Rabbis and politics
Regarding “Rabbi Lau calls for all legislation to be brought to the Chief Rabbinate” (May 19), perhaps the chief rabbi was making a joke. Another possibility is that this was an attempt to topple the new, fragile coalition government. Then again, considering the general low regard for the institution of the Chief Rabbinate and some of the rabbis who have held the position, he might just have been using the time-honored principle: A good offense is the best defense.
Whatever his motivation, we can all rest assured that it’s not going to happen.FRED CASDEN
Ma’aleh Adumim Appropriate action
Martin Blecher (“Israel needs to reshape its relations with Sweden,” Comment & Features, May 19) asserts that the Church of Sweden endorses and promotes the Kairos Palestine document. So does the Church of Scotland. Both ignore the fact that this document calls for the practice of boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. And, like the Church of Sweden, the Church of Scotland ignores the extreme harassment and violence committed by Palestinians against Christians.
But the Church of Scotland takes it one step farther and condones the pleonastic demonizing of Israel on its website by Rev. Páraic Réamonn, minister of St. Andrew’s Scots Memorial Church in Jerusalem.
In the past few weeks alone, Rev. Réamonn, selecting from biblical sources, has said the following: “If the people the ancient rulers of Judah treated badly were their own people, the people the modern state of Israel treat[s] badly are another people, the Arabs of Palestine whose land they took by force in 1947-48 and again in 1967.”
Not satisfied, he invoked Holocaust Remembrance Day to underline his enmity: “Last month, Israel commemorated the six million Jews who died in Hitler’s holocaust, and the newspapers in Jerusalem ran the story they run every year: how many of the elderly survivors of the Holocaust in Israel live in abject poverty.... But the people who suffer most are the Palestinian Arabs. Those who live in the State of Israel proper [also] suffer from institutionalized discrimination... even though it was their land to begin with.”
Unlike the Swedish government, which pontificates from Stockholm, this turbulent priest sits in the heart of Israel. How long must citizens of Israel wait before the appropriate action is taken? STANLEY GROSSMAN
Glasgow The writer is a member of Scottish Friends of Israel.Better this way
Thank you for Khaled Abu Toameh and Ariel Ben Solomon’s “Israeli Arabs, Palestinians to protest on ‘Nakba Day’” (May 15).
The commemoration is indeed misdirected against Israel and away from the surrounding Arab countries’ invasion in 1948.
The plight of the Palestinian Arabs would most likely have been worse had the invading armies won. They would not have been given a state. Instead, continual war would have ravaged them and the land as the Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian armies fought among themselves for control. Forced to choose sides, their individual catastrophes would have multiplied.
The establishment of Israel was thus the best that could have happened for those Arabs who remained.
More so, the juxtaposition of Israel, separating Arab dictatorships and extremists from each other’s throats until the past few years, was the best thing for the 1948 invaders’ own peoples. This is still true today as far as Jordan and even Lebanon are concerned.
It is becoming clear that a Palestinian- Arab alliance with the Jewish state, formal or otherwise, would probably be the best hope for a region now menaced mostly by Iran’s imperial designs. The abiding cooperation with Israel by two of its immediate neighbors stands as a shining example.
If any Arab says that the creation of Israel was an Arab disaster, let him or her think again! How difficult it is to say, like Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and it is us.”AARON BRAUNSTEIN
Jerusalem Taxing issue
Your article about Alex Gibney’s documentary on the Church of Scientology (“This week on the small screen,” Billboard, May 15) contains many inaccuracies.
Take the example of the Church’s recognition by the US Internal Revenue Service. Contrary to Gibney’s claim, the IRS recognized Scientology as a tax-exempt religious and charitable organization because the Church provided substantive proof on the merits following a two-year examination. The results of the IRS examination are a matter of public record and have been available to all, including Gibney, for more than 20 years.
In recognizing it as tax-exempt, the IRS necessarily concluded that the Church of Scientology operates in the public interest and does not violate public policy.
These findings were subsequently reaffirmed by the IRS and are as accurate today as they were in 1993.KARIN POUW
Los Angeles The writer is a spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology.One-sided polemic
After attending a wonderful concert by Mark Knopfler on a recent Friday night, my wife and I were having a relaxing day strolling through a Saturday afternoon Dublin bathed in wonderful sunlight, when on the spur of the moment we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in Powerscourt off Grafton Street.
Halfway through a superb meal, the center was “invaded” by a group of energetic and committed young people campaigning for a Yes vote in Friday’s referendum on gay marriage.
Almost to a person, the entire place broke into spontaneous applause, and everyone smiled About an hour later, Grafton Street was taken over by the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign as a march consisting of approximately 100 individuals made its way down the thoroughfare. The participants proceeded to drown out the light-hearted canvassing of the Yes campaigners, forcing everyone to the periphery as they dominated the middle of the busiest shopping street in Dublin.
When I challenged them on their one-sided polemic, I was met with a venomous response and accused of being supportive of a “baby-killing state.” When I pointed out that as a taxpayer it was my right under our laws of free assembly and speech to dispute their claims, I was surrounded by a number of them who verbally abused me and made me fear for my physical safety.
But I stood my ground and asked them what would happen to all of these wonderful young Yes advocates in a Hamas-controlled Palestine, knowing full well that homosexuals would at best be jailed and more than likely be physically harmed – only to be accused of spreading black propaganda.
The intimidating response to my queries highlighted the inability to address my questions and reinforced the sense that for these people, a genuine two-state solution is not an option, as they continually called for the destruction of the Zionist state.
I am a supporter of Israel and am aware that it has many political and social flaws. However, I am also aware that it is the only state in the Middle East where LBGT individuals are not only protected in law, but embraced as full and equal members of society.
Hopefully, we here will soon be able to say the same.KEVIN MCCARTHY
Kinsale, Ireland CORRECTION
Unlike what is stated in “Nazi hunter slams Croatia over collaborator pensions” (May 20), out of 40,000 thousand Jews in the pre-war independent state of Croatia, three-quarters were murdered: 20,000 in Croatia by the pro-Nazi Ustashe para-military force, and another 10,000 who were deported by the Ustashe to Auschwitz.