November 23: Self-respect for US Jewry

Nov 23 Self-respect for

Self-respect for US Jewry Sir, - Thank you for writing about the disgraceful behavior of the San Francisco Jewish Federation and UC Berkeley Hillel ("Column One: Whither American Jewry?" November 20). For the sake of American Jewry and Israel, it is imperative that our Jewish organizations regain their Jewish, pro-Israel identity and self respect and stop aiding our enemies. Hopefully Jews in San Francisco will marginalize the counter-productive Federation and Hillel and fund other organizations that actually stand up for Jews and Israel. LEE GREEN Redwood City, CA Pollard - a blot on our conscience Sir, - It is incredible that 25 years have passed and Jonathan Pollard remains in prison ("It's time for a fresh wind in the Pollard case," November 22). It is impossible to think that the United States can be so vindictive and that American presidents are so stubborn as to refuse to have any compassion on a human being. The facts are that Pollard was only sentenced for espionage. Espionage is simply a matter of what nations want to call it in many cases. Other prisoners in many countries are redeemed in cases of espionage. The United States itself has rescued its own citizens when they have been taken by other countries. Why has Israel failed to do the same for Pollard? There are many cards that Israel holds, but it has failed to use them. It is high time that the entire nation acted for Pollard in the same way. Pollard will remain a blot on Israel's conscience - and more importantly, we will always feel that we have let our moral standards go askew. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem The 'unthinkable' is not an option Sir, - Kenneth Pollack ("Planning for the unthinkable - a nuclear Iran," November 20) apparently perceives himself as the new George F. Kennan, the American diplomat whose Long Telegram in 1946 defined the US policy of containment against the USSR. Well, Pollack can never be Kennan for the simple reason that Iranian mullahs with their Shi'a eschatology are not comparable to Lenin's Bolsheviks. As Bernard Lewis wrote, "For people with this mindset, MAD [mutual assured destruction] is not a constraint; it is an inducement." Israel faces difficult choices, including how best to protect its population from the Iranian, Hizbullah and Hamas response, and whether to use tactical nuclear weapons to ensure that the sites have been thoroughly destroyed. The choice of letting Iran go nuclear is not one of them. MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC Beersheba Upholding the 10 Commandments... Sir, - In observing the media, we see basically haredim standing up for God's laws. They vehemently protest desecration of our holy Shabbat and other religious issues, often resorting to violence - Jew raising hand against Jew, or causing destruction that results in financial loss ("Haredim protest outside Intel offices," November 22). But what about the rest of us? Isn't God for everyone? Every Jew has a mission in this universe to uphold God's commandments and bring peace to the world - but not through force. Everyone should send e-mails and write letters and come out en masse to protest against Intel's desecration and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's shameful anti-religious support in this vital issue. Where are our rabbis? Perhaps I've missed it, but I have not seen their reaction. If we choose not to believe in God or his 10 Commandments, what's the point of keeping our synagogues functioning and preserving the Torah? It would serve a better purpose, no doubt, if synagogues were converted into Intel industrial branches, our Torahs buried in a deep vault. TOVA WALD Jerusalem Sir, - The violent demonstrations by haredi groups objecting to business on Shabbat has given me pause for reflection. When traveling in my student days, I was impressed by Scotland's and Ireland's shutdown of public transportation, pubs and movie houses on Sundays. No one was embarrassed or apologetic about it. Religion is the raison d'etre of the Jewish people. Our religion has influenced most of the world. Why are we embarrassed by the 10 Commandments? No one else is. Intel's principal products were invented in Israel. Our government has invested almost as much as the corporation in its productive facilities. It is embarrassing that Intel's operation on Shabbat is an issue in Israel. Is there any doubt that the world would show us more respect if our airports were closed on Shabbat? It would send the message that the Jews are serious about Judaism. What other reason is there for a Jewish State? CHAYIM SEIDEN Jerusalem ...the rule of law... Sir, - Thanks for supporting rule of law in Israel and America in your editorial "Crossing the lines" (November 18). Israel is too vulnerable for military refusenik activity on either Left or Right. Civilian civil disobedience (like Dr. Martin Luther King's) is sometimes laudable, but never in precarious Israel's - or any democracy's - military. Suppose southern states' National Guardsmen had refused US president John F. Kennedy's federalization of the Guard to enforce civil rights laws? That would have been disastrous. But I doubt if "the excesses on the Right were precipitated by bad behavior on the Left." At best, it seems a chicken-egg question. Rightist extremism led to Baruch Goldstein's 1994 mass slaughter of Mosque worshipers, Ya'acov Teitel's attacks on Israel Prize-winner Ze'ev Sternhell and a Messianic Jewish family, and Yigal Amir's assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The Post deserves congratulations. Social stability, nonviolence and the rule of law should be something about which conservative and liberal Jews can all agree, just as we are all outraged by Palestinian terror. JAMES ADLER Cambridge, MA ...and democracy Sir, - Democracy and the spirit of freedom and respect have made America the great nation it is and a moral standard to the world. The decision as to whether to have a memorial for Rabbi Meir Kahane, a former Knesset member, is the prerogative of the elected speaker of the Knesset ("Kahane Memorial in the Knesset would harm peace process, US Embassy says," November 12); the decision to build in Gilo has been decided by the elected municipality of Jerusalem ("No limits on Gilo building, government declares," November 18); and the delicate rulings as to the official forms of Jewish religious practices are decided by the elected bodies of the Israeli government. Therefore, it is difficult to understand why the American government finds it within its bounds to make demands on the democratic decisions of Israelis, and thus slight the integrity of the Israeli democracy. RAPHAEL BEN-YOSEF Ramat Gan Oh, and the rights of smokers Sir, - In Likud MK Ophir Akunis's egregious attempt to send Israel back to the middle ages of smoking legislation, there are few ways - most of which are unprintable - to justify his daring to "be concerned about the rights of smokers." He should take a tour through the pulmonary ICU of any hospital (I have) and take note that virtually all of the patients there who are dying of emphysema and lung cancer are smokers. If he lacks the guts to do that, he can try sitting exclusively in the "smoking rooms" of airports and bus and railway stations. TREVOR DAVIS Aseret