April 22: Shunning the show

Those who boycotted the UN Conference Against Racism - and the delegates who walked out on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech - were more than justified.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Shunning the show... Sir, - Those who boycotted the United Nations World Conference Against Racism - and the delegates who walked out on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech - were more than justified ("Ahmadinejad's vitriol meets with mass walkout," April 21). Their actions are to be applauded, even celebrated. They mean that the perpetrators of hatred and racism are being exposed and denounced for what they are and have always been in all societies: vicious, ignorant, small-minded liars and hypocrites who have stopped at nothing - including, in this case, shameless historical revisionism aimed at demonizing and vilifying all things Israeli, American and Western. The boycott-walkout also signaled that the West is finally beginning to wake up, that it is no longer willing to countenance blatant nonsense and attitudes that are a major impediment to peace everywhere. JERRY PHILIPSON Comox, British Columbia, Canada Sir, - The ranting of Iranian President Ahmadinejad at Durban II allowed us to witness "Exodus II," a mass walk-out by delegates who will no longer listen to his hate-filled nonsense. This guy not only denies the Holocaust, but when questioned in Britain about the "gay community in Iran," he declared: "There are no gays in Iran." How can anybody in the world, especially Muslims, take this person seriously and expect to deal with him in a positive and peaceful way? MARTIN LEWIS Hod Hasharon ...and showing up Sir, - Iran's president spewed venomous hatred and stereotyping lies against Israel during his Durban II talk. He confirmed suspicions that had caused many nations, including the US, Australia and Israel, to boycott the conference. But because we chose to be absent, we could not demonstrate "in situ" our disgust and disdain at Ahmadinejad's ignorant, hate-mongering rant - for example, by building a multinational "coalition of the uplifting" to stand with backs turned, or walk out during the talk. We lost the opportunity to rebut the disgustingly distorted diatribe with objective observations about Iran, soundly supported and calmly communicated. We relinquished the chance to show Ahmadinejad up for the fraud he is - condemning others for things he and his country practice internally and propagate externally, discrimination and racism. We missed our chance to enhance the opportunity for Ahmadinejad to demonstrate himself as the pitiful, ignorant fool he is. Because we chose not to show up. Differences are made by those who show up. JUDY BAMBERGER O'Connor, Australia The evidence couldn't be clearer Sir, - Re Menachem Rosensaft's "A transfer of memory" (April 21) and other recent articles on Holocaust denial: Perhaps the deniers should be shown the testimony from the Nuremberg trial of Bruno Tesch and Karl Weinbacher, senior directors of Tesch and Stabenow who provided two-and-three-quarter tons of Zyklon-B crystals every month over an unspecified period - for which both men were executed. Relevant delivery notes and invoices turned up at Nuremberg, as documented in William Shirer's book The rise and fall of the Third Reich. JOYCE KAHN Petah Tivka Sir, - Holocaust denial is a chronic sickness, the remedy for which is, I fear, unavailable to those suffering from it. However, it is now fairly common knowledge that the Nazis themselves not only didn't deny what they were doing, they actually kept a strict and exact record of every single person they gassed or disposed of. So, ultimately, they themselves denied nothing. Numerous "new" death camp archives have recently been accessed and opened, and are readily available at Yad Vashem. As a result, after 64 years of ignorance, I have discovered the exact dates of death in Auschwitz of my late grandparents, Dayan Rabbi Menachem Mendel and Leah Kirschbaum, and Kaddish can now be said on the actual date. LINDA STERN Safed Reconsider these obligatory visits Sir, - Israel may have unintentionally contributed to the more sinister type of Holocaust denial cited in your editorial "The new deniers" (April 21) to justify Zionism's and Israel's "oppression" of Palestinians et al. - because of our insistence that every world leader or other prominent official tour Yad Vashem as a virtual condition for any official visit. While no one can deny the importance of this idea, it apparently has all too often backfired; we see that, ultimately, many leaders have simply applied this unique and horrible event to their own tragedies and hardships; and nothing more. Perhaps even more disconcerting is the fact that, once again, and despite our good intentions, such visits create a clear and direct impression that the Holocaust is the prelude to - and even justification for - the need for a Jewish state. By comparison, all other important factors such as our biblical, religious, historical and cultural roots and rights to this land for thousands of years are totally dwarfed, if not made totally irrelevant. I am sure many world leaders want to visit Yad Vashem, and certainly the more enlightened ones do not misuse its message for anti-Israel or anti-Semitic purposes. But perhaps we should begin to reconsider its place in major diplomatic visits, and instead, or at least in addition to this virtual "right of passage" make sure that every world leader travels the length and breadth of our very alive, breathing and vibrant country and see what has been accomplished in such a short time. Imagine if each visitor was presented with even a partial list of the hi-tech, medical, scientific and other achievements Israel has contributed to the world. I suspect that boycott threats would begin to fall by the wayside since, most likely, the computer technology used to spread those threats probably came from an Israeli anyway! GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit A good American Sir, - Sam S. Eisenstat's letter ("Ketzele's mistake," April 21) quoted Justice Louis D. Brandeis to argue that NU chairman Ya'akov Katz was wrong to urge White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to "be a good Jew." He implied that being a good Jew would be counter to being a good American. In fact, your correspondent misquoted Judge Brandeis. Brandeis did not write "To be a good Jew one must be a good American," but the exact opposite: "To be good Americans, we must be better Jews, and to be better Jews, we must become Zionists." "Ketzele," therefore, was right on the mark. If Rahm Emanuel advises the Obama administration along the path of Israel's defense and security, according to Justice Brandeis, he will be considered a better American. YITZCHAK BEN-SHMUEL Modi'in Twin temples Sir, - Re "Feiglin: If I were PM, I'd rebuild the Temple" (April 21): In fact, there are already plans to build two temples in Jerusalem. One is the unnecessary and controversial Museum of Tolerance; the second, the hugely expensive folie de grandeur set to be the new Prime Minister's Residence. Both temples are dedicated to the arrogance of their originators and financed by contributions voluntary and involuntary. YEHUDIT COLLINS Jerusalem