January 26: Too terrible for words

I wish to congratulate Ms. Collins on the word "trivialize." The Shoah is not a piece of cardboard history to take its place alongside 1066, the Spanish Armada or the Napoleonic Wars.

Too terrible for words
Sir,- Liat Collins's thought-provoking article "Preserving the (real)memory" (January 24) revived my memories of participating in theNormandy landings with the British Second Army and the horrifyingdiscovery and opening up of the Belsen concentration camp. Why didn't Iuse the word "freeing"? Because I have always considered that thereleased concentration camp victims were never freed from the terriblememories of their years of unimaginable sufferings. I, who was only aBritish soldier who witnessed the aftermath of this suffering, havenever - not even for a single day - been able to forget the sight ofthe survivors, barely living, skeletons clothed in rags, shufflingforward to some unknown destination.
So I wish to congratulate Ms. Collins on the word "trivialize."The Shoah is not a piece of cardboard history to take its placealongside 1066, the Spanish Armada or the Napoleonic Wars but adeliberate policy to exterminate every single Jew. Too often the word"Shoah" is used in accusations against Israel by our enemies, and evenour own writers and journalists are guilty of using the word toolightly without considering the true impact of its meaning.
NORMAN W. COHEN
Jerusalem
In the righteous spirit
Sir, - The rescue efforts displayed by Israel in Haiti is a clear example of ahavat chinam (unconditionallove). Such a tiny country as Israel has sent to quake-stricken Haitian impressive contingent of 220 highly trained medical and IDFpersonnel, setting up a state-of-the-art hospital in less than 24hours, giving hope to thousands of Haitians. This is a humanitariangesture that has nothing to do with political considerations or cynicalcalculations. After all, even before the earthquake, Haiti was the mostimpoverished country in the Western hemisphere. So what could Haitipossibly offer Israel in return?
Aparallel can be drawn between Israel's help to Haiti and the heroiclegacies of the saviors of Holocaust victims. The latter stood upagainst a huge, evil human-made monster. The former reached out tomillions of people battered by the forces of nature. The saviors of theHolocaust are referred to as The Righteous among the Nations. Israel isa Righteous Nation.
DANNY RAINER
Vice-president
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
Skewed parallel....
Sir,- I never miss a Larry Derfner article, and Inever cease to be amazed at his convoluted conclusions. But his articleon Haiti is by far his best ("The pride and the shame," January 21). Todraw a parallel between the "big-hearted" Israeli-run hospital in Haitiwith the Israeli "heartlessness" in Gaza requires real intellectualacrobatics.
On the one hand, Haiti: a dictatorship with its largely poor,uneducated and subjugated people suddenly hit by a dreadful earthquake,killing tens of thousands and leaving hundreds of thousands withoutfood, water, medical attention and a roof over their heads. On theother hand, Gaza: with a democratically elected Hamas governmentsquandering the billions received annually in aid from all over theworld to dig tunnels in order to smuggle in bigger and better rocketsto fire on innocent Israelis.
And his conclusion? Israel should show as much care for the people of Gaza as it is showing for those of Haiti.
But Derfner conveniently overlooks the fact that the situationin Gaza, as awful as it may be, was the result of the actions of thepeople of Gaza themselves and their elected leaders and, should thePalestinians show a willingness to end the conflict, is instantlyreversible.
The earthquake in Haiti was not caused by the people of Haiti, and most of the tragic results are irreversible.
BERYL RATZER
Netanya
....skewed vision
Sir, - It is interesting to note that in the photographs of yourcolumnists that appear with their articles, only Larry Derfner iswearing tinted glasses. Are they rose colored by any chance?
SARA ROTH
Jerusalem
Free speech or incitement...?
Sir, - The article "Tel Aviv scholar advocates Israel boycott atLondon event" (January 21) describes an attempt by yet another Jewishpseudointellectual from one of Israel's universities to gainrecognition and fame by demonizing the Jewish people. Is this freespeech or incitement? Some day a book describing the effect of Jewishintellectuals in pre-Holocaust Europe will make the seriousness of thisthreat apparent.
There is a law in Israel regarding incitement. At the veryleast, it should be employed to remove these enemies from within fromour universities. Demonizing Israel and fostering anti-Semitism isserious business and should be treated as such.
CHAYIM SEIDEN
Jerusalem
...practice what you preach
Sir, - So Dr. Anat Mazar of Tel Aviv University is to call forIsraeli universities, including presumably her own, to be boycotted byacademics around the world. Dr. Mazar should be allowed the freedom tomake such a call, no matter how repugnant it is to others. But being arigorous academic, she should follow the logic of her position.
To call on every other academic to boycott her university whileshe remains there and draws a salary is the height of hypocrisy. If shewants other academics to break their relationship with TAU, she shouldlead by example. Indeed, any call by an Israeli academic for others toboycott their university should be regarded by the university as aletter of resignation.
PROF. LESLIE WAGNER
Jerusalem
Another school of thought
Sir, - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recognized the ArielUniversity Center of Samaria as a "university center." Ignore the factthat "university center" has no legal meaning, that designations forcenters of learning are not part of the Defense Ministry portfolio,that Barak has no training, certification, background in education, andthat the Council of Higher Education objects to Barak's decision.Ignore the fact that the center is built on occupied territory,violating numerous international conventions. But do not ignore TheFourth Geneva Convention, Article 50: "The Occupying Power shall ...facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the careand education of children."
While Barak unilaterally proclaims an educationalinstitution in occupied territory a "university," he denies basicschool supplies to children in another occupied territory. Theschoolchildren of Gaza are not allowed to receive pencils, paper,textbooks. Their schools are inadequate: damaged, overcrowded,undersupplied.
Themessage is tragic: If you're Jewish and an occupier, you receivemillions of shekels and lofty designations. If you're Palestinian andoccupied, you don't even receive a pencil. As a teacher, this isheart-breaking. As a Jew, whose culture values and extols education,this is an abomination.
JUDY BAMBERGER
O'Connor, Australia
Tawdry trade-off
Sir, - It was disturbing to read about Arad and yet anotherfactory with hundreds of employees that is under threat of closure andof the consequences that will be borne by the far too many haplessfamilies "(Is Motorola quitting Arad?" January 21).
A few weeks ago we heard about another plant that was closed inthe North in favor of a manufacturer in China that would produce theitems a bit more cheaply. The items in question, however, are the metalinsignia for the uniforms of the IDF. I submit that this violatesseveral of the core elements of the Zionist dream.(1) It borders onsacrilege to have the insignia of the Zionist state's uniform to bemade outside our country. (2) The unemployment payments to the hundredsof dismissed employees will be several times greater than thedifference in manufacturing costs. (3) The indifference to the fate ofthose who have lost their incomes is abhorrent in a Jewish state.
Perhapsa boycott by our soldiers of the uniforms bearing these offendinginsignia could win the approval of a wide consensus and serve as awake-up call to all that are responsible for the well-being of ourcitizenry.
ZEV CHAMUDOT
Petah Tikva