With regard to “The rabbinate and women” (Editorial, July 31), civil law, whether based on a written or unwritten constitution, is subject to interpretation by scholars of jurisprudence, generally judges in the country’s court system. The layman, whether a legal scholar or not, accepts the decisions of civil courts for better or for worse.
On the other hand, Halacha, or Jewish law, is based on the written and oral laws of God, as given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The oral law eventually was compiled as the Talmud, which was taught to the Jewish people by scholars of great wisdom.
Their interpretations were learned by great scholars of later generations.
In my humble and non-scholarly opinion, even the great Torah scholars of today cannot compare in wisdom and knowledge to their forbears. Yet the The Jerusalem Post, in its finite and, I would assume, non-scholarly wisdom of Torah, has determined that it’s “no secret that Orthodox Judaism discriminates against women.”
Perhaps Israeli civil law discriminates against women, but certainly Halacha does not. Just ask the millions of Orthodox women who live their lives according to Halacha.
AVRAHAM FRIEDMAN Modi’in Illit
Pollard in our hearts
I don’t think Dov Lipman quite understands the feelings engendered in Israeli hearts by the news of Jonathan Pollard’s upcoming parole (“The lessons of Jonathan Pollard,” Observations, July 31).
Rabbi Lipman proclaims that Pollard violated US laws by spying for Israel. We know this.
However, what was very hard to accept all these years was the absolute denial of clemency or a real pardon by various presidents, including, of course, Barack Obama – and this, while various spies came and went, and the US bargained for its own spies.
We cannot but reflect upon the fact that Pollard was given an unusually harsh sentence and has now been granted parole, not a pardon or clemency.
We look forward to his release, but someday, historians will find out exactly what happened.
In the meantime, we can feel only shame that various US presidents were so vindictive.
BATYA KOENIGSBERG Jerusalem The Iran deal
While cautiously endorsing the nuclear deal between the world powers and Iran, Mose Apelblat (“Nuclear deal with Iran: Time to restart EU-Tehran relations?” Comment & Features, July 30) takes issue with the commentary “EU-Iran relations post-Vienna: the way forward,” which I co-authored along with Eldar Mamedov for the European Policy Centre (EPC).
Mr. Apelblat claims that the paper stands in “sharp contrast” with the conclusions of the European Council on Iran following the announcement of the Vienna deal. We don’t think this is the case.
The council’s July 20 conclusions express the expectation that the Vienna agreement “will open the door to a steady improvement in relations between the European Union, its member states and Iran, as well as improved Iranian regional and international relations, and that it will constitute a basis for a more stable and secure region.”
Our paper suggests concrete proposals over how this can be achieved. It is also entirely in tune with the views expressed by the EU high representative for foreign and security policy, Federica Mogherini, that the old zero-sum game logic in the Middle East should be discarded in favor of a more cooperative regional security framework, and that Iran should be involved in any such effort.
We agree with Mr. Apelblat that the Vienna deal will not lead to an immediate improvement in Iran’s attitude toward Israel. Hostility to Israel is deeply ingrained in the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary ethos.
However, the question that we should ask is whether engagement is not a better way to address this concern than isolation.
While it is true that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, repeatedly expressed a commitment to keep challenging Israeli and US policies in the region even as his diplomats were negotiating the nuclear deal, he also said that if the deal proved successful, Iran might move on to explore opportunities for cooperation in other areas, too. The common fight against Islamic State is one such area.
Mr. Apelblat also makes a dubious claim that Iran will use the windfall resulting from sanctions relief to sow mischief in the Middle East.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s main promise to the Iranian people was to improve their living standards. Now he has to capitalize on the deal in order to fix the economy, and do it fast. If there are tangible improvements, the chances of a centrist-reformist coalition backing him in the 2016 parliamentary election will be much enhanced. In addition, Rouhani himself is up for reelection in 2017. Thus, it seems much more likely that the Iranian government will focus on rebuilding the economy rather than foreign adventurism. Even parts of the Revolutionary Guard Corps favor the deal precisely because it promises an improved business climate.
At the same time, Iran, like any other country, will be keen as ever to safeguard its national security interests. The military budget of its regional rival, Saudi Arabia, trumps Iran’s by a ratio of 5:1. In addition, that country’s Wahhabi ideology is as virulently anti-Iran and anti- Shia as it is anti-Semitic, and its newly aggressive foreign policy defines countering Iran’s influence, real or perceived, as its most important foreign policy goal. It would be naive, in this context, to expect Iran not to use some of its windfall to improve its military capabilities.
Eventually, as Mr. Apelblat himself points out, the best way for Israel to shield itself from any negative Iranian influence is to reinvigorate the peace process with the Palestinians. It is precisely here where Israel falters.
Perhaps, reviving the peace process is a better investment in Israel’s long-term security than trying to kill the deal with Iran, which many members of the Israeli security community have endorsed as being in the country’s best interest.
AMANDA PAUL Brussels The writer is a senior policy analyst at the EPC.
In September 1938, British prime minister Neville Chamberlain signed a treaty with Germany’s Adolph Hitler in Munich.
The appeaser Chamberlain thought he had won peace, but he actually betrayed it, for within a year, the agreement turned out to be a dead letter and a world war was the result, in which six million Jews were slaughtered.
He who does not learn from history is not free from guilt when history repeats itself. In Munich, peace, liberty and the Jewish people were betrayed.
And so they were in Vienna last month.
The mullahs in Tehran speak the same language as Hitler, but the West is closing its ears and does not want to hear.
CORNELIUS BURGGRAAF Stolwijk, The Netherlands
Think about our largest cities – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba. A nuclear attack on them would kill hundreds of thousands, many of whom are Arabs living in those cities or nearby. Are the BDS people worried about them? Are the Europeans? Is the know-it-all Obama administration? We are. Any steps we take to save the lives of Israelis are steps to save all Israelis. So while US Secretary of State John Kerry says we will bear a heavy responsibility if the deal with Iran fails to pass congressional muster, all of those urging its passage will need to accept, God forbid, the largest slaughter ever of Palestinians.
Who is trying to save the Palestinians, and who might be leading them to slaughter?
STEPHEN JEROME KOHN Ra’anana