November 2: No mere roar

Any time terrorists in Gaza Strip feel like it, they lob some missiles into our cities to see what we will do. Our responses have been negligible, paltry.

No mere roar
Sir, – The situation in the South (“Military prepares for further escalation in Gaza as ‘new cease fire’ attempted,” October 31) has gone on far too long.
Any time the terrorists in the Gaza Strip feel like it, they lob some missiles into our cities to see what we will do. Our responses have been negligible and paltry.
This reminds me of a poem I occasionally heard on the radio when I was a kid, a very funny reading of Marriott Edgar’s “The Lion and Albert”: A bored kid goes to the zoo and pokes a stick into the lion’s ear. The lion, not being bothered by “proportional response” or any other type of foolishness, simply eats him.
Maybe it’s time for the State of Israel to start behaving like a lion again.
Petah Tikva
Leniency and laxity
Sir, – I am far from happy about the very lenient sentence given to Anat Kamm, who stole so many important documents from the army (“Anat Kamm gets 4.5 years in jail for passing IDF secrets to reporter,” October 31). It hardly befits the crime.
I know the judges took into account that Kamm had no criminal record. But her crime was not one of criminality per se – it was a crime against the State of Israel, its security and people, who once again are the victims of attitudes and beliefs that absolutely endanger their lives.
In addition, I cannot fathom the lack of IDF security that allowed Kamm to be in a position where she could steal so many documents without anyone knowing.
Prize for (in)accuracy
Sir, – Regarding “Free loan advocate, dialogue group awarded Knesset Speaker’s Prize” (October 31), Professor Eliezer Jaffe is a social worker, not a sociologist. In addition, since it was founded in 1990 the Israel Free Loan Association has distributed nearly $150,000,000 in interest-free loans, and not as reported.
The writer is director of development for the Israel Free Loan Association
Unholy uppercut
Sir, – The Greek priest who thought it right to punch a yeshiva student in the face for spitting toward him was exonerated (“Judge quashes indictment of pugilistic priest,” October 31).
While in no way condoning the boy for his demeaning act, it did not warrant rough justice at the hand of the priest. Further, by not making this point crystal clear to the priest, the court in fact gave a green light to anyone and everyone who feels in any way slighted to quite literally take the law into his own hands.
Mevaseret Zion
We’ll outlast them
Sir, – Elliot Jager (“Are young rabbis turning on Israel?,” Jewish Ideas Daily, October 31) points out that 30 percent of Reform rabbinical students are hostile or indifferent to the Jewish state upon returning home from Israel.
Similarly, 53% of Conservative rabbinical students are sometimes or often ashamed of Israel.
American Jewry is in an abysmal state: high rates assimilation and intermarriage, low rates of affiliation and a negative birth rate (below 1.7). Synagogue attendance at Reform and Conservative synagogues is typically seasonal rather than daily or even weekly. While hardly perfect, Orthodox synagogues generally do not suffer from these maladies, at least not to the same degree.
Reform and Conservative Jews, on the other hand, have become accustomed to family members opting out – of shul, of marriage within the faith and of childbearing.
That’s why desperate measures, such as patrilineal descent for determining Jewishness, are used to bolster the numbers.
Somehow, I can’t see these rabbinical students legitimately lecturing Israel on how to run its society, live or survive when their own house is in such a sad state.
They don’t even have a formula for self-preservation.
They’re uncomfortable with a “Jewish” state precisely because their own agenda is closer to the secular, left-wing politics of the Democratic Party than to Torah.
Despite its relative size, which still leaves it with considerable influence and resources, the American Jewish community is imploding.
Israel will be here long after the last American synagogue locks its doors. You don’t have to be right-wing or religious to recognize this.
Hardly laughable
Sir, – You report that “[f]ormer Labor leader and ex-defense minister Amir Peretz clamors for the unconditional release of convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti, one-time commander of the Fatah militia Tanzim and now doing five life terms and another 40 years for attempted homicide” (“Don’t free Barghouti!,” Editorial, October 30).
If it were not so tragic it could be almost laughable that in a country fighting every day for its very existence, we are debating the release of another murderer of innocents.
There is no difference between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas except that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has managed to fool the world, ourselves included, just like his mentor Arafat did.
A real democracy
Sir, – Ben Blanchard (“Looming presence of China fosters Taiwan identity in independence heartland,” Comment & Features, October 30) visited Kaohsiung, the second-largest city on the island, and interviewed people who spoke freely about their political ideas for or against the government. In other countries, such people might be arrested or even disappear.
Even though different political ideas exist among Taiwanese people, their support for the democratic status of quo is the same.
This reminds me about the process of the exchange for Gilad Schalit: While the Israeli government was negotiating, there were many different voices among the public. Some even opposed the exchange.
But when Schalit was safely back, Israeli people welcomed him home and appreciated the decision of the government.
All this has shown the existence of freedom of speech and proved that both Israel and Taiwan are true democracies.

The writer is director of the Information Division at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Tel Aviv
Indeed another way
Sir, – Many of us would love to see a different prime minister heading our government. Some would also like to see a different electorate. But at this moment we can only work with the given conditions while making every effort to effect positive change.
There is however another community involved that could contribute positively to the manifestation of another way and another reality (“There must be another way,” Savir’s Corner, October 28).
It seems that Uri Savir himself is in a unique position to lay the foundation to convince his good friends among the leaders and decision makers of the Palestinian people to go ahead and take a great risk – if necessary to eat humble pie for their holy cause – and accept Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s meaningless and foolish demand by publicly acknowledging the reality: Israel is indeed the state of the Jewish people.
Another possible way requires reaching past the politically motivated and contemporary rejection of the historical truth: Why we are here, on the west coast of Asia, the eastern end of the Mediterranean, between the river and the sea. Who sent us to this place? Why did we choose this place to build our state? In these ways Savir might help bring about another reality, another way. I believe these changes would open the gates to another, more peaceful and creative way for Jews and Muslims to relate to one another.
Moshav Aminadav