July 11: All together

Hearing about the shortage of water in Israel takes me back 40 years to when I lived in Johannesburg, South Africa.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
All together Sir, - Hearing about the shortage of water in Israel takes me back 40 years to when I lived in Johannesburg, South Africa. Every few years we had a drought year, with severe restrictions on water use during the dry season. One of the things I remember was that the press ran a competition asking for the best suggestions on how the public could save or use water more efficiently. By and large, the ideas were feeble and often very stupid - some of them were hilariously funny.The point, however, was that the public knew the country had a crisis, and consequently everyone tried to cut down on their water usage ("Mismanagement to blame for worst water crisis ever," July 9). RONNIE FELDMAN Hod Hasharon Friend in the House Sir, - Thanks for Herb Keinon's interesting article on Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ("A friend in a key place in the House," July 4). She is a remarkable woman, and it is indeed great to have a friend like her on Capitol Hill. There is just one small but important detail that wasn't mentioned, which I'm sure has some impact on her pro-Israel position in Congress: She is Jewish! Although she was raised as a Catholic, her mother is a Turkish Jewess who converted to marry her Cuban Catholic father. I'm surprised she did not mention this, as she told me about it herself while on her visit here last week. KEN SPIRO Jerusalem Hillel Kook's role Sir, - How appalling is Yad Vashem's mistreatment of Hillel Kook, aka Peter Bergson, a truly towering figure in modern Jewish history. As Isi Liebler pointed out so well in "Yad Vashem and Hillel Kook" (July 8), Kook performed PR near-miracles while battling both a less than indifferent US government and a more than quiescent American Jewish establishment. All honor is due to his memory. The museum must rescind its very poor decision to ignore him. RICHARD D. WILKINS Syracuse, New York Sir, - Yad Vashem is well aware of the important activities of the Bergson Group. Regarding what was stated in Isi Liebler's op-ed, Yad Vashem did not "reject out of hand" the petition presented by Dr. Becky Kook to have her father's activities represented in the museum's permanent display. Indeed, Prof. Dan Michman, chief historian at Yad Vashem, met with Dr. Kook and her delegation in a scheduled meeting and received the petition from her personally. Context is essential to the presentation of history. This is true of the study of the Holocaust, as well as of the reactions to it in the free world. Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum focuses on the central story of the Jews in the Holocaust. Of course, no museum, regardless of its breadth and scope, can include all of the events, activities and occurrences that took place during the period of the Holocaust and World War II. Yad Vashem devotes limited space to official American responses, and none at all to the responses of Jews in the free world. Inserting a discussion of Bergson here would be out of context, and therefore misleading. It is important to stress that Yad Vashem is not only a museum. It carries out a wide range of activities including research, education, documentation and a Web site entered by over seven million visitors a year. In fact, Yad Vashem translated and published, in Hebrew, David Wyman's book The Abandonment of the Jews, where he highlights the activities of the Bergson Group. For many years, Yad Vashem has employed these means, as well as seminars, workshops and lectures, in order to discuss this group's activities. IRIS ROSENBERG, Spokesperson Yad Vashem Jerusalem Christian story... Sir, - Hillel Halkin, in his usual lucid and balanced manner, has once again helped us to see the "big picture" ("Making Jesus too Jewish," July 9). However, what I find rather strange is that neither the abstract of Prof. Knohl's paper, nor The New York Times write-up, nor Halkin's article made mention of the two obvious, and specific, Jewish sources which were then "in the air": the traditions of a Messiah ben Joseph, who will be killed, and the passage in Hosea 6:2 - "After two days will He revive us. On the third day He will raise us up that we may live in His presence." Put them together, and you have the Christian story! SHUBERT SPERO Jerusalem ...and the Jewish one Sir, - Hillel Halkin repeats a historical inaccuracy and Arab propaganda three times, referring to "first-century CE Palestinian Jewish thought," "first-century Jewish Palestine," and "first-century Palestinian Judaism." And your caption under the photo, credited to the Hebrew University, which accompanies the column refers to "first-century Jewish Palestine." Yet we know for a fact that during most of the first century CE, there was no entity called Palestine. This was a term introduced at the end of the century, and after the conquest of the area by Rome and the destruction of the Second Temple. The occupied country was known as Judea, a fact that needs to be more generally known and acknowledged. Since the theme of Mr. Halkin's column is the alleged beginnings of Christian thought and belief, naming of the country the way it is in this op-ed negates the historical Jewish state and lends credence to Arab propaganda that there was an independent country called Palestine, instead of Judea, the homeland of the Jews. AHARON I. GOLDBERG Hatzor Haglilit