May 19: Job security in the peace profession

It's like the story about the man whose job is to announce the imminent appearance of the messiah. "Does it pay well?" he is asked. "No," he answers, "but there is great job security!"

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Job security in... Sir, - Ron Kronish is a good and well-meaning person who has indeed long "labor(ed) in the vineyards of interreligious dialogue and peace education," along with a host of other well-meaning, hard-working true believers in the goal of reconciliation toward peace. They seem to believe that this would be achieved via honorable dialogue - through expressing mutual understanding and reciprocal respect leading to positive results. It's like the story about the man whose job is to announce the imminent appearance of the messiah. "Does it pay well?" he is asked. "No," he answers, "but there is great job security!" One of the reasons there is such great job security in the interreligious-peace profession here is that people prefer to ignore facts and attitudes that interfere with their preconceived beliefs about themselves and others. I think it is important for Rabbi Kronish and the rest of us to know what an official of the Palestinian religious establishment, appointed by the "moderate" Fatah government, passionately believes (and probably teaches) about us, Jews and Israelis. The significant question then is: How do his teachings contribute to or contradict realistic prospects of reconciliation between the two peoples? ("Diatribe or dialogue?" May 17.) YORAM GETZLER Moshav Aminadav ...the peace profession Sir, - I regretfully cannot agree with Ron Kronish, who after describing the totally outrageous tirade by Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi at the Notre Dame Cultural Center after the pope's brief address, nevertheless concludes "that the dialogue must go on." People of good will, like Kronish and his colleagues, are engaged in sincere efforts to bring about trust and understanding between differing faith communities. Still, they fail to understand some basic truths. Diatribe and dialogue cannot coexist. They are as mutually exclusive as bestiality and morality; there is no room in the latter for tolerance of the former. So why did Kronish and friends not walk out in protest, thus clearly demonstrating the total unacceptability of the sheikh's behavior? And why does Kronish describe the sheikh as merely a "cantankerous cleric" rather than as a rabid fascist spewing venom and hate, to whom dialogue is complete anathema and whose sole purpose of being present at the event was to deliver his obscene message? ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva Sir, - "Hundreds of leaders and activists in interreligious dialogue, conflict resolution and peace education" gathered to hear an inspiring message from Pope Benedict XVI, and Ron Kronish asks why Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi was given the Notre Dame Center podium to pour out his venom against Israel. The same question was asked about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance at the UN Conference on Racism (Durban II). Maybe the same answer applies in both cases. Tamimi, Ahmadinejad and their ilk make anyone else look "moderate." But don't look too closely - for example, in "Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial slammed by rivals" (same date). "Moderate cleric Mahdi Karoubi" did not chastise Ahmadinejad for promulgating the Big Lie of No Holocaust; he only complained that in so doing, Ahmadinejad disloyally engenders support for Israel. MIRIAM L. GAVARIN Jerusalem Pressing reminder Sir, - Thanks to Jonathan Tobin for his chilling "Eyeless in Anwerp" (May 17) about the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel opera Samson et Dalila. His op-ed provided a bleak reminder of the dark days of Der Stuermer, the Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda paper published by Julius Streicher in the 1930s. Sitting in our comfortable homes here in Israel, we can slowly feel the pressure from all corners of the globe, making us feel a little less comfortable and wondering how much worse it is going to get. Where are the Jews of Europe, and why aren't they protesting? JOYCE KAHN Petah Tikva Sir, - I firmly believe that, like doctors, opera directors should "first do no harm." As a singer, one is particularly aware of both the medium and the message of song. Whether it be comic or tragic, the music is the foundation which tells the truth. During his years of political torture during the Soviet era, Shostakovitch always claimed that "the truth is in the music." To represent black as white, and vice versa, may be the way parvenu producers and directors make their names on the world stage - but as the insistent first-year composition student was told by his long-suffering professor: "Your music will be remembered when Beethoven and Mozart are forgotten, and not before." STANLEY COHEN Jerusalem The usual suspect Sir, - Re "UN Committee urges Israel to probe allegations of torturing detainees" (May 17): There is not a word, or at best, very few words, in the world media about Sri Lanka's attacks on the Tamil Tigers; about the deaths, demolitions and torture in Iraq and in Guantanamo Bay by the Americans; while Darfur rarely gets a mention, and Russia is still occupying part of Georgia. In this "free world" and "open and fair-minded society," it is quite extraordinary that the UN never fails to challenge Israel, but leaves unmentioned countries which have carried out killings, torture, invasions and demolitions on a far greater scale throughout the world. If - heaven forefend - Israel were not a Jewish country, I feel sure that not a word of complaint would be uttered; but once Jews are involved, we are always considered to be guilty or, at the very least, under deep suspicion. NEVILLE GOLDREIN Jerusalem Keeping abreast Sir, - I read "Gordon Brown's wife honors unique Jerusalem breast cancer detection clinic in London" (May 15) with great interest. I have been going to the Hala clinic for breast examination practically since its inception and feel extremely fortunate to have such an institution at my disposal. I thought that it was necessary to mention Dr. Strano, who has made it his life's work to ensure that thousands of women get the proper screening and breast care that Hala offers. CAROL HABER Jerusalem Poor examples Sir, - Of the hundreds and more youngsters arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport, there must have been a better example of "Arrivals" than the two featured in your May 15 UpFront column. Johanna Roggan has some values and sense of proportion, but her companion Ari Miller is completely out of touch with reality. He should be given Barbara Sofer's "61 plus one reasons I love Israel" (UpFront, May 8) to understand why we live here and are prepared to fight for this country. ZVI FREEDMAN Kiryat Tivon Sir, - Don't tarry too long, Ari. Possibly you will find the educational system in the PA to your liking. SYLVIA MEHLMAN Jerusalem