September 10: An avoidable tragedy

I look forward to reading a report by B'Tselem stating that the overwhelming number of Israelis killed by Palestinians were civilians.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An avoidable tragedy Sir, - With respect to the report published by B'Tselem ("B'Tselem: "Far more Palestinian noncombatants were killed in Cast Lead than IDF admits," September 9), I am not qualified to judge the discrepancy between its numbers and the numbers reported by the IDF. But, undoubtedly, innocent people died, and that is a tragedy. However, the tragedy could have been avoided if the leaders of Hamas, after the unilateral retreat by Israel from Gaza, would have concentrated their efforts in building the infrastructure of their region instead of dedicating themselves to firing thousands of missiles at Israeli town and cities with the intent of indiscriminate killing and maiming. I look forward to reading soon a report by B'Tselem stating that The overwhelming number of Israelis killed by Palestinians, either by suicide bombers, roadside bombs or Kassam or Grad missiles, were civilians, not soldiers. DAVID MANDEL Savyon Overpaid extras Sir, - Many thanks to Benjamin Rosendahl for his article "The many faces of 'Jud Suss'" (September 8). There was another film of the Jud Suss story, made in London in 1934, seven years before the twisted Nazi version. The noted Jewish film producer Michael Balcon intended to use the story to engage support and sympathy in Britain to what was happening to the Jews in Germany. In the event the film was rather watered down, the censors of the day would not tolerate openly anti-German criticism. For the heder scene, at the beginning of the film, he asked for a class of boys from the Jews Free School in London . My late father Freddie, then aged 14, spent a day filming at Elstree; he remembered years later how delighted he was with the fee of £1. Some years ago I learned that the film went seriously over budget; this, my father explained, was probably because Balcon overpaid his extras. JANE KRIVINE Binyamina Put pressure on them Sir, - Who's calling the shots? The Palestinians say they won't resume the negotiations unless we stop building in the settlements ("Six month moratorium to be declared in W. Bank, official says," September 8). Why don't we say we won't resume the negotiations unless they and the neighboring Arab States acknowledge the 60-year-old State of Israel, which is a legal member of the United Nations. Then they can bring up any points they like during the discussions. Why can't US President Barack Obama and his team put pressure on the other side first? Then we will agree to talk. HILARY GATOFF Herzliya Pituah Incomprehensible Sir, - I try hard to keep an open mind on matters political, but the "Jewish Fast for Gaza" is just incomprehensible to me ("Time for a moral reckoning," September 8). Perhaps I am not astute enough to understand why these seemingly intelligent people are making this "moral reckoning" and are fasting (which we do when we mourn for something) for a situation brought on totally by the leaders of those living in Gaza. Have they forgotten that having won the war the Egyptians started against us in 1967, the leaders of our State of Israel made a unilateral decision to exit from Gaza four years ago? Thousands of Israeli Jews were rendered homeless and jobless, and some still remain that way. We were forced to leave behind beautiful hothouses, and other gifts that these people they are fasting for chose to destroy, instead shooting thousands of Kassams indiscriminately at our citizens from that very area. Did they fast during that civil rights tragedy? Israel is not denying anyone food or diminishing anybody's humanity; it's the leaders that the Palestinians chose who take the millions intended for their citizens' welfare and funnel them into weaponry intended for our destruction - they tell us this very clearly at every opportunity. If the writers are already quoting from our sources, may I remind them that "hakam lehorgecha, hashkem lehorgo - if someone is about to kill you, you kill him first." When they stop shooting at us and cease their declarations of Jewish genocide, blockades will no longer be necessary. LINDA STERN Safed Refugee camp? Sir, - While reading your article "Barak okays some West Bank construction, but Pisgat Ze'ev is still unclear on freeze" (September 8), I was struck by the accompanying photograph captioned: "The Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev sits adjacent to the Shuafat refugee camp, with the separation fence running between the two." It was just as well that the caption was so detailed, because otherwise I would have been hard put to define where the Jewish neighborhood ended and the "refugee camp" began. When one reads or hears "refugee camp," one pictures tent cities, shanty towns, rickety houses, not the small town with standard Israeli apartment blocks pictured in your photo. If the Arabs complain about such housing, which refugees anywhere else would be only too delighted to have, this just shows that it's not the physical conditions in which they live, but their unwillingness to tolerate Israeli sovereignty which is the root of the Middle East problem. ANNE KLAUSNER Petah Tikva It's not broken Sir, - The old saying is: "If it's not broken, why fix it?'' David Newman, a geopolitical professor, no less, seems to want to fix what is not broken ("Bnei Akiva - then and now," September 8). His own words are "[Bnei Akiva] adopted more stringently Orthodox lifestyles... involved in welfare projects in poor neighborhoods... go on to serve in the army.'' He further states that "many of the [other] Zionist youth movements no longer exist... Bnei Akiva... succeeded into the present era.'' So what is the professor complaining about? Kol hakavod, Bnei Akiva. URI HIRSCH Netanya It was the GermansSir, - In the article "Evangelicals join March of the Living for first time" (September 4), E.B. Solomont refers to "Poland 's Nazi death camps." Perhaps the writer simply intended to identify the location of the major death camps. Nevertheless, the phrase could give the incorrect impression that Poland, as a nation or a people, was involved in the administration of these camps. These camps were imposed upon Polish soil by the German occupying forces and run by the SS. Being a survivor of the Holocaust from Poland myself, I can testify that my loved ones did not die in Polish but in German death camps. Among those living nearby were some who probably looked the other way. Others felt helpless to act under occupation. Some collaborated. Still others, such as Irena Sendler, at great risk to themselves, defied the Nazi military regime and saved Jewish people. At Yad Vashem, the nation with the highest number of people honored as Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jews is Poland . There are sad chapters in Polish-Jewish relations that are not to be forgotten nor ignored in historical narrative. But there are also many positive episodes that inspire people today. Also, current Polish-Israeli relations are exemplary in the context of Israel's relations with other EU nations. Poland can today be considered Israel's most reliable friend in Europe. We should strive to avoid misunderstandings, clichés and "painting with a broad brush." HILLEL GOLDBERG Jerusalem