May 5: ‘Israeli’ means normal

American Jews definitely need Israel to maintain their identity as Jews.

Eloquent reminder...
Sir, – Monday was my first Holocaust Remembrance Day after 15 years living in the Diaspora (“Nation stands in silence to honor the martyred 6 million,” May 3).
At 10 a.m., just after hearing about Osama bin Laden, I heard this loud and sad wail coming from the sky, which took my breath away. I had forgotten. I had forgotten how loud it is. I had forgotten how awkward it is. I had forgotten how it puts things in perspective.
But it reminded me why I had packed my family, my bags and my beautiful, safe and quiet life in Australia to come to this country. It reminded me why I had taken my boys away from Law and Order to chaos and uncertainty. It reminded me of my late grandfather, Eliyahu, who had lost most of his family in the Holocaust.
To all the taxi drivers and the shop keepers who keep asking me “Why in the world did you leave paradise and come back here?” – this is why! Here you feel alive, here you belong, here you are not called “a bloody Jew” in the park while you are playing with your kids, here you don’t have a swastika carved in the cement on the way to the grocer, here on Yom Kippur people don’t have barbecues or go to work as usual.
Here, you have a moment of silence.
RONIT HARPAZ Ramat Hasharon
...and the uglier side
Sir, – On Holocaust Remembrance Day, I discovered an entirely new fact about Israeli society, and I was horribly disgusted, offended and disappointed.
At the siren, I stood in the hallway outside the classroom at Tel Aviv University. The entire hallway quieted down – aside from three students chattering on. They fell silent only after an older gentleman asked them politely but firmly to shut up. He then had to do the same with someone talking on his phone.
As a 24-year-old, I can understand completely that for me the Holocaust doesn’t have the same meaning it does for someone from an older generation. I would have no problem buying a German car or traveling to Germany someday. Some of my best friends are German.
I am guided by the maxim “forgive, but never forget.” Holding a grudge forever is pointless. Hand in hand with that, however, comes the obligation to never forget what happened and to stand guard to ensure that it will never happen again.
Standing during the siren is a token of that resolve.
BEN GROSS Ra’anana
‘Israeli’ means normal
Sir, – Regarding “Do Israeli and American Jews need each other?” (Comment & Features, May 3), American Jews definitely need Israel to maintain their identity as Jews. But the need for America by Israeli Jews (for cultural purposes, not financial, strategic or military purposes) is the real question, and the answer is emphatically no.
There is no doubt that the American Jewish Diaspora is unique in many ways, but the proud accomplishments of American Jewry lie in the sphere of being Americans who happen to be Jewish. Israeli-Jewish accomplishments, no matter how secular, are always Jewish.
American Jewish life is compartmentalized. One can be the greatest of scientists, authors or politicians, but one is still Jewish on the one hand, and American on the other. There is always that definite distinction.
Israeli Jewish life is totally integrated in every single human undertaking. Therein lies the normalcy of being Israeli.
HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva
Stop it now
Sir, – In “Where is the outrage?” (Comment, May 2), David Horovitz correctly chides the global community for its deafening silence regarding the introduction of the Hamas terror movement as a full partner in the Palestinian Authority.
I would like to add a more personal note to his critique.
Part of this agreement apparently includes the bilateral release of Hamas prisoners by the PA and the release of PLO prisoners by Hamas. Up until now, Hamas terrorists were largely confined to the Gaza Strip and were only able to fire rockets at Israel.
Should this mass release in the West Bank take place, innocent Israelis – even more so than before – will be put in real and immediate danger from a renewal of suicide bombings and other attacks in the heart of Israel.
Israel must act immediately to prevent this release from taking place. This means taking security, diplomatic, financial, political and military measures either to prevent the Fatah-Hamas agreement from being signed or to make its implementation both painful and existentially dangerous to the PA.
Israel has suffered two Palestinian intifadas already, with massive loss of life and property. There is now every good reason for us to act swiftly to prevent a third intifada.
Embracing the prey
Sir, – Articles decrying Hamas- PLO unity are well-intentioned, but written in a vacuum.
Israel, like America, should be looking to facilitate this evil axis because nothing could be better for democracy than those who feed on human carrion feeding on each other.
The PLO and Hamas feel they can save themselves from the new wave of revolutions by embracing each other, but the past has shown us that they will do little else than peck out each other’s eyes, ears and tongue.
This will be an embrace to the death. We should be in the forefront of those encouraging these vultures to stop circling and begin the feast.
Give it up, Tzipi
Sir, – Tzipi Livni again berates our prime minister, this time blaming him for the Palestinian Authority’s reconciliation with Hamas (“Livni blames PM for Palestinian unity deal,” May 2).
I’m sick of her criticisms and have given up on hearing any positive suggestions from her.
Perhaps if her tremendous ego hadn’t prevented her from joining the government as anything less than prime minister, she could have had some kind of influence on events.
Then again, we’re probably better off without her negative input.
Sir, – Tzachi Hanegbi, in “The prime minister’s speech” (Comment & Features, May 2), is grossly in error.
A genuine concern for the security and future of the State of Israel would not have the prime minister retreating from positions that are clearly in Israel’s best interests in order to invite the opposition to join a government of national unity.
The much-desired display of unity would be far better served by having Tzipi Livni give up her partisan pretensions and, for the sake of the greater national interest, volunteer to join a government that would lead with a coherent and consistent message of strength and clear national purpose.
In a recent tirade, Livni accused Israel of being responsible for the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. If this is her interpretation of events, she certainly cannot be placed in charge of the negotiations between us and the Palestinians.
It would behoove Hanegbi to show some ability to rise above politics and support an honest effort to deal with the very grave problems that confront us.
Petah Tikva