Feb. 13: Jewish origins

The reality is every pogrom and every conquest left its quota of violated Jewish women, many of whom then found themselves pregnant.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jewish origins Sir, - In "Genetics and the Jewish identity" (February 12) Diana Muir Appelbaum and Paul S. Appelbaum correctly point out that few would want to join our small, oppressed minority. But they go on repeatedly to attribute dilution of the Jewish genetic heritage to intermarriage. The reality is that over the centuries, every pogrom and every conquest left its quota of violated Jewish women, many of whom then found themselves pregnant. Jewish Law dictates that if a child could be the child of the woman's husband, it is presumed to be his, so the products of such rapes were brought up as members of the Jewish family. Modern attitudes notwithstanding, in the past this was the source of far more genetic dilution than intermarriage. Secondly, the writers suggest that the reason 10 percent of the East African Lemba people carry the kohen modal haplotype is because they come from the Yemen. However, there are very, very few kohanim among Yemenite Jews, which suggests that this cannot be the source of the Lemba. Finally, it is a pity that you did not quote the letter published by The Times of London shortly after the discovery of the kohen modal haplotype became known. The writer, whose surname was Cohen, proudly pointed out that he could now properly say that he had "Levi genes." LESLIE PORTNOY Netanya Sir, - Further to your fascinating article on genetics and Jewish identity, I would like to draw your readers' attention to a lecture that will give them more information on the subject. Geneticist Dr. Doron Behar is speaking on "Maternal Diversity in the Jewish Diaspora" today, February 13, at Beth Fisher, 5, Klausner St., Ra'anana at 8 p.m. Entrance fee for non-members is NIS 20. ORA LESHEM Jewish Family Research Association Tel Aviv This new religion... Sir, - Re "British ministers call on Israel to reverse decision to limit electricity supply to Gaza" (February 10): Had British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Development Secretary Douglas Alexander been members of the British cabinet during WWII when centers of civilian population such as London and other cities were hit by V1 and V2 rockets, would they have abandoned their responsibility and denounced the Royal Air Force for taking retaliatory action against civilians in Germany? Would they have suggested that the UK government abide by the piece of paper Neville Chamberlain received from the Nazis promising peace? There is a new religion called human rights, and it has gone too far. Indeed, it is out of control, destroying the Judeo-Christian ethics that have guided the moral standards of the world. What would the British ministers suggest we do instead of reducing the electricity supply to Gaza - hand medals or Nobel peace prizes to those who build and fire the Kassam rockets? It would seem that the UK government, as well as Quartet head Tony "Spin" Blair, still think financial reward is in order. COLIN L LECI Jerusalem ...called human rights Sir, - If any other country was bombed daily by a neighbor that had a covenant to destroy it, what would the normal response be? Say if Canada was bombing the US, or Portugal was bombing Spain daily, how might they respond? Israel is being overly patient, overly kind, overly concerned about civilian injuries and overly worried about international media-bashing. No country in Israel's position would be patient or kind, or worried about international opinion. Israel is suffering a greater humanitarian crisis from the Gaza bombs, yet the only humanitarian crisis that gets consistent mention is the Palestinian one - caused by the Palestinians themselves through continuously bombing Israel! Hamas should take the blame for causing all of this trouble. JULIO HARRIS Chicago Two good steps Sir, - As a possible invasion into Gaza seems to be drawing closer, I believe there are two steps Israel can take before making this faithful decision: Renewal of our gas masks, and a call-up of reserve units to secure all our borders. These steps will make it clear that we are not crying "wolf" again and give diplomacy more time to function. And we will be in a better position to handle all eventualities ("Barak: IDF operations 'could lead to war,'" February 12). P. YONAH Shoham Miraculous growth Sir, - Re "Palestinians grow by a million in decade" (On-Line Edition, February 9): The Palestinians can't have their cake and eat it. Ask Ahmed Qurei or any other Palestinian advocate, and you will hear that Israel is conducting ethnic cleansing and genocide. If so, how do they explain their rise in numbers? Imagine genocide increasing the population exponentially! A miracle. DOV EPSTEIN Efrat Dror's real moral lapse Sir, - I am afraid the real moral and political lapse in Yehezkel Dror's interview with Ma'ariv, sensationalized by the media, has been completely ignored. Prof. Dror's political views are quite irrelevant. We are all entitled to them. But his failure to accept the idea of ministerial responsibility and even suggest that considerations of political profit and loss are valid in this context is shockingly irresponsible. Noblesse oblige! He should serve as a model in reinforcing the democratic norm of personal responsibility as an absolute. Let us take an example, not from the Third World but from a country like Britain, where John Profumo, the minister caught in a sex scandal in the early 1960s, resigned once it was clear he had been economical with the truth in a declaration to parliament; or the recent resignation of a British minister who had not disclosed his sources of party funding. Unfortunately, in Israel you stay in power irrespective of your behavior unless the police come and take you to prison. In Israel those who resign are the exception to the rule. The moment the Winograd Report found him guilty of failing in his prime ministerial responsibilities - and it certainly did, even in the interim report - Ehud Olmert should have resigned together with Dan Halutz. If Prof. Dror was so keen to unload his views on the public after the report, the least he could have done was underline the norm of personal ministerial responsibility and not legitimize the lack of accountability that is such a plague in Israel ("Dror: I cannot make up my mind whether Olmert should resign," February 8). ARYEH NEWMAN Jerusalem Sir, - After Winograd, it seems once again that what we have here is not survival of the fittest, but survival of the slickest. SALLY SHAW Kfar Saba Kosher eats in Toronto Sir, - "Yehudah Fisch says that there is a shortage of kosher restaurants in his home town of Toronto" ("Learning to dish up kosher gourmet food at the Jerusalem Culinary Institute," February 10). Clearly he cannot be talking about Toronto, Canada. There are over 200,000 Jews in Toronto, and when I visited the suburb of Thornhill last October, I might have been forgiven for thinking I was back in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. There were streets of kosher shops and supermarkets, delis and restaurants. True, there is little kashrut in the center of the city, but that is not where the Jews live. DAVID KRAVITZ Netanya