September 20: Our zeitgeist

Merriam-Webster has listings for “American,” “Israeli,” “Russian,” etc., but not for “Palestinian.”

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Proof positive Sir, – When I read the vile, despicable comments that Rabbi Shalom Cohen leveled at Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (“Political recriminations mar robing ceremony of Sephardi chief rabbi,” September 17), two thoughts came to mind.
What did Cohen do all day on Yom Kippur? He obviously didn’t spend it absorbing one of the key messages of the day – the centrality of achdut (unity) of the Jewish people in the whole process of drawing closer to God. And as this was Cohen’s second such verbal assault on a fellow Jew within a matter of months, it proves the wisdom of the Talmudists who, when they penned Pirkei Avot, counseled us to despise authority.
Religion and politics do not blend. Cohen is proof positive of this.MICHAEL D. HIRSCH Kochav Yair Image remains
Sir, – Manfred Gerstenfeld’s analysis “Norway: Anti-Israelism and anti- Semitism will continue after elections” (Comment & Features, September 17) reminds me of a vacation trip there in 2011.
We were at an outdoor bus terminal in a mediumsized Norwegian city in the middle of the day. It was warm and we saw an old woman wandering around, trying to find her way.
Despite the language barrier we tried to calm her down. One of us walked over to the only bus we could see and explained to the driver the woman’s predicament.
The driver graciously drove his bus over to her, found out where she was trying go, boarded her and promised us that he would take care of her. He thanked us for our concern and asked where we came from. The moment we said Israel he glared at us, stepped on the gas and drove away.
That image will remain with me. Gerstenfeld’s piece reminded me again about the depth of hate we saw in rural Norway.
I am sure, as always, there will be a note from the Norwegian ambassador explaining that it just isn’t so. Unfortunately, it is.
STEPHEN JEROME KOHN Ra’anana Our zeitgeist
Sir, – Your editorial “National Tshuva” (September 12) strikes notes of conciliation across various demographic Israeli divides.
It is an accurate reflection of the national zeitgeist. Yet it is exactly this zeitgeist that troubles me and reaffirms my concern for the survival of an independent, vibrant and proud Israel.
Recognizing the need for introspection as an instrument of change, the editorial uses phrases that cause anguish, words embedded in that zeitgeist reflecting the essence of capitulation to our enemies.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs). Words directly affect our life or death as individuals and as a nation.
Language reflects our intellectual, spiritual and physical essence. We must eliminate words that undermine the rights to our national identity.
The first is “Palestinian.”
For two millennia Jews, wherever they lived, were called the Palestinians by friends and enemies alike.
In the 20th century’s first half, every international power carefully differentiated the parties claiming sovereignty – Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews.
Even this newspaper was The Palestine Post until 1950. It certainly never considered itself an organ of our enemies.
Merriam-Webster has listings for “American,” “Israeli,” “Russian,” etc., but not for “Palestinian.”
By continuing to use that appellation we are explicitly renouncing our heritage and just claim to the land.
The second is the use of “holiest site in Judaism” for the retaining wall built by an Idumian madman to support expansion of the true holiest site, the Temple Mount.
IDF Col. Motta Gur’s joyous proclamation of victory in 1967 was “Har habayit b’yadeinu (The Temple Mount is in our hands).”
He didn’t say “Western Wall.” In his honor we named our first-born.ALEX S. HORNSTEINJerusalem/Allentown, Pennsylvania