July 4: Shirts and the IDF

Whether or not one sympathizes with the message’s sentiment, we have the right to expect discipline and honesty from IDF troops.

Shirts and the IDF
Sir, – The explanation given by five Golani soldiers who wore Tshirts with a political message at a military ceremony strain credulity (“Soldiers pardoned over political T-shirts,” News in Brief, July 1). They claimed that they were not aware of the slogans on the backs of their shirts, and had put them on after the ceremony was over.
Several questions remain unanswered: Who designed and ordered the shirts? Are we to believe that the soldiers didn’t notice words they had not intended to use? How is it that not one of them – or any of their comrades – saw the message and asked about it? Whether or not one sympathizes with the message’s sentiment, we have the right to expect discipline and honesty from IDF troops.
EFRAIM A. COHEN Zichron Ya’acov
A kinder cut?
Sir, – Regarding “Uniting against the shechita ban” (Editorial, July 1), it should be pointed out that the process of stunning is ineffective in approximately 10 percent of all non-kosher slaughter, resulting in animals being partly conscious.
Since the figures for slaughter are gigantic, it is self-evident that the weekly toll of such government- approved cruelty vastly outnumbers the pathetically small number of creatures dispatched by shechita. The woolly- minded, animal-loving Left, together with the Jew-hating Right, choose to disregard this fact totally in their crusade to follow 1933 Nazi legislation.
Sir, – We should not be seeking an exemption from general stunning requirements, but emphasizing the advantages of shechita and the cruelty involved in the frequent cases of improper stunning.
While under laboratory conditions stunning might be effective and not cause any pain or distress, this is most definitely not the case in the typical abattoir.
Animal Aid recently filmed inside eight randomly chosen British slaughterhouses and found evidence of cruelty in seven where animals were kicked, slapped, stamped on, picked up by the ears or fleece, and often improperly stunned before going to the knife while still conscious.
In shechita, where such practices are banned, the cut of a razor-sharp knife causes such a rapid loss of blood supply to the brain that the animal becomes unconscious before it has time to feel the cut itself. The slightest nick in the knife renders the process invalid; the slaughterer is obliged to check his knife regularly to ensure that none are present.
It is probably counterproductive to accuse animal-rights agitators of anti-Semitism just because banning shechita was one of the first things introduced by the Nazis. Only by going over to the attack and emphasizing its superiority over stunning in the avoidance of animal suffering will we be able to make any impact on the wider non-Jewish world.
Setting things straight
Sir, – “Friends of Israel to PM: Accept Obama principles and restart talks” (June 30) mischaracterizes some basic facts.
First, it alleges that I spoke “at a banquet at the King David Hotel on Tuesday together with Ron Lauder at a gathering closed to journalists.” In fact, Lauder spoke at the opening banquet on Monday evening, at which I did not speak at all. Second, I spoke at the Knesset in an open forum on Tuesday morning (which was faithfully reported in the June 29 paper) where I made only passing reference to the fact that Netanyahu should call for direct negotiations based on the Obama principles. But it had no connection with Lauder’s speech.
The article also misquoted me – I believe my words were lost in translation – by attributing to me the remarks that “people think there has been a cultural pond between Obama and Bibi.” I did not use the phrase “cultural pond,” which makes no sense. The word I used was “contretemps.”
IRWIN COTLER Montreal, Canada
Unequal treatment
Sir, – Isi Leibler (“Religious extremism and the democratic Jewish state,” Candidly Speaking, June 30) attacks rabbis of the moderate religious Zionist community for not denouncing the rioting by followers of Rabbi Dov Lior. But he omitted the fact that the author of the infamous Torat Hamelech was brought in for questioning, handcuffed and chained, and was released within a few days without being charged. That being the case, what do the police want from Lior?
Leibler correctly points out that professors can call for the death of settlers and not be questioned by the police. This being the case, is it no wonder that Lior’s followers reacted so violently?
It is precisely for this reason that moderate rabbis will not denounce these yeshiva students.
Effect over intent
Sir, – Regarding “State gives more land to settler farms in Jordan Valley” (June 29), if settlements and the occupation stop a two-state solution, Israel dissolves into one large binational state. Then, the biggest threat to Israel is Israel.
Former Harvard president Larry Summers said there can be “anti-Semitism in effect if not in intent.” If so, there can be “anti- Zionism in effect if not in intent.” Sorrowfully, for Israel’s liberal and realistic well-wishers anti-Zionism is the self-destructive bent of Israel’s most right-wing government in history.
JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts
Advocate for Arik
Sir, – After reading Herb Keinon’s “Sharon should have hit back hard when first rockets fell after Gaza disengagement” (June 24), I have a feeling that former US ambassador Dan Kurtzer lacks a profound understanding of what led to the unilateral disengagement in 2005 and of Israel’s policies prior to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s illness.
An immediate attack on Gaza could have been politically useful to Sharon because it would immediately have lessened rightwing pressure on him after the disengagement. Before his illness, surveys gave his party 44 seats. One can assume that after a strike in Gaza, these surveys would have given it more than 60 seats.
But he did not act, and there were a number of reasons.
The disengagement had not been aimed only at withdrawing from Gush Katif. Another reason was to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, thus separating Hamas from Fatah, and those who accepted the existence of a Jewish state from those who denied its right to exist.
Sharon needed time and additional legitimacy to strike back fully against Gaza and its leaders. He had foreseen attacks from there and was slowly preparing for action against terrorists. He applied the same kind of tactics during the Second Intifada. Even after the terrible terrorist act at Tel Aviv’s Dolphinarium in 2001, he did not lead the army directly into Gaza, waiting with patience for all the world to understand that Israel cannot coexist with terror. This was the reason that a wide military operation began only after the Passover 2002 terrorist act at Netanya’s Park Hotel.
This is not a guess. This is from impressions from regular meetings with him in 2005, when I was a Likud MK and deputy minister.
It is difficult to say what Sharon would have done after Hamas’s election and the capture of Gilad Schalit. One can be sure that in contrast to former prime minister Ehud Olmert and former defense minister Amir Peretz, who were drawn into the Second Lebanese War, he would have attacked Gaza first and foremost.
MARINA SOLODKIN Ashkelon The writer is a member of Knesset from the Kadima party, whose first leader was Ariel Sharon