The Photo On The Wall (I)
Who can fail to be moved by Stephen Flatow’s emotional tribute to his daughter Aliza, murdered by Palestinian terrorists 21 years ago (“The Photo on the Wall,” front page essay, April 15)?
The circumstances were horrific, but of course even in the normal course of events parents should not have to know from burying children. I marvel at his relentless determination to bring to account those responsible for the attack despite his being confronted with shameful obstructionism by our very own government.
On the one hand, I applaud him as he continues on his sacred mission. On the other hand, I wonder how people purporting to represent us can place themselves on the side of monsters who have no compunction about takng the life of an innocent young woman.
The Photo On The Wall (II)
It is a testament to Stephen Flatow’s sense of duty to the Jewish people that, despite the unimaginable loss of a child, he was able to act on his realization that the terrorism that took his child can be deterred by going after its sponsors with deep pockets.
It’s terribly disappointing to read of the roadblocks to suing those foreign entities that the federal government has put in his way. I do not understand how so-called sovereign immunity requires that those entities be insulated from attack in our courts. How is that position consistent with the economic sanctions imposed on Iran and North Korea for engaging in and supporting terror? We have even, in the past few years, imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its aggressions.
Biden’s Ill-Timed Remarks
Vice President Joe Biden, pandering to J Street “pro-Israel, pro-peace” sensibilities, last week pronounced himself “overwhelmingly frustrated” with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. He also expressed terrible concern about Israel being able to continue being “both Jewish and democratic.” He decried, as well, Israel’s “steady systematic expansion of settlements.”
He is desperately wrong on all counts. How particularly ill timed, indeed, were his highly offensive remarks on a day of a terrorist bus bombing in Jerusalem?
It’s fair to say that Netanyahu, along with many Israelis and American Jews, is himself “overwhelmingly frustrated” – with Biden and an administration whose “daylight” he was representing.
Palestinian leaders refuse to negotiate seriously. They repeatedly and emphatically aver unwillingness to ever recognize Israel as a Jewish state. But no matter how accommodating Israel is – short of making suicidal concessions – it’s always Israel’s fault that peace hasn’t yet broken out.
For all of the constant weeping and wailing about Israel’s settlement policies, construction has long been restricted to internal expansion of settlement blocs widely expected to remain in Israel under any conceivable peace agreement. The administration, though, is unwilling to say “yes” to that.
As for Israeli democracy, Biden would be well advised to look at problems much closer to home, where this administration’s disastrous domestic and foreign policies have done much to awaken the worst demons, on both the left and the right, of American politics.
Richard D. Wilkins
What’s Happened To Bibi’s Toughness?
Sara Lehmann’s April 15 Right Angle column was, as usual, cogent and accurate.
What has happened to the resolve and needed toughness once exhibited by Prime minister Netanyahu and his cabinet? How can they pounce on an IDF soldier who fires at a terrorist, whether or not the terrorist was standing or in a prone position? Can bureaucrats sitting at desks possibly understand the emotions and fears felt by a soldier who suspects there might well be a hidden explosive device still to be put into play?
The implications are frightening. Will Israel’s military and police descend into a state of fear, uncertainty, and apprehension when confronted by armed, vicious terrorists? Will the fear of reprisals by the government tie the hands of these protectors of the Jewish state?
And to what purpose? To “make nice” to the myriad of enemies our brethren
in Israel face? To hope that such behavior will endear them to those enemies? To think, quite wishfully, that appeasement and standing down will eliminate the dangers posed? If so, it’s time for all concerned to check their history, by googling “Neville Chamberlain at Munich.”
The stakes are far too high to indulge in the fantasies that permeate the worlds of B’Tselem, Haaretz, and other leftist organs and organizations. If “Never Again” is to have any realistic meaning, it can only be realized and implemented by strong, decisive responses to terrorism and attempted terrorism.
New City, NY
Mah Nishtanah And Changing Times
Don’t get me wrong; I cherish our Pesach customs and traditions as much as the next fellow. However, while listening to the Mah Nishtanah – the Four Questions – at the sedorim this year, I was struck (not for the first time) at how drastically times have changed since those questions were first incorporated into the Haggadah.
Why is this night different from all other nights? Well, most of us, especially the women, are exhausted. We’ve cleaned, scrubbed, and shopped until exhaustion. Women have spent hours cooking. Logically, we should have an early supper, a quick bite to eat, and call it a night. Instead, we take dinner and draw it out for hours. We start very late, especially when Passover comes out late in the spring and after the change of the clocks. We say much of what we do is to engage the kids, but we start the Seder way past bedtime for most kids and even many adults.
All of our prayer services are focused in the synagogue. For many, we require a quorum of ten adult men. Men and women daven with a large partition between them; in some places men and women are in separate rooms. At the sedorim, however, the service is at home, no quorum is required, and the men and women sit together, family style.
That is how I think this night is different from all other nights.
On all other nights we may eat both chametz and matzah. And pita and pita chips and bagels and bialys. And there’s sourdough bread and whole wheat bread and crackers and pretzels and cookies and cakes.
On this night we eat only matzah. But wait! There’s rye matzah and spelt matzah and whole-wheat matzah. And they all taste like cardboard. And now there are rolls and buns that look just like chametz, even if they don’t quite taste like it.
On all other nights we eat many vegetables; tonight only bitter herbs. Is that so? Without getting into a debate about halacha, just about every authority accepts romaine lettuce as marror. But the finest restaurants, both kosher and non-kosher, regularly serve romaine lettuce as part of their various salads. So what’s unique about tonight? And if you’re referring to regular old-fashioned ground up horseradish, just ask the Gold family: horseradish with or without beets is the condiment of choice for most people’s gefilte fish. And there’s mild, strong, and extra strong – and even horseradish blended with mayonnaise that you can buy in a squeeze bottle.
On all other nights we do not dip [our food] even once; on this night we [dip our food] twice. Really? Every youngster in America (and Israel) knows about French fries and dipping them in ketchup. Walk over to the refrigerated section of your supermarket. There’s olive dip and dill dip and tehina dip. There’s also onion dip and tomato dip and I don’t know how many other types of dip.
On all other nights, we eat either sitting or reclining; on this night, we all recline. Think about it. Back in the crummy old days, most of us were poor working slobs. There were a few rich people. And those rich people didn’t sit around the dining room table on straight back chairs. Instead, they sat on individual couches or divans with individual cocktail tables that were brought out with food already on them. The couches were built for leaning. That’s how rich people ate and drank.
Now, with different styles of furniture and having grown up with mothers who told us every day to “sit straight at the table when you’re eating,” we’re still expected to lean. For most of us, it’s awkward at best.