August 6: Peaceniks' dubious role

It is clear from eyewitness accounts that these "peace activists" play a role in orchestrating violent Palestinian protests like those in Ni'lin.

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
Peaceniks' dubious role Sir, - I wholeheartedly support "B'Tselem to demand police inquiry into second shooting death in Ni'lin clashes" (August 5). But this investigation should include the role of left-wing "peace" groups such as Peace Now and B'Tselem itself in West Bank protests during the last few months. It is clear from eyewitness accounts, video footage shot by Jewish residents in the West Bank and remarks by the police commander in Hebron that these "peace activists" play a role in orchestrating violent Palestinian protests like those in Ni'lin. So let this investigation go ahead. YOCHANAN VISSER Efrat Sir, - "Indictments expected in Ni'lin shooting" (August 3) failed to mention that the bullets fired were rubber bullets; that they were fired at the victim's toe; and that photographs of the injured toe revealed the injury was not serious. These omissions, more typical of media outlets such as CNN, led readers to imagine a much more grave and sinister incident than actually occurred. R. RUBIN Ma'aleh Adumim Who's a victim? Sir, - I could not agree more with Seth J. Frantzman ("The real victims are..." August 4). The usual cry in cases of terror or crime is: Seek the root causes! And, on the surface, what could be more reasonable? But how far do you stretch the roots? Behind the root that one side prefers lies another root preferred by the other side. Did Israel kick out the Palestinians? Who kicked the Israelites out of the land 2,000 years ago? Did the West exploit the East and the Arabs? What drove them to do that? While the burglar is burglarizing your house is no time to ask what brought about the demoralization that led him to commit the crime. You call the police. When you have more time, you study the background to criminal motivation. The search for root causes and "true victims" impedes deterrence, prevents justice and, finally, brings punishment and shame to the immediate victims, who, as this op-ed pointed out, are the only real victims. MENDEL MENDELSSOHN Jerusalem Beyond the king Sir, - In your editorial "Interfaith, Saudi-style" (August 3) you gave sober expression to a very complicated subject. King Abdullah may be sincere, even if so much of the fanaticism that threatens his own kingdom is largely "home-grown." However, the problem goes much deeper than even the difficulties Abdullah faces from his own clerical establishment. It is found at the very roots of normative Islam. Islam enacted doctrines against Jews as early as the 8th century, when it became clear that the Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula were not ready to accept Muhammad's new religion. Codified in the 11th century as the Covenant of 'Umar, this series of regulations included distinctive clothing and a badge designed to separate Muslims from non-Muslims and preserve the superiority of the former through the humiliation of the latter. (In this, Islam preceded by a century similar Christian legislation enacted by the Fourth Lateral Council in 1215 under the aegis of Pope Innocent III.) This Muslim legislation has a long and tragic history that also affected other non-Muslim minorities, particularly Christians. The suffering of the Jews since the rise of Islam is masterfully chronicled by Andrew Bostom in his recently published The Legacy of Anti-Semitism in Islam, ably reviewed by Sam Ser in UpFront ("A radical rethink," June 20). As Dr. Boston phrased it: "When I put together the Koranic verses on the Jews, they read like an indictment, prosecution and conviction." How can even 10 interfaith conferences correct such a history at the core of Islam? Even in our own day, the Jews of Arab Islamic countries were expelled following brutal persecution. The change has to come from within Islam, and that will take much more than King Abdullah can achieve. MALKA HILLEL SHULEWITZ Jerusalem Mutual disdain... Sir, - I would like to thank Michael Freund for "Healing the rift within Orthodoxy" (July 23), a topic which has deeply concerned me since making aliya exactly a year ago from Manchester, UK. I was always taught to have respect for rabbis, but here one finds little evidence of that. The open hatred of the religious Zionist camp toward the haredim usually centers around army service, and that is an area which needs to be addressed. Conversely, the disdain of haredim for their Zionist brethren shows a complete lack of sensitivity. Whether Mr. Freund's suggestions are the solution, I am not sure; but at least he has created a forum for further discussion. SHIMMY PINE Jerusalem ...and the Messiah's donkey Sir, - Michael Freund's op-ed reminded me of the time I overheard a conversation between two stewardesses on a British Airways flight to Tel Aviv. One was trying to explain to the other the difference between kosher and glatt kosher meals. She said: "A Jew who eats kosher will eat a special kosher meal, but a Jew who eats a special kosher meal won't eat kosher." Methinks this was a not-unrealistic summing up of the situation within Orthodoxy. Mr. Freund set out three steps to "mend the schism within Orthodoxy" - but if we get to even step one, we will have succeeded in reading the license plate on the Messiah's donkey. SHLOMO (ALAN) KOOR Petah Tikva Small change Sir, - Evelyn Gordon suggests ending the yeshiva student stipend in order to encourage haredim to go into the army and the workplace ("Tolerance, without state funding," July 31). But does she know how much the monthly stipend actually is? It is impossible to live off it. I can't imagine a few hundred shekels a month changing anybody's lifestyle. MENDEL BERNSTEIN Ramat Beit Shemesh Peace without injustice Sir, - In "To fight or not to fight on the home front" (July 24), Ira Rifkin described a meeting he had with me in Annapolis, Maryland. I am the vice chair of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington, DC. For the record, I do not think that all American Jews support Israeli policies without question. I am well aware that there is a steady, vigorous debate within Israel. I also firmly believe that many Israelis are sincerely troubled by the collective punishment of Palestinians in reaction to attacks by militants on Israeli towns. I have spent many hours in discussions with American Jews and Israelis, and that experience convinces me that the Jewish tradition of moral justice will ultimately result in a fairly-structured peace agreement allowing Palestinians to live in peace without the injustices resulting from the current military occupation. We must each understand each other's sense of vulnerability before we can resolve this conflict successfully. GEORGE GORAYEB Annapolis, Maryland Stomach for the fight Sir, - Your readers may be interested to know that most Indians (Hindus) admire brave Israel for its courage and determination to fight against Arab terrorism. A recent report in the Hindustan Times mentioned Reena Pushkarna's Indian restaurants in Israel. She supplies 1,500 tonnes of packed Indian food per annum to the Israeli armed forces. We are proud of her success. HRIDAY NARAIN Allahabad, India