May 7, 2018: The US Embassy and Pollard

The US Embassy and Pollard

Will we ever grow up or are we doomed to continue as the pathetic and oh so grateful puppets of US President Donald Trump (Gallant orders plans for new embassy quarter in Jerusalem 27 April)? Why do we humiliate and demean ourselves, a sovereign Jewish State, by this disgusting servitude?

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All Trump has done is what should have been done years ago and what Israel should have insisted on for all those who wished to have the privilege of their embassies in our country. As for America making its own rules here for its embassy and at its request, the Jerusalem Municipality Finance Committee authorizing more than NIS 5m. for the construction of a second road leading to what will be only the temporary US Embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, why do we have to pay for it?

It is bad enough a street is being named after Trump as well as a new light rail station, but the possibility of naming the area “Trump Town” makes me want to hide my head in shame at how far we have fallen from the once proud people we were.

I wonder to what lengths we will go to honor and thank Trump should he decide to free Pollard (Trump may let Pollard come to Israel 30 April). This is something he should have done immediately on taking office, being such a wonderful friend to Netanyahu and Israel. He is well aware that Pollard’s prison sentence of 40 years was inhumane and a disgrace to America’s justice system and even on his release, to be subjected to the draconian conditions he has had to live under.

Therefore all Trump would be doing, if he does free him to come home to Israel, would be righting a grievous and disgraceful wrong.

EDITH OGNALL
Netanya

Bomb the bridges

In her April 29 letter, Rebecca Erbelding of the US Holocaust Museum expresses doubt as to whether it would have been effective or appropriate for the Allies to bomb Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to the camp. Oddly, she did not comment on the question of bombing the bridges over which those railway lines passed. That’s a curious omission, because a number of the requests for bombing Auschwitz that were submitted to the Allies in 1944 specifically named bridges that should be targeted.

Roswell McClelland, the US War Refugee Board’s representative in Switzerland, wrote to the board’s leaders on June 24, 1944, “It is urged by all sources of this information in Slovakia and Hungary that vital sections of these [rail] lines, especially bridges along one [the Csap, Kosice, Presov route] be bombed as the only possible means of slowing down or stopping future deportations.” By emphasizing the bombing of rail bridges, McClelland understood what the Allied Bomber Command already knew: the best way to effectively interrupt rail traffic was to destroy targets such bridges and viaducts, which were considerably more difficult to rebuild than rail lines.

I had the opportunity to interview Allied pilots who flew near Auschwitz in 1944, for my film They Looked Away. They, too, pointed out that it took the Germans much longer to repair bridges than railway lines, so hitting the bridges would have caused a greater disruption to the deportations of hundreds of thousands of Jews to Auschwitz.

Officials of the US Holocaust Museum ought to familiarize themselves with this important part of the historical record before venturing into the debate over the failure to bomb Auschwitz.

STUART ERDHEIM
Director/Producer of They Looked Away

Center of concern

President Rivlin refused to visit a key Jewish institution in Ethiopia (“Rivlin will not visit the Jewish community center in Addis Ababa,” April 30).

It seems very unlikely that a similar refusal would have been encountered by any other Jewish community in the Diaspora. It is particularly bewildering since the synagogue located in the center is where Sintayehu Shiferew studied when preparing for the International Bible Contest (he placed second in the Diaspora)! There is presumably no legitimate security concern, since Minister Ayelet Shaked visited the center without incident only two months before.

Some of the members of this community have been awaiting aliya for over 20 years under inhumane conditions. The government has refused to implement its November 2015 resolution to bring the members of this community to Israel. While Rivlin did have a short token meeting with several members of the community in his hotel room, he acceded to the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s request not to visit the center itself – a clear slap in the face to a religious Zionist community, which is recognized as a Jewish community by the government of Ethiopia – though apparently not by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Perhaps Rivlin can make amends upon his return for refusing to witness the appalling condition under which the community lives in Ethiopia by interceding with Prime Minister Netanyahu to finally bring our long-suffering brethren home. Otherwise, it is hard to accept at face value Rivlin’s often stated desire for a broad, welcoming tent for all Jews in the State of Israel.

JACOB MANN
St. Louis

Mossad mission accomplished

When I heard how the Mossad had retrieved over half ton of key files from a secret location in Tehran and brought it all back to Israel, it was like Entebbe all over again.

It does prove one thing however: the jealousy of the leaders of Germany, France, United Kingdom, Russia and others. I have not heard a single word of praise for this miraculous feat from any leaders other than US President Donald Trump. I call it jealousy of the first order.

MICHAEL PLASKOW
Netanya

Diaspora viability

As an Israeli, it is with a deep sense of sadness that I concur with every word of Isi Liebler’s essay, “The Disintegration of American Jewry” (May 2).

However, conspicuous by its absence in his analysis is almost any reference to Jewish religious belief and regular religious observance as the basis of viable and strong Jewish community life, particularly in the Jewish Diaspora. He does note in passing that the Orthodox community appears exempt from the looming demographic implosion of which he speaks and also that in the past “attachments to Israel and Judaism were synonymous.”

Support of Israel based solely on a sense of common peoplehood or ethnic pride is commendable but, as seen in retrospect, it generally does not have the same staying power as does Jewish religious commitment in preserving Jewish communal continuity.

Zionism without Judaism has a short shelf life.

ARDIE GELDMAN
Efrat

Abbas’s apology

Regarding “World fumes over Abbas’s antisemitism”( May 3), a few days ago a small group of still-existing survivors discussed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s latest speech concerning the Holocaust. We all said: he is going to say, “Sorry.” That is expected after the reactions from all over the civilized world.

No one, included Abbas himself, believes this apology, because by now everybody knows his mentality and tactics.

I am an old Jewish woman who was imprisoned in the Warsaw ghetto at the age of nine for one reason only: I was Jewish. My hope is that everything Abbas is wishing for the Jewish people will happen to him.

RUTH BERLINGER
Jerusalem

Education fail

In “Not the Jewish way: Haredi reticence on Remembrance Day” (May 6) Tova Hartman expresses her great disappointment that the haredim do not participate in the public sorrow honoring Israel’s fallen 23,645 soldiers. She eloquently points out that this is the antitheses of Jewish ethical behavior as described by the Rambam and other Talmudic scholars. Right on.

Unfortunately, in an effort to appear liberal and fair-minded, the writer states that “everyone has a right to receive an education in their own way” and she also supports public government funding of the private haredi school system. Terribly wrong.

The state of Israel has a moral and legal obligation to provide and make sure that all its citizens receive an education that includes knowledge of basic mathematics, the ability to speak and read Hebrew (not Yiddish) and a certain understanding of the modern world. Many haredi educational establishments do not provide these rudiments of education.

These are issues that cannot be overlooked, even though the stability of coalition governments may be in danger. Do we have to wait for the day when a group of hozrim b’sheila sue the haredi schools, the Department of Education and the government for the dereliction of their basic rights?

I for one will generously donate to the legal fees of such a lawsuit.

YIGAL HOROWITZ
Emeritus Professor of Radiation Physics Beersheba