April 16: Strong, at a price

"Never again" is a symbolic expression in Israeli culture. Forgetting this segment of our past creates the possibility of it happening again.

letters thumb (photo credit: )
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Strong, at a price Sir, - "Never again" is a symbolic expression in Israeli culture: Never again will Jews allow themselves to be at the mercy of the countries in which they live. Never again will they be forced to give up their religious practices. Never again will they be considered pariahs, stateless wanderers, banished from certain areas and barred from working in certain professions. Never again. By keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive, Jews continue to be strong. Forgetting this segment of our past creates the possibility of it happening again. Already many preach denial of the Holocaust, saying it was fabricated to create sympathy for the Jews. The truth is stronger, however, and millions of Gentiles join their Jewish brethren annually to commemorate this event. For they too know that "he who forgets the lesson of history is doomed to repeat it." But being strong has its price, and it is particularly and painfully felt today in the State of Israel, as physical and economic hardships have become a part of Israeli lives. Yet Israel carries on, and Jews worldwide know they have a homeland to come to ("Never again," Editorial, April 15). MAURICE PICOW Netanya Use and overuse Sir, - Re "Never Again" and two other terms, I raise doubts as to their meaning, usefulness and cogency: Holocaust denial. This has become a battle-cry against Iran and all others who deny what happened 60 years ago in Europe. Yet instead of arguing, fruitlessly, over what happened, should we not concentrate on the motives behind, and the danger of those who issue these denials? What enemies of the Jews actually believe about history is not the point. Personally, I think they do believe the Holocaust happened, and this gives them the courage to plan a repetition. Far from a matter of not "learning from history," it is exactly the opposite: Neo-Nazis and their like learn that a country like Germany can commit mass murder and be rehabilitated into new strength and respectability. Genocide. What do we gain by defining a new category of mass murder and then quibbling at what point it earns the official title of "genocide?" Is there not a subtle implication that national and international crimes short of the genocide definition rank lower on the agenda of human concern? Never Again. This slogan implies that if we could get a guarantee of "never again," the suffering of those who died as victims of man's barbarism was somehow not in vain. This I refuse to accept. Even if, hopefully, there never is another Holocaust, the one that did happen should be preserved in the memory of mankind in terms of attributing guilt and compensating the innocent for their losses. JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem Granny's prayers Sir, - Since the need to pray for the safety and protection of Israel has never been more urgent, this might be of interest. My grandmother, a Christian, told us how she prayed for the Jewish people from 1939 until the creation of the State of Israel. Her prayers sometimes lasted four to five hours per night, and she wept as she prayed. She was able to gather few real details of Hitler's persecution of the Jewish people until after the war. However, she said she would see before her mind's eye "images of those who were fleeing from his soldiers." As long as those images lingered, she would continue to pray. The phrase she repeated over and over was "that they might escape death." After World War II she continued to pray for the protection of the Jewish people. JEAN VOWELL Alexander, North Carolina Sir, - I moan in the spirit every time it comes to my mind what nations have done to God's gift to mankind. So much has been passed down to us from the Jewish people; even in the midst of great persecution your gifts to mankind keep coming. We Christian Zionists are your watchmen on the wall. We will not rest until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62: 6-7). Stand strong, Israel, for God has said: "I will make of you a great nation." MARYANN KRUEGER Springfield, Illinois Witless in... Sir, - I write in bitter disappointment that the UK's National Union of Journalists could vote to boycott Israeli goods because of the war against terrorism in Lebanon ("British journalists call for boycott of Israel," April 15). Does this journalists union actually read any news? Have its members heard of Hizbullah, or perhaps the PLO? Or of Islamist hostage-taking, terror raids, beheadings and the ritual-initiation murder of Jews? What about the promise to wipe Israel off the map? Or the reality that Lebanon's southern border has long been a launch pad for terror against Israel? The "military adventures" in Lebanon which the NUJ has denounced began with an unprovoked rocket attack on Israel by Hizbullah, following the taking hostage of two soldiers. JAMES BRIDGE Montague, New Jersey ...Chelm Sir, - A BBC journalist continues to be held for the fifth week by his Palestinian kidnapers, Palestinian journalists parade with placards calling for his release, and the British National Union of Journalists calls for a boycott of... Israel. A. ABRAHAM Tel Aviv Sir, - This is too bizarre to be true. Perhaps an April 1st prank - two weeks late? SHARON ALTSHUL Jerusalem Little merit Sir, - Whatever merit the Oxfam charity's criticism of British foreign policy may otherwise have, it errs - as usual for "do-gooders" when Israel is involved - in its attacks on the British government for not pressuring Israel during last year's Lebanon war ("Mideast policy hurts UK's good name, British charity charges," April 12). Oxfam ignores any details of the war; and "Blair's positions on [the] region were often one-sided, favoring Israel" is a canard. Any one-sidedness was on the side of justice. SIMCHA RUDMAN Jerusalem My heart goes out Sir, - Re "Prisoner deal: Let's be forceful" (Letters, April 12) my heart goes out: to the Israelis who, like me, lost family, friends, heroes and loved ones at the hands of terrorists who may soon be freed; to the intelligence teams who worked day and night, weekends and festivals, to identify and find these murderers; to the police and soldiers who risked their lives arresting this cold-hearted, bloodthirsty rabble; to the judges who, in impeccable trials, handed down multiple life sentences, only to be made fun of later by politicians; to proud Jews who stand by in disbelief at having leaders without standards, shame or backbone, and a system that gives them free rein. to the average Palestinian, who has leaders who are accessories to murderer, and often more. For the record: If I am ever kidnaped, I would rather die in captivity than have one murderer set free to redeem me. M.M. HAGENAUER Jerusalem Proof of perfidy Sir, - The Venona files - decoded cables sent from Soviet agents in the US to Moscow - merely confirmed the mountain of evidence that already existed of Alger Hiss's treason ("Eulogy for Alger, atonement for a failure," April 15). The only question remaining, and a most troubling one, is why the Rosenbergs were sent to the electric chair while the no less perfidious Hiss got off with 44 months in a minimum security prison. WILLIAM MEHLMAN Jerusalem