June 11: Now that'd be news

If former US president Jimmy Carter was going to meet Gilad Schalit - that news would have real meaning.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Now that'd be news Sir, - Re "Carter to meet Noam Schalit" (June 10): If former US president Jimmy Carter was going to meet Gilad Schalit - that news would have real meaning. MIRIAM L. GAVARIN Jerusalem Great stories Sir, - Two great articles in your June 10 issue made my day. The first was the discovery of nanotech injections for osteoarthritis - a fantastic idea. Many years ago, when I still lived in England, I asked my orthopedic specialist: "If they can reach the moon, can't they invent something to inject into the body's joints?" He laughed at this preposterous idea. Now, lo and behold, "Israeli-developed nanotech relief from pain of osteoarthritis to be demonstrated at Technion." The second story was "IDF working on developing battlefield robotic spy snake," a wonderful way to sneak into odd places (Nasrallah's bathroom?). They should call it "The Heiniken" after the famous ad for a beer that "reaches places that others can't." JUDY PRAGER Petah Tikva Quite polite, really Sir, - I often read about a person delivering a "blistering" or "harsh" attack. Then, when I read that person's actual words, I see that they are polite and far less extreme than what one hears every day in Congress or the House of Commons. Moshe Ya'alon's speech in Washington, for example, could be described as "forceful" or "controversial," surely - but hardly "blistering" or "belittling" ("In hardline speech in Washington, Ya'alon belittles Obama's policy on Iran," June 10). Please save such sensationalistic adjectives to describe the orations of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the leaders of North Korea, where they apply. CAROL CLAPSADDLE Jerusalem Sir, - I have heard Moshe Ya'alon speak several times, most recently this past Sunday to a private audience in New York. At no time did he belittle President Obama. The strategic affairs minister speaks Arabic, understands the Muslim-Arab attitude toward the State of Israel, the constant anti-Jewish incitement that flows from official Arab media as well as the mosques. Hence he doesn't believe that "peace in two years" is possible. This is his well-known and established position. I heard him say only positive things about Mr. Obama, while disagreeing with some of his views. MICHAEL MOSKOWITZ New York Libel won't wash away criticism Sir, - In his eagerness to libel me and NGO Monitor's research ("Many narratives, not one," June 8), Larry Garber, CEO of the New Israel Fund, has again misread the text. My article "Taking back the narrative" (May 31) on the fictitious narrative many NGOs use to demonize Israel did not endorse the "Nakba Law." I explicitly noted that had it been passed (the cabinet wisely withdrew it), it would have been nullified as a violation of free speech. The other 700 words of my analysis focused on the narrative wars, in which NIF's misguided funding plays a key role. In his diatribe, Mr. Garber chose to ignore the substantive criticism of NIF's support of blatant anti-Zionist activities under the facade of civil rights. For example, NIF gave $125,000 to Mada al-Carmel, an NGO behind the Haifa Declaration, promoting the campaign supporting "a change in the definition of the State of Israel from a Jewish State." There are many more such NGOs among NIF's grantees. Disregarding these facts and trashing serious analysis will not help NIF to correct its mistakes or answer donors concerned about the way their funds are used by NGOs who demonize the Jewish state. GERALD STEINBERG Executive Director, NGO Monitor Jerusalem Sir, - Larry Garber's op-ed concluded with this absurd passage: "Israelis with opposing views to those expounded in the article should reconcile to the absolute necessity of sharing a land in a just and equitable manner - that is a task for everyone who truly loves Israel." My reply is that the vast majority of Israelis do not subscribe to Mr. Garber's outlandish views. To suggest that we cannot "truly" love our country unless we adopt the New Israel Fund's "teachings" is shameful. M.U. MILUNSKY Netanya Obama spoke to Muslim 'children' Sir, - While listening to President Obama's speech in Cairo last week, I couldn't help but wonder why the "Muslim world," a group of 1.5 billion people lumped together under a single title, was so happy with what it heard ("Palestinians hail president's 'clear and frank message' to Israel," June 5). Some have compared the speech to a self-deprecating apology, others to a respectful bid at befriending a foreign culture. To me, it sounded like an unbelievably patronizing overture. I couldn't help but think of a parent talking to a scolded child who has run to his room and refuses to talk to anyone. The parent must invariably end the stalemate by going to the child's room and boosting his ego in the hope that this will lead him to end his self-imposed exile. In trying to show respect, Obama labeled the Muslim world as the children of the international community. However, I'm not sure he had much of a choice: Maybe he had to address them like children because that's how they've labeled themselves via their actions. In recent history, Arab and Muslim countries have been notoriously cut off from the West, largely rejecting compromise on any issue. Their only real connections with the West are based on the oil trade. Otherwise, they shut themselves up inside their borders, refusing real discussion of their human rights records, attitude toward Israel, hate-education of their children and empty pledges to fight terrorism. Instead of addressing them as adults, therefore, Obama was forced to stroke the collective Muslim ego with a laundry list of Muslim breakthroughs from the 9th century, including algebra! The speech was lauded as a leap forward in Western-Muslim relations, issued from the heart of the Muslim world. All I saw, though, was a parent stroking the ego of an upset child. AVISHAI SHUTER New Rochelle, New York Sir, - President Obama should not be faulted for believing that Israel's right to its land is based on persecution throughout the centuries that culminated in the Holocaust. Blame should be placed, instead, at the doorstep of our enlightened leaders who have taken, and still take, all foreign dignitaries to visit Yad Vashem as the first stop of their visit. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Bible has been relegated to secondary importance. The aim was to establish Israel as "a light unto the nations" - an international socialist democracy - and not the biblical home of the Jewish people. The Arabs have even been allowed to rewrite our history by destroying all signs of the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount. Along with the abrogation of our Holy Scriptures, we are left with almost no national identity and no other choice than to use the Holocaust as our raison d'etre. Obama is not to blame. We are. RAPHAEL ROSENBAUM Kiron Ruth's speech Sir, - Avi Shafran's timely "Conversion as Halacha knows it" (June 10) about the nature, extent and desirability of certain conversions brings to mind a little-explored aspect of King David's great-grandmother's conversion that has occupied these pages. Notwithstanding the flight of both Machlon and Chilyon with their parents to Moab and their subsequent marriage to two Moabite princesses, nowhere is it found that their nuptials were with non-Jewesses, since it is accepted by our sages that both young ladies would have had to undergo conversion prior to their Jewish weddings. Thus the beautiful and highly-charged speech by Ruth to her mother-in-law was not an act of conversion, but of love - no less valuable than whatever other purpose is assigned to it. STANLEY COHEN Jerusalem Not too surprising Sir, - I was not at all surprised by Rabbi Avi Shafran's reaction to my article "In praise of conversion" (June 1). On the contrary, I would have been surprised had he agreed with my premises since the organization he represents, Agudath Israel, does not accept the findings of historical research and insists that nothing in Judaism has ever changed. It should be pointed out, however, that his quarrel is not only with me, a "Conservative rabbi," but with large segments of Orthodox Judaism that recognize these developments, and with the many Orthodox leaders here in Israel who agree that Halacha is not as he contends; indeed, that the current stance of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel is a distortion of traditional Jewish Law. I must, however, correct one statement by Rabbi Shafran: that "as a non-Orthodox rabbi, [Hammer] is not constrained by the requirements of Halacha." As a follower of Conservative/Masorti Judaism, I am indeed bound by Halacha. The difference is that I do not believe Halacha is what he says it is, and in that I am joined by many others from the Orthodox camp. RABBI REUVEN HAMMER Jerusalem Imperative to tell Sir, - Baruch Tenembaum is right "'Holocaust survivors have [a] moral obligation to tell who rescued them" (June 10). If it weren't for their saviors, these people would not be with us today. While we must all pay tribute to the saviors, to whom we owe an eternal debt of gratitude, we have, above all, a moral duty to tell their stories to the younger generations. The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation does an admirable job of digging out unknown stories of rescue, such as the feats of Stanislawa Slawinska, the Polish Righteous Among the Nations whose story you published last year. MARIO SOLTAN Jerusalem