December 23: True inspiration

We were truly inspired by the determination of the Jews we met in the former USSR.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
True inspiration Sir, - As one of the couples sent "under cover" to the former USSR from England in 1978 to speak to Jewish groups and individuals, my husband and I were privileged to meet a number of "refuseniks" and "parasites." We were truly inspired by the determination of the Jews we met, and especially by our Friday night meal at the home of Mila and Ari Volvovsky. A former refusenik who spent part of his later life in Siberia, he could communicate admirably in Hebrew, having learned from smuggled books. The couple and their daughter eventually came on aliya and now live in Efrat. One of my husband's tasks was to give a talk about education in Israel. We were amazed at the number of people who squeezed themselves into a tiny Moscow apartment just to listen to an Israeli give a talk in Hebrew, during a time when such a thing was absolutely forbidden ("Home-made miracles of Hanukka," Yosef Begun, December 22). LINDA STERN Safed Wretched repeat Sir, - One painful lesson from the Yom Kippur War was that the Egyptian and Syrian soldiers were not the same ones that retreated so fast in '67. They were tenacious and their infantry had tank-killing weapons. If and when there is an IDF attack against Gaza, I fear the experience of '73 will repeat itself. The Hamas forces are fanatic Muslims who worship death. There will surely be suicide bombings against the IDF and the risk of getting bogged down is very great. Plus there's the risk that Hizbullah will start shooting its numerous rockets at us, some of which are long-range. My nightmare is that those rockets will target Ben-Gurion Airport, among other locations, leading to a two-front war. Nonetheless, the longer an IDF attack on Gaza is put off, the worse the Kassam and mortar assaults will be in the south ("Egypt warns against 'devastating' assault on Gaza," December 22). YONATAN SILVERMAN Beit Shemesh Retaliate. And don't apologize Sir, - I despair of the "do we invade or don't we invade" discussion regarding Gaza - as if there was no third option. There is. Israel should use existing technology to pinpoint the missile launch-sites as accurately as possible. The moment a launch is sensed, 10 cannon shells should, to the best of the IDF's technical ability, be directed at those sites. This should be done each and every time, immediately and without apology, regardless of the launch location and results of the shelling. There should be no discussion of this policy or its results other than the following statement, repeated whenever necessary: "We never initiate; we have no other safe means of defending our citizens; those who launch the rockets are fully aware of our policy." JASON JUNGREIS San Francisco A matter of choice... Sir, - Several years ago, the Post published a wonderful article for Hanukka by Moshe Kohn entitled "The choice is ours" (December 22, 2000). He wrote: "King Antiochus, who had earlier helped and been helped by the Jews, now demanded that Simon 'return' to him areas the Hasmoneans had liberated from the Seleucids, including Jaffa, Acre, and the citadel in Jerusalem. "Simon replied: 'We have not taken foreign land or foreign property, but only the inheritance of our ancestors, unjustly seized for a time by our enemies. And when the opportunity arose we seized it and reclaimed our patrimony'" (1 Maccabees, 15). Kohn's article is as valid today as it was then. JENNY WEIL Jerusalem choose victory Sir, - Barry Rubin's critique should be heeded ("Liar, liar, pants on cease-fire," December 22). Hamas's strength is illusory. It has set long-term military goals in accordance with Prof. Daniel Pipes's understanding of the Western mentality. The Westerner "tends to prefer political correctness and conflict resolution, or even appeasement" to military victory. Hamas is strategically relying on this Western mind-set. This gives Israel the opportunity to exploit Hamas's military and economic weakness and defeat the enemy. According to Pipes, peace is only possible after victory. Let's hope the victory is Israel's. ALICE EIGNER Ma'aleh Adumim Collective animus Sir, - Aaron Bashani's letter ("For Arab & Jew, both," December 21) sounded like the usual apologia that shows Arabs aren't yet ready for peace, complaining about "collective punishment" when 95 percent of Palestinian parliament seats, chosen in a fair and open election, went to three parties, Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whose founding documents openly call for Israel's destruction. As the Hague Conventions clearly state, collective punishment is outlawed only in retaliation for acts of individuals. When a collective society openly and freely chooses to wage a war of extermination against a sovereign nation, it has no right to complain about collective punishment. DAVID TEICH Rehovot Foolish trumpeting Sir, - Tzipi Livni and Binyamin Netanyahu have both said that if elected, they will crush Hamas. I am surprised they haven't given Hamas the date and time of the proposed military onslaught. There was a time when everyone knew that the Israelis, if attacked, would hit back. This element of reprisal has gone and our enemies regard us as weaklings. If only our government officials would keep their mouths tightly shut and not tell the world their intentions. Olmert and Barak are certainly guilty where this is concerned, and it looks like our future leaders intend following the same pattern ("Livni vows to topple Hamas if elected PM," December 22). MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya No free rides from me Sir, - Re "Poll: Haredim want to go to college" (December 22): I find it astounding that the researchers who carried out a survey of haredim wanting an education recommend that the state (and philanthropists) help them get an education and economic support. This sector has access to public elementary and high schools just as the rest of the country does. Most haredim do not serve in the army, but have now decided that they want help because they are unprepared for higher education. And that someone else should pay for it. This sector needs to understand that if you shun basic education when it is available, you pay the price. Perhaps this understanding will help the next generation prepare for real life. It is not just about receiving, it is also about giving back. I, for one, am not interested in donating my back and pocketbook for a free ride. BERURIAH ADLER Jerusalem Madoff mystery Sir, - Liat Collins hit the nail on the head in pointing out that the Madoff fiasco has exposed the lack of Jewish and family values within the Jewish community ("Misplaced trust and trust funds," December 21). It is the irrational need to accumulate vast amounts of wealth at any expense that is most disturbing. This reader is mystified by a man such as Bernard Madoff. Why cause so much devastation and destruction when he already enjoyed such fame and fortune? What drives a man like this to do such evil? Why violate the trust people placed in him? Hopefully, time will tell. One can only hope that a lesson of modesty will be gained. MATTIAS ROTENBERG Petah Tikva