April 7: Too much of a good sing

Those sopranos could be useful in keeping night-shift workers awake.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
A call to leaders of the free world Sir, - I would like to express my deep gratitude to the leaders of the free world for their sensitive consideration of the issue of our kidnapped sons. My son, Udi, and Eldad Regev were abducted to Lebanon on July 12, 2006. We have not heard from them since; neither has the Red Cross. I would like to point out that what has happened to us - a brutal kidnapping followed by a refusal to provide any sign of life - is no longer a matter concerning Israel alone. It concerns European countries too, and, indeed, all people of good will. Radical Islam, with its draconian laws stemming mainly from the Shi'ite interpretation of the Koran, is taking root in Europe at an alarming pace. Anyone familiar with Islamic history knows that this Islam not only rejects Israel and the Jews but also all "infidels" - citizens of the free world. If European countries contributed their utmost to saving our beloved sons, that in itself would be a victory over the medieval, ominous forces threatening the free world. When the leaders of that free world call upon Hizbullah to provide us with a sign of life from our sons and demand speedy negotiations aimed at releasing them, it will signal the heinous organization that in the face of the unacceptable violence it has inflicted upon us, the free world is resolutely holding to its values. There are ways to act; for the sake of future generations, we must act. I call upon the free world to help us free our sons; its leaders have the power to do so ("To save lives, negotiate with the devil," Gershon Baskin, February 26). MIKI GOLDWASSER Nahariya Valuable movie Sir, - Manfred Gerstenfeld was far too heavy-handed in criticizing Fitna and its producer, Geert Wilders ("Not the bash it could have been," April 2). Wilders has made an accurate documentary of enormous benefit to Israel. Gerstenfeld may be technically correct in claiming that the violent passages in the Koran do not necessarily lead to violent acts, but the increasing numbers of people who see the origin of Muslim violence in the Koran base their conclusions on firm doctrinal footing. Making this sort of connection allows people to start understanding Israel's predicament with Islam as having a basis in Islamic doctrine at least as much as in objective reality. Denying that connection opens the door to explaining Islamic rage at Israel as being caused by Israeli misdeeds. Affirming it shows Israel as the victim of religious bigotry. No system of ideas should be exempt from critical examination, however politically incorrect. DAVID KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont Build it & they'll come... Sir, - The drop in aliya could be countered by expanding the role of Nefesh B'Nefesh and making sure it has the cooperation of every government agency and ministry. Its success is unparalleled in the history of Israel. Its professionalism and lack of political spin makes it the foremost vehicle for aliya ("MKs to begin pushing for more Western aliya," March 12). Israel is blessed with scientific, mathematical and environmental projects that can touch the hearts and minds of young people. Special efforts should be made to recruit them worldwide to work specifically on such dreams which can become reality. Our goal should be to make every Jew in the world believe he has a place in Israel. That can happen, and if we build an infrastructure that makes sense, young Jews will come. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem ...no, we won't Sir, - Michael Freund ponders what Israel can do to induce more Jews to make aliya ("How to reverse the decline in aliya," April 2). I come from a modern Orthodox community whose members should be prime candidates for aliya, but hardly anyone is going. We don't like the way the "settlers" are treated; we see ourselves as settlers. We don't see Israel really defending itself. We see Ehud Olmert giving away Jerusalem and the West Bank. We see an unbelievable amount of corruption. Israel no longer seems a place for practicing Jews to live. Finally, we see you as losers. No one likes a loser. ABE KRIEGER Highland Park, New Jersey Men of worth Sir, - Shmuley Boteach's designation of Eliot Spitzer as "self-loathing" (March 17) just won't wash. To start with, his use of "self-loathing" is not too clear. Narcissistic means "self-loving," so self-loathing must be the opposite of narcissistic, right? But treating oneself to a $5,000-an-hour hooker sounds very narcissistic. Maybe by "self-loathing" Boteach just means "feeling inadequate." Anyway, let's accept that modern culture has "raised a generation of men to believe that they are anonymous unless they accumulate money or fame." So why did Spitzer, who has plenty of money and fame, need to seek a sense of personal worth in the arms of a prostitute? According to Boteach's logic, there should be a direct, not inverse, relationship between worldly success and faithfulness in marriage. Rich and powerful men should make the best husbands. But the Spitzers and the Clintons just don't fit the analysis. Conventional wisdom would suggest the opposite, namely, that very rich and powerful men develop an inflated sense of personal worth and therefore feel they are entitled to certain pleasures commensurate with their achievements. Don't most women know that if you marry a rich and powerful man, the chances of his remaining faithful are quite small? DAVID GOLDSTEIN Jerusalem Converting Jews Sir, - A personal comment on Shmuley Boteach's "Would Jesus want to convert the Jews?" (April 1): I've been a Southern Baptist Christian for 55 years and I've never met a person who tried to convert a Jew to Christianity. I've never heard the subject talked about in Church, only read about it in the newspaper. As a Christian, it is my belief that I should tell anyone who will listen about my beliefs because I believe it is the only way to be accepted by God; but there is nothing in my belief that tells me I should force anything on someone else. From time to time a sect will show up at our home and my wife tells them to take a hike, but I like to sit and talk with them about their theology. I've never seen anyone get violent while defending their religious beliefs. Perhaps Rabbi Boteach's concern is exaggerated? PAUL DAVID SWINFORD Geneseo, Illinois Sir, - It is an error to persuade a Jew to become a Christian, or vice versa - a violation of conscience. Welcome, yes, to those who come, but only spontaneously. Each religion is, theoretically, loving, generous and fraternal. But what is done in the name of religion is often dreadful. The decline of the Jewish people, chiefly in the Diaspora, will not be stemmed by conversions to Judaism but by a struggle against assimilation, and by having larger families. JACQUES TOLUB Ra'anana Too much of a good sing Sir, - When Israel Radio started its Voice of Music broadcasts about 20 years ago, lovers of classical music were very happy. But, lately, the person responsible for the programming has been putting on too much vocal music for my taste. So the first thing I do is put my crystal glasses away in a cupboard until the danger to them has passed. Those sopranos could be useful in keeping night-shift workers awake. HETTY MAHLER Haifa