February 23: Jewish heritage

Where on earth does "the Left" think our entire Jewish heritage comes from?

Jewish heritage
Sir, - Where on earth does "the Left" think our entire Jewish heritage comes from if not our forefathers and foremothers buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb ("The ties that bind: Cabinet okays PM's Heritage Plan," February 22)? It would have been an outrage - and a lie - of the highest order had the prime minister not put these places in the plan that is to "reconnect Israelis to their national, cultural and religious history."Would that any talk of "giving away" these sites finally disappeared. No nation ever relinquishes its past, for then there is really no reason for it to have a future.
Beit Shemesh
'Pro-Israel' approaches to Gaza
Sir, - The blockade of the Gaza Strip is causing Israel harm in Europe, and now it appears we are seeing signs that even in the US there are Congressmen who are expressing concern about Israel's policy ("Enough is enough," February 22). I believe we should address this concern in the following manner.
Staples such as rice, milk products, oil, etc. should be supplied 24/7. A field hospital such as the IDF set up in Haiti should function near the Gaza crossings so serious medical emergencies can be addressed on the spot, with life-threatening cases sent on by helicopter to major hospitals in Israel. In addition, cement should be allocated for specific use in areas that can be monitored by international committees, so Hamas can not divert it for military use.
We must remember that there is no possible way of causing a rift between the people and the Hamas-led government as long as the blockade exits. Israel is strong enough to be able to take a chance and soften its approach to the blockade with the hope of gaining a more unified consensus throughout the world, standing up to the threat from Hamas and at the same time showing concern for the plight of the Gazans suffering under the rule of a tyrannical government.
Sir, - As it stands, to win friends and influence people to see Israel in a positive light requires different strokes for different folks. Clearly there are those whose approval we can quickly attain by just disappearing from the face of the earth. There are others who will be content if we surrender our Jewish identity (and the land with it). There are others who believe that creating prosperity for the Palestinians in Gaza will cure the Israel Problem.
Others believe if there were no checkpoints, fences, overreactions to rockets, etc., etc., peace partners would abound. All adherents of these solutions to the Israel Problem can claim to be pro-Israel. - i.e. "for its own good." But rest assured that when Democratic Congressman Brian Baird calls for the US to circumvent our blockade on Gaza, he is not only being pro-Gaza, but "pro-Israel" ("Congressman calls for US to circumvent Israeli blockade on Gaza," February 21). For that matter, who, both here and in the Diaspora, in the various factions among ourselves, is not "pro-Israel"?
Lesson No. 1 in hasbara: The term "pro-Israel" is connected to so many divergent agendas that it has been rendered meaningless.
Spreading the word
Sir, - I travel extensively. I've been "physically connected" with Israel for over 35 years and have been very aware of the misconceptions of "others" ("Doing what comes naturally," February 21). In fact, for about 15 years, I have been e-mailing a "Letter from Israel" to those who know me and who are interested.
Why? People are naturally ignorant about most things not immediately concerning them. What's annoying is the disproportionate amount of comment/criticism aimed at Israel, despite this lack of knowledge.
There is an enormous need for the propaganda machine that Masbirim supports (also in English, please), but there is also a need for the information supplied by known friends, or friends of those friends. Their input then appears to be more objective, more believable.
Here are a few of the points that seem to shock them:
It's only 15 km. from the sea to the border of the future Palestinian state.
There are Arabs in Israel.
They officially have full rights, including voting rights.
An Arab, MK Majallie Whbee, was officially president of Israel (post-Katsav, pre-Peres, while the Knesset speaker was in the US).
There have been over 400 rockets fired from Gaza since the cease-fire.
The Palestinians and Israelis have received similar financial support from overseas. What each has done with the money is plain to see.
And so on.
Safety first on buses
Sir, - There is one aspect of segregation on public transportation that no one has addressed: travelers with disabilities ("Mehadrin lines...," Letters, February 22).
I am a woman with unsteady ambulation; I walk with a cane. I insist on sitting near the driver because of two major concerns: I need to be seated before the vehicle begins moving, and I want to be in the driver's direct view when I exit the vehicle.
Even with the available mirrors on transit vehicles, I have witnessed several near-accidents even when non-disabled passengers have exited the bus by the rear door.
I believe that public transportation companies owe travelers like me the safest possible traveling conditions, even when we visit friends, relatives or businesses in haredi neighborhoods.
Safety is the bottom line!
S. L. WOOLFRamat Beit Shemesh
Pius's mistakes
Sir, - I believe that even if Pope Pius XII did, in fact, try clandestinely to help the Jews during World War II, he missed the boat ("Come clean on Pius XII," February 21). A world figure of his stature had a responsibility to tell his Catholic people and the rest of the world, publicly, that the Holocaust was morally and ethically wrong.
It would not have been enough to act behind the scenes. One word from him would have made it legitimate for the average public to refuse to be swept up in the goings-on. People are followers. We want to "belong" - we wear the popular clothing and hairstyles, participate in the latest fads and jump on the political bandwagon of the times. If he had just said "no," others might have saved countless lives - many more than he could have saved quietly on his own, in a possible few instances.
In view of how fast rumor - and today, Facebook entries - spreads, one can understand how easy it would have been for him to change the course of history and really earn his sainthood.
Sir, - The teachings of the Roman Catholic Church concerning Jews since Vatican II have completely reversed the attitude of the more than a billion Catholics the world over regarding their "older brother." Many a Jew with vivid memories of Jew-hatred would do well to check with present Catholics regarding this true, lasting turnaround.
This radical improvement is even more outstanding when viewed incontrast with the revelations by John Cornwell quoted in youreditorial. At present, the Roman Catholic Church has managed to deploresome of its contribution to the Holocaust (Vatican II) and sexual abuseby clergy, and to embrace not only the Jews, but also evolution. Havinga German-born Pope is a marked chance to come clean over the Vatican'stop's failure during the Third Reich era.
The fear that admitting this failure would be an indelible stain on thechurch's reputation is understandable, but unjust. This acknowledgementwould instead add to its respect, glory and good name.