July 3: O Canada

GEOFF CLEIN: Though Americans in Israel rightly celebrate July 4th, I find it strange that Canadians would want to do likewise with Canada Day.

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
O Canada Sir, - While American Independence Day is rightly celebrated by Americans in Israel, I find it strange that Canadians would want to do likewise with Canada Day. In the last month alone the largest union in Canada has voted to boycott Israel, the largest church in Canada, the Church of Canada, has voted to boycott Israel and Canada this week is hosting a well-known Islamic preacher of hate from the UK. As an Israeli born and raised in Canada, I am proud to say that I neither celebrated Canada Day on its official day of July 1 nor will I celebrate it on July 3 with the AACI. As any Canadian will understand, the only time I am a Canadian is when I am mistakenly identified as an American. GEOFF CLEIN Jerusalem Terrible dilemma Sir, - I sympathize with Fathi Hussein for having run out of money and not knowing how he'll pay his hotel bill as a result of being stuck at the Rafah border ("4,000 Palestinians stuck at Rafah border," July 2). This, indeed is a worrisome thing, but trivial compared to the life of the "one Israeli soldier" he claims is responsible for his terrible dilemma. It's not surprising, though, that he would not understand the value of that precious life, since so many in his culture don't raise their voices in anguish over the ideology that beckons young Arab suicide bombers who not only care nothing for their own lives but nothing for lives of others around them, be they Arab or Jew. When Hussein goes back to his native Saudi Arabia, maybe he should seriously consider being such a voice. We love our children, when will his culture love theirs? C. SCHWAEBER-ISSAN Gizo Worthless paper Sir, - Yossi Beilin proposes that Israel surrender almost the entire West Bank in return for a treaty signed by Mahmoud Abbas, even if there is little chance of the Arabs abiding by such an agreement ("Whose partner," June 30). The only benefit to Israel would be that the therein defined borders would be recognized by the international community. He contends that this acceptance would be worth the devastation of the lives of 100,000 Israeli Jews, the cost of many tens of billions of dollars, the exposure of the remaining Israeli cities and settlements to constant bombardment and terrorist attacks, the complete schism of Israeli society, the decimation of Israeli agriculture, the inability of Israel to absorb large future immigrations should the need arise and many more dire consequences. The value of such international recognition may be evaluated by the word's inaction prior to the Six Day War, when Israel's borders were recognized by all. The best we experienced was US president Lyndon Johnson's statement that "the US is neutral in thought, word and deed." The cost of Beilin's sought after acceptance is just too high! TUVIA MUSKIN Rehovot Sir, - I wonder in which cheek and how deeply implanted within it was Yossi Beilin's tongue when he said, "…the prime minister should realize the importance of a signed document with a Palestinian leader." ("Beilin vows to prevent realignment," June 28). JOEL KUTNER Jerusalem Unnecessary schism Sir, - I was amazed at the contents of the article by Greer Fay Cashman relating to the dispute over the establishment of the Damascus Heritage Center in Holon ("Katsav's intervention sought for Damascus Jewish Heritage Center," June 29). That there should be such discord between those Syrian Jews who experienced such an horrendous modern history of persecution in their own land, including the essential human right of emigrating, and those who came to Israel in earlier generations is shocking. Their mutual heritage should not become the subject of politics or the publicly requested intervention of President Katsav. As one who played a substantial role in the rescue of the Syrian Jewish community between 1972 and 2001, which remained a closely guarded secret from the world until revealed by the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, I am deeply saddened that it was decided by some to make an unnecessary schism public. JUDY FELD CARR Toronto/Jerusalem. Kudos for Katsav Sir, - I commend President Moshe Katsav on his leadership and courage in recognizing Conservative rabbis ("Katsav reaches understanding on clerical title for Conservative rabbis," June 29). It takes courage to right a wrong, especially in the glare of the public eye. It takes statesmanship to change course, especially when the course is unorthodox. True leadership is doing what is right despite the criticism. B. BEN-HARIM Beersheba Significant contribution Sir, - What a tempest in a teapot this "rabbi" controversy is. Three great reform rabbis made a significant contribution to the founding of the State of Israel. Rabbi Stephen Wise was the leading Zionist figure in the US from 1898 until the 1940s. He believed with all his heart and soul that there had to be a Jewish nation. The late Shulamit Schwartz Nardi, an adviser to a number of Israel presidents, explained to me the dramatic role of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver in the behind the scene efforts to insure the passage of the partition plan in November 1947. Rabbi Nelson Glueck was a spy for the British in World War II and helped in his own secretive way in the founding of Israel. Most important Glueck obtained from David Ben-Gurion the property for the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion complex on King David Street. That area was then on the Jordan border of Jerusalem. Several municipal governments fell over issuing a building permit to construct what was labeled "the heathen site." Glueck fought it through and triumphed. None of the three needed a president of Israel to call them rabbi. How sad that President Moshe Katsav has lowered himself into this debate. RABBI DAVID GEFFEN Jerusalem Proper parenting Sir, - If Shmuley Boteach, as a self-proclaimed family expert, describes the woman's breast as an "erotic plaything," he obviously needs to deal with a lot of unfinished business in his own life ("Why the bottle is sometimes a better choice," June 28). I wonder how any man would feel at having his penis so described. The greatest gift a parent can give his or her infant is a healthy lifestyle. Since breast-feeding for the first year or even two has been proved to enhance the child's short- and long-term health status, it would be difficult to imagine that a father is so self-centred that he would deprive his child in order to have sole access to his partner's breasts. Most of the men I have seen in my work are mature and understand that parenthood is a partnership with each partner taking on different aspects of the work. There are periods in a couple's life when the man needs maximum support, for example crises in the workplace, and a concerned partner will do everything to help him. So during breast-feeding, a loving husband will accept that sometimes there are three in the bed. Eventually the kids are weaned, they grow up and leave home. And the couple who have supported each other through all that and grown together will be left to enjoy the empty nest and not having to close the bedroom door. WENDY BLUMFIELD Honorary President Israel Childbirth Education Center Haifa Terribly wrong Sir, - The moral standpoint of IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy, conveyed in his interview with David Horovitz ("IAF chief: Scope of Gaza operation yet to be decided," June 29), is admirable. It is a wonderful to see that in a time of war a military body can give such considerations to civilians within the opposing nation. But Shkedy is terribly and dangerously wrong. Israel's defense chiefs have only one job: to protect the Israeli people. After that, a reasonable level of proportion in targeting terrorists is wise, but it should never come in the way of the prime goal. Shkedy needs to remember that the terrorists are morally culpable for the death of their civilians if they hide among them. Israeli forces are simply too painstaking in their efforts not to harm civilians, and this gets in the way if the obligation they have to protecting the Israeli people. JOHN LALOR Tel Aviv Sir, - Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy "stressed that if we know that [the terrorist] is holding his son's hand, we dont fire... even if [he] is in the midst of firing a Kassam." This is shocking. The terrorist is not playing golf here, but is trying to murder as many Israelis as possible. If Shkedy can't tell the difference, we are in big trouble. BARRY LYNN Efrat ORT in India Sir, - Rivka Rei ("Bnei Menashe stymied in aliya bid," June 26), better known as Rebecca, was a teacher in an ORT school in India and not an art school. In 1960, the World ORT Union opened a vocational school for boys in Bombay (now Mumbai), followed in 1970 by a school for girls. Rebecca was a member of the very first group of boys and girls from Manipur and Mizoram to be admitted in the two schools (of which I had been the director for more than two decades). She completed the hairdressing and beauty care course, followed by the secretarial course. During her years of training, she, like all the other students, received six hours weekly of Hebrew and religious instruction and was also a member of the Israeli folk dance group and the Hebrew choir. She went back home to study for her BA and returned to Bombay to take up the post of teacher and also supervise the girls' hostel. So, her preparation for her aliya was more than anyone could demand. I am however not surprised at the difficulties she encountered as I had been several times taken to task by representatives of the Jewish Agency in Bombay for admitting those kids. I was even once "ordered" in a no uncertain way to send all of them back home, which I of course never did. JOSEPH GUEDJ Karmiel