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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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Letters To The Editor

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Bibi’s Apology

When I first read that Prime Minister Netanyahu had made an over-the-phone agreement with Turkish Prime Minster Erdogan, I could not believe my eyes (“Bibi Apology To Turkey Faces Criticism As Erdogan Pressures Israel,” front page news story, April 5).

I thought everyone realized that even a written agreement is viewed by someone like Erdogan as just the basis for reopening negotiations. How could someone as allegedly savvy as the Israeli prime minister be so naïve?

As I expected, Turkey has humiliated Israel by backing off its commitment to abandon lawsuits against IDF personnel over their roles in the Mavi Marmara flotilla attack and is now insisting that Israel end its blockade of Gaza.

For three years Netanyahu vowed he would never apologize because Israel was in the right. How can anyone, friend or foe, trust anything this politician says?

Fred Millstein
(Via E-Mail)

Cyber Threat

Your Israel correspondent Steve Walz pointed to a growing threat to the security of the Western world, not just Israel (“Cyber Attacks Feared Against Major Israeli Websites,” news story, April 5).

Since all the industrial nations are almost reliant on computers to run things, well-placed cyber attacks can force a halt to their operations and wreak untold damage. Military strength is no longer necessary to defeat even a powerful enemy. All that is needed is some well-directed computer technology. And there is little by way of protections currently available.

We all kvelled when Israel seemed to have penetrated Iranian nuclear plants and caused major disruptions. Never forget that if Israel can do it to others, the same technology exists for others to do it to Israel and the U.S.

Shoshana Feldman
Jerusalem

Syrian Dilemma

I am concerned that most media reports about incidents occurring across Israel’s border with Syria as a product of the civil war there are ignoring the most important element (“Israeli Military Fires on Syria, Gaza After Rocket Incidents,” news story, April 5).

Al Qaeda has insinuated itself into Syrian rebel ranks and already exercises significant control. This is far more alarming than some rockets being fired. The Obama administration faces a dilemma. It wants to get rid of Syrian President Assad but not if it means supporting Al Qaeda, even indirectly. Yet the only way to influence the rebels to disassociate themselves from Al Qaeda is to provide the rebels with financial and perhaps with military aid.

Gerald Skolnik
(Via E-Mail)

Admirable Individual

I very much appreciated your fine editorial tribute to Rabbi Herschel Schacter, z”l. As a former resident of the Bronx and occasional mispallel in his shul, I can personally attest to the great sway he had in the community and his role in forging a true Jewish identity there.

I was happy that you mentioned his heroic work as a chaplain following the liberation of the Buchenwald death camp. He truly was an admirable individual.

Morris Brown
Miami Beach, FL

‘Progressive’ Hypocrisy

There is no credible reason for the virulent hatred of Israel by “progressive” Christians (“Christians Recognizing Themselves in a Jewish Mirror,” op-ed. March 22).

Israel is a beacon of democratic, principled governance in a region where Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime mercilessly murders Syrian men, women and children and where Coptic Christians are continually assaulted and harassed by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government.

The ultimate obscenity is that “progressive” Christians are in the forefront of promoting the BDS movement against Israel and accusing the Jewish state of apartheid when Mauritania and Sudan abuse the largest number of African slaves in the world today – slaves who are bonded for generations, belonging with their children to their Arab masters who mete out cruel and barbaric punishment for trivial infractions.

The blatant hypocrisy on the part of liberal Christian leaders and opinion-shapers should elicit the opprobrium it richly deserves.

Fay Dicker
Lakewood, NJ

Defending Pius

I would like to take the opportunity offered by reader Ray Kestenbaum’s praise of Pope Frances I (Letters, March 22) to say a word on behalf of the much-maligned Pope Pius XII.

I make reference to Israeli author Pinchas E. Lapide’s book Three Popes and the Jews.

Pope Pius XII gave instructions to churches, nunneries, and monasteries throughout Europe to hide Jews from the Nazis. In 1940 he publicly condemned Nazi atrocities against Poles and Jews. Thousands of Jews were hidden in the Vatican during the Holocaust. Golda Meir, Albert Einstein and Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog were among many who after the war praised Pope Pius XII for saving Jews during the Holocaust.

Almost all of the hate directed against Pope Pius XII in connection with the Holocaust is the result of the play “The Deputy” by Rolf Hochhuth, who as a young man was a member of a subdivision of the Hitler Youth and who has been a longtime friend of the notorious Holocaust denier David Irving.

Reuven Solomon
(Via E-Mail)

New Landscape

I read with interest your columnists’ views on the recently inaugurated 19th Knesset. Following a campaign of harsh vitriol by haredi politicians against Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, the haredi parties left out of the coalition would be well served if they engaged in cheshbon hanefesh.

After unsuccessfully running on an uncompromising platform against national service, United Torah Judaism and Shas should ask themselves a few questions – chiefly, what does Zionism mean to them? Ambiguity is no longer an option. Neither is demonizing those who do not share their views.

The political landscape in Israel wasn’t this volatile if you go back a generation. There was once a time when secular and traditional Sephardim voted for Shas, seeing the party as their advocate for civil rights. United Torah Judaism was once praised for defending the country’s Jewish identity, but its view of a very narrowly defined Judaism created a backlash from the general public, and the Satmar Rebbe’s pre-election rally discouraging Israeli haredim from voting also cut into the party’s base.

Contrast the losing parties to the victors. Bayit HaYehudi, once viewed as a tiny vestige party of settler interests, recruited the non-settler entrepreneur Naftali Bennett as its leader, along with colleagues who span the secular-religious spectrum. Likewise, Yesh Atid has a membership that ranges from a Baltimore-raised rabbi to a wheelchair-bound disabled rights advocate. It also spans the geographic and ethnic gaps, including the nation’s first female Ethiopian-born Knesset member.

As a matter of fact, every party in the ruling coalition features religious, geographic and ethnic diversity. Each of these parties can accurately claim to represent the Israeli majority.

Perhaps this was the political earthquake Israel needed, and parties based on common values rather than identity politics will become the new norm.

Sergey Kadinsky
Flushing, NY

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