December 4: The real Sharansky(s)

As one who's worked with Sharansky for years I can attest to the fact that he has labored tirelessly for social justice.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The real Sharansky(s) Sir, - Once again it seems necessary to remind people like David Forman that not all activities promoting human rights are done in the limelight. In "Will the real Sharansky please stand up?" (December 2), Forman bashes Natan Sharansky for not doing enough - and not for the first time. As one who's worked with Sharansky for years I can attest to the fact that he has labored tirelessly to promote Palestinian human rights; support the Ethiopian community in Israel; help bridge the gap between observant and secular in Israel; help Israeli Arabs, and resolve many of the critical issues Forman lists that face our society. The fact that his efforts are most often done out of the limelight may rather reflect a "poor politician," one who doesn't seek publicity, than indicate any lack of effort or activity. Forman's real problem lies in his twisted definition of human rights - as if the right of a Palestinian to build illegally in Jerusalem were of greater significance than the right to life of Jews (and others) in Israel. Sharansky's efforts on behalf of the Palestinians, far from the attention of the media, have focused on helping those Palestinians who work to strengthen their civil society and freedom - promoting the real human rights of Palestinians rather than the "rights" Forman advocates, which are in fact merely verbal weapons used to bash Israel. Forman is correct that there are "two Sharanskys," but not as he surmises. There is the public persona - politician, thought-leader, Jewish world figure; and the private Sharansky - modest, deliberate, influential behind the scenes. Unfortunately, like too many others, Forman bases his perception too much on the former, whereas the latter is the true basis for Sharansky's power to effect change. ARYEH GREEN Beit Shemesh Sir, - All that was missing in David Forman's attack on Natan Sharansky, a contemporary hero of the Jewish people, was foam at the mouth in the writer's visage atop the article. Each example Forman gave of Sharansky abandoning his moral courage and integrity can be refuted. Suffice it to say this attack was like a wasp's sting on a lion of Judah. MOSHE BERLIN Jerusalem Cover both bases... Sir, - Jonathan Tobin presented some interesting facts and good questions in "What price outreach?" (December 3). However, the dilemma he ended with is unnecessary. Do both: Make it more desirable and easier for Jews to meet compatible Jews and marry them; and at the same time make two-faith families welcome in the Jewish community and encourage their children to be Jews. That is better than writing them off right now, and not helping them want to stay in the Jewish people. It will take one more generation to see how this affects the Jewish population long-term, when statistics will show what choices these families' children make. JACOB GORE Denver, Colorado ...but don't overdo it Sir, - In "Pennies vs positives" (November 26) Stewart Weiss referred to assimilation and intermarriage in Western countries as a "silent Holocaust." He is not alone; the phrase has become a commonplace among religious Jews. The idea behind it is straightforward: Assimilation and the Holocaust have both reduced the number of Jews in the world and so are to be regarded in some sense as comparable evils. This is obscene. There is something warped about equating a Jew "lost" as a result of voluntary assimilation into a free society with one who was lost because he was murdered. DAVID J. BALAN Washington Question of taste? Sir - Re "Consumers give thumbs down to Israel's brand" (December 3): One has to wonder if Israel's negative brand is due to the product itself - or rather to the fact that the Jewish ingredients are distasteful to many of those consumers. GIDEON HACK Zichron Ya'acov Worthy endeavors... Sir, - Applause, support and agreement with Isi Liebler on the need for a worldwide Jewish TV broadcast system! ("A response to Al Jazeera," November 26). In addition to the need for a Zionist, pro-Israel information distribution scheme, a Jewish TV could do wonders in disseminating our educational and cultural riches to the next generation; it would be ideal for remote communities as well as for the larger concentrations of Jews. Theater, music and the plastic arts, in addition to top-rate educational programs, should and could be available to all. There already exists a great stock of films as well as TV programming that could be put to good use in the task of Jewish and Zionist education. I was reminded of Ruthie Blum's October 4 interview with Shmuel Flatto-Sharon, in which he declared his intention to create and operate the "Jerusalem Network," an Israel-based English- and French-language, round-the-clock, commercial television station aiming "to counteract the virulent anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic propaganda." May both endeavors prosper. YORAM GETZLER Moshav Aminadav ...and less worthy Sir, - "Despite more than a year of trying, [al-Jazeera] has been unable to persuade a single US or Canadian cable or satellite TV system to carry it" ("The American (Jewish) face of Al Jazeera," December 3). Now Israel's own satellite TV provider has announced it will carry Al Jazeera in English, giving it a seal of approval that will doubtless gladden the heart of every anti-Zionist campaigner who would like to see North American households propagandized as well. M. L. LEVINSON Herzliya Most unreasonable Sir, - Last week's majority High Court decision - which holds that a prime minister under fire for misconduct or malfeasance in conducting a war acted reasonably in hand-picking a committee to determine whether or not these charges are justified - gives credence to the premise that Israel is a banana republic rather than a democracy; particularly when the court does not consider that a personal visit by a target of the inquiry to the head of the committee taints the proceedings. It is devoutly to be hoped that the petition for a re-hearing by a full Supreme Court bench will be granted ("Court rejects petition for state commission of inquiry into war," December 3). IRVIN SCHERMER Jerusalem Steal, pay the price Sir, - Jonathan Pollard knowingly took classified documents and was apprehended. I believe he should serve whatever sentence was imposed by the US government. You steal, you pay the price. It's as simple as that, and I'm not impressed by those 'Free Pollard' supporters. What Pollard did could have put the US and other nations in peril. We should all thank US intelligence organizations for keeping us a little more secure by their actions. End of story ("Don't be fooled by Ronald Olive," November 29). HERBERT W. STARK Massapequa At cross-purposes? Sir - Has it crossed the minds of any of you newspaper folk that by telling everyone about where the police now expect to find serial rapist Benny Sela, you are helping him evade capture? ("Karadi steps up Sela search in TA," December 3.) ISRAEL PICKHOLTZ Elazar CORRECTION The letter "Act and pray" in our December 3 print edition was written by Stanley Ross, Netanya.