November 27: Math murder

How do we understand the equation of 1 Jew/Israeli = 1,400 Palestinians?

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Math murder Sir, - Though the Arabs are credited with the development of mathematics, one does not have to be a mathematician to understand the basic equation of 1=1. In the Arab mind today this holds true for 1 Frenchman = 1 Italian, or 1 Englishman = 1 Spaniard. But where Jews or Israelis are concerned higher math is seemingly needed to understand the equation of 1 Jew/Israeli = 1,400 Palestinians ("Hamas now demanding 1,400 prisoners for [Gilad] Shalit," November 24). What this implies about Arabs' disdain for the value of their own people is self-evident. No wonder such a culture has bred suicide bombers of both sexes and encouraged women and children to act as human shields for terrorists. Their own people are perceived as expendable in the war against "the infidel." Only if and when the Arabs begin to value human life as the rest of the civilized world does will peace with them be conceivable ("68-year-old woman suicide bomber wounds three soldiers," November 24). ELLA BERKOVITS Haifa Biased, oh yes Sir, - Once again we see Israel condemned by Louise Arbour, now UN high commissioner for human rights. Frankly, I, like many, have had enough of Arbour's biased and subjective viewpoint of the Hizbullah war. Hizbullah's malevolent tactics, its sinister exploitation of civilians as human shields carry no weight with this woman; nor that Hizbullah was firing rockets into Israel by the thousands, and that Israel remains under attack from Gaza to this day. I am ashamed to bear the same citizenship as she ("UN human rights head slams Israel for killing civilians 'virtually each time' in Hizbullah war," November 24). RIC PARKER Toronto Let's discussdisproportion Sir, - Answer this: How many rockets did Israel specifically direct at the Lebanese population in order to kill as many civilians as possible? Conversely, how many rockets were specifically aimed at Israel with that deadly intent? Now we can discuss disproportion ("Deadly logic," Editorial, November 26). HARRY SHECTER Vancouver Sir, - The UN is clearly disconnected from reality when it equates Israeli soldiers with guys all too willing to wrap themselves in a dynamite blanket and board a civilian bus to kill themselves and as many of your people as they can. Those who sit in the General Assembly do the world as much good as a box of paperweights. WESLEY WARREN Louisville, Tennessee The rest is history Sir, - There is nothing new under the sun, is there? About 2,000 years ago, not long after the Maccabees freed us from Greek domination, a couple of our priests fought over control of the country. The Roman army was called in to help, and the rest, as they say,is history. Your November 23 edition advised us: "France authorizes its troops to fire at IAF planes over Lebanon" - and how can we complain? We accepted the UN's "help." Apparently our officials never learned the dictum "Be careful what you ask for - you might get it." DEENA SPIGELMAN Jerusalem Rotten show Sir, - There is something rotten in our police force. First a major witness is murdered in jail. Now a dangerous criminal manages to escape through a significant number of police "errors." The police are either incompetent or corrupt. In either case those connected with these two disasters should be fired, starting with the justice minister and the chief of police ("Massive manhunt under way for escaped serial rapist Benny Sela," November 26). DAVID FEIGENBAUM Netanya Ancient... Sir, - My sympathies are entirely with Barbara Cook ("Look who's subverting the Torah for political purposes," November 26) when she protests the proposed ruling that converts be unable to claim citizenship automatically as Jews in Israel. But, unfortunately, the fault lies not only with the present rabbis but with the ancient ones too. For while the pious theme is intoned that "a convert is like a newborn infant" and the Torah itself forbids plaguing converts by referring to their former status, Halacha does not grant total equality to the convert, especially not to the female convert. A convert cannot be a king or judge. A female convert cannot marry a kohen - member of the priestly caste - for the reprehensible and embarrassing reason that in her pre-conversion life she is assumed to have been a zona (harlot), whom a kohen may not marry. And while the rabbis of today deserve criticism for not employing halachic techniques to alleviate such states as that of the aguna ("chained wife") and other totally immoral conditions, our problem lies also in the fact that the technique of takana - remedial enactment - which the Talmud itself engages in, even when it means amending Torah law, is not being used as it could be, halachically and legitimately, to improve the sanity, consistency and morality of our religious law and ritual. RABBI JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem ...influences Sir, - I was very touched by this article and read it with respect and appreciation. Just one point, quoting two great Jewish scholars, Maimonides and Yehuda Halevi: Maimonides ruled that "the convert has all the rights as a Jew given to Abraham." Yehuda Halevi agreed on "all the rights" except "the right to the land of Israel," stating from the Torah: "Lecha ulezarecha ([it shall be given] to you and your descendants)." It may just be that Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar follows the opinion of rabbi Yehuda Halevi. MOSHE IVRY Jerusalem That's the message! Sir, - I pray that the powers that be heed Stewart Weiss's "Pennies versus positives," (November 26). Pounding away at the negatives hasn't worked in the past and doesn't work now. Threatening American Jews with the specter of anti-Semitism and future holocausts is futile. Case in point: We made aliya in 1971 from Baldwin Harbor, Long Island, leaving behind a lovely home and a vibrant Jewish community - not out of fear but rather because we sincerely believed that after 2,000 years of dreaming and praying we had the opportunity to go home and fulfill the prophetic dream: to be where we and our children could be part of the majority culture and start living Jewishly, without the hyphen. That's the message! LYNN SHARON Ra'anana