Letters Week of Oct. 12, 2005


Understanding the Need for a Policy of Defense

Thank you for Jonathan Tobin's column about how foolish and dangerous it is to apologize for opposing Islamic fundamentalism (A Matter of Opinion: "Apologies Aren't Necessary," Oct. 6).

My one hesitation with his argument has to do with my not wanting my own son to fight.

I respect and admire the men and women in Iraq now. They're there so that we can try to hold back the flood of Islamic fundamentalists seeking to dominate the Middle East and attack the U.S. again.

But it's hard for me to ask other parents to volunteer their children for this mission, just as it was hard for me to fully support the right of Israelis in Gush Katif to stay there.

Did Israel have a right to be in Gaza? Yes. Would I have wanted my son to defend the right of 8,000 people to stay there? No.

You may think my mixed feelings make me a hypocrite. But I believe most thinking people are torn on the subject of national defense. Maybe the reality is that we have to stop fundamentalist terror before it gets to our door, the way thousands of Americans did when they died on French beaches to help end Hitler's regime.

Yet it's hard to think of sacrificing oneself and one's children, even for a cause as important as the fight against terror.

People like us do not have 72 virgins waiting for them in heaven.
Barbara Finkelstein
Bronx, N.Y.

War Protesters Don't Want to Abandon Israel!

Many of the people who gathered in Washington two weeks ago were protesting the war in Iraq, but did not want to abandon Israel – or stop looking for Osama bin Laden and fighting Al Qaeda (A Matter of Opinion: "Apologies Aren't Necessary," Oct. 6).

They don't want the United States fighting in Iraq because there's no valid reason to be there. Iraq did not attack us or any of our allies.

It had no weapons of mass destruction, and not preparing to attack anyone with such weapons.

It's not silly to protest that war, and the vast majority of those protesters did not say anything at all about Israel.
Betsy Markman
Austin, Texas

A 'Dispensable' Sharon Made War Inevitable

I appreciated the thoughtful commentary about the current dilemma facing Israel and the United States (A Matter of Opinion: "The 'Big Bang' Will Echo Here," Sept. 22).

But there are a few points Jonathan Tobin makes that need to be clarified.

First, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will not live forever; so any strategy that makes him "indispensable" is necessarily flawed.

Second, a strategy that no one understands can't work.

Third, Bush won't be president much longer; already, he looks like a very lame duck. Building up credibility with him may turn out to be a poor investment.

And lastly, leaving Gaza made war inevitable.
Ezra Marsh

Screenwriter's Invention Merely Copied Real Life

Concerning your Sept. 29 story on Ronald Harwood (Arts & Entertainment: "Screenwriter's Straight Talk on 'Oliver Twist'), an important point needs to be corrected.

Harwood was quoted as saying, 'When I wrote 'The Pianist,' " he comments of his 2002 Oscar-winning effort on the Holocaust-era film that also garnered an Academy Award for director Roman Polanski, "I included a character of a good German," a Nazi who came to the aid of the real-life protagonist, Wladyslaw Szpilman (depicted by Adrien Brody, who won a best actor Academy Award for the part).

That's not true. My father, Wladyslaw Szpilman, wrote The Pianist in 1945. The book was published in 1946, and subsequently, in 1998 in Germany and England, and in 1999 in the United States by Picador Publishing House.

The German officer did not need to be invented by Harwood. He was already there, as it happened during the war, and he was described by my father in his book.

Mr. Harwood did not really write "The Pianist," but only elaborated on the existing autobiography by my father.
Andrzej Szpilman

Looking Forward to First Service in New Building

I read with interest your story about Beth Chaim Reform Congregation's five-year journey to build its own synagogue in Malvern (City & Suburb: "Congregation to Plant Some Permanent Roots," Sept. 29).

As architect for the project, we have been working with the congregation since the initial feasibility study, and it is exciting and gratifying to be within sight of groundbreaking.

We look forward to your story about Beth Chaim's first service in its new sanctuary.
Michael Hauptman
Brawer & Hauptman, Architects

A Hairy Body Can Warm You Up on a Cold Night

I hated your recent "Single & Mingle" column ("The Complex Business of 'Make Me a Match' and 'Find Me a Find,' " Sept. 22), by Adina Matusow.

She writes, "Between receding hairlines and men that are too hairy … I have met my fair share of guys."

I married a brilliant, funny, sweet and handsome man who happens to be hairy, and has quite a receding hairline. But that hairline helps accentuate his brilliant blue eyes and long lashes. And his hairy body just keeps me even warmer.

I think Ms. Matusow should re-evaluate her priorities.

Right now, the nice Jewish guys of the world are better off without her!
Ina Altman


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