February 22: Brother's keeper

Israel never loses sight of the fact that every Jewish son belongs to her.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Brother's keeper Sir, - I am always overwhelmed and overjoyed at the love and loyalty of your people. I realize that war is conflict and loss is sometimes part of doing what's right. But Israel never loses sight of the fact that every Jewish son belongs to her, and she fights only for her people and her God-given borders ("Security cabinet links reopening of Gaza crossings to Schalit's return," February 19). I have read of past concessions Israel has made to recover even her dead sons. This respect and value goes all the way back to Joseph, who asked that his bones be taken with the Children of Israel when they left Egypt (Gen. 50: 25). When the Israelites did this, some 400 years later, it not only spoke of their love but of their commitment, even to their dead. That one act (Joshua 24: 32) set up an inheritance to them forever. JONNIE VITALE St. Louis, Missouri Call for candor Sir, - Jonathan Pollard's excessive incarceration - for lack of any other explanation - begs the question of anti-Semitic-based injustice. To speculate that his treatment by the American authorities stems from security considerations is somewhat of a stretch ("Jewish paranoia and Jonathan Pollard," Larry Derfner, February 19). If security considerations are indeed the reason, it behooves these authorities to say so explicitly, even without revealing what these security considerations may be. HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva Momentous news Sir, - I was surprised to find "Peres: I was wrong to back unilateral Gaza disengagement" (February 19) on page 6. In my opinion, a page 1 headline was called for. It is important news that Israel's elder statesman has had second thoughts on his backing for a step that caused major trauma for the entire country and has left unhealed wounds. The withdrawal was criticized at the time by a major segment of the population and today is believed to be one of the sources of our troubles from Gaza. President Peres's change of mind should give pause to leaders who are thinking of embarking on an irreversible course that is not backed by a large majority of citizens. ISAAC TARSHANSKY Jerusalem Sir, - Shimon Peres has had the moral courage to admit that the unilateral disengagement from Gaza was a mistake. This has enormous implications for Israel's future policies: No proposal or concession by Israel should be unilateral; the meaning of negotiations - always - is give and take. A bargain is no bargain when one side gives something tangible for absolutely nothing. We are and will continue to pay the price for the mistake Ariel Sharon and Kadima made in withdrawing unilaterally from Gaza. Never in the history of the Jewish people has a group of loyal citizens been thrown out of their homes and sent into the wilderness without provision for their future. The rift amongst the people of Israel has grown even more and the feeling of brotherhood and unity has been severely damaged. President Peres, by his statement, has perhaps made the beginning of a national reconciliation dialogue possible. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem Eloquent, but unreal... Sir, - Very few English-speaking citizens will find anything to object to in Amnon Rubinstein's call for (timid) electoral reform ("Plenty of brakes but no engine," February 18). It's ironic that the champion of reform is none other than the Left's bete noire, Avigdor Lieberman. The pity is that Rubinstein has come to this revelation rather late. His cri de coeur would carry more conviction if he were able to admit that the Left, for which he is such an eloquent spokesman, did nothing and cared even less for this cause when the electoral winds were less unfavorable to them and they had a chance actually to do something in government. But this is the tragedy of the Left, always preaching but never performing. Rubinstein managed to surprise me with his espousal of the astounding discovery that the leftist clique in academe and the media is completely divorced from reality. It would be truly amazing, however, if he could take the last logical leap and admit publicly that the Left's philosophy is bankrupt. ANTHONY LUDER Rosh Pina ...I'd call it dramatic Sir, - Amnon Rubinstein presents his proposals as "not dramatic changes," but I think there is no little drama in reducing our left-wing and right-wing electoral choices to one party each. That would result in "the leader of the party with the plurality vote being automatically nominated prime minister." All today's fans of the small, Left-allied and Right-allied parties would be forced to vote for the heftier parties instead, in order to influence the all-important selection of the premier. You may call that a good thing, or a bad thing. I call it bad because I'd hate to see any of our major parties handed the political super-weapon of an absolute majority, or to see all the leverage between them fall into the hands of only one or two potential coalition partners. But regardless of whether one favors the idea, to call it "not dramatic" is to underplay some serious implications. MARK L. LEVINSON Herzliya Sir, - Amnon Rubinstein wisely reflects on the shortcomings of our political system and offers suggestions for its improvement but, surprisingly, proposes avoiding primaries as a means of reducing the power of radical party activists ("Plenty of brakes but no engine," February 18). Time has shown that one man's radical is another man's reactionary. In Israel today, the primary is the only vehicle by which a voter can directly choose candidates he believes will represent his interests. Should he believe that major parties do not have a sufficient number of candidates with his concerns, he will vote for a small party which advocates his views. TUVIA MUSKIN Rehovot The way to holiness is not via stoning Sir, - The aphorism "A scoundrel with a Torah license" came to mind when I read "Haredim stone Egged bus in Mea She'arim" (February 19). Our sage the Ramban [Nachmanides] explains that a person who strives to act in a holy way may, through misunderstanding what holiness is, nevertheless behave reprehensibly. I am a teacher at Shaf Yativ, a Beit Midrash specially designed for people overcoming psychological disorders. I cannot help but empathize with those who believe that certain haredi people or factions go too far in asserting their value systems and, in the process, consciously encroach upon the space and freedoms of others. The Ramban's prescience is all the more illuminating in that it points to one of the major sources of baseless hatred and, worst of all, factionalization of the Jewish people, whose role is to be a people of brotherly love and unity. I condemn the actions of those who stoned the bus, and hope others join with me. I would be elated if the stoners came forward and apologized, both for their heinous act and for their inconsiderate treatment of mankind. It is important to remember that nowhere in the corpus of Halacha does it state that it is forbidden for a male to sit down on a bus next to a female. Nowhere! YOAV GEDALIA BARTH Jerusalem