March 8: Warrior to pragmatist

There is no modern figure I respect more than Menachem Begin.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Warrior to pragmatist Sir, - History judges leaders on their deeds, and not on future plans which were never realized ("Breaking Begin," Elliot Jager, March 7). Menachem Begin began his career as a right-wing warrior. He advocated a strong settlement policy and was very reluctant about looking for a way to compromise with the Arabs in an attempt to find a solution to the problems that haunt Israel even today. Not until his later years did he realize that peace could come about only by establishing borders that were recognized by Israel's neighbors, and by working with them to solve other problems. He refused to give up. He changed his life-long philosophy to adopt a more pragmatic approach to the Israel-Arab conflict, resulting in the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt. I believe that his example of being able to change course was one of the reasons behind Ariel Sharon's change of policy toward the Arabs when he withdrew from Gaza. There is no modern figure I respect more than Menachem Begin. P. YONAH Shoham Break the silence Sir, - Re "Kessim to draft prayer against domestic violence" (March 6): Perhaps the learned Ethiopian spiritual leaders would be kind enough to not only translate their prayer for peace in the home into other languages, but also to distribute it to other communities in Israel and throughout the Diaspora. Unfortunately, domestic abuse and violence happen in all those communities, whatever their social class, ethnic background or religious ethos. It is time lay leaders and rabbis made firm statements to break the silence of shame that stops many women from revealing their plight and seeking help. JUDITH USISKIN Hon. President Jewish Women's Aid UK London/Ra'anana Probe yourselves Sir, - It's time the Egyptians, and the rest of the Arab world, took responsibility for their actions. They are responsible for the death of every Egyptian soldier in the 1973 war, and every other war with Israel. The Arabs are to blame for all the wars with Israel. They had no reason to attack Israel other than to annihilate us. We never threatened them. If a country starts a war, it must be prepared to bear the consequences, including dead soldiers and civilians, lost land, displaced people and destroyed buildings and infrastructure. All the troubles of the Palestinians today can be traced back to the Arab countries, which refused to accept Israel's right to exist and promptly set out to destroy us. If the Arab and Muslim world stopped threatening Israel, it wouldn't ever have to worry about any of their people dying ("Egypt wants probe into 'IDF massacre,'" March 3). KATE HALLGREN Jerusalem Sadly deserved? Sir, - It has been said that people get the leaders they deserve ("Tartman's 'improved' CV is nothing new to personnel professionals," March 2). After my experiences building an apartment in Jerusalem's Mekor Haim, I have to agree. The contractor is putting up a building with multiple and obvious building code violations. Although the building is not finished, half of the structure is occupied. There is no elevator; there are wires hanging out everywhere, and the electric and gas hook-ups are dangerous. Recently the gas was shut off because the contractor ignored the warnings from the gas company. Thankfully, gas can be ordered privately. The city of Jerusalem, fully aware of the contractor's actions, is allowing laws to be violated and people to live in danger. I'm betting money changed hands to allow this builder to get away with it. CHANA BISHBURG Jerusalem Disabled in shul Sir, - Re "94% of shuls lack accessibility for disabled worshipers. Ramat Gan chief rabbi laments breach of Halacha" (February 16): Moreshet Yisrael Synagogue (Masorti) on Jerusalem's Agron St. invites The Jerusalem Post and Ma'agalei Tzedek chairman Chili Tropper to view the ramp and railings leading up to the bima and ark, making the facilities available to disabled members and visitors who wish to participate in the services. The synagogue also provides a venue for disadvantaged children and their families and friends to enjoy bar- and bat-mitzva services. LOUIS SAND Jerusalem 'Jewish Bruno' Sir, - We recently returned home from Berlin, where we participated in the Obermayer German Jewish History Award ceremony. We recommended one of the award winners, Wilfried Weinke. These awards were established to pay tribute to Germans who have made outstanding voluntary contributions to preserving the memory of the Jews in their local communities - including their history, culture, cemeteries and synagogues. We met another award winner, Johannes Bruno from Speyer, Rheinland-Pfalz, a teacher, author, activist, historian, journalist and guide. Even though he is a Christian, his friends call him "Jewish Bruno." For the past 30 years he has devoted his life to the revival of the Jewish memory in Speyer. He lectures in the schools and has promoted the restoration of Germany's oldest and largest mikve in Speyer. He is looking for Jews from the Jewish community of Speyer in order to complete his historical research. He has already published several books on the subject. Would any former citizens, relatives of citizens, or survivors from Speyer please contact Dr. Mat Wiener, tel. (02) 6787-655. We will forward your information. M. WIENER Jerusalem Bad deal for survivors Sir, - Re Larry Derfner's "For shame" (UpFront, February 16): In 1953 Moshe Sharett, for the Israeli government, signed the so-called Reparation Agreement with the German government of Konrad Adenauer. It stipulated, among other things, that Holocaust survivors living in Israel would get their restitution payments not from Germany but from the Israeli government, for which purpose Germany gave Israel a large sum of money. This agreement was a serious mistake. Whereas Holocaust survivors worldwide received their payments in German marks, at that time a strong currency, in Israel they were paid in shekels, which lost their value very quickly due to devaluation. This meant that survivors in Israel, after a few years, got much less than those in other countries. Had the Israeli authorities increased the payments proportionately according to the loss of value of the shekel against the mark (or now the euro) things would be different - but as far as I know only small increases were approved by the Knesset. Even in 1953 there were some in Israel who did not trust the agreement. Friends of mine, for example, went to reside abroad for a few months, and from there applied to the German authorities for their restitution. BERNARD NATT Ra'anana A place to stay Sir, - I have already worked two voluntary summer terms in the Yad Vashem archives. I would like to do a third, but the lady with whom I used to stay passed away last year. I'm looking for an affordable (nonkosher) place for about six weeks in Jerusalem. I have to cover all my own expenses and am already 47, so I cannot afford everything. Can anyone help me? ANDREA ZRONIK Linz, Austria