January 24: Derfner's selective memory

letters 88 NICE (photo credit: )
letters 88 NICE
(photo credit: )

Derfner's selective memory

Sir,- In commenting on Israel's heroic response to the tragic Haitianearthquake, Larry Derfner wonders, "When will this big-hearted nationstop being heartless to the people in Gaza?" ("The pride and theshame," January 21) Unfortunately, he fails to mention that thousandsof trucks carrying humanitarian aid have flowed from Israel into Gazaduring and after Operation Cast Lead. He also forgets the many Gazanswho continue to receive medical treatment in Israel. And what othercountry in the world would have stopped fighting for three hours eachday in order to allow humanitarian supplies into Gaza during a war?(Hamas regularly transferred weapons and personnel during those threehours, secure in the knowledge that the IDF would not fire at them.)

It is unfair to assume that Gazans are simply innocent

victims of a political battle between Israel and Hamas. TheGazans gave overwhelming electoral support to an organization openlydedicated to Israel's violent destruction.

In the end, Derfner refuses to see the fundamentaldifference between the two situations. While the Haitians' horriblesuffering is the result of a natural disaster, the Palestinians have itin their own power to improve their circumstances. They need onlyrecognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and stop theviolence.


A trap...

Sir, - The IDF teams in Haiti are winning kudos around the worldfor their modest dedication and bravery in the midst of chaos andsuffering. Now a request has been extended to Israel to send acontingent of Israeli policemen to join "peacekeeping efforts" in Haiti("UN, US ask Israel to send police to Haiti," January 21). And ourPublic Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch is planning to comply.

We wonder what is behind this plan and what the intentions are. Surely the thousands of

soldiers from America and other countries can cope with thepossible outbreak of violence while masses are clambering for food andwater. To us, it seems like a trap by those who want the image of thebrutal IDF, the cruel Israeli, to be in the forefront; to change thepositive response and respect the Israelis are earning over there.

The cameras will be ready to catch even one act of violence byone of our policemen, even if he is unarmed. That will make theheadlines and feed the tabloids and once again we will be on thedefensive. The IDF's reputation will be diminished, its achievementslooked upon with suspicion.

Why, we ask, have we lost all sense of proportion andforesight. Can we not let good alone? There are enough countries ableand equipped to lend a strong hand.


...or a show ofappreciation?

Sir, - The headline in the Jerusalem Post ("UN, US ask Israel tosend police to Haiti") on January 21 made me aware of what Israel meansto the world. It was a headline that made me read the story twice. TheUnited States and the United Nations have asked Israel to send acontingent of police to Haiti. What a remarkable story.

Little Israel, the country that the UN loves to criticize anddenigrate and pass countless resolutions against, has finally beenvalued appropriately.

Israel has send more aid proportionately to Haiti than anyother country, including the mighty United States. Little Israel hasshown itself to be an enormous country of compassion and efficiency. Itsupplied much needed direct relief and was able to rescue so manypeople. Its worth is beyond rubies as the Bible states.

Israel is truly a light unto the nations and may it continue to be so.


National pride

Sir, - Our hearts are bursting with pride for our wonderful andcourageous teams working non-stop in Haiti ("Two local Jews helpingIsrael's relief effort in Haiti," January 20). You are amazing.


Tit for tat

Sir, - The Palestinian list of demands is very short. In fact,it can be summarized in one word: Everything. The Jerusalem Postreported in "No Israeli presence in our state" (January 21) that chiefPalestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected a call by PM BinyaminNetanyahu for an Israeli presence in a future Palestinian state."Palestinians want to create an independent state in the West Bank,Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem with no Israeli presence, military orcivilian, the senior PA official said."

Fair enough, it's a valid point. Does this now leave the dooropen for Israel to demand that there be no Arab presence in the Jewishstate? After all, Erekat continuously exhorts Israel's Arab citizens toexpress their Palestinian nationhood. And many do just that, not leastMK Ahmed Tibi and his colleagues.

Same rule for all?

ILYA MEYER Gothenburg, Sweden

It's just human nature

Sir, - It was interesting to read that the Immigrant AbsorptionMinistry apparently found it surprising that Israelis like aliya butare ambivalent regarding olim ("Israelis favor aliya but are mixed onolim, poll shows," January 20). For more than 30 years, starting in the1970s, Shirley Goodman, the director of Volunteers for Clevelanders inIsrael, began preparing Clevelanders for aliya by educating them withseminars on what to expect in Israel from banking and the variousbureaucracies, to buying or renting a home, purchasing healthinsurance, and getting children into school. Clevelanders becamesuccessful olim - out of approximately 500 families who have made aliyaover the past three decades, I recall only one returning to Cleveland.But the 'joke' was always: "Israelis love aliya but hate olim."

Dr. Ze'ev Khanin, chief scientist of the Ministry wants toblame the media for causing this discrepancy which, he says,"...highlights the negative instead of reporting on the norm." But thisisn't a new phenomenon. It's human nature. And it's why Shirley advisedus to participate as fully as possible in Israeli life and to socializewith all Israelis, but "live with your own.


Where's the praise?

Sir, - Permit me to differ from the review of the new opera,"The Child Dreams" (January 20). The impression given by your revieweris that the opera is a failure, that it was "an almost impossible task"to turn the play into an opera and that the only part of the productionthat came even close was the set and the production. The music isdamned with faint - very faint - praise. If the reaction of theaudience is any measure, the opera is a resounding success. Seldom haveI heard such long and resounding applause for any opera here, much lessa new, modern work.

Personally I found the evening to be profoundly moving andmeaningful and the music itself was the center of this. I would haveappreciated a fuller analysis of the music. It was most listenable,unlike many modern scores, and seems to have been influenced by Debussyand Ravel, along with echoes of Alban Berg and even Kurt Weill. Thesingers were all excellent and each received the applause so richlydeserved. The Israel Opera undertook a courageous act in this time offinancial difficulty in sponsoring a serious Israeli opera by a seriouscomposer and it succeeded.