August 26: Jews must stay away from this controversy

The Armenian people's plight makes a Jew's temptation to respond irresistible, but..

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
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Jews must stay away from this controversy Sir, - David Harris's "Armenians, Turks and Jews - protecting historical truth through dialogue" (August 23) was such a warm and humane piece, the temptation to respond was irresistible. My late father and his brothers were conscripted into the German army in WWI and served bravely for years, including on the front lines; yet despite all the iron crosses and similar distinctions they received they were fortunate to escape their homeland barely less than 20 years later, their only reason for having to flee being their Jewishness. This despite the influence and contribution of Jews in Germany up to the Nazi period. This, and the Jewish experience in many other countries and other epochs, leads to the unavoidable conclusion that our efforts and sacrifices for the rights of other peoples have never tilted the scales appreciably when it really mattered. Mr. Harris is clearly an admirable and highly educated Jewish American, who can surely contribute much in America. All well and good; we Jews should contribute to the good of our host countries. But he would do well to remember that the American part of his make-up can be scrapped by foes, the Jewish part never. Consequently we have no business meddling in the moral-historical-political problems of other peoples. The claim that we do so simply for the sake of truth will only be seized upon by our foes as proof of our intention to manipulate others for our own interests, and of our nefarious powers in this respect. Any good will it may gain us will, at best, be short-lived. I urge the AJC, ADL, Bnei Brith et al: Stay out of this. There remain plenty of purely Jewish problems to mind. W.J. STRAUSS Jerusalem Come on, Tommy! Sir, - Tommy Lapid makes as much non-sense as a columnist as he did as a politician ("Road to nowhere," August 22). He writes that there is no one to talk to among the Palestinians "and nothing that can be trusted: not Oslo, Camp David, Madrid or withdrawal from Gush Katif." Then he calls the settlers in the West Bank "zealots" because they won't make room for Hamas to come in and take their place and bomb our airport. They are "zealots" because they won't trust a government that lied to the "zealots" in Gush Katif about how they would be resettled. Talk sense, Tommy, or stop talking! AVIGDOR BONCHEK Jerusalem Sleepless in the future Sir, - The psychologists who trained the young troops to ignore the pleas, cries and tears of the Gush Katif people seem quite proud of their accomplishment. They crow that only a small fraction of those soldiers sought psychological therapy. But it is too early to assess the situation. Many years from now, when their sense of morality is more developed, they may have sleepless nights with visions of what they did. Such a generation will eventually resent its forced immunization to oppression, suffering and genuine tragedy ("Engaging the disengagers," Orit Arfa, UpFront, August 10). SHLOMO SPIRO Kfar Saba Mother's rights, baby's rights Sir, - Freedom of choice based on informed consent is the cornerstone of the education programs of the Israel Childbirth Education center. Women have the basic right to choose how to give birth and whether or not to breastfeed their babies. No health professional or lactation counsellor has the right to bully a woman who decides to bottle-feed. However, we also consider the rights of the baby, and in the light of years of research into the immediate and long-term benefits of breastfeeding we aim to provide maximum education and support to women who do want to breastfeed. Mothers who choose to bottle-feed are not short of support: The formula companies invest large sums in marketing, which still includes infiltrating into the hospitals and health institutions and providing samples in gift packs, which then afford access to potential customers; offering gifts and weekends to health practitioners; and providing a hot line to customers. Although the Ministry of Health supports the World Health Organization's Code of Marketing of Artificial Baby Foods, the Innocenti Declaration and the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (as mentioned in Evi Adams's letter "What baby-friendly means," August 23), very little money is allocated to the support and promotion of breastfeeding. Organizations such as ours and La Leche run without any government funding and exist only because of the dedication of its members. Hospitals do not have qualified lactation consultants on duty round the clock. Rooming-in, which is officially provided by most hospitals, is often sabotaged because mothers not requesting this have to share a room with those who do, and then complain about the disturbance; and there is no organized hot-line for women with problems and questions. WENDY BLUMFIELD Hon. President Israel Childbirth Education Center Haifa A shul life is a full life Sir, - Your report on the claim that shul-goers live longer than others neglected to mention that the Talmud states the exact same thing: "Rabbi Yochanan said, '[Going to shul morning and night] is what enabled them [to live long outside the land of Israel],' as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi told his children, 'Go to shul morning and night in order to have a long life.'" (Berachot 8a). ("Study: Shul can help you live longer," August 22). REUVEN SUBAR Jerusalem