April 23: Learn from Boston

Moscow must have had enormous suspicions regarding the Tsarnaev brothers who are suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

April 22, 2013 23:24

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Sir, – Moscow must have had enormous suspicions regarding Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who, along with his younger brother, Dzhokhar, is a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. The FBI should have paid much more attention to the Russian warning (“Boston bombing probe turns to motive,” April 21).

The question as to why the Russians needed to warn the Americans about this man should have been enough to keep the file regarding him open. Instead, the FBI closed it, and it was only after the bombing that something clicked.

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It should have been realized that there are more and more violent Muslim groups planning attacks all over the world. The United States government should let the public know who these groups are and how they recruit their agents. Knowledge gives some power to the people, and Americans should learn to be less accepting of what their government and law enforcing agencies tell them.

First and foremost, there must be more heightened awareness of how much security is needed at public events. Checking people may seem to be an infringement of individual rights, but now we know how necessary it is to keep the mass of people safe and secure.


Sir, – Abstract morality should never supplant safety. Regrettably, police agencies at all levels – local, national and international – have in the modern era of human rights stepped out of the historical, psychological and religious reality into a make-believe world of fairness.

All too often, habeas corpus vis-a-vis terrorism operates in the breach. Thus, the US (and in its shadow the developed world) continues to admit highly dangerous individuals in the naïve hope that they won’t commit crimes, and is willing to apprehend them only after they have done so.

The elder of the two ethnic Chechen brothers who are putatively responsible for the Boston Marathon massacre was not detained by authorities even after he had been cited in an alert from another country. This attitude of fairness is mirrored at a mundane level, where home owners rather than nation-owners must be maimed before they can defend themselves against intruders. It’s a dumb, politically and morally correct world.

Kfar Vradim

Sir, – It’s now obvious that Israel’s concerns about reciprocal visa waivers with the US are wellfounded.

To think that one of the Muslim terrorist bombers from Boston, a US citizen, could have waltzed into Israel without restriction under US reciprocity demands shows the wisdom of Israel’s reluctance to turn a blind eye to such potential threats.

Washington’s insistence that Israel do so to satisfy some misguided concept of political correctness must be summarily rejected without apology.

Huntington, West Virginia

Laid to rest

Sir, – Minister of International Relations Yuval Steinitz says he favors the idea of “two states for two peoples” (“No stranger to foreign policy,” Politics, April 19).

Perhaps someone can explain why we should accept less than what the British (who were not exactly our friends at the time) proposed in the 1920s, when they illegally sliced off 80 percent of what should have been ours and gave it to Transjordan.

Until now we have been told not to upset our true partner for peace in Jordan. Well, that lie has finally been laid to rest by “Outrage in Jordan” (Editorial, April 21).

“The very fact that 110 members of Jordan’s parliament (out of a total of 150) signed a petition for the release of the murderer from Naharayim speaks volumes about what parades as morality and coexistence next door to us.”

JACK SHEBSON Jerusalem Debts must be paid Sir, – Congratulations to Bank Leumi for backing out of a deal that would have forgiven NIS 15m. in debt held by tycoon Nochi Dankner’s Ganden Holding Ltd. (“Leumi backs out of Dankner debt arrangement,” Business & Finance, April 21).

A debt owed is a debt to be paid, no matter who you are.

Ginot Shomron


Sir, – Whether Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau should be chief rabbi again or be elected Israel’s new president, I do not know (“Will Lau be chief rabbi again?,” Grapevine, April 19).

What I do know is that the new chief rabbi will need to have the halachic chutzpah of Rabbi Shlomo Goren and the courage of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits and Rabbi David Hartman to rethink Orthodox Judaism. He will have to have the spiritual and intellectual creativity of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook and go his own way to advance Judaism.

Will the new chief rabbi understand the necessity to move Halacha beyond the Diaspora experience? Will he comprehend that Judaism doesn’t have to be constrained by its own tradition, but has enormous resources to deal with some of the most pressing halachic issues that could have been solved long ago? Will he realize that he must mediate between alternative halachic and spiritual vocabularies to the exclusion of a narrow halachic frame of reference? Will he risk his standing among some of his colleagues for the sake of Judaism? “The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it,” said Chesterton.

It is high time for the chief rabbi to be invited to Hebrew University, Harvard and Cambridge, for him to be capable of delivering a lecture that will boggle the minds of the academic world. Otherwise, what do we have a chief rabbi for? And if the former chief rabbi becomes Israel’s next president, will he shake hands with women, inaugurate Reform and Conservative synagogues and speak at their conventions? Surely he has the right to refuse – but then he shouldn’t be president.

It’s admirable to have the most extensive media coverage of all the candidates, but is that really enough?


Reflections on Thatcher

Sir, – It was an honor to attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral – a state occasion in all but name.

There is no denying the huge impact she made not only on British politics but on the world scene, both economically and geopolitically.

Moreover, she was clearly a great friend to Israel and the Jewish people. I do not recall hearing about her work with the Kindertransport until after her death, but it speaks volumes for her decency and compassion, as well as for her initiative and enterprise at a very young age.

It was fitting, therefore, that as I was queuing on the steps of St Paul’s I was greeted by my former youth leader in Bnei Akiva, now living on a kibbutz only a few kilometers from Sderot. He had made the journey, not as an invited guest, but simply to be part of the crowd of well-wishers paying their respects. His father had been a local Conservative Party worker and therefore had dealings with Thatcher a long time ago.

As guest Natan Sharansky noted, the funeral ceremony seemed quite Jewish – the verses from Job, the recitation of psalms and the moving sentiments about the transience of life. It was much more a service with emphasis on eternal themes than a eulogy about someone who, it has to be admitted, was one of the most influential politicians of our times.

Controversial Margaret Thatcher undoubtedly was, but there is no denying not only her impact on her times, but her courage and determination in defending decent values, and her sympathy for persecuted victims generally, and Jews in particular.


The writer is president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

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