March 17: Calling do-gooders

Pack up your bags and banners and go and demonstrate in Beijing or Lhasa.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Calling do-gooders Sir, - The riots in Tibet offer a wonderful opportunity for all the foreigners who come to Israel to protest: Pack up your bags and banners and go and demonstrate in Beijing or Lhasa. You'll need to take into account, however, that this is a different ball-game and there will be no kid-glove approach such as you receive from the IDF. There you'll be playing for real ("Tibetans killed as China crushes protest," March 16). ZVI FREEDMAN Tivon Beyond fine words Sir, - If Chancellor Merkel wants to prove that Germany stands with Israel, then rather than just speaking high-sounding words, she and her Austrian counterpart should stop resisting increased trade sanctions between the EU and Iran and realize that German business must take some of the burden of forcing Iran to stop becoming nuclear ("Germany, Israel face common threats, Merkel says ahead of arrival today," March 16). PETER SIMPSON Jerusalem Eliot Spitzer... Sir, - Without belittling any of governor Spitzer's pre-scandal achievements, I found Marilyn Henry's less-than-veiled criticism of Jews for not "sticking by their man," as it were, somewhat curious ("A case of Jewish anxiety," March 16). There are no Jewish issues here, and certainly no reason to expect the Jewish community to come to the governor's defense. This was a major and indefensible moral and possibly criminal failing of a high-level, high-profile and powerful politician. The governor - or any self-respecting politician - could do nothing less than resign and face the legal, political and possibly familial consequences alone. Compare that with a very Jewish president of the Jewish state committing far worse acts against Jewish women, paying for all defense costs with money taken from mostly Jewish taxpayers, and ultimately trying to save some face by relying on a controversial plea-bargain arranged and approved by Jewish government legal officials and a very Jewish Supreme Court. I'd say we have a lot to learn from our American Jewish brethren. GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit ...and the Jews Sir, - I was fascinated by Calev Ben-David's analysis of the Eliot Spitzer affair ("A sordid finish for the potential 'Jewish president,'" March 12). I wonder, however: Why must we Jews persist in adopting as our own the accomplishments of those who are Jewish in name only? It is reported that, aside from having no religious upbringing, Mr. Spitzer was never a bar mitzva. He also did not marry within our faith. I understand ethnic pride, but what purpose does it serve to uplift ourselves on a man's Jewish ancestry when he has not done the most basic Jewish things? Mr. Spitzer is not the first person to have failed to embrace his Jewishness. My point is rather this: The fact that he could have reached even greater heights in politics and public service has nothing to do with his Jewish identity, or lack thereof. His tenuous ties to Judaism simply would not warrant the frenzied adulation a first Jewish US president might evoke. To believe otherwise means we should also be proud of Disraeli, Zolli, even Jesus, all of whom were Jews. As Jews, we strive to be decent, good and honorable and seek association with those, Jew and non-Jew, who are the same. We live, I hope, in search of equity and justice - to be the righteous amongst the nations. As such, we should view Mr. Spitzer for what he is: a man who, in time, should be pitied for his personal failings. However, to intoxicate ourselves with "what could have been" for a man who happened to be born Jewish is a precedent unworthy of repetition. J. FRIEDMAN New Jersey Double standards Sir, - I realize that men are mortals and prone to human temptation, and I don't criticize the former governor for succumbing to his weaknesses by finding a lover. But I do criticize him for breaking his oath of office and for his double standard in carrying out a fierce legal crusade against wrongdoers while he himself committed similar wrongs. I believe American men need to address the issue of prudence and responsibility in regard to sexuality. If men were required to fully support any woman they slept with, they might show a lot more discretion. As long as it's a game of hide-and-seek "trysts," men like Spitzer will fall from grace in future scandals ("New York Governor Eliot Spitzer linked to prostitution ring," March 11). JAMES A. MARPLES Longview, Texas Charm is all Sir, - Shmuley Boteach is not the first to say that sex appeal lies in what is concealed rather than what is revealed ("Let modest be the new sexy," March 26). It reminds me of what the Scottish novelist J.M. Barrie referred to as charm: "It's a sort of bloom on a woman; if you have it, you don't need to have anything else; and if you don't have it, it doesn't matter what else you have." SARA SHAW Kfar Saba Yourselves to blame Sir, - Your complaints about the US role in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations sound valid, but getting to this situation in the first place was an Israeli decision ("A skewed process," Editorial, March 14). It was Israel that agreed to the "road map" and invited the US to act as a monitor. It should have been obvious from the start that "counting outposts," which has to do with real estate, involves something far more tangible than terrorism, which is both ephemeral and easily disavowed. In addition, involving a third party holds the compliance criteria hostage to its judgment. The result has been bad for peace since the Arabs can now score a propaganda victory without actually having to recognize or reconcile to Israel. DAVID KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont Why not try this? Sir, - Is it not possible to bring the war in Gaza to a halt by Israel declaring that it will not in any way reply to the rocket bombardment for a period of five days? This silence would show the world that Israel is keen on peace. If Hamas continues with its aggression, everyone will know who is responsible for the violence. This could be worthwhile, and we have nothing to lose. H. FELDMAN Kibbutz Yizre'el No give, no get Sir, - If it is against someone's beliefs to donate an organ, what logic says it's ok to benefit from someone else's donation? ("Donors & recipients," Letters, March 16.) Rather than answer that question, Rabbi Avi Shafran claims that Jeremy Maissel is trying to "compel" people to donate by withholding receipt of organs ("The life you save," February 27). All Mr. Maissel is saying is that it's time people understood the consequences of their actions. "Donation" means someone receives. If you think it's wrong to donate, why should you receive? DAVID TEICH Rehovot Sir, - "The primal human urge for retribution" has nothing to do with those who object to the attitude that receiving an organ is ok, but donating one isn't. A person unwilling to donate an organ does not deserve to receive one at the expense of others who need it. And since there is an extreme shortage of donor organs, only those who are willing to donate should be on the recipients' list. MARCELLA WACHTEL Jerusalem