November 28: Scurrilous attack

The current climate of Israeli leadership and politics, as well as corruption in high places, needs open discussion.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Scurrilous attack
Sir, – Isi Leibler’s column on Mick Davis, chairman of Anglo Jewry’s United Jewish Israel Appeal (“The de-Zionization of Anglo Jewry,” Candidly Speaking, November 25) misinterprets Davis’s remarks, which were a way of saying that all Jews in the Diaspora are affected by events in Israel. This is undeniable and does not imply that Israel has to tailor its life-and-death decisions other than for its own safety and security.
As for Davis “blithely brushing aside suicide bombers, rocket launchers” and other things from “his London mansion,” I would remind the writer that Davis came to Israel during the recent Lebanese war and, travelling with a convoy of trucks bearing food and other UJIA aid to the besieged population in the North of Israel, personally supervised the distribution of this aid while rockets were raining down.
To label Davis’s criticism as crude public attacks on Israeli leaders, particularly when some of the criticisms are wholly valid, is a travesty of free speech. The current climate of Israeli leadership and politics, as well as corruption in high places, needs open discussion. If Davis chooses quiet diplomacy rather than confrontational speeches, that is his prerogative.
Davis comes from an ardently Zionist family. His mother, who chaired a Zionist group in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, came on aliya at the age of 80. One brother, an ex-kibbutznik, was on the Entebbe raid, and his other brother and his family came on aliya many years ago.
Davis himself has donated huge sums to Jewish charities and devoted considerable time to Israeli causes. His credentials as a practicing Jew are impeccable.
Leibler’s statement that “Anglo Jewish leaders share a long tradition...
of avoiding confrontation and displaying a determination not to rock the boat under any circumstances” ignores history.
Has he never heard of Disraeli or Chaim Weizmann? His scurrilous attack on Mick Davis is wholly misplaced.
Tel Mond
One man’s monster
Sir, – While vilifying Yair Klein in “A monster comes home” (Rattling the Cage, November 25), Larry Derfner proves once again that his main goal is to demonize Israel.
Derfner uses Klein as a springboard to excoriate Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. He then glibly observes that “[Klein] would be a natural in Israel Beiteinu.”
After listing Klein’s many crimes, he concludes, “There is a monster loose in Tel Aviv. He needs to be locked up. Let the Colombians have Yair Klein. Let justice be done, let the world be a better place.”
In “A tale of two assassinations” (February 24) Derfner was not nearly so concerned about justice and making the world a better place when Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was assassinated last January. Derfner leaped to condemn the Mossad’s alleged involvement. In one telling remark, he accepted that al-Mabhouh was an admitted murderer, but argued that his ongoing smuggling of weapons into Gaza – weapons that no doubt were meant to kill Israeli civilians – was not relevant: “I’m sorry, but smuggling weapons is not the same as killing people.”
Al-Mabhouh’s death reduced the likelihood that Hamas would obtain weapons to renew its attacks against Israel. Not incidentally, justice was meted out to a person who happily took credit for kidnapping and murdering Israeli soldiers.
Zichron Ya’acov
Clarity on Lebanon
Sir, – The dire situation in Lebanon (“J’lem fears Lebanon is fast becoming Iranian satellite,” November 25) should be no surprise to anyone, let alone Israel.
When Hizbullah became a recognized part of the government of Lebanon, it should have been absolutely clear the country was doomed as a democratic state and would have to bow to Iran’s demands.
Amsalem a good man
Sir, – I feel I must protest strongly against the dirty, unfair campaign being waged against MK Haim Amsalem by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and other leaders of Shas (Amsalem’s patrons denounce him,” November 25).
Amsalem has ideas that most of us fair-minded people approve of, such as getting young men to go to work, receive a wellrounded education and serve in the army. Such ideas fly directly in the face of the beliefs of the so-called leaders, who insist upon young men studying in yeshivot rather than going to work to support a family that might already have two or three children and more coming.
For such “strange” ideas, Amsalem is being ostracized and urged to resign his seat in the Knesset. I can only ask why don’t other MKs and regular citizens raise their voice in his defense? He seems to be a good man.
Yiddish in Venice?
Sir, – Apparently, Al Pacino has fallen into the same trap as many others by playing Shylock in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice as a Yiddish-speaking east European Jew of the kind familiar to Westerners (“Pacino’s ‘Merchant of Venice’ a best buy,” Arts & Entertainment, November 24).
But in fact, Shylock, living in 17th century Venice, would almost certainly have been a Sephardi Jew speaking Ladino.
Playing to our society’s inbuilt prejudices makes Shylock a caricature rather than a fully rounded and sympathetic human being. Nevertheless, full marks to Pacino for trying.
Suddenly flush
Sir, – Regarding “IDF ‘reconnaissance’ flights over West Bank to continue ahead of any moratorium, November 23), it’s amazing how the Defense Ministry was able to get funds and 40 new inspectors to enforce the West Bank building freeze. Arab construction is, it seems, not a problem. Only Jewish construction.
When it comes to the forcible eviction of Jews from their own land, billions of shekels are suddenly found. Remember what the evacuation from Gush Katif cost in monetary terms, never mind psychological? Try to get money for life-saving medicines or for essential equipment for the IDF and police.
There is none. Remember how badly equipped our soldiers were when they went out to fight the Second Lebanon War?
Gratitude not the issue
Sir, – I agree with Shmuley Boteach that ungratefulness is a terrible trait (“Jewish ingratitude to Christians,” No Holds Barred, November 23), but that is where our agreement ends.
I’m not talking about the laughable and deeply sad suggestion that former president George W. Bush was the “best friend Israel ever had in the White House.” Nor is my objection about the quality or pleasantness of our Christian friends and their support. Rather, Boteach’s analysis has a philosophical flaw.
When I help a disabled person by providing access to something, do I deserve her gratitude? No. She is entitled to good access. But we also help ourselves because the world is a better place when she is included.
When we stop a racist, sexist or homophobic joke, should the people being targeted be grateful? I claim no. We do this because we don’t want such degrading junk in our auditory ducts.
Similarly, when Christians support Israel, they do so because a strong Jewish state is important to them. They don’t do it to please Israelis.
We should feel uplifted and happy to see such moral and generous support. And we may realize that these people rightly do it for themselves – to have a more just world. Their lives are simply better when they ensure that Jews feel safer.
There is nothing bad in being selfish this way. Proud of them, yes; grateful to them, no.