June 18: Back to '1984'?

We are headed back to 1984, with the honorable Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman as Big Brother.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Back to '1984'? Sir, - In addressing Knesset members, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman talked about the overload of cases pending in the courts. He suggested, unbelievably, that cases involving traffic offenses could be reduced; so that if a driver crossed a red light, the car would be "impounded for 10 years" and the driver "heavily fined." I assume that if a pedestrian crossed on a red light, he would be imprisoned for a number of years. There would thus be fewer cases before the courts, and Israel would become a vast parking lot, surrounded by newly built prisons for most of the population. We are headed back to 1984, with the honorable Minister Neeman as Big Brother ("Rotem slams criticism of judicial panel election," June 17). MORDECHAI SPIEGELMAN Jerusalem Great + a pity = a great pity Sir, - I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Freund's assessment of the PM's speech this past Sunday ("The Right's knuckleheaded response," June 17). Binyamin Netanyahu delivered an honest, well-thought-out, politically astute, balanced appraisal of Israel's past history and present situation and offered the Palestinian side yet another chance to sit down and talk peace. Unfortunately, it will choose neither to put up nor to shut up, as proven by its long history of political and diplomatic missteps. A pity for all of us in this part of the world, including the Palestinian masses, who are unable to recognize opportunities to better their lives because of the brainwashing by their political and religious leaders. N. COHEN Jerusalem Sir, - "Two states living side by side in peace and security" - the utopian dream could have been fulfilled even back in 1948. Why not? There were no settlements to stop it. At this point, Barack Obama's main thrust has to be to demand that the PA school curriculum be changed from its hateful Nazi-like propaganda, and for the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. After that, all things will be possible. But until then, "When the wolf lies down with the lamb" is a more realistic time-frame! NAOMI FEINSTEIN Givat Ada Sir, - The "peace process" has all the substance of a mirage. And for at least one excellent reason: Any Palestinian making the least conciliatory gesture toward Israel would be immediately murdered by his own people. Few Palestinians would be anxious to court such a fate. They are now themselves victims of the culture of violence which they created, and which only they can eradicate. Until they do, any "progress" toward peace is illusory. OSCAR DAVIES Jerusalem Sorting, sort of Sir, - In "Time for a new ally?" (June 16), Leon de Winter wrote: "American Jewry, which is in majority an affluent, liberal, assimilated and only vaguely religious group, has been distancing itself more and more from Israel, which it considers right-wing, militaristic, chauvinistic, belligerent." Isn't this a sorting phenomenon? If Zionism has already reached the broad range of American Jewry, doesn't it make sense that those Jews who are least assimilated, least secular and most historically aware would disproportionately respond to the arguments of Zionism and make aliya to Israel, leaving behind those who are the opposite? Isn't it logical to predict that the longer Israel maintains its Law of Return, the less sympathetic foreign Jews will be to Israel's position simply by virtue of the character of those who choose not to come? It would be interesting to survey not just America, but the Russian Jews Leon mentions, as well as others across the globe who may have had some possibility of emigrating but chose not to, in order to discover whether olim by the very nature of their courage to come are quite different in both religious and political philosophy. Isn't it reasonable to expect that at some point, a large proportion of those who havean ethnically Jewish background but remain in foreign lands have been assimilated past the point of no return? It is mildly shocking to me that, as a Christian, I find myself more pro-Israeli than most of my Jewish friends, and I wonder why. BILL KARKOW Iowa Untrumpeted virtue Sir, - Brian Schrauger writes that Israel is losing the struggle for world opinion ("Israel is losing the PR war so badly that even evangelical support is eroding," June 15). Perhaps this is because Israel has failed to trumpet the virtue that makesit tower over all its neighbors. Arab life among Arabs is not as valued as Western life is among Westerners. In a war between two nations, one can justify the killing of the enemy because he is the brutal, detested Other - but how does one justify killing one's own people, as in the civil wars and governmental massacres that have wracked the Arab world? In the past 30 years, there have been: 20,000 dead in an 1982 uprising in Hama, Syria; up to 3,000 Moroccans killed between 1956-1999 under King Hassan II; over 150,000 dead in the 1991-2002 Algerian civil war; incomprehensible inter-factional savagery, including suicide bombings, in Iraq today; the current civil war in the failed state of Somalia; and a staggering two million dead in Sudan's civil war. For none of these conflicts are there exact Arab figures for how many Arabs have died. Israel has provided exact casualty figures for all its wars since its creation in 1948. (Astonishingly, in almanacs one can go back over two centuries and know the exact casualty figures of all America's wars, even the 1775-83 Revolutionary War.) In the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Iran sent, shockingly, human waves of older men, children and sometimes women to die at the front. A half-million Iranians were slaughtered, almost equal to the total number of American, British and Canadian soldiers killed in WWII! JACOB MENDLOVIC Toronto Choose life Sir, - Thank you for "Detectives on the roof" (Judy Montagu, June 17). I used the publication of Dudu Topaz's suicide attempt to discuss the phenomenon with my young kids. (Alas, children have been among its victims.) My message was that people try to end their lives out of complete despair, seeing no way out; but I stressed that they should know, deeply, that there is a future - maybe presently hidden - in which things will look very different. I find hopelessness endemic in Israel. Constantly I hear "Ein ma la'asot" (There's nothing to be done); "Ein breira" (There's no choice), and "Kacha zeh" (That's just the way it is). It comes from all the persecutions and the wars, no doubt. Whenever I overhear someone say "No choice," I always interrupt: "Yes, there is - it says so in the Torah: "Choose life!" Maybe one day someone will remember this, just when they need it most. M.M. VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem Bam!-ba Sir, - Are the two respected sons of a former chief rabbi, engaged in a public squabble over the blessing to be said over a snack food, operating under the influence of the product's big-baby logo? ("Dispute over Bamba blessing underscores rabbinical power struggle," June 17.) YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem