May 22: Suckers

Why is it that IDF veterans have to pay for their university education but convicted terrorists are given their education for free?

Sir, – I noticed in Liat Collins’s column “Hunger-striking prisoners’ dilemma” (My Word, May 20) the conditions for convicted terrorists in Israeli jails, which include free educational benefits, including study toward degrees at the Open University.
Why is it that IDF veterans have to pay for their university education but convicted terrorists are given their education for free? To say that we are suckers is an understatement.
Let’s not ‘schnorr’
Sir, – Regarding “US will give Israel $70m. to buy more Iron Dome batteries, Panetta tells Barak” (May 18), there are antimissile systems that have proved their effectiveness in being able to defend us against the tens of thousands of missiles aimed at our homes, yet they have not been deployed to give adequate cover. The reason given by the authorities is a lack of funds.
Palliative funds are being raised from the US government to buy more of these weapons; this is a demeaning request. If the government does not have sufficient funds to protect us it should tell us and we could be directed to make compulsory loans in the order of NIS 1,000 or 1,500 per household, or whatever sum is needed to completely cover all of the populated areas of Israel.
With the funds in hand, production lines could be set up to produce the Iron Dome and Arrow systems more quickly.
Ramat Gan
Pandora’s box
Sir, – Are those who advocate a minute’s silence at the Olympic Games (“Israel to Olympic Committee” Hold minute of silence for Munich victims,” May 18) totally out of their minds? Do they seriously expect (in London of all places!) spectators in a vast stadium to stand or sit quietly for an entire minute in tribute to Israeli athletes? The opportunity would be seized for a raucous demonstration of anti-Semitism and anti- Zionism to be seen by the entire world. It would be a public relations disaster.
I sincerely hope the International Olympic Committee will continue to reject the proposal.
As the rabbis say
Sir, – I was impressed with the thoroughness of the arguments in “‘Who may go up to the mountain of God?’” (Religious Affairs, May 18). However, the most blatant argument against those who couch their political enthusiasm with “religious” arguments is their contempt for the Biblical commandment (Deut. 17): “According to the Torah which they shall teach you, and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, you shall do; you shall not decline from the sentence which they shall declare to you, to the right, nor to the left.”
In this instance, it is the rabbinate that adamantly forbids going up today. It is contemptuous and misleading for Rabbis Ariel and Glick to ignore this commandment. In other times, they would have been excommunicated.
Tragic adventures
Sir, – Regarding “Let’s embrace our friends” (Column One, May 18), all arguments in favor of the one-state solution have to accept the sad and indisputable fact that the Arabs and haredim are the fastest-growing populations and will in the not-too-distant future outstrip by far every other part of our society.
When the balance changes, an Islamic majority will not tolerate non-Islamic minorities, being a religion that uses blind force to convert minorities. Our fate will be that of all minority faiths in the Middle East.
Let us try not to embark on the tragic adventures of Bar- Kochba and Rabbi Akiva, who caused us to lose our homeland and suffer a dispersion with tragic suffering of 2,000 years!
Perceptions of racism
Sir, – I read Seth J. Frantzman’s “How racism crept into my neighborhood” (Terra Incognita, May 17) with interest.
What puzzles me is the writer’s attitude to an Ethiopian man, Jew or non-Jew, recognizing a fellow Ethiopian, Jew or non-Jew, and saying hello in their language.
Am I missing something here? We Jews are funny creatures.
Wherever we go in the world our “homing antennae” find fellow Jews. Be it a strange city, a cruise, a beach, anywhere, we find the Jews with a discreet “shalom” or by trying to see if that is a Star of David around someone’s neck. And we talk to them, black, white, Yemenite, Sephardi. We acknowledge them.
Don’t “landsman” from other countries seek out their own? My son is English-born and white. His fiance is Ethiopian.
They live in a predominately white area and have had no problems with their mixed-race relationship, nor have they had people staring at them. Well, that’s not strictly true. People do look, but that is because she is so beautiful.
Sir, – Saying hello in Amharic or any other language does not constitute harassment. Seth J. Frantzman may have his theories about what lies behind such a greeting, but since this is the only thing on which he hangs his complaint he has just got to get used to it.
Staring is unpleasant but, as Frantzman says, an interracial couple often encounters this and it is not necessarily out of unfriendliness, but out of interest and curiosity. If the only “rude comment” is a greeting, it isn’t harassment.
Too many other resentments cloud Frantzman’s thinking, I believe. They should be dealt with straightforwardly and without innuendo. The “racist chauvinistic values” he complains about may or may not be present, but certainly are not demonstrated in a single “hello” from an African man.
Sir, – Seth J. Frantzman regards a passing stranger’s hello in the street as harassment. Well, I’m dashed! As Col. Pickering says in My Fair Lady, “Come, sir, I think you picked a poor example.”
Surely this hello was no different from my wishing shalom aleichem or Shabbat shalom to a fellow Jew or Israeli in a chance encounter while travelling abroad.
It is to our society’s credit that people are devoting themselves to helping African migrants out of plain humanity, and also in accordance with one of the most basic tenets of Judaism whereby we are exhorted to remember our own experience as strangers in Egypt.
The issues involved undoubtedly present an immense challenge to our society and government.
I cannot suggest any long-term answers but in the meantime I am convinced that we must help these people with all our hearts.
Not convinced
Sir, – William Deresiewicz’s New York Times piece “Capitalists and other psychopaths” (Comment & Features, May 16) didn’t convince me. The successful capitalists I happen to know do not fit his description at all.
But even if we were to believe that capitalists are psychopaths, one might still ask Deresiewicz what system of economics he prefers. Did the leaders who achieved success under socialism or communism prove themselves any more altruistic or any less psychopathic than the American capitalists he attacks? Hardly.
ZVI WOLFF Jerusalem
CORRECTION:The photograph of David Ben- Gurion greeting victorious IDF troops on the Temple Mount at the end of the 1967 Six Day War (“‘I knew we were making history,’” May 20) mistakenly identified him as being prime minister.
At the time, Levi Eshkol was prime minister and Ben-Gurion was a former prime minister.