May 17: Nakba Day on campus

As an Israeli and a Jew I am deeply disturbed by the baseness of Tel Aviv University’s decision to allow the “commemoration” of Nakba Day.

Nakba Day on campus
Sir, – As an Israeli and a Jew I am deeply disturbed by the baseness of Tel Aviv University’s decision to allow the “commemoration” of Nakba Day on campus (“Tel Aviv U. students stage ‘Nakba Day’ memorial amid raucous counter-protest,” May 15).
It seems that the maxim of extracting the galut (Diaspora) out of a Jew is still more difficult a task than pulling a Jew out of the galut.
Sir, – Could anyone ever imagine Palestinian and Israeli students at Bir Zeit University linking arms commemorating Israel’s Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers? And yet, our Jewish students, doubtlessly influenced by shameful naivety and post-Zionist professors, indulge in a grotesque scenario dedicated to the Nakba.
Where in the name of heaven is there any example of a victorious defender actually mourning its enemy’s defeat? It’s utter lunacy! To quote from your editorial “Nakba and freedom” (May 15), “If the Palestinians had succeeded in snuffing out Israel at its very inception, there would almost certainly not be an institute of higher learning like Tel Aviv University – not just in Israel but in the entire region – that accepts all students regardless of race, religion or gender and fosters an atmosphere of free expression....”
Sir, – As a foreigner who lives in Israel and loves this people and land, I wonder how far many Israelis are willing to go in defining something as “freedom of expression?” When citizens who have all rights and possibilities “celebrate” the founding of their state as a catastrophe, they should be stripped of their citizenship and expelled, not excused or defended.
Those concessions! Sir, – As another Israeli concession looms (“Israel to transfer bodies of 100 terrorists to PA for reburial,” May 15) we await the first concession from the PA to give us Israelis the confidence that the Palestinians want to make peace.
At the very least we should demand, if not the actual return, then information leading to the return of our POWs: St.-Sgt.
Zachary Baumel, St.-Sgt. Zvi Feldman and St.-Sgt. Yehuda Katz, all missing since 1982; Capt. Ron Arad, captured in 1986; Guy Hever, missing since 1997; and Majdy Halabi, missing since 2005.
On the agenda for any return of prisoners, dead or alive, this should be Demand Number 1.
Sir, – If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wants to squeeze more concessions from Israel, he should go on a hunger strike!
Haredim and the draft Sir, – Zev Golan (“The IDF wants you – or does it?,” Comment & Features, May 15) is right that drafting large numbers of ultra-Orthodox men will not work since, as experience shows, haredim will proudly sit in jail to exhibit their stubborn will. Instead, he proposes a paid volunteer army where no one is drafted against his or her will.
But while solving one problem this would create several more.
Golan points out that the army does not exist to expedite social policy. Yet dispensing with the desirable by-product of educating so many of our youth would be foolish. In addition, we may have sufficient volunteers for prestigious combat units, but there are many other essential jobs in the army that would be very difficult to fill on a volunteer basis, even with due compensation.
The only fair and practical solution, therefore, is to increase the monetary benefits for citizens who serve, at the expense of financial aid to those who do not. In this manner, gradual changes will occur in the haredi world without a lot of needless battles.
Sir, – The solution to the problem of the non-contributing ultra-Orthodox sector shouldn’t begin with drafting yeshiva students but with canceling their stipends and other monetary advantages. Without that support they will have to decide for themselves whether they want to contribute to the country or starve themselves.
If they are drafted against their will they will cause much more trouble and expense than they are worth. They will refuse orders not sanctioned by the most fanatical rabbis and require two additional soldiers just to check their food and keep females out of sight and hearing range.
Sir, – I am a veteran of both the Viet Nam War and the IDF, and my feeling is that there is nothing more sacred for an able-bodied citizen than to serve in his country’s military forces.
The IDF, the first Jewish army in almost 2,000 years, is itself a yeshiva of sorts, where Jewish men learn and put into practice the lessons of the Torah and the Talmud. In my opinion, in the eyes of God, service in the IDF is even holier and of greater value than any yeshiva in that far greater sacrifices, up to and including the sacrifice of one’s life, are routinely made.
I am saddened and angered when respected rabbis denigrate and disparage service in the IDF.
Sir, – Much has been written and said about the Tal Law and ultra-Orthodox men who do not serve in the IDF. To date I have not seen or heard anything of those leftists who would rather defend Palestinians than their own brethren and whose numbers reach those of the ultra- Orthodox not doing national service.
If we are to become a nation where everyone pulls his weight, then do not let us divide the population by talking only about the ultra-Orthodox. Let us have the courage to talk about all who do not do their part in defending the country.
JUDY FORD Petah Tikva
Leave the kids alone Sir, – Rivka Lazovsky (“Who is responsible for youth violence?,” Comment & Features, May 10) is critical of those who blame “only the youth, claiming that they are damaged,” when trying to explain the serious rise in violence and public disturbances by young people.
Two recent events highlight the real source of this serious challenge.
During a Holocaust memorial day program this year at an elite secular high school in Israel, a survivor was mocked by a number of rowdy students in the audience. I was both shocked and saddened upon hearing that such an occurrence could take place at a Jewish school in the Jewish state.
However, what really upset me was that the principal explained the inexcusable conduct of the students by declaring that they had been driven to it by the policies of the Israeli government in condoning the “occupation” and recognizing the legitimacy of the settlements built in Judea and Samaria! More recently, following the stabbing death of a father attempting to quiet a group of noisy teenagers, two police officers claimed to have responded to the family’s initial call for help in dealing with the loud and raucous behavior.
Only after the officers were questioned and holes were found in their testimony did it become apparent that they did not respond at all and, in fact, had lied about their whereabouts.
Whatever happened to good old ethics, morality, honesty, integrity, hard work and perseverance? Are we destined to have our youth emulate the examples of family life in inane sitcoms and such “role models” as overpaid athletes and movie stars or, even worse, corrupt and dishonest politicians and government officials? Will we continue to blame the failures and meager educational accomplishments of our students on their teachers and schools? I strongly propose that all parents, educators and leaders in society do some serious introspection.
Maybe then we can “adopt new and innovative approaches in educating toward values which are suited to today's reality.”