May 3, 2017: No angel, he

If Germany were in a state of war, as is Israel, and a foreign entity established groups similar to Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, how would Germany react?

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
No angel, he
With regard to “German FM fishes for antisemitic vote in row with Israel” (Analysis, April 30), I fail to understand the fuss about Sigmar Gabriel’s visit to Israel. He did not come to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; he came to check on the work of his “subsidiaries” here.
There is just one question I would like to ask this gentleman: If Germany were in a state of war, as is Israel, and a foreign entity established groups similar to Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, how would Germany react? Would it allow them to function openly, to the detriment of Germany, or would their leaders be arrested and charged either with either collusion with the enemy or treason?
His answer might be very enlightening, but seeing he is not the Angel Gabriel, I will not hold my breath.
Tel Aviv
It’s all a cycle
A flurry of items, seven in all, appeared in your Comment & Features section of April 30 promising catastrophes due to climate change (“The planet doesn’t have time for this,” “The Thwaites Glacier,” “Hawaiian Honeycreepers,” “Joshua trees,” “Water under the Mojave Desert,” “Cloud forests” and “The future of climate science.”
They warn, inter alia, of catastrophic global heating; disastrous ice melts at the poles; the loss of coral reefs; the inexorable rise of the oceans; a decrease in planet reflectivity, amplifying the warming; more methane in the atmosphere; the death of species; the submergence of nations beneath the waves and drowning of coastal communities; the vanishing of freshwater mussel species; etc.
In addition, one should be aware of the following: Asteroids will crash into Earth causing catastrophic cooling due to clouds of dust; super bacteria will kill millions; robots will take over; and wars will break out.
Taking all this seriously will lead to an enormous increase in depression and suicide rates, which in turn will lead to decreased global warming due to less narcissistic consumerism.
Loss of identity
With regard to your publication of the New York Times piece by Mark Oppenheim (“Reclaiming ‘Jew,’” Comment & Features, April 30) and the matter of using the words “Jew” and “Jewish,” the issue has been further elaborated on by Yaakov Kirschen, of Dry Bones fame, in many of his speaking engagements in the United States.
Kirschen describes the progression of many American Jews as follows: Jews (noun) came to America and became Jewish (adjective) Americans, and finally Americans (noun).
Adjectives can be changed while a noun retains its identity (e.g., black hair can be dyed red, but it remains hair). This pithily sums up the change that has occurred to many Jewish descendants of the large immigration to the US at the turn of the 20th century – from total self-identification as Jews to assimilation and intermarriage, with the accompanying loss of identity.
Mahal’s legacy
Regarding “From strength to strength” (April 28), at long last, somebody has had the courage to tell the Israeli public the truth about the War of Independence, and Yossi Melman has done an invaluable service to the phenomenal group of people who volunteered in Mahal.
When I ask people what the Hebrew letters for “Mahal” stand for, they say they are the letters used on the voting slips for the Likud Party (if they give an answer at all). Ask just about any Israeli: Who were the people and what groups were instrumental in fighting for Israel’s Independence? Their reply is staggering: The Palmah, the Hagana, the Irgun and the Stern Gang. Nothing is mentioned about Mahal.
With all due respect to their places in history, the four groups they mention were almost entirely foot soldiers, whereas Mahalniks were pilots, tank corpsmen, naval personnel, etc. They started all the branches of the IDF, and as stated by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, the Mahal forces were the Diaspora’s most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel. In fact, at the beginning, the language used in the air force was English due to the number of Anglo Saxons serving as pilots and in other roles.
Smoky Simon and his original Mahalniks started something more important, and it continues to this day.
After the declaration of statehood, Mahal was basically discontinued. Then, in 1956, prior to the Sinai Campaign, the South African Zionist Federation restarted it. This continued for nine years, with young South Africans coming to Israel and serving in the Nahal Brigade of the IDF. This group was integrated into the World Mahal Association to the extent that at the Mahal Memorial in the Jerusalem Forest, the Nahal emblem has been added.
In 1967, prior to the Six Day War, Mahal was again reinstated, and today, each year, several hundred youngsters from all over the world come to Israel and volunteer to serve in all branches of the IDF. Thus, in the 50 years since the Six Day War, some 10,000 youngsters have come to serve this way in the IDF. This, to my mind, is the greatest legacy of the original Mahalniks.
If any of your readers are interested in knowing more about Mahal, please go to our website:
Hod Hasharon
The writer, an oleh from South Africa, served in Mahal in the early 1960s.
Flip side
The flip side to Rabbi Eli Kavon’s “Is Spinoza a Jewish philosopher?” (Observations, April 28) is the comment on Baruch Spinoza by Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg): ein Gott-betrunkener mensch (a God-intoxicated man).
Kiryat Tivon
No need for column
As an annual attendee of the Jerusalem Post Conference, it is disheartening on several levels that editor in chief Yaakov Katz is forced to defend the appearance of Dr. Sebastian Gorka at the upcoming conference (“Why we are hosting Sebastian Gorka,” Editor’s Notes, April 28).
First and foremost, Dr. Gorka, in his many media appearances, is a harsh critic of radical Islam and is always supportive of Israel as a liberal, western democracy. He has been one of the most effective and articulate advocates of a strong and aggressive posture against Islamic State and other assorted Islamic terrorist entities, and a critic of the Iranian regime and the nuclear deal.
This is why he has raised the ire of the anti-Israel Left in America and beyond. And this is precisely why the liberal-Democratic Left has engaged in an unfounded smear campaign against Dr. Gorka. I was somewhat annoyed that Mr. Katz’s column did not raise this.
I will excuse the editor for not fully comprehending what is happening in the US, specifically that the Left is engaging in baseless and false smear campaigns against any and all effective media commentators who do not agree with their leftist and, yes, anti-Israel agenda. The charge that Dr. Gorka’s past affiliations have been extreme are bogus, to say the least.
I predict you will find that Dr. Gorka will present full-throated advocacy on behalf of Israel and will be warmly received as a genuine friend. It is a sad statement that such a column had to be written, and a shame that Mr. Katz could not see through the anti-Trump hysterics.
Roslyn, New York