April 4: Irish lesson

Maybe Ehud Olmert has something to learn from the Irish?

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Irish lesson Sir, - Bertie Ahern says he will resign on May 6 over a money scandal to which he pleads innocent, but "conceded that 18 months' criticism of his financial ethics had taken a toll of his government's effectiveness" ("Scandal-hit Irish PM says he will resign," April 3). Maybe Ehud Olmert has something to learn from the Irish? ("Olmert tells off Knesset in 60 seconds," same date). GERSHON COPPERMAN Petah Tikva/Dublin Low blow Sir, - Jonny Paul came to the conclusion that our ratings (and Iran's) have remained the lowest for two years in row ("Israeli influence on the world is as bad as Iran's, BBC poll finds," April 2). However, he did not take into account the disproportionate amount of press coverage Israel is given. Journalists don't study statistics; they unfortunately only have the privilege of "reporting" them, typically conforming to their bias or that of their publication. DAPHNE KOHAVY Tel Aviv Calculating the risks Sir, - Officials close to our defense minister, Ehud Barak, have admitted that Israel will take "calculated risks" and remove security checkpoints - for example, the Rimmonim checkpoint between Ramallah and Jericho in the West Bank. He and they all know that the realization of risk means Israelis die. One can just see Mr. Barak in a discussion with these officials, punching numbers on a calculator. Barak calculates the number of lives lost divided by the number of Palestinian terrorist miles driven without checkpoints: 50 Israelis blown up divided by 50 km (for example, the distance to Jerusalem) equals one Israeli killed per terrorist mile. That's not so bad! ("Taking calculated risks for Abbas," April 1.) BARRY LYNN Efrat Saudi sincerity... Sir, - Although the Saudi [interfaith dialogue] initiative sounds positive and certainly surprising in view of the Saudis' strong Wahabi roots, the caveat they propose for Jewish participation - "not involved in oppressing Palestinians" - reveals the duplicity of their seeming openness to dialogue with Jews. Sadly, there will be Jews already harboring lukewarm feelings, if not outright aversion, toward Israel who will jump at the chance to validate their antipathy and use this golden opportunity to poke Israel in the eye. The warning to these Jews "not to fall into this trap" will doubtless fall on deaf ears ("Saudi initiative to be encouraged," Editorial, March 28). F. DIAMENT Lakewood, New Jersey ...and Western childishness Sir, - The assumption that if religions knew more about each other they would love each other more is naive and contradicted by history. I am all for contacts with Islam, though I wonder how Jews will attend these new "ecomunical" meetings if Jews are not allowed on Saudi soil ("Chief rabbi welcomes King of Saudia Arabia," March 26). Contact is a good thing. But the words of Rabbi David Rosen - "I believe the way to combat prejudice is through familiarity..." are childish. Familiarity breeds contempt. Jews and Christians knew all too much about each other's religion in the Middle Ages, and shared the Old Testament, but that did not prevent inquisitions and autos-da-fe. Adolf Eichmann, an expert in Hebrew and Zionism, participated in the genocide of the Jews he knew so well. In fact, all military and political foes in the world have intelligence about each other, but that knowledge, without agreement in principle, does not produce peace. Modern advances in comparative religion have not increased religious tolerance. That can come only from common interests, intellectual agreement and simple human feeling. MENDEL MENDELSSOHN Jerusalem Many paths to God Sir, - In "Let the Pope be Pope" (March 28) Saul Singer states that "to be Christian, Muslim or Jewish should mean believing that one's faith and creed is superior to others. Otherwise, being an adherent is not really a matter of belief, but of inertia." No. Believing that one's own religion is superior to that of others is the reason for many of the problems in this world and throughout history. Personally, I like Judaism best and it makes the most sense to me, but I don't assume that it is superior or the best religion for others. Religion is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are many paths to God. K. HALLGREN Jerusalem Fa-fa-fakery Sir, - While I enjoyed the article on the beautiful Schachter family's aliya ("From Philadelphia to Beersheba, via Bat Ayin," UpFront, March 28), I would suggest that Shlomo might find it easier to find a job in teaching were he to doff his Na-Na-Nachman miuman kippa (shown in the photo) and the associated silly, theurgic belief that uttering this slogan, and defacing walls in Jerusalem with it, is somehow redemptive. The whole thing started as a fake letter from Rav Nachman of Breslav to a depressed Breslaver hassid. It was written by his friends to cheer him up - but its ecstasy spread to hordes of other overly emotional simple folks, despite the Rambam's (Maimonides') equation of such magical repetitions of names with idolatry. Many traditional Me'a Shearim Breslavers find this new, odd custom distasteful and embarrassing. YAAKOV FOGELMAN, Editor A Jerusalem Jewish Voice Jerusalem