April 8: Festival funding

In this time of so much unemployment, I think the money for this week's TA festivities would have been better spent on helping the poor.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Festival funding Sir, - The pictures of this week's Tel Aviv festivities, which will continue all this year to celebrate 100 years of the first modern Jewish city, were delightful. Then I learned the price of this extravaganza, and was astounded. In this time of so much unemployment, I think the money would be better spent on helping poor and needy families meet their daunting costs ("Record layoffs of 20,072 in March," April 6). JUDY FORD Petah Tikva Explain it Sir, - Did anyone else see the absurdity in "Hamas 'mega-tunnels' would enable smuggling of rockets in one piece" (April 7)? Didn't we just go into Gaza and kill hundreds of people, brave the wrath of the world and endure tens of investigations into our possible "war crimes" specifically to stop these tunnels? ANDREA MORIAH Har Adar The facts? Irrelevant Sir, - "Head of Rabin Academy to 'Post': IDF in Gaza tried to protect civilians in the most crowded place in the world" (April 7) was deeply disturbing. First, Danny Zamir is incredibly naive if he believes something as explosive as "allegations" about soldiers' experiences in Gaza contained in "an internal newsletter" could be posted on the Internet and not picked up by the media. Secondly, he seems to single out the foreign media, blaming them for blowing the reports out of proportion. Here he is disingenuous, at best. It was the local press that "broke" the story - in actuality not a story - and it has published very little saying it erred. In fact Larry Derfner, in a Post article last week, advanced the Orwellian argument that even if the specific facts upon which the Israeli press based its stories were wrong, it's of little account because such terrible things happened in the Gaza offensive that accuracy doesn't really matter. One can only conclude that when the media criticize the IDF and Israel, we are now to understand that the facts are irrelevant. BARRY EISENBERG Jerusalem ...indeed! Sir, - Hallelujah! Israel is vindicated at last! When the soldiers' testimonies on acts of brutality and vandalism in Gaza first came to light, the Post labeled Danny Zamir a leftist who evaded his duty as a soldier to protect settlers in the West Bank and therefore could not be believed. But when he is under great pressure to show he is not a traitor who betrayed Israel - oh, what a different man he is! Suddenly his account of refusing orders is given. Suddenly the entire main report in the newspaper - with a headline that would have made any Soviet paper proud - is about him, and he is allowed to speak in defense of himself and the army ("The personal code of the IDF soldier: 'May our camp be pure,'" April 7). He is now a totally credible person. Yet even a simple look at his statements reveals that he not once says he believes the soldiers were lying. Zamir can be excused - and indeed justified - for defending himself and the IDF. It is the Post's attitude that is shameful. For you take it for granted that the IDF "investigation" is gospel truth - while other media outlets in Israel at least bothered to highlight that it was concluded in a record time of only one week, and that most soldiers would rather lie than betray their comrades. It is your paper that willfully ignores the flood of testimonies coming from Gaza - almost on a daily basis - about IDF soldiers shooting innocent men, women and children fleeing their homes, about killing medical personnel, about a civilian death toll much higher than Israel claims, all backed with strong evidence. No, the Palestinian side of things will always remain a lie for you, and evidence on grave Israeli wrongdoing is not for a once-honorable paper that is rapidly becoming a mouthpiece for the propaganda of the most moral army in the world. MEIR LAVI Tel Aviv Displaced in Azerbaijan Sir, - Mark Weiss was correct in describing the legacy of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict as "bitter" ("The Karabakh war's bitter legacy," April 6). He was also right to focus on heart-breaking stories of refugees. Yet had Mr. Weiss visited Azerbaijan and not limited his reporting to Armenia, he would have found stories of exile and personal tragedies in overwhelmingly greater numbers, as the displaced population in Azerbaijan is much more numerous than the article suggests - close to one million people. Moreover, the majority of these people are not refugees from Armenia but internally displaced people in their own country as a result of Armenia's policy of ethnic cleansing of the occupied territories. The bitter legacy of this war and self-isolation of Armenia result from the policy of exclusive ethnicity-based expansionism, an approach rejected by its more diverse and inclusive neighbors such as Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Armenia could and should be an integral part of our region, sharing in its relative prosperity. For that,it needs to think about the future more than about its past and adopt a vision which extends beyond the narrow limits of ethnicity. ELIN SULEYMANOV Consul General of Azerbaijan Los Angeles Just great... Sir, - I wish to thank The Jerusalem Post for printing Howard Smith's marvelous op-ed on Birkat Hahama, which takes place today ("Blessing the sun: Astronomical absurdity, or spiritual encounter? April 6). What made this piece so special was that it was written by a Harvard professor. It conveyed a feeling of greatness about the universe, creation, the Jewish people - and, most of all, God Himself. JOYCE KAHN Petah Tikva Sir, - Howard Smith attempted to debunk the rabbinical Blessing of the Sun date which, in his considered opinion, is at least two weeks later than it should be. He told us that, actually, the sun was not created "on a Wednesday, nor 5769 years ago. It was created 4.6 billion years ago." So his reason for celebrating Pessah is to "internalize and propagate its symbolic meaning," whatever that means to him. Personally I think it's important for all individuals, especially those based at Harvard, to have a venue for their theories. But I wonder, can Mr. Smith give us the exact time of the creation of the sun - or the universe for that matter - within a two-week span? YAACOV PETERSEIL Jerusalem Ten drops of wine Sir, - I beg to differ with Judy Bamberger ("My 10 drops of wine," Letters, April 7) and the common assumption that we spill 10 drops from our full cup of joy during the Seder because the Egyptians were drowning in the sea. The citation refers to the angels, who have no right to rejoice over the death of God's creatures. But, obviously, the Israelites did rejoice, because they sing the Song at the Sea, which expresses relish over the drowning of the enemy. They had a right to rejoice. As a matter of fact, the Hagada multiplies the plagues from 10 to 200 and 250. I think the reason we spill 10 drops is to count, with satisfaction, the 10 punishments of our persecutors. RABBI JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem God at the helm Sir, - Why should any nation tell you that you cannot protect your people? I do not think you should remove the security fence. Israel did not start the war of 1967. And if those surrounding nations that did start the war had accomplished what they intended to do to Israel, do you think they would return land to it, as Israel is being urged to do? God will have the final say. We had better listen to what He has said already. In the end, those who try to destroy Israel will be the ones destroyed. ALICE RUSSELL BILLINGS Montana CORRECTION Daniel Brenner is the executive director of Birthright NEXT, and not as stated in "Saperstein named 'hottest rabbi' by US magazine," (April 6).