April 11: Barak's priorities

Now, we have someone like Ashkenazi, who did an excellent job in protecting the South in Operation Cast Lead – and guess what, he is being sent off.

Barak’s priorities
Sir, – I would change the title of the article on Defense Minister Ehud Barak not renewing Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi’s position as chief of General Staff (“Barak shows who’s boss,” April 7) to “Barak shows his priorities.” This would refer to Barak’s personal aspirations and political leanings.
When Moshe Ya’alon was replaced, it was when, with concern for the people and Land of Israel, he opposed the disengagement from Gaza. We eventually got Dan Halutz, under whom our army was sorely lacking direction, food and military supplies. We lost several soldiers, and demoralized and almost lost more. Now, we have someone like Ashkenazi, who did an excellent job in protecting the South in Operation Cast Lead – and guess what, he is being sent off.
It would seem that every time there is a chief of staff who is actually prepared to take strong action to protect our nation, they get put out to pasture. I am personally fed up and, frankly, worried.
Overlooking some factors
Sir, – In scolding American Jews for voting for Barack Obama in 2008 and urging them to vote against him in 2012 (“American Jewry’s deafening silence,” April 6), Rabbi Shmuely Boteach overlooks some significant factors:
The Republican party is so dominated by the radical Right that John McCain could not select his first choice, Joe Lieberman, as his vice presidential nominee and chose the unqualified Sarah Palin.
During the eight years of the Bush presidency, there was no progress toward peace in the Middle East; Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran all became stronger; a major federal budget surplus was converted into a major budget deficit; regulation of banks and other industries was decreased, resulting in a major economic recession (with far worse conditions avoided by actions of the Obama administration); few jobs were created; and the US entered two costly wars from which we are still having difficulty extracting ourselves.
Most US Jews recognize that a just, sustainable, comprehensive two-state solution is essential if Israel is to remain a Jewish, democratic state, able to solve its many economic environmental and other domestic problems, and that some thoughtful pressure from the US government is essential to obtain a solution to the current conflicts.
The extremists dominating the Republican party have opposed every Democratic proposal – even when they supported such proposed programs in the past – often using wild exaggerations such as “death panels” and socialism. There are virtually no moderate Republican politicians today. There is not a single Jewish Republican senator, and only one Jewish Republican member of the House of Representatives.
Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders have often expressed their strong commitment to Israel’s security, while also urging Israel to make the changes that will ultimately be beneficial to both countries.
Obama’s hostility
Sir, – I take issue with the claim made by David Horovitz that Prime Minister Netanyahu is partially responsible for the deterioration of Israel’s relations with the Obama administration. It seems to me that the blunders made by Netanyahu, like his failure to prevent the ill-timed announcement of Israeli building in east Jerusalem, are surely too trivial to justify the gravity of the apparent outcome – namely a decline in relations. (“Snubs, bold steps and a failure to learn from history,” April 2). To back up his theory, Mr. Horovitz reminds us that building in east Jerusalem had “proceeded without a murmur of Palestinian protest under prime ministers Rabin, Barak, Sharon and Olmert.”
However, these prime ministers did not have to work with a president like Obama, who is seen by many Israelis and Israel supporters, including myself, as hostile to our country and far too intent on extracting “bold” concessions from us, while failing to behave likewise with the Arabs, thereby giving a shot in the arm to Palestinian intransigence.
In my view, Caroline Glick, in her article on the same page (“Exploiting the crisis”), came closer to the truth when she explained simply but convincingly that “the reason relations are so bad, is that Obama has opted to attack Israel and its supporters.”
Keep the hatred at home
Sir, – Like most Canadians, I support immigration. But I believe that there would be less anti-Semitism of the kind described in your article “Machete used in anti-Semitic attack” (April 7) if immigrants were better educated about the country they were entering.
All immigrants should sit through a few hours of classes, with tests included. Basic knowledge of Canada should be understood: the economy, the politics, the geography, the demographics.
I recall speaking to a Croatian coworker on a construction job in Calgary. He was a friendly guy, but some of his attitudes made him seem rather ugly. He told me that Canada had no culture, except for hockey. Oh well, I thought. Then he went on to explain why Canada had no culture: the Jews.
That job site in Calgary, like most, had workers from different cultures and countries, including an Argentinean Jew.
It is a privilege to be become a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant. Once applicants become Canadians or landed immigrants, they have certain rights. However, they must understand that others do, too – including those Canadians who have contributed to creating a generous immigration system, Jews among them.
If this irks the prospective immigrant, then he’d best keep that hatred at home.
MAT COPASSantiago de Cali, Colombia
Justifying God
Sir, – In “Where God stood in the Shoah” (April 7), Judy Montagu presents several reactions of interest from religious and non-religious Jews. If I may add a word on the theoretical theological level: It is understandable that the magnitude of the Shoah justifiably stimulates questioning about the godliness and goodness of God. However, the problem begins with Cain and Abel at the beginning of the Bible.
Why does God permit the killing of innocent Abel? At that time, his death represented the death of one-fourth of total humanity.
One answer advanced is that the essence of the creation of man, in God’s image, is granting man free will. God cannot force proper behavior by man. This is logically acceptable as long as the consequences of free choice are limited to the chooser.
But why should Cain’s free will powers extend to harm done to non-choosing Abel? To attempt to justify God by claiming free will for the Nazis to commit genocide is screamingly fallacious reasoning.
Why should six million Jews, and other victims of the Nazis, suffer in order to allow their free will to operate? Even if the element of ultimate punishment is accepted, that punishment does not alleviate the suffering of the victims.
To try to justify God by imputing guilt to the victims is outrageous, morally and logically.
A contrast
Sir, – VelvelZev Weisz compares the Roman Catholic Church’s and the papacy’streatment of pedophiles among their clergy with their reaction towardsanti-Semitic acts (“A justified comparison?,” Letters, April 8).
However,I would beg to differ. The pedophilia might well be a perverted productof enforced and self-imposed celibacy, but anti-Semitism has been anavowed policy for more than 1,800 years, and until the rise of JohnXXIII and John Paul II, was warmly entertained by all branches of theorganization.