Sir, – Every time I hear an overpaid Knesset member or
useless radio talk show host whine about how “we can’t support the haredim
anymore,” it makes me feel sick. This is because the biggest schnorrer
(freeloader) in the history of mankind is the State of Israel, which happily
receives over three and a half billion US taxpayer dollars every single year!
The continued flow of US funds to Israel is in no small part due to the powerful
Christian lobby of millions of Americans who agree that the Jews are God’s
chosen nation. These people want the Jews to serve God in Israel and have no
problem at all with haredi Jews learning Torah in yeshivot.
And this is
only US military aid! There isn’t a hospital in the whole of Israel that hasn’t
been largely paid for by foreign donors. If you look on the walls of every
university or library you’ll come across a plaque declaring that it was built by
a donor. So for Israelis to raise their heads high and declare that they cannot
support haredim anymore, it would be humorous if it weren’t so sad! But these
political fat cats and radio hosts also bemoan the fact that haredim don’t
contribute to the defense of the state since they don’t serve in the
Allow me to relate a story my father, a rabbi, told
During the Six Day War he volunteered to come to Israel and was sent
to teach in the north of the country while regular teachers were serving on the
front lines. On the eve of the Shavuot holiday he went to visit his rebbe, Rabbi
Yechezkel Sarna, head of the Hevron Yeshiva.
Rabbi Sarna told him that
when Jewish soldiers captured Hebron, an armored car was sent to bring him to
the city to join in the celebrations. He was greeted there by non other than
David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion said to him in Yiddish: “Eirah bochurim hot dos
gemacht – The Torah study of your students achieved the victory!” The founders
of the State of Israel knew that without Torah study in the Land of Israel the
state had no merit to exist.
How ironic that there are people who want to
close down yeshivot and other houses of ultra-Orthodox study and remove the very
protection that enables them to live in the land.
The writer is an ultra-Orthodox student at a yeshiva Soothing sound
Sir, – I
almost could have written the essay by Helen Schary Motro (“Saved by the BBC,”
Comment & Features, April 28) myself.
The BBC World Service was part
of my life – at home, in the car, on trips where I was always accompanied by a
short-wave radio. It had another very important function – to help me to fall
asleep at night. Not because it was boring, but those voices with a British
accent had a very calming effect.
Sir, – In
describing her frustration at the BBC’s discontinuation of its daily World
Service broadcasts, Helen Schary Motro writes with anguish. I, too, felt
betrayed long ago in New York when the classical station WNCN abruptly gave me
gangsta rap instead of Mozart. But that was only music.
The BBC is known
to promote all manner of anti-Israel commentary in its newscasts. One does not
stop abiding by one’s loyalties and attachments simply because of nostalgia for
the English language. Yes, comfortable memories do soothe us, but the realities
of the BBC’s insidious defamation of Israel far outweigh such naive
I hear Motro’s pain. I hope that her loss will be filled
one day by another English network, one with a more justified agenda of fairness
and an absence of pro- Arab hatreds.YITZCHAK BEN-SHMUEL
Sir, – I
have just returned from a family visit to Manchester, UK, and read Helen Schary
Similarly, I felt bereft when the BBC closed down its
World Service to the Middle East. However, the solution is hinted at in her
article. What she needs is an Internet radio; this would enable her to tune in
to any radio station in the world.
While in Manchester I treated myself
to an Internet radio and will now be spending several hours setting it up. Maybe
we can start an Internet radio club.
Sir, – With regard to “Eini threatens general strike over planned budget
cuts” (April 25), the Histadrut chairman is flexing his muscles although he
represents only one sector of the population and we have no idea how many of his
members really want to strike.
Even if the coalition does not lose its
nerve and defeats a strike, the damage to the country would be enormous. Worse
still, there is nothing to stop a repeat in a few years’ time.
us who lived through the months of industrial strikes in Britain during the days
before Margaret Thatcher cannot forget the piles of rubbish in the streets,
unburied bodies in cemeteries, limited ambulance and nursing services, transport
disruptions, electricity rations and shortages of supplies. Thatcher brought in
a new era in industrial relations by introducing three pieces of vital
legislation that returned the unions to their rightful role in society, but
without the ability to dictate to the government.
First, she banned the
phenomenon of the closed shop so that workers could refuse to join a union and
therefore not have to obey strike orders. Second, a strike now could be declared
only if the majority of a union’s members voted for it in a secret ballot,
making it impossible for small groups of activists to impose their will. Third,
secondary strikes were made illegal, thus preventing the type of situation we
recently had here with the airline strikes.
To this day strikes are
exceedingly rare in Britain.
The government’s determination to withstand
a threatened strike without Thatcher-style legislation will at best mean that
all this suffering is doomed to repeat itself.
Sir, – The letter from reader Yosef Tucker (“Blasting
Lapid,” April 25), although full of vitriolic diatribes, contains a very
important discussion – the difference between religious instruction and
Children in all Israeli schools should learn the
Shema and about Shabbat. Not as religious instruction, but as religious
Not to be told what to think or what to believe, but as part
of the cultural background of the country in which they live.
background should include knowledge of other religions.
What is religion
for? What are the plusses and minuses? I grew up in England and learned The
Lord’s Prayer. It did not make me a Christian, but it gave me an insight into
the culture of the country in which I lived.
Sir, – I second Daniel Tauber’s objection to raising the electoral
threshold at this stage of Israel’s development (“Should Jordan be Palestine?,’”
Comment & Features, April 24).
The current system has allowed a
safety valve as the population melds from ingathered exiles to a nation at home
in its skin. However, the last two elections had over a quarter of a million
“wasted votes” for parties that did not cross the threshold. That equals eight,
maybe 10 seats.
Voters should be allowed to write on the back of their
ballot slip the letter of the party to which they would transfer their vote if
their first choice did not reach the required vote threshold.
would come at no cost to the election budget and do away with the electioneve
deals for pooling votes that are now in the hands of faction
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