August 22: Herzl or Ahad Ha'am?

Is now the time to minimize the importance of Israel - or to maximize it?

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
Herzl or Ahad Ha'am? Sir, - Elliot Jager's open statement that in view of the last hard month he is switching sides from Theodor Herzl to Ahad Ha'am on the question of the State of Israel as a means of saving the Jewish people seemed an ill-advised, inappropriate and almost cowardly change of mind in the face of our enemies' hostility ("Herzl and Rajab 27," August 21). Is now the time to minimize the importance of Israel - or to maximize it? If our ultimate hope lies in the Diaspora, we should all have joined the Diaspora in the last half-century instead of coming here, living here and dying here in the hope of fulfilling Herzl's dream. Jager says, "Ahad Ha'am was no wimp," and that he believed in self-defense. I think even Ahad Ha'am would today emphasize that self-defense, instead of moving our loyalties to the Diaspora in place of the homeland. MENDEL MENDELSON Jerusalem Israelis make me ashamed Sir, - I'm ashamed that I was safe in Australia while you Israelis were suffering terrorist attacks of many types from many sources. I'm hoping to retire soon and make a new life in Israel, for whatever time is left to me. AARON GOVENDIR Sydney Excellently amateurish Sir, - Independent commissions of enquiry are very important, but nothing will change in this country until we deal seriously with the amateurish way our governments operate ("PM to appoint new panel to probe war," August 21). This is true of all governments from the establishment of the state until today. In-depth study of state comptrollers' reports should be compulsory reading for all members of any commission set up. They will find most of the answers before they start their investigation! We might be a shining example of democracy in the Middle East, but if anything endangers our very survival it is the non-professional way our governments go about their business. We have progressed admirably in so many fields, but in this one we excel at being amateurs. This is no secret in Israel or abroad, being the opinion of many experts who have visited us over the decades. DAVID GOSHEN Kiryat Ono Injuring ourselves Sir, - Caroline Glick's "The coming wars" (August 18) showed the necessity for a new thinking. Israel, indeed the West, is in a target-rich environment. It's not just the command structure of Hizbullah we have to go after, or those willing to pick up a rifle or plant a bomb for Hizbullah. We have to have other targets, like military bases in Syria and Iran; or schools which have been turned into indoctrination centres. The list is long. Frankly, we injure ourselves by shortening the list of targets. DAVID W. LINCOLN Edmonton, Alberta A clear violation Sir, - The latest attacks by Israeli forces were a clear violation of the UN proposal by which Israel agreed to abide ("Commandos foil arms transfer from Syria to Hizbullah," August 20). I urge Prime Minister Olmert and his military advisers to make sure they're all on the same page. The whole world is watching, and any breach of Israel's agreement to have the Lebanese Army, as well as a UN force, monitor the situation while structuring a meaningful peace pact is in grave danger of falling apart. There are enough folks looking to derail this truce without Israel giving them even more reason because of its provocative moves. HERBERT W. STARK Massapequa, New York War morals Sir, - Re "US rabbis urge change in IDF war code" (August 21), specifically the quote by Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu: "Anti-Semites demand that we use Christian morality while our enemies act like barbarians." Though not intended, the article could be construed to mean that Christian morals in war are higher than the IDF's. The Dresden and Tokyo firebomb raids during WWII specifically targeted the wooden frame houses of both cities. Incendiary bombs were used to increase civilian casualties, which were higher than the combined Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. The statement by the Rabbinical Council of America naming Hizbullah's moral violations is spot-on. Hizbullah uses hospitals, ambulances, private dwellings, mosques and human shields to launch attacks. If its people die, they're happy for the publicity. If our people die, they're happy for the publicity. All of these are direct violations of the Geneva Convention. Yet none have been condemned by the UN, Kofi Annan, or the countries which may send peacekeepers. DOV SILVERMAN Ra'anana Self-censorship Sir, - Allow me to add an additional charge to Anshel Pfeffer's "Killing the messenger" (August 18). Reporters did exercise self-censorship - they lulled the Israeli public into believing all was quiet in the North. Where were the media for six years? Why was there hardly a murmur about the buildup of arms along the border in southern Lebanon? Where was the passion and indignation the media can rouse so well? The "right to know" what was happening along the northern border was censored by the very sources of information that should have exposed it. One way the media can regain some semblance of public trust is for individual reporters and journalists to stop slanting the news according to their own political agendas. TOVA GERTA TEITELBAUM Haifa PR folly Sir, - I would definitely boycott the BBC for its blatantly anti-Israel stance ("Don't boycott the BBC," Stephen Pollard, August 15). For years I have complained to the corporation about its Jerusalem studio backdrop, which shows a picture of the Dome of the Rock, pleading with it to have an olive tree instead. I have, more importantly, written to our Foreign Ministry pleading that Israeli spokespeople refuse to appear in front of the current backdrop. Yet naively, stupidly, Israeli PR "experts" help spread this message of linkage from time immemorial between Jerusalem and Islam. Yes, I despair of the BBC and would prevent it from operating in Israel, but I would equally ask Israelis, from Ehud Barak to Tzipi Livni, to stop appearing on the international media. They make fools of themselves and, by extension, of Israel's side of the story. LEVI J. ATTIAS Gibraltar/Ma'aleh Adumim Creative thinking Sir, - David Forman cites American high school students' "obsession" with building extracurricular profiles for their college resumes as one reason they don't attend summer programs in Israel ("The 'Protestantization' of American Jews," August 16). Why not create - and market! - more internships and volunteer programs in Israel for these students? My son participated in Israel's Science OlympiYeda and attended the Technion's "Sci-Tech" Research Program. Both excellent summer programs enabled him to pursue his interest in science and technology while spending time in Israel. The fact that they were a boost to his college resume was icing on the cake. MICHELLE GORDON Chevy Chase, Maryland Support & survival Sir, - If I believed that Israel's survival depended on the good graces of the UN, as Amnon Rubinstein apparently does ("The lessons of Lebanon - I," August 20), I'd have been packing my bags long ago. In fact, in this past Lebanon war it was the United States alone, and specifically President Bush, who supported Israel unwaveringly. It's frightening to realize that Bush will preside for only two more years, after which he may likely be replaced by someone less sympathetic to Israel. Thankfully, the God of Israel will never forsake his people. And the sooner we realize the reason for our survival, the more efficiently we will be able to focus our efforts. Only then will He bring peace to the world. SHARON LINDENBAUM Rehovot Ramon the Tall Sir, - As far as I am concerned, Haim Ramon is now 10 feet tall, having shown the most important priorities for a politician: integrity and character. Accused of misconduct, rightly or wrongly, he resigned his position. Any chance of his example being imitated by the motley crew awaiting trial or sentencing? Who knows, it might even become standard practice! ("Ramon hopes for quick return after resigning," August 21.) PHIL FRYDMAN Netanya Israel-Bosnia in Beirut? Sir, - Re FIBA Europe keeps games out of Israel (August 20): I suggest that Israel request that the game with Bosnia, scheduled for August 31, be held in Beirut. It would demonstrate that the recent Israeli offensive was not against the people of Lebanon; give the Lebanese government a chance to show its independence of Syria and Iran; and boost Beirut's shattered economy a bit. Fervent Israeli fans, who go everywhere, would try to attend, setting the stage for the kind of "ping-pong" diplomacy that brought China together with the world. Finally, just to prove that Lebanon is a civilized nation, Israeli players would be better protected in Beirut than elsewhere outside Israel. DAN VOGEL Jerusalem Next year in Jerusalem Sir, - Each year on Pessah since the restoration of our Holy City we have called out joyously, "Next year in Jerusalem!" This leaves us wondering, "But are we not already here?" Each passing day makes us realize what kind of "Jerusalem" we are yearning for:
  • one without a Kofi Annan telling us how to run our country;
  • one without a George W. Bush scolding us for "disproportionate responses" to those who would destroy us;
  • one where the priests will be restored to their Temple service and the Levites to their song and their music; and a Temple that will bring down the Divine Presence on all of us. "Next year in Jerusalem!" YAAKOV JACOBS Jerusalem