August 5: Can't understand it

I find myself at a loss for words to justify Israel's action in forcibly evacuating Arabs from Sheikh Jarrah.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Can't understand it Sir, - As one who often writes letters to the media to protest against Israel-bashing, I find myself at a loss for words to justify Israel's action in forcibly evacuating Arabs from Sheikh Jarrah ("Jews & Sheikh Jarrah," August 4). Although your editorial convinced me that the act was legally justified, in no way can we justify the brazen way in which it was carried out. Certainly, alternative approaches could have been tried. For instance, why weren't these families offered alternative housing? And now that we have a Minister for Minority Affairs, where is he when we need him? BEVERLY LEWIN Ramat Hasharon Earmark of civilization Sir, - We are all truly sorry for human beings who are losing their homes because they lived in Sheikh Jarrah ("Three arrested in protest over Sheikh Jarrah homes," August 4). However, they were there illegally since this property has been owned for over 20 years by a Jew. It is private property, and private property is one of the earmarks of civilization. No one cares about people whose homes have been demolished and who happen to be Jews. Police have wrought havoc with their personal property. Sheikh Jarrah is a lovely area, an integral part of unified Jerusalem; the rights of Jerusalem's citizens cannot be determined by foreign powers with their own vested interests. Jerusalem is dear to the hearts of Jews worldwide and many, many Christians. This city, united, flourishing and the capital of Israel can be the model for integrated cities in Europe and elsewhere. THELMA SUSSWEIN Jerusalem Defense... Sir, - I never thought I would see the day when I would feel the need to defend Haaretz's Aluf Benn, but after reading Marc Stanley's "The chutzpah of Obama's Jewish critics" (August 4), I feel compelled to do so. Benn, who is likely one of the few Israeli Jews who still trusts Barack Obama, wrote his New York Times op-ed in an effort to help Obama deal with the fact that 94 percent of Israeli Jews believe that Obama is not pro-Israel. That the response to Benn's piece was a vicious personal attack on him by one of Obama's main supporters in the Jewish community speaks volumes about the level of tolerance for opposing viewpoints among Obama's supporters, among "progressive" Americans, and probably in the White House itself. Personally, I hope Obama ignores Benn's sincerely offered advice. Obama has nothing to say that Israeli Jews want to hear. CARL M. SHERER Jerusalem ...and attack Sir, - I think that you are not giving balanced reporting. Jeff Barak just presents all the negatives he perceives about PM Netanyahu. It is a diatribe I see regularly. I don't see someone defending Netanyahu from Barak's obsessive, continuous attacks. Anyone can attack someone where the other side is not presented ("Netanyahu's self-inflicted crisis," July 27). MENACHEM EPSTEIN Har Nof The Israel you want Sir, - I read Ian Sheinfeld's "A black day for Israel's gay community" (August 3) with shock and sadness. If I was living in Israel, I would have felt a bit excluded, reading what he wrote. I am a heterosexual woman and I was surprised that Mr. Sheinfeld calls upon homosexual and lesbian citizens to take to the streets to protest and fight for their rights. If anything similar to what happened in Tel Aviv happened in my city, or in other parts of Germany, I of course would go and march in protest - as I would if someone was killed for the color of their skin or their religion (both of which have happened). These atrocities and violations of rights concern everybody! The rights of others are my rights too. The freedom of gay and lesbian people to live and love like everybody else matters to me. Why not call on everybody to protest together with the communities directly affected, to show that this is not the Israel you want? SUSANNE LUITHLEN Cologne Sir, - Two Israeli realities collided at the junction between Ahad Ha'am and Nahmani streets in Tel Aviv on Saturday - tolerance, democracy and pluralism vs terror and violence. I do not know if there are many other countries in the world where so many voices openly supporting the gay community can be heard. Mostly depending on geographical location, one can move between pockets of amazing tolerance and open-mindedness, and pockets of fear and hate. It is almost like traveling between two different countries - one boasting an open, democratic and colorful way of life while the other barricades itself deeper and deeper inside a dark and stifling mindset led by archaic dogma, intolerance and prejudice. As advocates of a free society, we do not have the luxury of sitting back to watch where we'll end up. Every freedom we hold dear, every aspect of our personal lives is under threat, being held at gunpoint - on the corner of Nahmani and Ahad Ha'Am, at Rabin Square, at the Karta parking lot in Jerusalem, at the Knesset, and on the street. Every homophobic expression, every act repressing freedom of speech or movement, every racist joke endangers our way of living. Don't be afraid to let your voice be heard; let the hate-spewing talk-backers know that their comments are not within the consensus. Show up at rallies. Write letters and talk to friends. It is up to us to craft the Israel we want to live in - and it won't be done by "tsk-tsk"-ing and shaking our heads. ADAM ETZION Moshav Sdei Hemed Sir, - We're talking about a group of people determined to achieve freedom of lifestyle, behavior, dress and moral standards. Their moral standards are only those which each one defines for him- or herself. A society must have a consensus of right and wrong in order to exist and prosper. The gay approach does not allow for this. Instead, as this group continually looks to establish unique lifestyles, each "gay" setting his own standards, slowly but surely the commonly accepted codes weaken and eventually disappear. Thus what was once unthinkable becomes commonplace. People in our society have learned to disregard accepted moral codes, even laws; which has led to the point of these tragic killings occurring. SEYMOUR SCHMERLER Petah Tikva 'A nickel a pickle' Sir, - Re "Manhattan kosher pickle-seller packs up for Brooklyn's Boro Park" (August 3): We are happy that one of America's oldest pickle companies is moving rather than closing down. It means we Brooklynites have something to look forward to. As baby-boomers, we remember the saying "A nickel a pickle." It was a great treat every time we visited the Lower East Side. Guss' Pickles, featured in the movie Crossing Delancey, was a landmark, never missed out on walking tours in that part of the city. We all have our favorites pickles. My husband's is the lip-smacking and crisp half-sours, mine the very sour variety. SHEILA ROTENBERG Petah Tikva Bearers of trust Sir, - Re "MK proposes currency motto to 'remind Israelis of Judaism': Shas's Ze'ev wants 'We believe in the creator of the world' on shekel bills" (July 29): In a variation of the thinking of my late rabbi, Shlomo Carlebach, I would suggest that the shekel rather propose the idea "God puts His trust in us." (Letters, July 31) M. VAN THIJN Jerusalem