative to conflate in print the pain of the Holocaust and the pain of the “Nakba.”

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Grateful to Van Leer
We should be grateful to the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute for its initiative to conflate in print the pain of the Holocaust and the pain of the “Nakba” (“Van Leer: Event won’t liken Holocaust to ‘Nakba,’” August 30), for it shows how inapt a comparison is of these totally different historical events.
What the Palestinians call the “Nakba” (Catastrophe) was the result of an initiative of the Arab world to eliminate the Zionist presence in this sliver of land.
Many of the Arab inhabitants left in order clear the field for the invading armies, expecting to return in a triumphant wave.
Many of their villages and neighborhoods were emptied, and these people found themselves in refugee camps.
Those who chose not to run became citizens of the Jewish state and came to enjoy a reasonable standard of health and economic stability. But even for them, the humiliation engendered by the children of Isaac standing firm against the children of Ishmael was presumably a common theme in the ongoing pain of their catastrophe.
The obvious parallel arising out of World War II is the catastrophe experienced by the German people.
Like the Arabs of Palestine, they intended to rid the world of Jews. Of course, there were no invading armies; they did the work themselves. Unlike the Arabs, though, they were efficient, methodical and highly successful.
Nevertheless, when the dust settled, many, many Germans had lost their lives and major cities were rubble. Their final ignominy was the imposition of the terms of unconditional surrender and, yes, occupation.
This was, in the phraseology of the Arabs, the mother of nakbas.
A comparison of these two catastrophes might indeed be fruitful for students of history and economics, as well as for framers of policy. But leave the Holocaust out of it. With apology to Armenia, Rwanda and Cambodia, there is no way in which its cold-blooded inventiveness of methods and industrialization of murder can be matched.
A scientist overlooked
In Judy Siegel-Itzkovich’s “Fledgling scientists meet elder geniuses” (Health & Science, August 30), Prof. Ada Yonath refers to Nobel Prize winners James D. Watson and Francis Crick, and their discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953.
Rosalind Franklin, who died in 1958, deserves some of the credit for this discovery. Her biographer, Anne Sayre, suggests that she is sometimes overlooked because she was a woman and a Jew.
Long overdue
With regard to “Top cop from another planet” (Middle Israel, August 28) by Amotz Asa-El, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan made a brilliant move, and not a minute too soon, by appointing Brig.-Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch as the nation’s new top cop.
A police house-cleaning from top to bottom is long overdue. If all goes well and Hirsch is appointed, the failed top brass still in uniform will likely do a fair bit of the house-cleaning by resigning.
Hirsch’s lack of police background is a great asset when you look at what we have been stuck with. As for his military background, if the truth were really known and proven beyond all conceivable doubt, it is hard to believe that one mistake by one man with a great and courageous military record was his and his alone, and that he was not simply the “fall guy.”
I hope the police and the public get Gal Hirsch. It heralds a long-overdue new beginning .
I. KEMP Nahariya
Far from harmless
Yossi Melman misses the main picture in “Monitoring the boycotters” (Intelligence File, August 28). He erroneously claims that the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign is “nonviolent, democratic, political and civilian,” and contends that Israel’s right-wing government is paranoid for monitoring it.
BDS is far from harmless. Example: During the 2014 war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine group sent out a call to BDS campaigners in Europe to “take to the streets” against Israel. Using social media, activists forwarded this plea, thus contributing to the often violent and anti-Semitic demonstrations in European capitals.
Melman’s analysis rests on the premise that BDS only targets the post-1967 situation in the West Bank. In reality, BDS, at its core, is about reversing the results of the 1948 war, in which Israel defeated the Arab states’ aggression.
Delegitimization is the strategy it is using in challenging Israel’s fundamental right to exist.
The asymmetrical warfare Israel is forced to fight against terror groups on the ground finds an ideological partner in BDS. Both seek the same goal: no Israel. This is relevant to all Israelis, from Right to Left.
Melman is wrong to decry Israel’s monitoring of BDS. Indeed, the government would be derelict in its duty if it didn’t.
YITZHAK SANTIS Jerusalem - The writer is chief programs officer for NGO Monitor.
That memory box
I read with interest Avraham Avi-Hai’s “The girl with the face of velvet” (The POSTman Knocks Twice, August 28) and I must take umbrage that he cannot accept the fact that new immigrants know so little Hebrew.
For many of us, it is only when we reach retirement age or older that we can afford to make aliya.
If, like me, one is an octogenarian, the memory box refuses to retain the newly acquired knowledge! This is a fact that I have sadly learned to accept.
Did it, but not guilty
There seems to be a contradiction in “White supremacist on trial: I spared non-Jewish woman” (August 27).
In the sixth paragraph, defendant Frazier Glenn Cross is quoted as saying: “Everybody knows I did it. I don’t deny it.” Five paragraphs later, you say: “He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.”
Could someone please clarify?
Youth and gays
I well remember an approach made to my 17-year-old, rather handsome son as he served behind the counter in our UK store over 40 years ago. He came to me with an invitation from an older customer, that he should join him on his boat for the weekend together with a “few other chaps.” I did not know what my son was talking about, but luckily he did! From then on, I made it my business to know.
I write this as a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent.
We pride ourselves here in Israel that our youngsters are self-reliant and independent.
For sure, encouraging and teaching them to be that way is to be applauded. But to me, a 16-year-old participating in a gay pride parade, like the murdered Shira Banki, shows me that however wonderful these attributes are, too many parents give too little guidance to their offspring and don’t know how to say no.
Not all parents realize the full implications and dangers of letting a 16-year-old socialize in activities in which predators may be nearby. We must educate our young people to know the full implications of their choices, even if it means establishing a law that requires participants in social action activities such as gay pride parades to be at least 18 years old.
Reader Menachem Dayagi resides in Tel Aviv, and not as stated in “Sounds familiar” (Letters, August 30). The letters editor regrets the error.