Victory Day’s victims

Thank you for your column “Forgotten heroes of a long-ago war” (May 18), which drew attention to ex-Soviet World War II veterans.

As a Ukrainian, I found your description of the honor the veterans received in Russia and the Ukraine to be too rosy. Most of the veterans resettled in the United States because of a lack of care for the elderly in general and for veterans in particular in their home countries. The main purpose of the tremendous Victory Day parades is to showcase Russia’s current militarization (and, since Yanukovych’s ascendancy, Ukraine’s militarization, too). This has nothing to do with caring for or honoring veterans.

The Russian and Ukrainian consuls came to the veterans’ parties not to honor the veterans but to showcase their own presence.

In fact, the veterans never received the honor they deserved in the USSR or in former Soviet states. Immediately after the victory, in the summer of 1945, disabled veterans were left without government aid, doomed to beg in vast numbers on the streets of Moscow and then-Leningrad. Then, on one infamous day, the veteran beggars were picked up en masse and exiled to the deserted island of Valaam to a slow death in secrecy and abandonment.

Nowadays, in a similar way, most of the World War II veterans in Russia and Ukraine are left to live out their days in poverty and neglect.

Nadezhda Banchik   |   San Jose


Keep an open mind

I was shocked to hear that a Sunday school for Muslim children had encouraged boys to be “ready for jihad,” and said that Jews were “crafty” and “treacherous” (“Toronto school apologizes to Jews,” May 11). This is disgusting — schools are responsible for educating children, not brainwashing them to be full of hate and accusations.

I am glad to hear that they have apologized. To tell such things to children is unbelievable. We are living in the 21st century, and this blatant hatred should not be accepted.

However, by the same token, I think it’s very important to remain unbiased to Muslims. We cannot, as Americans, hold the belief that all Muslims are extremist, anti-Semitic terrorists. People, especially those still in school like myself, must keep their minds open and informed about different religions and cultures.

Sarah Goldwasser   |   Tiburon


Mixing art and politics

The article about the two Irish bands (“More Israel cancellations: Two Irish bands nix June play dates,” May 11) deciding not to tour in Israel left me shocked. I knew that there was a growing anti-Israel sentiment in Europe, but I did not understand that it was prevalent enough to stop two bands from visiting and sharing their music.

Although it clearly makes sense from a publicity standpoint not to go, I am disappointed that they caved in so easily over some negative backlash on their Facebook page. The bands might claim to have no political motives, but the very fact that they canceled their trips shows that they are taking a negative stance on Israel.

Yonah Radousky   |   Castro Valley   

History repeating itself?

I attended Grandparents Day at the Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto on May 25. Included in the program was a sixth-graders’ history lesson period. The teacher was just outstanding. She skillfully managed to connect the ancient Roman Empire with modernity.

This brings me to the article “In serene campus settings, anti-Israel, anti-Jew hate fester” (op-ed, May 25). There apparently is a total disconnect between contemporary European campus life and the not-so-distant history of the pre–World War II years. Only the accusers are different and the pretension is not the same. The accused, i.e., Jews, have not changed.

Instead of raging Nazis in brown shirts, there are screaming Muslim extremists; instead of the Goebbels propaganda, there are hordes of academicians trying to close doors to Israeli scientists and turn higher-education campuses into Judenfrei places; and instead of claiming that Jews control everything, there is the hypocrisy of Israeli “occupation.” Nobody talks about the Arab Khartoum 1967 conference’s “Three No’s”: no recognition of Israel, no talks with Israel, no peace with Israel.

We should recognize the contributions of the past cultures, but at the same time shouldn’t brush off similarities of the present with the ugliness of the past.

Vladimir Kaplan   |   San Mateo


Misleading story on village 

I would like to correct JTA’s misleading report (“Video shows settlers firing on Palestinians,” May 25). The Israel Hayom newsletter reported a very different story, which B’Tselem conveniently elected to partially report.

According to Israel Hayom, this incident is one in a long series of clashes between residents of Arab Asira al Qibliya village and the Jewish farmers of Yitzhar. The incident was started by the Arab villagers, who set fire to Yitzhar’s fields ready for the harvest. When the Jewish farmers rushed out to put out the fire, they were ambushed by an Arab’s barrage of rocks … that escalated to a rock-throwing clash between the groups. When the larger number of Arabs prevented the defending farmers from reaching the fields, the Jewish villagers feared for their livelihood and homes; they reached for their sidearms (equipped with rubber bullets) to chase away the Arabs. In addition, the Arabs blocked the roads to Yitzhar, preventing IDF enforcement from reaching the incident area, which explains the presence of only three soldiers.

Similar to other incidents “reported” by B’Tselem, this was not a coincidence where a videographer just happened to be there! This is just one of many planned provocations aimed at vilifying the settlers and defaming Israel.

Sam Liron   |   Foster City