April 28: Silenced songs

Every Jew living in the land today - indeed, every Jew everywhere - owes an immense debt to these 22,570 servicemen and women.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Silenced songs Sir, - Thanks to Stewart Weiss for his moving "Song of the soldier" (April 27). Yes, "every human being is a song, a serenade to God," and that so many thousands of songs have been cut off abruptly, in mid-note, defending the land since 1860 is an indescribable tragedy. I was incredibly touched by the story of the Ethiopian family who had little connection to Jewish tradition and whose longed-for link to their son, killed in the Second Lebanon War, was Yah Ribon Olam, "the Shabbat song" he had loved so much and that they got the rabbi to sing to them. Every Jew living in the land today - indeed, every Jew everywhere - owes an immense debt to these 22,570 servicemen and women. May their memory be eternally blessed. J. LEVI Tel Aviv Well done! Sir, - Congratulations to the Israeli security force that protected the Italian ship Msc Melody from pirates ("Israeli security guards on Italian cruise ship foil Somali pirate attack," April 27). Great job, guys! JIM HAMILTON Granbury, Texas Silent ceremony Sir, - Larry Kamm (Letters, April 23) might like to know that a two-minute silence is observed in the UK every year on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This is in addition to the official ceremony at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall on the second Sunday of November, always attended by the queen and other members of the royal family. The following Sunday is reserved for Jewish former members of her majesty's forces, who attend from all over the country, despite their advancing years, march past the non-denominational Cenotaph and lay their tributes of red poppies, reminiscent of those in Flanders fields during WWI. Does any state other than Israel have a memorial ceremony solely for members of the Jewish faith to commemorate comrades fallen in defense of their country? TAMARA SELIG Stanmore, England Jewish destiny Sir, - Gen. Moshe Ya'alon will always have my unending gratitude for his service to our people. Yet his insistence that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state is irrelevant, even dangerous. It is only our self-doubt about our relationship to our land, to each other and to our history that has undermined our security and threatened our existence. While it has been Palestinians who have shot the bullets, exploded the bombs and launched the missiles, it is the confused Jewish leadership that has made a succession of decisions to tolerate more and more killing of Jews. Declarations by the PA are meaningless unless we embrace the realities and responsibilities of our Jewish destiny ("Without benchmarks, US dialogue with Iran will fail, Ya'alon tells 'Post,'" April 27). JOSH MARK Jerusalem You don't fill stomachs... Sir, - During the Intermediate Days of Pessah, my daughter's family had a picnic in Jerusalem's Sacher Park. As they were preparing the food, a little boy stopped by and looked longingly at it. My daughter and her family, who had noticed the boy's family sitting nearby without any food, invited them all - the parents and their nine children - to join them. The parents refused at first, but the pleas of the children persuaded them to join the picnic. They explained that with all their other expenses, they had little left to spend on food. My daughter told me, "Mum, they didn't look like beggars - they were all so clean and tidy. Which only goes to show that a "genteel" front can hide empty stomachs. I do admire these people who tried to keep up their family's self-confidence, and feel it is now up to the government to see that all those who are "without" have enough food to put on the table ("NGOs: PM's economic recovery plan not enough," April 24). RAHEL SHRAGA Etz Efraim ...by taxing vegetables Sir, - So our prime minister and finance minister have found the answer to the credit crunch: Charge VAT on fruits and vegetables ("Tourists, foreign journalists, lottery winners could face higher taxes," April 27). It was this premier who created poverty in Israel during his term at the treasury. Not even during the austerity period of the '40s and '50s did children go to school hungry, as they do today. The healthiest products in the food chain - fruits and vegetables - have remained mostly affordable. Such "unhealthy" taxation may, in turn, lead to a higher future budgetary demand by the health services. More effective ways of reviving the economy, include: reducing the number of ministers; cancelling the building of the prime minister's new residence and renovation of Knesset offices; and cutting down on MKs' trips abroad, chauffeur-driven cars, and hiring caterers for private functions. This would help far more than adding 15.5 percent to a bunch of bananas! WENDY BLUMFIELD Haifa Health over politics Sir, - "Swine flu outbreak spurs international health emergency" (April 26): reminds me of the year 2003, when SARS outbreaks in China infected 27 countries and caused more than 800 deaths in only a few months. International public health was undermined because Taiwan and its 23 million people were not included in the WHO universal membership policy. The World Health Organization has declared the swine flu outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern." WHO director-general Margaret Chan, who made the decision late Saturday after consulting influenza experts during an emergency meeting, shouldn't forget that Taiwan is still barred from the WHO. She was in Hong Kong when SARS took so many lives there, and in Taiwan, China, Vietnam and many other countries. So, please: Do let Taiwan be a member of the WHO, and let it start with an observer from May 19, 2009. SIMON C. HSIEH, Director Information Division Taipei Economic & Cultural Office Tel Aviv Think prevention Sir, - Re Michael Dickson's "Ready for Durban III" (April 27): The real watershed occurred years before Durban II, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada warned of the second round of Durban hate-fests. He alone in the Western world had the moral fortitude to announce that our country would boycott this hideous event. He also refused to subsidize NGOs to attend. Instead of damage control, Jewish groups and their allies could now work to ensure that there are no more Durbans by following Canada's lead and thinking prevention rather than counter-demonstration. FRANK DIMANT CEO B'nai Brith Canada Toronto Hurrah for Tel Aviv! Sir, - Liat Collins's "A tale of two capitals" (International Edition, April 24, and Independence Day supplement) had me laughing out loud. We love Tel Aviv and have to justify that to the modern Orthodox community we are part of, who think Jerusalem is the one and only city in Israel. As New Yorkers, we especially enjoy the Tel Aviv vibe: the art galleries, street life and beaches. We do agree it is a Jewish "Little Apple." But I never liked the "bubble" label, as Tel Aviv has been hit with the brutal reality of terror and there are memorials all over the city as reminders. Tel Avivians are just davka about enjoying city life, no matter what. They may be different from Jerusalemites - but that's what makes life interesting. Happy Yom Ha'atzmaut! MIRIAM ABRAHAMS Woodmere, New York