April 13: Too sensitive

The US, unlike Israel, does not face the relentless savagery of terrorism, even though its border guards are often much more rude.

letters pink 88 (photo credit: )
letters pink 88
(photo credit: )
Too sensitive Sir, - I cannot fathom why the IDF is so sensitive to claims of racism if soldiers need to inspect Arabs with Israeli identity cards, or Israeli Arabs at checkpoints ("Officials urge changes at checkpoints," April 11). The US, unlike Israel, does not face the relentless savagery of terrorism, yet there has been a slew of articles on how merciless American border guards are, even to visitors from two of its closest allies. London's Daily Telegraph reported February 17 on how harshly American inspectors act toward British tourists. On June 5, 2004, a British writer had a piece in The Guardian describing how she was brutally treated and then deported because she didn't have a journalist's visa. Thirteen other foreign journalists were deported for the same reason in 2003. Even before the 9/11 attacks, Toronto's Globe and Mail reported (on March 14, 1998) that lowly immigration officers, acting as prosecutors and judges, had, on the spot, imposed a five-year ban on entry to the US for scores of Canadians, even for such a triviality as misrepresenting the reason for their trip. The Buffalo News reported on January 31, 2005, how a group of 40 American citizens were humiliated and some detained for six hours at the American border solely because they were Muslims. JACOB MENDLOVIC Toronto Diary at Bergen Belsen Sir, - "Celebrating Pessah in Bergen Belsen" (Pessah II Supplement, April 8) jolted me and brought tears to my eyes. I was there, you see, and knew your story's heroic protagonists personally. They were, like me, members of a closely-knit group of young Zionist Pioneers who lived and worked together somewhere in the Netherlands. Some of us were Dutch-born; others, like David Arnold Koller (if that was his real name!), nicknamed Effie, and Hans Horowitz - "Honki" - were born in Germany and had fled the Nazi regime to try and find refuge in not-yet-occupied Holland, leaving their families behind. The members of our "Hachsharah" group worked as farmers. Inexplicably, we did not go into hiding despite the German occupation and its attendant warning signs. We were taken to the transit camp of Westerbork during Succot of 1942, and from there to Bergen Belsen in January 1944. We who ultimately survived knew at the time of its writing about the existence of the diary kept by Effie and Honki. It was from Etgar Lefkovits's article that I learned about its discovery after the war. I wonder, however, where the photographs illustrating the article were found... I had totally forgotten what my comrades looked like, and seeing their pictures caused quite a shock. I'm curious about where and how your writer acquired his information. There is little I can add to your account of Effie's and Honki's fate. One observation: They were well aware that their chances of survival were extremely small. They knew too much about the Nazis' ghastly methods, and understood that they feared exposure to the civilized world. It stands to reason that the Germans were ignorant of the fact of the diary being written. Anyway, in it my friends expressed their hope that if some of our group were still alive when the war was over and Germany defeated, and if they married and had children, the first two sons born would be named after them. My good friend Martha fulfilled their wish; but her son Hannan, named after Hans Horowitz, was killed in the so-called War of Attrition by an Egyptian sniper - at exactly the same age his namesake had reached when he was murdered: 20. I seem to remember that Honki and Effie were not sent away to another concentration camp, where they perished, but were killed by a firing squad in Bergen Belsen not long before the camp was liberated by Allied forces in the spring of 1945. If anyone who reads this letter can reliably confirm or deny this recollection of mine, I shall be very grateful. Another result of your article was the realization that I have lost touch with most members of my Hachasharah group, and do not know who are still among the living. So I hope to hear from them. My Tel/Fax is 04-8107254. CLARA H. (CLAIRE) LEEFSMA Haifa