April 3: Schalit series

I am shocked that the military censor allowed Ben Caspit’s two-part series to be published, and most disappointed that The Jerusalem Post grabbed the opportunity.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Schalit series
Sir, – Ben Caspit’s two-part series (“The true story: What Gilad Schalit told IDF investigators,” March 29; “The true story of Gilad Schalit in captivity,” March 31) is less a factual account and more of a commentary.
Caspit passes judgment on Schalit, claiming he was derelict in his duty as he had been sleeping the “sleep of the just” when the assault took place, and that were it not for being a “rosh katan” (a person who does not exercise initiative) he could have avoided capture by attacking his assailants.
Schalit’s five years in captivity, according to Caspit, were not overly stressful (“he was forced to eat what Gazans eat”). In a particularly ridiculous comment related to Schalit being able to see the Mediterranean Sea, Caspit remarks that “under other circumstances, he could have believed that he was on vacation.” At the close of the article Caspit states that Schalit should never have been placed in a tank unit and that IDF Chief of Staff Gantz misspoke when he called Schalit a hero, stating that the captive soldier was actually an “anti-hero.”
Caspit also suggests that Schalit now perform volunteer work to show gratitude to the country for having compromised its essential interests for this anti-hero.
Who should be considered a hero is subjective, and Caspit’s criticism of Gantz is unjustified.
Acts of heroism are characterized by bravery or sacrifice, and Schalit’s five-year sacrifice for his country was heroic and should be recognized as such.
The salute Schalit gave his commanders after his release, and their reciprocation, more than anything else symbolized Schalit’s fulfillment of his duty as a soldier, and a nation’s gratitude to all its soldiers.
Caspit’s tendentious redaction of an IDF report is a vehicle for pushing his longstanding misgivings about the Schalit deal. He does not strengthen his position by defaming Schalit or minimizing the rigors of his captivity.
Sir, – I am shocked that the military censor allowed Ben Caspit’s two-part series to be published, and most disappointed that The Jerusalem Post grabbed the opportunity.
Schalit gave five of the best years of his life to the State of Israel, which is a hell of a lot more than the tens of thousands of able-bodied young men (and not only haredim, might I add) who avoid any national service. The only positive point made in the article is that “Schalit is an introverted young man who is both emotional and fragile. He should not have been placed in a tank unit in the first place.”
Future IDF recruits should be informed that if they are captured, not only will the State of Israel do everything possible to secure their safe return, but might well reveal their personal behavior to the press.
The writer is chairman of the Israeli branch of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen-Women
Fertile soil
Sir, – Exactly to what tradition of Dutch Holocaust moderation does Barry Rubin refer in “Anti- Semitism in the Netherlands?” (“Comment & Features, March 31)? Statistics and the experience of Dutch Jews in World War II do not bespeak moderation.
By country, the percentage of Jews annihilated was greatest in the Netherlands (about 95 percent, certainly the highest in Western Europe, and possibly in all of Europe). This genocidal distinction was achieved by the widespread, pernicious identification of Jews, meticulous recordkeeping of addresses, and the large-scale cooperation of the non-Jewish Dutch population.
Islamic anti-Semitism blooms in the Netherlands because it is planted in fertile soil.
BOB FRIEDLAND Richmond, British Columbia
So he’s not hostile
Sir, – Headlines such as “Poll finds huge drop in Israelis who see Obama as hostile” (March 29) might sell newspapers, but surely we have got beyond the need for such black-and-white superficiality to know that the results of the survey are meaningless.
It is true that Obama demolished the absurd claim extolled during his initial four years (and still extolled by the Europeans) that settlements are the prime obstacle to peace. The true core issues always have been Palestinian sovereignty/autonomy and Israeli security. For the first time Obama made this clear to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as he did the obvious fact that the Palestinians need to recognize that Israel is a Jewish state.
However, Obama stubbornly clings to the totally erroneous objective of the two-state solution, as well as the view that in the Middle East one cannot have democracy without the Muslim Brotherhood.
Rather than being encouraged to indulge in childish pursuits as to whether the president loves us or not, it is far more important to start a serious debate about alternatives to the twostate solution, which clearly can never come to pass with a hopelessly divided Palestinian leadership.
Digest the facts
Sir, – I believe Finance Minister Yair Lapid should be asked to read and digest the facts stated in “Jews who did not leave Egypt” (Grapevine, March 29) regarding what the haredim did for Passover – and do all year round – to help all types of poor people without discrimination.
I pray that when faced with the truth, he will stop his hateful attacks and prejudice against the ultra-Orthodox.JUNE KEMP Nahariya
So sorry
Sir, – Now that Maccabi Tel Aviv “trampled” the basketball team from Istanbul (“Mac TA tramples Besiktas by 43 points,” Sports, March 29), will we be required to apologize once again to Turkey for our actions? ARTHUR MILLER Beit Shemesh Shocking behavior
Sir, – On the morning of March 27 I was returning from Yeroham to Herzliya along Route 40, the scene of two fatal traffic collisions that day (“Holiday marred by deadly vehicular accidents,” March 28).
I have been driving for many years, both in the US and in Israel. I remarked to my passenger that I had never experienced such shocking driver behavior – cars were passing dangerously in and out of lanes, and driving much too close to the rear of my own car.
To improve road safety the first step might be better driver education (including basic courtesy).
The second step might be the look of authority, that is, police in patrol cars on the roads, especially at holiday time.
Ancient timeline
Sir, – So Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg (“The Exodus enigma,” Comment & Features, March 25) wants us to believe that the Exodus took place during the reign of Tutankhamen.
Of course, there’s nothing like ignoring the evidence if you want to promote a pet theory.
The Torah’s account tells us that the Israelites built the city of Ramses. This can only refer to Ramesse II’s new capital of Pi- Ramesse-Aa-nakhtu, built in the mid-13th Century BCE. If, according to Rosenberg, the Israelites left Egypt in the mid 14th-Century BCE, are we to believe that they came back a hundred years later to build Ramesses’s city? Also, in the late 13th Century BCE, Ramesses’s successor, Merneptah, set up a stele (currently in the Cairo Museum) mentioning Israel (as shown in the hieroglyphs) not as a location but as an unsettled group of people. Is it feasible that if they had left Egypt during the time of Tutankhamen the Israelites still, well over a hundred years later, had not settled into their new land? ARYE FORTA London