February 29: Not quite right

While no point of view ought to be silenced, no point of view ought to be passed off as neutral reporting.

Not quite right
Sir, – I cannot call “Meretz activists, right-wing hecklers clash in Hebron” (February 27) inaccurate, but in my opinion it borders on lazy journalism.
Note its concluding sentence: “Breaking the Silence is an organization of former IDF soldiers that seeks to show the Israeli public the reality of Israeli military presence in the Palestinian territories.” By utilizing a sentence that essentially accepts BTS’s premise as unchallenged, it tacitly accepts the group’s narrative as fact.
The sentence would have been better crafted as such: “Breaking the Silence is an organization of former IDF soldiers that seeks to show the Israeli public the reality of Israeli military presence in the disputed territories according to its point of view.”
While no point of view ought to be silenced, no point of view ought to be passed off as neutral reporting.
Mitt in mouth
Sir, – I salute you for getting into the proper humorous spirit for the month of Adar! Subtly changing Mitt Romney’s quote (“Three GOP candidates argue for more aggressive US stance on Iran”, February 24) to make him say “We must now allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon” gives a whole new funny slant to the rest of his words and bodes well for further hilarity as the month progresses.
Keep up the good work!
The Editor responds: The quote should have been: “We must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.” We regret the error.
Problem or solution?
Sir, – Martin Sherman (“Something to worry about,” Into the Fray, February 24) believes that “all the assumptions on which Israeli policies [of peacemaking and withdrawals] were founded have proved groundless” – as if occupation actually helps security.
Instead, it has generated problems, including Hamas (which Israel strengthened to oppose the PLO in the territories), Hezbollah (which arose out of Israel’s first invasion of Lebanon), demographics, intifadas, territorial segregation, isolation, new enemies like Iran, and settlements, the absence of which could have brought withdrawal, peace,and security.
As part of the problem rather than the solution, Sherman prefers to mock Israel’s leading citizens, from Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi to Amos Oz. It’s no surprise that David Ben-Gurion is turning over in his grave from an occupation so destructive to the land he loved.
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Sir, – When Martin Sherman began writing for The Jerusalem Post, I didn’t know who he was and I was skeptical to jump with enthusiasm. But after a good few months of reading his articles I realize that we indeed have a political analyst of genius magnitude.
Sherman’s insight is enlightening and he is articulate beyond words. Anyone is able to understand his logic, as he expresses himself clearly. His wisdom shines through.
I’m sorry to say that despite the mostly pessimistic messages he conveys, I find myself agreeing with almost every word.
We are indeed in trouble with our government, no matter which party rules. (Granted, some are more lame than others.) My only consolation is that if there are those among the public who are still able to see as clearly and with such foresight as Sherman, we are not yet completely lost.
MEIRA OVED Jerusalem
Comforting ritual
Sir, – Regarding “Mourners of Zion” (In My Own Write, February 22), nearly 40 years ago I sat shiva for my father. I lived with my family in London and our nanny was a big, blond, blue-eyed Yorkshire wench named Stephanie. She told us at her interview, during which we explained the intricacies of meaty and milky vessels in our kitchen, that she wasn’t Jewish.
After the first evening of shiva, we retired to the morning room for a late-night cocoa, and young Stephanie was seen sobbing and heaving uncontrollably in tears. Careful solicitation revealed a number of startling things.
Her family name was in fact Weisz. Her estranged and divorced father worked in the petroleum industry in the Middle East, and her mother, who had remarried when Stephanie was twelve, unexpectedly died within a few months of returning from her honeymoon. Her non-Jewish stepfather had the usual postfuneral drinks at home, during which time a number of his friends had told Stephanie to “brace up and get on with life.” That had been the extent of her mourning.
Her sobs that evening in my house, nine years later, were an expression of her suppressed grief combined with the shock that even someone else’s shiva could be such a cathartic and healing experience.
We do get some things so right, thank God.
Sir, – In England we lived in a largely non-Jewish world and discovered very many times, on making condolence calls to friends and neighbors, that they were invariably alone and desperate for someone to talk to. On several occasions we were greeted with words such as “Thank heavens you have come” and subsequently had difficulty in extricating ourselves after several hours of sharing reminiscences and hearing details of the loved one’s death.
It seems that the thinking outside the wisdom of the Jewish world is that one shouldn’t intrude on a person’s grief.
This could not be more wrong.
Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler- Ross, a world renowned expert on death and dying, devotes a large section of her book Death: The Final Stage of Growth to describing the Jewish view of death and Jewish mourning customs. She observes that Jewish people who adhere to these traditions are rarely in need of bereavement counseling.
How fortunate we are to have inherited these ancient customs, which are just as therapeutic in today’s world as they were when first laid down.
LOLA S. COHEN Jerusalem
Refugee’s plea Sir, – Since South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan, the situation there has not gotten any better. The civil war between the north and south in the 1990s created many lasting tensions between Arabs and Africans, especially since millions of southern Sudanese were killed by northern forces during that conflict.
Sudan still launches air-strikes against it, and South Sudan is only now beginning to develop.
There is virtually no productivity.
Refugees who are sent back have to face violence, hunger and disease. And although the genocide in South Sudan has ended, it goes on in Darfur.
While the north-south civil war was being fought, there wasn’t a single African country that came to the aid of the south. In fact, only Israel did something to help these people.
Nevertheless, in recent months the Israeli government decided to send refugees from South Sudan home in March.
Those who don’t voluntarily prepare themselves to leave will be forcibly deported.
Israel’s most important challenge now is to determine what its future relations will be with South Sudan. With that in mind, we refugees ask you, the reader, to take a moment to reflect on the situation there.
It is remarkable to see people here who rallied for the independence of South Sudan. We are still witnessing an incredible moment. Yet at the same time our eyes are always on Darfur. Those of us who are from that region and have found a safe home here wonder: Will we be the next to be sent back?
DIRI ABRAMSON Rishon Lezion The writer is a student and asylum seeker from Darfur