December 21: Whose heart is hard?

Israel, I believe, should try to help those who, while trying to escape persecution, end up in Israel because, yes, we are destined to be a nation of compassion.

Whose heart is hard?
Sir, – Jason Gitlin (“Avoiding a Jewish heart of hardness,” Comment & Features, December 19) somehow charges that those who wish to preserve Israel as a Jewish State have a “heart of hardness.”
How I wish I heard such cries from the same people when the Jews of Gush Katif were cruelly expelled and witnessed the total physical and spiritual destruction of what once were blossoming and fruitful communities. I wish I heard them cry out for people still living in caravans or who never regained their livelihoods, whose families were destroyed. I wish I heard them cry out against Arab terror in the Land of Israel. I wish I heard them cry out against the calls for Judea and Samaria to be free of Jews, as happened in Nazi Germany.
Also, how does Gitlin dare compare Israel to what Pharaoh did in ancient Egypt, enslaving the Jews? Is Israel enslaving these refugees? How does he compare rabbis who want to maintain Jewish communities in the Jewish state to the “trepidation and insecurity faced by Pharaoh?”
There is a major difference in these stories. Pharaoh indeed feared the Jews increasing and taking over or joining Egypt’s enemies in a war against it. Jews in the State of Israel also fear the Arabs and other Muslims (who have come here trying to, understandably, evade persecution in their own lands) wanting to take over and join our other enemies in war against us. The difference is, many of the Arabs and Muslims living and coming here are by and large of the religious and cultural belief that the Jews have no right to be here. They openly state that they will take over and do what it takes to do so.
Israel, I believe, should try to help those who, while trying to escape persecution, end up in Israel because, yes, we are destined to be a nation of compassion. That does not, though, mean permanently taking in all of these people to live in this country where Jews have the only chance in the world to live as a free and non-persecuted Jewish nation.
...apparently, Britain’s
Sir, – The kindest term that I can think of to describe the UK’s refusal to divulge information about the soldiers abducted in the 1982 Sultan Yaqub operation is despicable (“UK refuses release of Israeli MIA’s data,” December 19). Another would be hypocritical. And a third, unconscionable. Great Britain promulgates a policy of censure, divestment and boycott vis a vis Israel for the latter’s alleged human rights abuses. Isn’t it an abuse to deny a parent the right to know the fate of a child?
I met Yehuda Baumel in 1996 at the funeral of Yosef Fink. He was glad, for lack of a better word, for the Finks, mutual friends of ours, who finally had a gravesite for their son. The Finks had waited 10 years for that funeral. The Baumels had already been waiting in vain for 14 years for some word of their son, Zachary. I recall Baumel saying to me that all he wanted in his lifetime was to have closure. He didn’t get it.
As the mother of combat soldiers, I know about waiting. Waiting for a telephone call that all is well. Waiting for a son to come walking through the door. Waiting for a Shabbat with the family together. It is inconceivable to me that socalled civilized people could knowingly inflict the punishment of not knowing on parents who have committed no crime. And for what? To protect their relationship with the freedom-loving Syrians?
It would be too much to expect the world community to take relevant action against Britain for withholding this information for 28 years. However, I sincerely hope that the Israeli government proves itself smart enough and brave enough to extract that information and put an end to the ordeal endured by the families and perhaps the soldiers themselves.
LINDA WOLFF Sha’are Tikva
Egypt can help
Sir, – Quartet envoy Tony Blair should without delay initiate the erection of power stations and desalination plants in Gaza if he really wants to drastically improve the quality of life of its residents (“Blair blasts isolation of Gaza, says it doesn’t weaken Hamas,” December 17).
Disruption and rationing of power have in recent years created suffering due to financial disputes between the PA and Gaza as to payment for electricity, since the Quartet stopped paying. Water is an essential requirement for domestic and agricultural purposes.
Fortunately for Gaza, it is well situated to get large supplies of natural gas from Egypt, so there is absolutely no difficulty to proceed. The Quartet has at its disposal the necessary funds to execute and supervise such projects, which will reduce the ongoing financial disputes between the PA and Gaza, enable Israel to divert electricity and water supplies in favor of more pressing needs and, most important of all, help bring about an economic revival and better living conditions, and reduce the need of the world community to constantly criticize Israel.
The only question is whether Hamas will agree to such investments, which might reduce funds for purchasing arms.
She heard differently
Sir, – More than a week after The Jerusalem Post headlined exclusive allegations about Interior Minister Eli Yishai (“Yishai’s refusal to accept gifts from Christian groups blocked donation of badly needed fire trucks,” December 6), we were disappointed to see respected Post columnist and Jewish community leader Isi Leibler use his regularly featured opinion column to perpetuate this flawed story (“Rabbis: Raise your voices against extremism,” Candidly Speaking, December 16).
Jewish Israel checked with the sources of the original report and, according to these sources, Yishai did not refuse the donation of firefighting equipment. Rather, his opting out of a ceremony – possibly for religious reasons – was an affront to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and jeopardized his ministry’s chance of receiving equipment from the IFCJ.
Depending on one’s opinion, the failure to nurture a relationship with an evangelical group and pay homage to the IFCJ’s Eckstein in a photoop could be deemed behavior unbecoming the head of the Interior Ministry and worthy of an opinion piece or investigation. But it surely did not warrant banner headlines that were at best misleading.
The issue over whether or not to accept evangelical funding is complex, and Israel’s growing dependence on Christian donors presents the Jewish people and the Jewish state with socioeconomic, political and halachic challenges.
The Post would do the Jewish people and the State of Israel a great service by giving this issue the profound attention it deserves. Columnists like Isi Leibler can continue to raise their voices against rabbinic extremism, but they should take the time to investigate and protest erroneous headlines in the paper they write for, too.
ELLEN HOROWITZ Moshav Nov The writer is content and research director for
Time to go
Sir, – The UN, like the League of Nations it replaced, has no business imposing its will on the sovereignty of any nation.
Israel, is it not long past time to pack up and leave? The UN ignores the plight of so many in so many nations: 400 native Indian reserves in the US, Tibet under the yoke of China, women oppressed in Arab states, Ireland under the fist of England, and so on.
Time to go before we supply the rope for our own hanging. Nothing to debate, nothing to feel sorry about.
We Jews are still singled out as a slave people, with no human value and no right to defend ourselves. The world is sickened by the sight of a Jew with a gun.
Time to go! And we will not be alone.