February 5: So it started when we hit them back?

In response to Abdullah Erdemli's "A Turkish view:" First, we are not "in search of anti-Semitism." Actually, we try to avoid it.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
So it started when we hit them back? Sir, - In response to Abdullah Erdemli's "A Turkish view" (Letters, February 4): First, we are not "in search of anti-Semitism." Actually, we try to avoid it. More to the point, since Mr. Erdemli takes us back into history, what keeps him from going back to the situation before our bombs fell on Gaza? Palestinian rockets threatened our southern towns for years with impunity. After eight years of empty threats, Israel finally decided to stop those rockets. I am not sure what was meant by "the Israelis who watched... the bombings with enthusiasm" (with relief, maybe), but we certainly didn't dance on our roofs with joy and distribute candy. What would you have done in Turkey, Mr. Erdemli, if the Kurds rained rockets on you? MARCELLA WACHTEL Jerusalem Realism helps... Sir, - David Teich implied he was unable to assimilate into the hi-tech marketing industry due to the attitudes of Israelis toward olim ("Why I'm heading back to the US," February 3). As a marketing professional from the UK with over 14 years' experience, I came to Israel two years ago with a young family and attended a five-month intensive ulpan course. Despite my lack of Hebrew and studying five hours a day at the ulpan, I initially found part-time work with an Israeli hi-tech start-up and, following this, obtained a full-time position with a major Israeli company. Last year I co-founded a marketing agency specializing in helping Israeli companies market abroad. Whilst having to adapt to a different and challenging work culture, I have always been struck by the supportive attitude toward me as both an employee and a service provider. Many olim arrive with unrealistic expectations of life in Israel. The stories I've heard of earlier immigrants whose attitude, motivation and flexibility enabled them to create the Israel we see today are impressive. Their ethos was about building a life for future generations. I am not Jewish and don't consider myself a Zionist, but I believe all of us should be prepared to make sacrifices for our children and the advancement of the country we choose to live in. SPENCER WALDRON Tel Aviv ...the army can, too Sir, - Integration into a different culture and society is extremely difficult, particularly if there is a language barrier to overcome. The Israeli absorption system serves a useful purpose, but I believe that the IDF could provide a far better solution for new immigrants to acclimatize and adjust themselves more efficiently in a new environment. From personal experience, I would suggest that all male newcomers up to the age of 50 should do six months initial military service. This would include the usual basic training period, completed by non-combat work according to the newecomers' skills. The benefits accrued would not only be fitness, friendship and camaraderie but, most important of all, a quick attachment to Hebrew. Whilst the menfolk are away, their families would continue with the ulpan method of integration. BILL SMITHERS-JONES London Sir, - David Teich: At least you tried to live your Zionist dream. Thanks. GERRY MANDELL Omer Boito's 'Mefistofele' Sir, - In view of the negative review of both Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele and the Israel Opera's production of it (Opera Review, February 3), I hasten to write lest people be discouraged from attending a very worthwhile musical event. Ury Eppstein is of course entitled to his opinion - there is no disputing taste - but your readers should know that the audience on the night I attended had a very different opinion, as demonstrated by their prolonged cheers and loud applause. Granted, the libretto is at times unclear, although at the end we understand Boito's stand on the struggle of good vs evil, and also that Boito was no Verdi - but then, who was? Even Verdi was not always Verdi! Nevertheless, Toscanini thought enough of the opera to conduct it at La Scala with Feodor Chaliapin in the title role, and to keep conducting it throughout his long career. The music contains very exciting, beautiful and powerful sections, especially the Prologue and the second half. Margherita's death scene is particularly moving. The production itself was unusual and visually striking, and there was beautiful singing on the part of the chorus. REUVEN HAMMER Jerusalem Magnificently able Sir, - While Ofakim's mayor and residents certainly deserve plaudits for their behavior during the war ("At the Helm," Abraham Rabinovich, UpFront, January 23), the Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran Rehabilitation Village for severely disabled children and young adults, located a mere two kilometers from Ofakim, should also be cited for its remarkable heroism under fire. While it faced the same danger from rockets, the unique conditions of life and work at Aleh Negev entailed additional complex dilemmas. Transporting handicapped residents - many of them wheelchair-bound or blind - is difficult enough under the best of circumstances; the task during the past few weeks was compounded by the fact that these residents lacked the cognitive ability to understand the significance of a warning siren, or the urgent imperative to take refuge inside a shelter. In an outstanding show of solidarity and support, Aleh Negev's devoted staff elected to remain in the village, where they maintained round-the-clock care of their charges, even while the Code Red alerts sounded daily. Indeed, many of the caregivers, who hail from Ofakim, Netivot and the Merhavim region, brought their own children with them to stay overnight at the village. The special-education school in the village remained open and running throughout the war, both for residents of the village and for the many external special-needs children from all over the region. At the same time, Aleh Negev also turned host to a number of disabled children from Beersheba and the surrounding regions, whose own homes lacked protective shelters. While most activities were, of necessity, limited to inside or in direct proximity to the shelters, Aleh staff, administration, volunteers and parents of residents took Herculean measures to ensure that the children of Aleh Negev remained safe, calm, happy and relaxed, and that the level of loving care they deserve and receive would not be compromised. ESTHER BRANDER Coordinator, Aleh Jerusalem Face of intolerance Sir, - Monday night, I walked past election posters of Shas where every face, including that of the saintly Hofetz Haim of blessed memory, was defaced - plus the word "Shas." Maybe we can conclude that some general lessons in tolerance and appreciation of the democratic process are in order ("Haredi extremists suspected of defacing Livni on campaign posters," February 3). M.M. VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem 'twould be fitting Sir, - Your full-page ad on page 19 of the February 3 issue was quite impressive, but you could use that space even more wisely by reminding readers that you can fit the State of Israel inside the state of Texas 26 times! That will make them sit up and take notice. HELA CROWN-TAMIR Mevaseret Zion Sir, - Any person who does not know better - which is the vast majority of the world - would deduce from this ad that Israel is twice the size of California, especially because of the scale on the bottom left. We all understand what is trying to be conveyed, but the Post has, thankfully, become an internationally read publication, not only for Jews. Some Americans might even construe this ad as Israel having an undue influence on the US. DAVID LEVY Ra'anana The Editor responds: Your points are well made. We have been informed that these ads have now run their course.