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Letters week of August 24, 2006
A Meeting With Destiny: His Deeds Remembered
Michael Levin, whom I had not seen for a few years, was the person Jonathan Tobin described so well (A Matter of Opinion: "Somebody Else's Job," Aug. 10).
Michael knew what he wanted and perhaps what his destiny was to be, as he had told a number of his friends.
His love of Israel -- and what it means to the Jewish people and the world -- was more important than his life.
Michael loved life and people. He had the personality to go into a room full of strangers and leave with a room full of friends -- a rare gift.
Michael was a very loving and passionate person who had a smile and personality that just melted people, as the Israeli Defense Force recruiter found out when he climbed up to the open window on the second story of the enlistment building. The recruiter saw a man whose love for Israel was the kind of driving force that will keep Israel alive, no matter what its enemies do.
As his father, Mark Levin, told me, as difficult as it is to lose his son and close friend, Michael did not die a senseless death. He made the ultimate sacrifice for the Jewish state and its people.
Michael was the personification of the word "hero," and, as Tobin put it, one of the new "greatest generation."
May Hashem console his family among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Larry A. Linton
The Idealism of Ramah Reflected in Levin's Life
Thank you for Jonathan Tobin's insightful piece about Michael Levin, z"l.
Although I do not know the family or this brave and idealistic young man, I feel connected to him because I, too, am originally from Pennsylvania.
He attended Camp Ramah in the Poconos, as did I. That influence probably had a great impact on Michael, as it did on me.
In the 1960s, at least, the atmosphere at Ramah was filled with idealism and the belief that being involved in the rebuilding of Eretz Yisrael was a holy and noble task requiring self-sacrifice and communal effort. Team spirit was emphasized, as was the need to do what was right for the common good to fulfill the aspirations to which we Jews were called.
Over the years, we American Jews have lost that drive and outlook, as we have become too enraptured by the siren calls of individual success, and bigger houses and cars. Indeed, the same is probably true for many Israelis.
Michael Levin's life and death remain a reminder of the idealism that used to guide us, and that is needed still if we are to survive as a people.
Spread Fear? No! Take Precautions? Definitely!
Rebecca Ennen and Nachshon David Mahanymi's letter is a noteworthy example of our community's admirable instinct to oppose fear-mongering and scapegoating (Letters: "Seattle Shootings Mustn't Lead to Fear-Mongering," Aug. 10). Alas, this thinking is also dangerously naive during these perilous times we live in.
Providing adequate security for Jewish institutions no more propagates irrational fear than do the necessary precautionary measures taken by airlines and governmental buildings. The Jewish community must understand that there is a significant element in the Muslim world that has both the desire and the means to do us considerable harm.
This thinking is not representative of the views of the majority of the Muslim American community, but it is foolish to believe that one must be a "sociopath" to pay heed to the voices that call for a jihad on Jews. Increasingly blatant anti-Semitism is informing the rhetoric of the Israel-haters, even in America. Islamic Web sites throughout the world demonize and dehumanize Jews, and did so on an almost daily basis even before the current Israeli-Hezbollah conflict.
While we must not succumb to hysteria or irrational fear, our hopes and prayers for a world based on mutual respect and cooperation cannot blind us to doing all we can to thwart those who wish to destroy us.
Director, Community Relations
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
'Islamo-Fascists' Seek Out Death, and Have No Souls
In David Broida's letter to the editor, "Rally for Israel, but Don't Call Hezbollah Names," he purported to be "nauseated" over former Philadelphia City Controller Jonathan Saidel referring to Hezbollah as "animals," which he felt was a "bigoted" attack that reduced "human beings" to "subhuman" status (Letters, Aug. 3).
He noted that Jews are often depicted in such fashion, and that we should not do the same to others. For the same reason, he found the expression "Islamo-fascists" objectionable, which he felt comparable to others referring to us as "Jewish terrorists."
What Broida fails to appreciate is that men who strap bombs on their children and send them to kill other kids, who shoot rockets at civilian homes while shielding themselves among their wives and children, and who fly airplanes into buildings with 3,000 people working to support their families are not "human beings."
My dog -- an "animal" -- had a soul, an incredible will to live and an unequalled ability to love unconditionally. Islamo-fascists romanticize death. They love only martyrdom. They have no soul.
There is no moral equivalence between a terrorist attack on a children's shoe store, university cafeteria or public bus, and the efforts of Israeli soldiers. They cross the Lebanese border in the hopes that their efforts will allow their grandparents to live above ground (not in bomb shelters), their infants to breath without gas masks, and their wives to eat out without getting blown to bits.
Rachel Aliza Elovitz