Ariel Ben Solomon presents a good analysis of the Israeli-Turkish agreement (“Turkey takes pragmatic approach, seeks to undo isolation, gain influence,” June 28).
His mention of Turkey’s “competition with Iran for influence with Hamas” is noteworthy. Yet the agreement’s effects with regard to Iran in terms of Israel’s national security interests go way beyond our immediate borders, to the vast expanse of lands over the Turkish- Iranian border inhabited by Turkic Azaris, Kurds and Arabs, just to mention a few. Indeed, Tehran rules over a vast empire in which ethnic Persians are only a bare majority.
As the Sunni-Shi’ite chasm gets wider by the day, Israel and Turkey are now in a position to expand their dialogue on how to stop the Iranian empire from extending its tentacles throughout the Muslim world, even into Turkey. I’m sure that we will be reading much more about the “Iranian connection” in your pages.
AARON BRAUNSTEIN Jerusalem
Taken for a ride
According to your June 27 editorial “Uber for Israel,” a policy encouraging citizens to pay for lifts in the cars of strangers will bring “a decrease in traffic jams, reduced air pollution and fewer traffic accidents.”
Those advantages might look gratifying – until the first kidnapping.
MARK L. LEVINSON Herzliya
Have you forgotten the three boys kidnapped and subsequently murdered two years ago as they “shared a ride” with those who proved to be terrorists? Are you not aware of the extensive radio campaign against soldiers accepting rides? Are you certain the idea of “any person who owns a car [acting] as a taxi driver and [driving] people in their free time” won’t be utilized by prospective kidnappers as a long-awaited opening? EMANUEL KRASOVSKY Tel Aviv
In “Shas vs the Reform Movement” (Think About It, June 27), Susan Hattis Rolef accuses Shas MKs of ignorance. But her own knowledge of history seems to be lacking when she compares breakaway Christians in the 16th century to the Reform Movement.
The Protestants turned away from what they saw as a greedy, corrupt and idol-worshiping Church, and turned their religion into one of austerity and fewer symbols. The issue the Reform Jews had in the 19th century was that Jews were just too Jewish. They rebelled against the strict separation between Jew and gentile. They wanted religion without the boundaries.
They wanted “Jewish” in the home and synagogue, but “German” everywhere else.
On the other hand, the intensity of haredi antagonism toward Reform Jews only seems to provide them with more publicity than they could possibly ever hope for in a country where the majority of Jews are secular. The haredim are actually forging an anti-Orthodox partnership between these two unnatural partners.
The haredi leadership should concentrate on its own reformation, making our religion and its practices less political and corrupt, and thus more attractive.
JEREMY GRAUS Oranit
Tarring a sector
While I agree with reader Jacob Mendlovic that there are some serious faults in ultra-Orthodox society (“Just an adjective,” Letters, June 27), I fear he displays a bigoted attitude that can only lead to further estrangement for what he recognizes as this “fast-growing segment of the Jewish population.”
Reference to “haredim dressed in black kaftans under a broiling Mediterranean sun forcing women to the back of the bus” is a typical example. Generalizing the boorish actions of a small minority verges on the racism that I am sure Mr. Mendlovic abhors. In any case, it is none of anyone else’s business how they choose to dress – if they believe their dress code has some value and they are prepared to put up with the discomfort, it is their choice.
Lack of consideration for others is not restricted to the so-called ultra-Orthodox, as I witnessed during my recent stay in Israel.
This does not mean, however, that the non-ultra-Orthodox consist entirely of thoughtless and selfish people – only that, as in every society, such a minority of egocentrics exists.
By all means, condemn unacceptable behavior, but do not tar a whole sector.
MARTIN D. STERN Salford, UK
While addressing the parliament of the European Union, MEP Nigel Farage, who led Britain’s Brexit campaign, suggested that his fellow MEPs “grow up” in respect to the result of the vote. In response, Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, asked Farage: “Why are you here?” Instead of a standing ovation, should the MEPs not have asked that question of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas following his outrageous accusation, in the very same plenum, that Israeli rabbis have been calling for the poisoning of Arab wells (“Netanyahu slams Abbas’s ‘blood libel’ before flying to Rome in diplomatic push,” June 24)? STANLEY GROSSMAN Glasgow The writer is honorary secretary of the Scottish Friends of Israel.
In “Jewish community must make clear: Hateful extremism will not be tolerated” (Comment & Features, June 22), Noa Fleischacker, J Street’s Midwest campus coordinator, bemoans the fact that people made negative remarks about J Street at the Chicagoland Jewish Festival.
It’s unfortunate that people use a forum like the festival to contentiously voice their views, but political sensitivities at large events often foster that kind of response.
Ms. Fleischacker’s uninformed rhetoric is no less caustic.
She says it wasn’t “just the few individuals attacking us who scared me.” Instead, it was the Zionist American Action Committee of Chicago and the “more prominent Kahane-inspired organization, the Jewish Defense League.” Both manned tables.
Is this a problem? No, it’s not.
The JDL has been at every festival since 2005 to provide information about the organization to the Chicago Jewish community and how it is available to help Jews and synagogues protect themselves from attacks, and respond to anti-Semitism in schools.
Does Ms. Fleischacker say that? Of course not. She cites inflammatory information saying that the JDL “explicitly endorses violence.”
Have we changed our methods? Yes. But that doesn’t diminish the need to be vigilant and reactive against those who seek to spew hate against Jews and Israel.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
What is wrong is when people like Ms. Fleischacker say that such groups as the JDL “routinely incite against pro-Israel advocates like myself.”
Incite? Hardly. We respond. We have to because people like Ms.
Fleischacker fail to differentiate between opinion and fact. She and her colleagues at J Street need to understand that the First Amendment is for everyone, even if someone disagrees with them.
SHOLOM BEN-DAVID Chicago The writer is Midwest coordinator for the JDL.
Orange and orange
One would surmise that when most people read Billboard, they’re interested in finding out what interesting entertainment is going on that week. Many might also be interested in reading reviews of restaurants, plays, concerts, movies or television shows. I doubt very much, though, that they are interested in learning the political opinions of the reviewer.
In Hannah Brown’s “Simply the best” (June 24), her review of a particular TV series, she found it necessary to inject her biased views on one of the presumptive candidates running for president of the United States This was totally uncalled for and very much out of place.
Ms. Brown certainly has the right to express her political views, but she should do so in the proper venue.
RUTH SIEGMAN Beit Shemesh