May 4: Shoah does not give us a state

"If we concentrate all our efforts on fighting [Holocaust denial], we undermine the real case for Zionism... the fact that as a nation, the Jewish people deserves a homeland."

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Shoah does not give us a state Sir, - There is no question that denying the Holocaust or creating fantastic conspiracy theories about it such as "Hamas: Jews planned Holocaust to kill handicapped Jews" (May 1) are discouraging signs of the eternal hatred of much of the Arab world, and the non-Arab world, for Jews, Zionism and Israel. But if we concentrate all our efforts on fighting such denials and fantasies, we undermine the real case for Zionism: namely, the fact that as a nation, the Jewish people deserves a homeland, its ancient homeland. To put it bluntly: If the Holocaust had not occurred, would that make Zionism unjust, illegal or false? Theodor Herzl may have had nightmares about the future of European Jewry, and Ze'ev Jabotinsky warned the Jews of Poland to leave. But was Zionism born with them, or with the Bible - with Abraham, the first Jew? Yad Vashem and Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day deserve their place. But that place is as tragic support for the necessity of a Jewish state, not as the foundation of Zionism. The Jewish state must stand on its own, without the Holocaust as its cornerstone. If we are not a nation, the Holocaust does not give us a state. If we are a nation, our nationhood gives us a state. JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem Gain or loss? Sir, - It is worth heeding Larry Derfner's persuasive "For a cease-fire with Hamas" (May 1) in which he wrestles with different scenarios and arrives at the compelling conclusion: "So what's to lose?" RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne Sir, - Larry Derfner's suggestion, coming on Holocaust Remembrance Day amid reports that Hamas TV claimed the Holocaust was a Jewish-perpetrated hoax, was hard to stomach. MICHAEL HIRSCH Kochav Yair Ally of the persecuted Sir, - Re "Trivializing the unbearable" (Manfred Gerstenfeld, April 29): As your paper has reported favorably on PETA's work to reduce cruelty to animals, I was saddened to see a writer point a finger at me as someone who reduces the horror of the Holocaust. On the contrary, I am an ally of the persecuted, and I object to mischaracterization bolstered by a misquote or two. I apologize for any pain caused by PETA's Holocaust on Your Plate exhibit, but the exhibit's message - that all needless suffering is an atrocity - is sound. The exhibit bore that name because of Georges Metanomski, a Holocaust survivor who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. He wrote: "When I see cages crammed with chickens from battery farms thrown on trucks like bundles of trash, I see, with the eyes of my soul, the Umschlagplatz (where Jews were forced onto trains leaving for the death camps). When I go to a restaurant and see people devouring meat, I feel sick. I see a holocaust on their plates." One always hopes that tremendous suffering causes empathy for the plight of others instead of causing people to hold to their chests only the suffering of those they can readily relate to. As for the remark about chickens, my point was and is that those who struggle for the rights of billions of animals slaughtered in fear and pain each year are the sort of people who - undistracted by race, religion or other differences - worked to hide Jews and help Jews escape from the great horror of the Holocaust. INGRID E. NEWKIRK, President People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Norfolk, Virginia Lack of respect Sir, - Wednesday night's Holocaust Memorial ceremony was very moving, except for one flaw. I watched it with my brother-in-law, Sam Susskind, visiting from Australia, who is also a Holocaust survivor. He was shocked that the prime minister of the State of Israel delivered his speech bareheaded. This was also the failing of the master of ceremonies, the singer and many of the participants. (Mr. Olmert did hastily don a kippa for the recitation of the Kaddish.) Yad Vashem is a holy place, where even gentile visiting dignitaries usually cover their heads as a mark of respect. This lack of respect for Jewish tradition was the one jarring note in a ceremony dedicated to the memory of the Six Million, murdered for one reason only... they were Jewish! DVORA WAYSMAN Jerusalem Talking and killing Sir, - It is so reassuring to find that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright believes Israel has a "right" to exist ("Wright media blitz leaves US Jews uneasy," May 1). That he equates Israel's position with the Palestinians in his assertion that they should be talking to one another rather than "talking about killing each other" is misguided. Israel does not talk about killing ; rather it is the militant Palestinians who teach hate, who teach martyrdom by way of killing innocents. Reconciliation will be much closer at hand the moment the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist, and cease their support of terror. HOWARD KATZOFF Cherry Hill, New Jersey For the record Sir, - Re "Saying it with flowers" (Grapevine, April 30): The statement that I "conceived the idea of the Park of the Australian Soldier" is inaccurate. Mr. Sam Lipski, the Pratt Foundation's CEO, conceived the idea of the park several years ago. My involvement has been to work and provide assistance to him in areas specifically relating to the role of the Australian Light Horse in the 1917 Beersheba charge. W B DIGGER JAMES Maj.-Gen. (rtd) Patron, Australian Light Horse Association Canberra, Australia