June 3: Better disliked than pitied

The State of Israel is viewed as an overbearing slave master, and Britons love an underdog regardless of his morals or actions.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Better disliked than pitied Sir, - May I comment on Gerald Steinberg's "Britain's obsessive boycotters" (May 30)? It is true that the British public have an antipathy toward Israel. This is mainly fuelled by an angst-ridden leftist media. However, the "intellectual thinking man" and the latter-day Marxist union leader have a different agenda, based on dislike of the establishment and Western (American) values. They still hanker after the old Soviet Union. The State of Israel is viewed as an overbearing slave master, and Britons love an underdog regardless of his morals or actions. Quite how 1.3 billion Muslims are a minority, I have yet to understand. The dislike of the US and Israel is based on their success and perceived elitism. Yet better to be disliked than pitied! These busybodies will thrash about in their cloistered world while Israel gets on with what it does best - being successful. JEFFREY MARLOWE Leeds, UK Add me to the list Sir, - I would be grateful to Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and Colleges Union, if she added my name to the list of Israeli institutions and academics her union is preparing to boycott ("Academic boycott call appalls UK Jews," May 31). As a supporter of Israeli democracy, I would be honored to be blacklisted with some of the world's finest scientists. ALEXANDER MASSEY Division of Cancer Studies King's College London Enough is enough Sir, - As Morris Pollard poignantly reasons, the draconian punishment meted out to his son Jonathan Pollard is illogical and unprecedented when compared to far more serious espionage cases ("Victim of a unique and visceral hatred," May 30). The real intent of this case is to place the supporters of Israel in the US government on warning about "double loyalty." But after 21 years, this message has already been delivered. It is simply unbecoming to the standards of American jurisprudence to allow mean-spirited, anti-Israel groups to tarnish the reputation of the world's greatest democracy. No self-respecting African-American, Hispanic or Muslim would tolerate such unequal treatment before the law. We Jews must demand the same. Jonathan must be pardoned by President George W. Bush. If not, history will judge this case in the same manner as the Dreyfus injustice. ROBERT DUBLIN Jerusalem Welcome the converts Sir, - Rabbi Haim Druckman's dispute with the haredim is especially disturbing when we have just celebrated Shavuot and read the Book of Ruth, about the Moabite convert who was the great-grandmother of King David ("Conversion Authority head Druckman berates 'closed haredi clique,'" May 29). By today's haredi standards, the illustrious young woman would have been sent packing, and the elderly Naomi left to an unkind fate. All things being equal, the number of Jews in the world is not growing by leaps and bounds, and we should welcome those who sincerely want to cast their lot with us, irrespective of how frum they may be. The haredi brand of "racial purity" can only lead to genetic disaster (I have heard from medical sources that the number of inherited infirmities among haredi newborns is well above the average, despite frantic prenuptial screening). The bottom line is that being Jewish has not been so easy these past 3,000 years, and all those willing to get in our leaky boat with us should not have to go through a meat grinder first. TREVOR DAVIS Asseret Student trips to Poland Sir, - A familiar chord was struck when I read David Horovitz's "Building our own Jewish Identity" (May 18). Some five or six years ago, I sent my son on the school's Poland trip. At the time all the parents commented on the expense but all paid up, including me. Then I wrote a letter to your paper and to then-education minister Limor Livnat in which I commented: How is it possible to consider this as an important educational trip when most of the students can't afford to make it? As you pointed out, the stipends offered are small and most pupils do not fit into the categories. Livnat stated that she agreed with my argument and that they were trying to find more funding to subsidize this important project. As we see, nothing has been done. I hope that the Yedid campaign and your column will move or touch someone who has the means and the heart to get involved and allow more pupils to join this wonderful identity-building trip. I would be happy to help in any way so that by the time my youngest makes the trip, I'll be able to afford it. RACHEL BEN-ELIEZER Efrat Traveling kosher Sir, - Further to Barbara Sofer's "Regards from the wilderness" (UpFront, May 25) describing how Chabad provides kosher food the world over: From the end of the 19th century until the early 1950s, Orthodox Jews were already traveling the world in various capacities. They did not carry any canned food, instead they ate at the homes of rabbis and others who kept kosher. Rabbis and their wives on every continent hosted thousands of people who sought kosher meals. The children of these Orthodox rabbis frequently had their meager meals reduced when visitors arrived. As many of those Orthodox rabbis died and no one came to replace them, observant Jews traveling on business knew that their diets would be limited unless they brought canned food with them. The late chief rabbi of Britain, Immanuel Jakobovits, set a new trend in the 1960s when he took his family in a trailer to the western US. In his High Holy Day sermons he mentioned where they ate as they traveled. In the early 1960s the late Lubavitcher Rebbe began sending couples to outposts all over the world. Now, as Sofer emphasizes, they are everywhere, providing spiritual and kosher food for all who seek it. DAVID GEFFEN Jerusalem