August 17: Red lines
I remember when the EC decided to treat areas outside of the Green Line as non-Israel for custom-duty purposes.
Sir, – I clearly remember when the European Commission (EC) decided to
treat the areas outside of the Green Line as non-Israel for custom-duty
Ehud Olmert, a minister at that time, agreed rather meekly to
acquiesce in this decision.
Now, The Jerusalem Post is reporting that
even some areas inside the old Green Line will now be treated like those areas
without (“Parts of Modi’in, Maccabim, Re’ut appear on EU settlement list,”
One can imagine that the Palestinian representatives will now
move to have any areas beyond the 1947 UN partition line relabeled “non-Israeli”
I’d like to suggest the following steps to fight this: Identify
areas within the EU that were at one point under dispute and set them outside
our trade agreement; annex Area C, putting any Palestinian businesses under the
EU-Israel (non) agreement; and amend the recent Israeli- Palestinian agreement
so that Palestinian businesses exporting to Europe have to pay a commensurate
customs tax to Israeli businesses in the West Bank.
While West Bank
Palestinians have largely abandoned their terrorist war, their negative
diplomacy is simple a war by other means and we need to respond.
Sir, – It never fails to amaze me, and now more than ever, how the
world views tiny “inconsequential” Israel. Do zip codes really a country make?
If so, then why just boycott products made in the only democracy in the Middle
East, why not the murderous zip codes of our neighbors to the north, south, east
and west? We made aliya in 2008 and settled immediately in Modi’in, to be near
our daughter and grandchildren but also because it offered us the suburban
lifestyle we were accustomed to in the US. There might have been some hesitation
at the beginning had Modi’in been in the settlement areas, but now, I don’t care
if “lines” are red, green, purple, or polka dotted, this is my country and I
would not only live anywhere, I would be proud and happy to do so.
Sir, – As one who has profound respect for Torah
learning, in addition to being a citizen who is also quite concerned about the
growing rifts among our people, I was deeply disappointed when reading the
article by Avi Schwartz (“Studying Torah can be a national service,” Comment and
Features, August 14). Since the challenges that we face are of the utmost
gravity, they warrant responses that are serious and respectful of both sides
and not based on either naivete or flippancy.
To propose a program that
places men in army uniforms for them to undergo a daily one hour training
session with the rest of the day devoted to Torah learning is simply making a
mockery of the uniform and unfortunately reveals a lack of basic understanding
of the nature of the present haredi- secular schism.
While a Jewish state
must recognize the vital contribution of Torah learning to the well-being of its
people, it is also incumbent on the Torah world to recognize and respect the
contributions that other groups make to the nation. Perhaps Avi Schwartz can
answer why his designated “Guardians of our Security” cannot find the
justification to include in their rituals, prayers on behalf of the State of
Israel and for IDF soldiers.
Sir, – As a
religious Jew, who appreciates the importance of Torah study and the need for
Jewish ethical values to permeate our daily lives, I have a few issues with the
suggestion that haredim join the army and form a partnership with regular
soldiers, whereby the former will study Torah to protect our soul and the latter
will protect our physical bodies.
Foremost, surely any spiritual benefits
that could be gained from such a partnership would be more than offset by the
negative effects of the massive chillul Hashem, profaning of God’s name, that
would be caused by the perception that many of these “soldiers” are simply using
the study of Torah to get out of doing regular service.
And what about
that those in the haredi community who, while saying they are studying in
yeshiva are actually working? Perhaps we would have to put them on trial for
being AWOL for working on the side instead of learning.