April 15: More on Grass

In response to Eli Yishai’s ban of German author Günter Grass, many have criticized Israel’s democracy.

More on Grass
Sir, – In response to Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s ban of German author Günter Grass from our shores, criticism has been expressed by many friends (Alan Dershowitz, Salman Rushdie and others) claiming that Israel’s democracy should fight words with words. Now, with an impassioned list of sites the unrepentant Nazi should visit, Gil Troy (“Let Günter Grass visit Israel – and encounter democracy,” Center Field, April 11) implies that such exposure would have an effect on him.
One is reminded of the visit Kurt Waldheim made to Yad Vashem – with a kippa on his head – as secretary-general of the United Nations, before his Nazi past was known. How many Shoah survivors had to relive their agony in that Israeli faux pas? It is not an exaggeration to assume that an anti-Semite will not change his spots under any circumstances. While Troy’s naive sense of rehabilitation is to be praised, it is far from the reality of today’s world, which is filled, once again, with irrational and psychotic hatred of Jews and Israel.
Let Israel’s democracy be tested in other areas, not with respect to Nazis.
Sir, – Years ago, when Günter Grass’s son Vincent was a volunteer at the Jewish Home for the Blind in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, I was told by blind women friends at the home that his father was due to arrive on a visit and especially wanted to meet Vincent’s kibbutz “adoptive parents” to thank them.
RUTH RIGBI Jerusalem
Collector’s item
Sir, – With regard to “The Titanic sinks again, on TV and movie screens” (Arts & Entertainment, April 11), not only do I have the first edition of The Palestine Post from 1932, I have a copy of The Daily Mirror dated Tuesday, April 16, 1912 (one halfpenny) with the headline, “DISASTER TO THE TITANIC: WORLD’S LARGEST SHIP COLLIDES WITH AN ICEBERG IN THE ATLANTIC DURING HER MAIDEN VOYAGE.”
The newspaper has 16 pages, with several articles on the passenger list on Page 3.
HILARY GATOFF Herzlia Pituah
Words of wisdom
Sir – You report that the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran said “Setting conditions before the meeting means drawing conclusions, which is completely meaningless and none of the parties will accept conditions set before the talks” (“On eve of critical talks, Iran signals it may budge – but not enough to satisfy Western demands,” April 10).
Maybe Ali Akbar Salehi could convey this view to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas?
Egypt elections
Sir, – With regard to MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer’s endorsement of Egyptian presidential candidate Omar Suleiman (“Suleiman lashes out at claims that army backs him,” April 10), doesn’t Ben-Eliezer realize that this will lose Suleiman many votes? We have to learn when to keep our mouths shut.
Sir, – In “New entries stir up Egypt presidential race” (April 9), Salwat Hegazy, a popular television preacher and Salafist candidate, is quoted as having said, “Jerusalem belongs to us, and the whole world belongs to us.”
It can be claimed that not all Muslims are Islamists, but this is at least partially refuted by the facts of the Arab Spring, whereby Islamists, after ostensibly democratic elections, have been swept into power in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, and are poised for the same in Jordan, Syria and Bahrain.
To ignore the proclamations of Hegazy is to repeat the mistake of ignoring Mein Kampf.
Mohel standards
Sir, – With regard to “‘NY mohel tests positive for herpes’” (April 10), I can say that as a mohel in London for 33 years I was obliged with all other mohelim of the Initiation Society to be vaccinated against herpes.
When I qualified in 1967 as an authorized mohel, the Bet Din of London allowed me to use a glass pipette tube for metzitzah ritual.
A bit hasty
Sir, – I fear that “Balancing power” (Editorial, April 10) was a bit hasty in judging that the leaders of the two leftist parties are too far removed from the action to really understand the legislation proposed by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.
On the contrary, I feel they and some of Kadima’s members are more in touch with the proposed legislation than some who feel it is okay. Limiting in any way the powers of the Supreme Court by any legislation approved by less than 70 MKs is to take away some of the Knesset’s powers and cannot be but harmful to our democracy.
Your contention that Neeman’s proposal would actually strengthen the Supreme Court is really from another planet. Think again and come up with a more reasonable proposal.
Missing reasons
Sir, – In “The economics of Palestine” (Encountering Peace, April 10), Gershon Baskin carefully details the reasons for the miserable state of the Palestinian economy. From roadblocks and a lack of donor nations to a bloated civil service, the Palestinian economy is headed for disaster.
Interestingly, Baskin disingenuously omits two major reasons for the collapsing economy. One is terror and the other is local corruption. If he and his Palestinian colleagues were to honestly address these issues, maybe the obstacles facing their economy could be overcome.
Recycle the ice
Sir, – I wish to thank Gil Hoffman for “The day the ice melted” (Reporter’s Notebook, April 10). I have one question, though: Has anyone thought about what to do with the incredible ice sculptures once the event closes and the plug is pulled? Has anyone thought of trucking these tons of ice to the Kinneret or some other source of water so that in addition to our enjoying the show we can benefit from the millions of liters of water used to create this extravaganza?
Even our own
Sir, – I though that Liat Collins’s “Theater of the absurd” (My Word, April 8) was very well written and to the point. But it did miss a Jew who is high in the elite of the theater and intellectual world: Jonathan Miller.
Miller was born a Jew but does not admit it. All he says is that his parents were Jewish. His anti- Jewish/Zionist stance goes back a long way.
In 1968 I was working at the BBC and was supervising the construction of film review theaters.
Miller came in to check a film he was making. I was able to converse with him and asked if he would be able to speak to a group I belonged to.
He told me to write to him, mentioning our conversation, what type of group it was and a few possible dates.
We were a Zionist group. I mentioned this in my letter to him. I can tell you that I am still awaiting a reply, let alone an acknowledgement.
BOB GOLD Jerusalem
Sir, – So Emma Thompson has joined forces with Vanessa Redgrave and a slew of other theatrical personalities demanding a boycott of Israeli theater participation.
How very disappointing to read.
But I will not refuse to watch her movies because of her opinions.
To quote a line from Hamlet, “This above all: To thine own self be true.”