January 30: Focus of remembrance

I would like to suggest that in addressing Holocaust education, it is not sufficient to teach what happened, where it happened or even why it happened.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Focus of remembrance
Sir, – This week we commemorated International Holocaust Memorial Day. Sadly, however much effort and money have been expended on education, violence, expressions of racism and delegitimization continue unabated. We need only look toward enlightened countries such as France to recognize that baseless hatred of Jews is alive and well.
I would like to suggest that in addressing Holocaust education, it is not sufficient to teach what happened, where it happened or even why it happened. The best antidote would be to teach children, starting early, how to look after and interact with one another with loving kindness, mutual respect, mutual responsibility and accountability for one’s actions.
A person who is kind, loving and respectful of others is a person who cannot harm another.
We need only look toward the many Righteous Gentiles and saintly Jews who made whatever efforts were humanly possible under the most trying circumstances to come to the assistance of imperiled Jews.
Sir, – International Holocaust Memorial Day was officially proclaimed by the United Nations so that the horrors of man`s evil are never forgotten.
Germany was the epitome of civilization and culture, and was looked up to in the Western world. Look what became of it under the Nazis. The evil was so great that even today mankind can never really believe in the total destruction of another people.
Unfortunately, today is so similar in that anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hatred is growing in practically every nation. Nothing is being effectively done. Therefore, the world is getting ready for another outburst of carnage, murder and extermination of people who do not exactly fit into the world`s order.
An International Holocaust Memorial Day should focus on current world problems. Much more attention must be given to the present so that the future will not resemble the past.
Sir, – While reading Lahav Harkov’s vivid “A diary from Auschwitz” (Reporter’s Notebook, January 28), I could not help recalling my first visit to Poland, in April 1963, as a member of the British delegation attending the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. What we saw then, during our rigidly supervised tour of Jewish sites and communities, was very different from the picture one sees today.
Unfortunately, your reporter confused the names of two prominent Nazis. Rudolf Hess, deputy head of the Third Reich, died a convicted war criminal in Berlin’s Spandau Prison. Rudolf Franz Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz responsible for the murder of three million inmates, was hanged by the Poles in 1947.

That threshold
Sir, – David Newman writes nostalgically that we no longer have Ariel Sharon or Shulamit Aloni, or any other leaders “ready to stand up against the whole world for what they believe” (“Sharon and Aloni: An odd couple,” Borderline Views, January 28).
Surely, one reason is that the electoral system no longer envisions a single MK standing against the whole rest of the Knesset. If a party running for seats in the 120-seat Knesset receives only 1/120 of the vote, that party is excluded. In fact, even 2/120 is below the current threshold.
Who’s ready to stand up against the whole world? Arieh Eldad is, but he isn’t in the Knesset.
Although his party received votes equivalent to two seats, it fell short of the artificially inflated threshold. The fate of his party and other small parties serves as a warning to anyone who considers staking out a position outside the vapid mainstream.
Meanwhile, we hear calls to eliminate parties of even three or four members, as if they were outdated, low-denomination coins. If a party can’t enter the Knesset or survive in it without appealing to great phalanxes of voters, then obviously the independent thinkers – the “bloody-minded, obstinate” ones, as Newman calls them – will not be on the inside participating.
They’ll be on the outside wasting their breath.

Ill will and Pollard
Sir, – Reading “After 28 years, Pollard deserves facts, not fiction” (Comment & Features, January 20), I am astonished at the ill will that remains in the US bureaucracy against Jonathan Pollard, and the fact it persists no matter who is president and what the current movements are in US-Israel relations and cooperation.
The writers point out that nothing in the public portion of the court record, including the official “victim’s statement,” shows the least bit of significant harm done by Pollard’s wrongful actions. I do not know whether this tragic situation simply points to the tangible dysfunctionality of the US bureaucracy or is actually indicative of a sinister motive to keep the non-public part of the court records concealed for as long as possible. (Secret courts are in themselves anathema to democracy and Judeo-Christian principles.) I wish President Barack Obama would prove himself a mensch and pardon some people who deserve executive clemency!
Monterey, California
More than just one
Sir, – Your otherwise interesting “Emanuel Winston: Photographic memories” (Comment & Features, January 13) names Sol Baskin, a good friend whose achievements I admire, as “the only commissioned officer in Mahal.” That’s not a compliment to others who served.
I know of at least eight American officers in the ground forces, from “Mickey” Marcus, commander of the Jerusalem front until his tragic death in June 1948, down to four captains and lieutenants in my own 72nd Infantry Battalion.
Commanding the navy was Paul Shulman. At least three others commanded vessels. This does not include a number of engineering and communications officers.
And what about air crew? There were 105 American pilots and 21 navigators, all officers.
Just for the record, I also know of non-American officers who served in Mahal, including two from Britain and one from Holland in the navy, and three British volunteers and one Australian in the artillery. In addition, a Canadian commanded the 7th Brigade, another the 79th Battalion, and a third commanded the heavy tank company of the 82nd Armored Battalion. In the ground units I also know of two French officers, three others from Britain and one from Kenya. There were also 82 medical officers from 13 other countries, 50 alone from South Africa; two were killed in action treating wounded fighters under fire.

Saving the water
Sir, – With regard to “Despite winter storms, Dead Sea water level continues to fall” (January 8), the Jordan River terminates in the Dead Sea, thus wasting much-needed fresh water. At the same time, the sea is gradually drying up.
Since the project of supplying the Dead Sea with water from the Red Sea is close to realization, isn’t now the time to think of saving the fresh water of the Jordan River, or at least the small amount that reaches the Dead Sea? Perhaps a reservoir can be built in cooperation with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, the same parties involved in the Red Sea/Dead Sea project.
There should be a water lock between the reservoir and the Dead Sea. It can be closed to fill the reservoir and opened if it becomes too full.
Wouldn’t this be a logical, useful and, eventually, money-saving component of the Red Sea/Dead Sea undertaking?
New York
The writer is a mechanical engineer
CLARIFICATION “Do not imperil the Jewish communities outside Israel” (Comment & Features, January 28) was co-written by Itzhak Levav. We regret the omission.