Letters: January 27 PR for survival

Our continuous struggle for survival no longer confined to battlefield, but fought daily on computers and TVs around world.

PR for survival

Sir, – Our leadership must absolutely come to realize that our continuous struggle for survival is no longer confined merely to the battlefield, but is being fought daily on the screens of computers and TVs around the world (“Czech foreign minister to ‘Post’: Israeli PR in Europe is ‘miserable,’” January 25).
We can be proud of the IDF’s achievements in defending us to this today, but we must invest the same kind of talent, money and effort in convincing the uninformed that we are not the occupying monsters our enemies make us out to be. David Ben-Gurion’s attitude of “oom schmoom” may have been valid in 1956, but in today’s world of instant visual communications, the situation has drastically changed.
Ganei Tikva
A perfect world
Sir, – I would not be surprised if Israel were blamed for the explosion at the Moscow airport (“Suicide bomber kills at least 35 in Moscow airport attack,” January 25). After all, if we made peace with the Palestinians, the Chechens would have no more complaints against the Russians, and the Greek and Turkish Cypriots would make up, as would the Tamils and Hindus in Sri Lanka, the Sunnis and Shi’ites in Iraq, and the lions and antelope on the plains of Africa.
Full-phylactery scan
Sir, – David Newman’s January 25 column (“Torah to Zion,” Borderline Views) about bringing Torah scrolls here by air reminds me of an argument at Beijing airport. The problem was my tefillin.
An officious security woman wanted to see inside the tefillin to determine if they were a security risk, but I would not let her touch or open them. When she insisted, I told her they were holy objects I needed for my prayers, but it was clear that she did not understand “holy” or “prayers,” and probably didn’t know what religion was either. She refused to call someone from El Al and got more and more annoyed with me.
Mild-mannered though I normally am, I got more and more annoyed with her. My wife whispered, “Do you want to spend Shabbat in jail?” So I caImed down, and finally a security supervisor let me through.
I asked the rabbi of a southeast Asian country to get me a statement in Asian languages to explain that observant Jews carry religious appurtenances with them, but the statement never came.
How do other readers deal with such problems? RABBI RAYMOND APPLE Jerusalem Poisonous and malign Sir, – Colin Nevin writes from County Down to wonder aloud why Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has never visited the Holy Land during her 60-year reign (“Majestic Pilgrimage,” Letters, January 25).
The answer is the poisonous and malign influence of the British Foreign Office, which has steadfastly maintained its pro-Arab and anti- Semitic stance for the past 80 years and longer. While they continue to whisper their vile messages into the ears of the queen and her ministers, we shall never be privileged to greet her in the holy city.
STANLEY COHEN Jerusalem The writer made aliya from London in 2006
Must not be silent
Sir, – It is truly shocking that we still have in our midst Jewish leaders who appear intent on returning to the days of silence, and hiding the facts so that only the “select few” will know the truth of the growing dangers to the community (“Montreal Jewish leader: We don’t always notify the public about incidents of vandalism,” January 24).
Did we not learn from our recent history the dangers of not letting the community know the truth, which would have allowed them to make their own decisions? Why this paternal attitude to the “Jewish street?” Rabbi Reuven Poupko must assume he knows best when, by his own admission, he has withheld knowledge of anti-Semitic incidents from the likes of Irwin Cotler MP, the member of Parliament for one of the affected areas.
The rabbi has also withheld data from B’nai Brith Canada, which is charged with documenting all anti-Semitic incidents and sharing the information with those who are monitoring anti-Semitism across Canada and worldwide.
Only last year, after a string of incidents in Montreal, Rabbi Poupko and others in his organization downplayed their seriousness, calling them “the smallest crime wave in the history of mankind,” while lashing out at B’nai Brith Canada for raising the alarm and keeping the community informed.
This “sweeping under the rug” approach works against the best efforts of the front-line Jewish defense organizations.
Had the seriousness of the incidents not been downplayed last year as just “one guy who threw rocks through four institutions and broke some glass” and “one kid with spray paint who daubed several places,” then perhaps a clear community-led strategy might have been put in place. There was even government funding available in Canada to help institutions beef up their security.
Are there others like Rabbi Poupko worldwide who are burying the truth? Could it be that Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein’s reported figures on anti-Semitism worldwide appear lower because the facts are being kept secret? In Canada, we have urged all Jewish institutions and individuals to contact the community’s Anti- Hate Hot Line (1-800-892-2624) to report all acts of anti-Semitism.
Total disclosure and transparency is what is needed, not obscuring the truth.
FRANK DIMANT Toronto The writer is CEO of B’nai Brith Canada
God in sports
Sir, – Regarding the letter you printed attributing Shahar Pe’er’s loss in the Australian Open to playing on Shabbat (“Sabbath tennis, January 24), a bit of sports history might be instructive: the case of legendary Jewish baseball star Hank Greenberg.
In 1934, with Greenberg’s Detroit Tigers uncharacteristically in a pennant race, Greenberg announced he would not play on Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur.
Under tremendous pressure from fans – who helpfully pointed out that the Jewish New Year comes every year, while the Tigers hadn’t won a pennant since 1909 – Greenberg consulted a local Reform rabbi who permitted him to play on Rosh Hashana.
Though he felt uneasy taking the field, he heroically hit two home runs in a 2-1 game that clinched the pennant for Detroit. The next day, the Detroit Free Press headline read “Shana Tova” – Hebrew lettering! Despite continuing fan pressure, Greenberg refused to play on Yom Kippur. When he walked into synagogue late in the morning service, the congregation stopped praying and gave him a standing ovation.
But without him in the lineup, the Tigers lost, 5-2.
What is the cosmic meaning of all this? I don’t know. But please think twice before declaring sports results to be divine retribution.
Honoring Winnie
Sir, – I have just finished reading Sir Martin Gilbert’s Churchill and the Jews. It was an eye-opener for me – I never realized how consistently supportive Churchill was of the Jews and the Zionist movement for over 30 years.
There are streets in Tel Aviv named after Allenby, Masaryk and King George V, but none in the name of Churchill. Isn’t it time this was corrected?
Harvey Milk (“Give them a second chance to be straight,” Comment & Features, January 25) was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, but never served as mayor.