It pays U.S. to have Israel as an ally

Ron Olsen's conclusion in his letter to the editor - that Senator [Bill] Nelson's discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu pertaining to [Chuck] Hagel must be construed to mean that Nelson was seeking Netanyahu's approval - indicates that Olsen might not harbor a "love" of Israel. There is a major difference between a senator asking for an opinion and asking for approval. If anyone has an opinion, unless there is reasonable proof that his approval is required in conjunction with his opinion, one should not conclude that an opinion is intertwined with an approval. Mr. Olsen should study some of the opinions of some of our military leaders with reference to the benefits which the United States derives from our relationship with Israel. For example, Israel is the largest "aircraft carrier" that the U.S. has in the Middle East. Also, Gen. George Keegan has publicly stated that the benefits the U.S. derives from Israel is worth "five CIAs," and saves many billions of dollars. Mr. D.F. Clendining's letter of the same date also evinces an underlying antipathy toward Israel. Not one U.S. soldier has ever died protecting Israel, and the billions in U.S. aid to Israel is mostly used to purchase U.S.-made military equipment which helps our economy. If Israel "disappeared," how many more U.S. dollars would have to be spent by the U.S. to protect our Mediterranean and Middle East allies from the millions of Islamist Muslims in countries who would still hate the West. William K. Langfan

His words will endure

There is the famous story about how Hillel climbed up to the roof so he could hear Torah being taught. He was so engrossed even when the snow fell on him that he did not move. Three Jerusalemites - Tom Koevary, Jonny Lemberger and myself - had a fairly similar experience for a Shavuot tikkun with Dr. David Hartman z'l.

We all lived in Givat Mordechai then and decided to work our way through shiurim so we would ultimately reach the kotel as the sun came up. We had addresses where we could imbibe Torah that night.

I'm not sure where it was, but one of the people we heard was Dr. Hartman z'l, who was speaking and teaching.

The building where tikkun was held was small - this was long before the current campus - and was filled. The windows, thankfully, were open. So the three of us stood outside mesmerized by what he said and how he said it.

I do not know about my friends but I only saw Dr. Hartman z'l once more in 34 years. His words then and the words of his I have read will be forever with me.

Dr. David Geffen

Jerusalem

No comfort in sight

The second day of Adar Bet, 1978. A bus filled with Egged bus cooperative members and their families, on a Shabbat outing, went into the terrorism history books as the "Coastal Road Massacre." In the heart of Israel, on the coastal road between Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael and the Glilot Junction, the bus was taken on a terror trip that ended in the deaths of 36 Israelis at the hands of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

My father, who lost a son in the Yom Kippur War, lost my sister and her two sons in the attack. The terrible loss did not sway him from the belief that there is no substitute for direct dialogue with the enemy. He used to say that even if Yasser Arafat is not a particularly heartwarming character, he is the person with whom we must hold negotiations toward peace - because anything that can be closed between him and us will be hermetically sealed. He also said that anyone who finds it hard to sit at the same table with Arafat can take a Pramin (a brand name for Metoclopramide, an antinausea drug ) and do his duty.

Those days are gone. Arafat is dead, and far more radical factions have succeeded him. The number of genuine attempts at dialogue were negligible, in comparison to the number of times it was claimed that we have no partner for dialogue. The 36 victims of the coastal road massacre were admitted to the heavenly yeshiva that has since gathered in hundreds more terror victims, and they look down with a snicker on the world below that abides as always; at an election season from which the word "dialogue" was absent; at a prime minister who was back to practicing his craft of fearmongering even before beginning his craft of coalition-forming; and at us, who failed to change things by even one iota.

Tomorrow, when I visit the graves of my family members in Kibbutz Neve Yam, I will have no good news to bring them. There will not be even the slightest clue leading to something else. There will be no justification for this terrible and needless loss. The state is preoccupied with its own affairs, then as now - only sorrow after sorrow, with no comfort in sight.

Dr. Yona Kitay-Cohen

Kfar Sava