March 23: A bitter fact

One of the jobs of our soldiers is to keep the border safe. Anyone breaching it should be suspect.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
A bitter fact
Sir, – The tragic death of a 15-year-old Palestinian (“IDF kills Palestinian teen suspected of sabotaging security barrier,” March 20 was shocking and disturbing, but not very different from many such incidents except for the age. It is a bitter fact of this war we are involved in.
The explanation that the teenager was gathering greenery for cooking and generating income was provided by a relative and seconded by a representative of B’Tselem, neither of whom was present. Was that precise spot the only place this herb or plant could be found? Did nobody think to tell him that the border was a place that was guarded? The trio was warned and called on to surrender.
One of the jobs of our soldiers is to keep the border safe. Anyone breaching it should be suspect because we have learned by experience what happens once such people enter Israel.



And the others?
Sir, – Gershon Baskin’s “Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace” (Encountering Peace, March 20) is interesting and I look forward to reading the second part, which he says will deal with a number of practical issues. But there is (at least) one area in which his document is totally deficient: While calling for compensation for Palestinian refugees, it says nothing about compensating Jewish refugees.
This is an injustice that has been ignored for far too long. It is only recently that the over 800,000 Jews evicted from Arab countries after 1948 and stripped of their possessions are being acknowledged.
Fortunately, US president Bill Clinton raised the issue during the Camp David peace talks of 2000. He said an international fund should be established to compensate both Arab refugees from Israel’s War of Independence and Jewish refugees from Arab countries. His proposal was codified in 2008 by US House of Representatives Resolution 185.
It would be a gross miscarriage of justice, as well as counterproductive, to address the needs of one refugee population while ignoring the other.



Let it stay open
Sir, – Regarding Gil Troy’s “Hobbes vs. Jefferson in debate on Cinema City Shabbat closure” (Center Field, March 19), I see nothing wrong with letting the new Jerusalem cinema complex remain open on Shabbat. Exactly what is the city gaining by closing the place? I understand the concept of the “sanctification of the Land of Israel and Jerusalem,” but even in our holy city there are non-religious Jews who do not yet see the beauty of observing Shabbat and the commandments. They are citizens and deserve a place to go to see a movie and be entertained when they want to, even if it is on Shabbat.
No secular Jerusalemite will suddenly see the light and become religious because yet another place of entertainment and leisure is made unavailable to them in their city on Shabbat.
Cinema City is not near any religious neighborhood whose residents’ Shabbat observance will be hindered. In fact, it isn’t near any neighborhood at all unless you consider those ugly, French-styled apartment buildings going up opposite the equally ugly Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Besides, those haredim who protest the most would never step into a place encouraging what they consider a waste of time – they are too busy shteiging (learning) away in their study halls. Or are they?


Ma’aleh Adumim

We need him
Sir, – As one with 15 years of close friendship with Mort Klein, including two years as national executive director of the Zionist Organization of America, I am delighted that he was reelected president (“ZOA leader sees his reelection as vindication of his leadership,” March 18) and am so sorry that he was subjected to this unfortunate and totally pointless ordeal.
To me, Mort is the most important Jew in America, and certainly the most courageous.
He has always been correct in the positions he has taken – against the PLO, against terrorism, against incitement, against the withdrawal from Gaza, protecting Judea and Samaria. There were many times at meetings of the President’s Conference that I witnessed votes on important issues where the outcome was 50-2 or even 51-1, as with Gaza, but he stood his ground. In the end, unfortunately, his concerns were borne out.
It’s gratifying to see how the ZOA has expanded its activities in the past decade, with very effective work on campuses, in the courts and in Congress, as well as here in Israel. Please join me in congratulating Mort and wishing him many more years of continued good health and leadership for the Jewish people. We need him.



Rereading suggested
Sir, – Regarding the article by Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute (“Purim and the Holy Temple,” Comment & Features, March 18), the “original” oil painting (really somewhere between pre-Raphaelite and book illustration) commissioned by the institute is a fine example of its would-be historicity (to wit: pineapples – from Hawaii? – and black servants), as well as that of the article “explaining” the absence of God in the megila as His presence hiding behind the masks in a drunken free-for-all.
The rabbi extrapolates that the banquet depicted in the painting was Achashverosh’s relief that the Temple was not about to be rebuilt, and thus his throne was secure. It’s possible that Achashverosh (Xerxes ) had begun to sense the unrest in the decade preceding the actual representations to Artaxerxes by the Samarians who, with Ammonite and Arab support, tried to prevent the Temple’s reconstruction. It’s also possible that he was not as proactively supportive of the cults of Persia’s vassals, as were Cyrus and Darius before him, and, after him, Artaxerxes – who financed the rebuilding.
Reading anti-Semitism in folklore- turned-history helps set us apart as a people and only serves to regenerate itself. Far better to take the Purim story as no more than a historical novel of its time, as has been suggested, with Mordechai as Marduk, Esther as Astartes and the banquet as no more than a carnival allowing one to let one’s hair down and get drunk ad lo yada (until he couldn’t tell the difference).
That’s being normal!


Tel Aviv
The real apartheid
Sir, – It’s interesting to note that the South African government (the African National Congress) and its alliance partners (the Congress of Trade Unions and the SA Communist Party) are vociferous supporters of the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, repeatedly calling it an “apartheid state” when the ANC has legislated the most draconian apartheid policies against its own people.
When it came to power almost 20 years ago, all “non-blacks” were purged from government, state and municipal departments, as well as from state-owned-enterprises. Laws were introduced that forced private businesses to apply black economic empowerment, affirmative action and employment equity policies – meaning to exclude all non-blacks from job opportunities. Even acceptance to universities and technical colleges is race-based, regardless of grades.
South Africa now is one of the few countries on this planet where legislation is designed exclusively to victimize all minority groups in preference to the majority. Further, legislation is being considered that will allow the government to nationalize all private enterprises, be they mines, banks, property or even patents, that are owned by “whites.”
In light of these facts, it’s rather hypocritical for the ANC to accuse Israel of being an “apartheid state” when South Africa under the ANC is exactly that.