July 20: Compassionate and extinct?

Reading about the "dignity" displayed in Israel last week vs the "gloating" in Lebanon reminded me of the Jews' position in the Holocaust: morally right, yet doomed.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Compassionate and extinct? Sir, - Reading about the "dignity" displayed in Israel last week vs the "gloating" in Lebanon reminded me of the Jews' position in the Holocaust: morally right, yet doomed. And I thought the existence of Israel had changed all that! ("A searing contrast," Editorial, July 17.) "Hizbullah's greatest loss, perhaps, has been its standing in the eyes of principled people." Wishful thinking. Most people don't understand anything until it happens to them. "Principled people" everywhere stood by as six million Jews were killed. During the Second Lebanon War, many in the West chanted "We are all Hizbullah." Enough. We know Hizbullah represents an alien, morally negative universe. And we know who we are. But to survive, one does not congratulate oneself on one's moral superiority. One fights. Otherwise we will follow the Buddhists who had disappeared from India by the 12th century. MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC Beersheba Sir, - While Nazi hunter Ephraim Zuroff tries to track down a Nazi physician in his 90s who murdered Jewish children, we Israelis release a convicted killer of Jewish children who swears to continue on his murderous path ("Nazi-hunter: New info indicates 'Dr. Death' in Chile or Argentina," July 11). JACK CARLIN Jerusalem Grateful but angry... Sir, - "Israel's ethos of never leaving a soldier behind is not only to ensure that the country's soldiers will not be faint of heart going into the next battle, but also, to a great degree, out of a sense of communal obligation following the Holocaust - a feeling that whenever Jews are in danger, everything, but everything, must be done to try to save them, if only because so little was done back then" ("A swap only Israelis can fathom," July 17). I don't live there among you, and I confess I did not understand the logic of the deal that released a killer, but Herb Keinon's analysis answered many of my questions. I hope the world understands the rationale as well. It is a sad event for the families of the two soldiers, but, at the same time, a victory for the nation of Israel, reaffirming its ethos. I am grateful and angry at the same time. JAMES P. CATES Oklahoma City They're our boys, too Sir, - The media has been full of politicians and pundits saying how wonderful we are for swapping murderers for the dead bodies of our soldiers, how it demonstrates the lengths to which we will go to make sure our boys know we will always bring them home. That's just hypocritical, when the fate of Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, the three MIAs from the 1982 battle of Sultan Yakoub, remains unknown ("Disturbing notion," Letters, July 16). These boys were last seen being paraded in Damascus, Syria - whose president our prime and foreign ministers are courting, falling over themselves in an effort just to shake his hand. Since the First Lebanon War, successive governments have not exerted themselves to bring the suffering of these boys' families to an end. For 26 years they have lived in miserable uncertainty about their sons' fate. So don't say we never leave our boys behind, because we do. YEHUDIT COLLINS Jerusalem Peace recedes Sir, - Israeli hearts are broken. I think we now know that there can never be peace between the Arab world and the Jewish people in Israel when the mind-sets are so different. That a brutal terrorist murderer should be hailed as an Arab hero cannot be understood by any civilized person ("Kuntar and other freed prisoners get an enthusiastic welcome in Lebanon," July 17). The most important aspect of peace is to respect "the other" as a human being. Forget politics; this is about reverence for human life. The highest goal of any religion is not to be a martyr after murdering a fellow human being, but to know that God created man in His own image and to cherish that image within every person. This Arab Muslims have not been able to do. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem We cannot let Hamas up the ante... Sir, - We must declare that we hold Ismail Haniyeh and his Hamas cohorts personally responsible for Gilad Schalit's well-being. We must then completely close the Gaza border, with no more fuel or other necessaries delivered until he is returned. It is time for the humanitarian organizations that have tied our hands until now to realize what a vicious enemy we face. If Hamas gets away with upping the ante, there is no saying what future developments may bring ("Prisoner exchange will make it tougher to cut a deal with Hamas," July 17). CYRIL ATKINS Beit Shemesh ...reciprocity's the word Sir, - There is no denying that Hizbullah is part of the government in Lebanon. There is no denying that Hamas is the government in Gaza. Therefore they are as bound to the Geneva Conventions as is Israel. Our future negotiations need to be based on reciprocity. If they deny Red Cross access to our prisoners, we should deny Red Cross access to their prisoners. If they deny family visits, so should we.If they deny cell phones and other means of communication to our prisoners, we should reciprocate. Ditto regarding prisoner exchanges: live prisoners for live prisoners, dead for dead. There is no logic or morality in continuing with a system that encourages our enemies to kidnap and kill our soldiers and civilians. There is no logic or morality in returning terrorists who will return to kill again, for coffins. MOTTLE GOODBAUM Jerusalem