February 19: Allegations and sympathies

Kudos to the Takana forum on their work.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Allegations and sympathies
Sir, – Kudos to the Takana forum on their work (“Takana: Rabbi Elon had past sexual relations with male students,” February 18). The issues here are not “abominable homosexuality” or “sexual freedom and equality,” but protection against sexual abuse.
While we can feel pity for a man of such talents and accomplishments and alleged temptations, first sympathies need to go to vulnerable students who would be endangered by such secret addictions.
Sir, – Recent reports on sexual harassment (“Elon slams sex allegations as ‘blood libel,’” February 17) reminded me of when I attended a teacher training college in Australia more than 40 years ago. The instructors kept impressing on students that if they had to punish one or even several students with detention, they must keep the door to the detention room wide open at all times. They kept warning us that if one or more youngsters accused a teacher of sexual harassment, the child would always be believed, despite all the teacher’s claims to the contrary.
Later, when taking a course preparing me to be an hon. probation officer, we were given the same warning concerning counseling young people of either sex. It seems that circumstances have not changed much over these many years.
    EMANUEL FISCHER    Jerusalem
IDF ‘menschen’...
Sir, – IDF vet Larry Derfner’s service as a mensch, and that of his sons in the future, is appreciated more than had he served in Vietnam (“Training our boys to be bullies,” February 18). But how does Derfner gently gaze upon the well-documented Islamic religious imperative against us “infidels”? As American tourists in l966, our Arab cabbie politely pointed out which Jewish Haifa homes would be occupied by which of his kin upon the required slaying of their owners. Derfner’s favoring a possibly fatal kid-glove, liberal conceit exposes quite a haughty swagger.
    ESTER ZEITLIN    Jerusalem
... and space heroes
Sir, – As a child of the ’50s, I was around when the space age took off. Names like Shepard, Cooper and Glenn were household words. Every school-age child referred to them with awe and admiration. Although there were some who felt that Psalm 115:16 – “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth hath he given to the children of men” – meant we shouldn’t mess where we don’t belong, many took the Maimonidean view that nature was a vehicle through which we could come to know God. Only by exploring and learning about our universe could we come to truly understand that “the heavens are the heavens of the Lord.”
In our day, those men were considered courageous pioneers to whom we owed a tremendous debt of gratitude. When two heroic men, who have put their lives on the line to further mankind’s scientific knowledge, are referred to as “a pair of astronauts” (“Space station’s fancy lookout attached,” February 16), I feel that although we may be on target as far as our space program is concerned, somehow we have lost our moral compass.
    NECHAMA GINZBERG     Jerusalem
A badge of pride
Sir, – It must have been quite a shock for those random people whosenames were used in the hit on Mahmoud al-Mabhouh (“UK olim horrified todiscover Dubai assassins used their names,” February 17). I can’treally imagine what it must be like to see your name on a most-wantedlist with no warning.
But that’s the main problem I see with this situation: the lack ofprior warning. I’d frankly wear it as a badge of pride if a spy agencywere to appropriate my name and American passport for such a cause.