August 8: Sensitivity, please

During the nine days before Tisha Be’av, when Jews refrain from cutting their hair, a Jerusalem Post article was about free haircuts in tent city.

August 6, 2011 22:25

letters. (photo credit: JP)

Sensitivity, please

Sir, – It is a bit upsetting that during the nine days leading up to Tisha Be’av, when Jews refrain from cutting their hair as a sign of mourning for the two Temples, a major Jerusalem Post article is about free haircuts at the tent city in the capital (“In Jerusalem, a little off the top with a lot of love,” August 4).

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The ahavat hinam (love with no strings attached) that was demonstrated in Jerusalem may have been a silver lining. But even better was the willingness to work toward a common goal shown in Tel Aviv by Assaf Levy in an article on the same page, “Right-wingers join protests on Rothschild.” Hearing Levy say “Both of us are Jews and part of a heritage thousands of years old” about Baruch Marzel is music to my ears.

Too bad that at the end of the article it was made clear that some persist in “sinat chinam” (baseless hatred).



Sir, – The other night, as I was returning from the Kotel via the Mamilla outdoor mall, I unwittingly entered an outdoor street fair. Along with colored lights and both live and recorded music there was a mime, a guitarist and a large group of seniors doing Latin American line dancing.

It looks like the organizers of this festival need to get a Jewish calendar. They seem to have forgotten that this is the national mourning period for the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, when various types of entertainment are not only highly inappropriate but extremely insensitive.

As our sages have said, all those who mourn Jerusalem’s destruction will rejoice in her rebuilding.

One has to wonder about the Mamilla merrymakers.



Teach economics

Sir, – Our prime minister deserves praise for his considered response to the tent protesters, whose passionate demands include greater welfare and more entitlements (“Netanyahu: The market will remain free despite reforms,” August 4).

One issue that no one has addressed, however, is the fact that the protesters’ demands demonstrate economic illiteracy.

Anyone with a basic education in economics would recognize that the corrective for their complaints is not an increase in bureaucracy and governmental handouts for more privileged groups, but their dismantling.

We also would benefit from more freedom in business (read: more competition) and less protection and privilege for the few elite business families here. These aristocrats have established – with government blessing – a stranglehold on the food supply and on many other commodities that are much cheaper abroad.

Very few citizens, including the country’s teachers, understand economics because it is not taught to the general student body. This is a failure of our education system.

If any new government handout is needed, in my opinion, it is an inexpensive daily or weekly radio or TV program that educates people about economics in an entertaining way. Basic knowledge of economics would help immunize all of us against deceptively idealistic arguments about socialism and the welfare state. It would make for better-informed decisions by the electorate – and hopefully by the government as well.



Sir, – Thank you for publishing Joel Kutner’s short, sweet and intelligent comments (“The social upheaval,” Letters, August 4).

Those four bulleted statements should be written on placards and placed in the middle of each and every demonstration – which seems to be the “thing to do” nowadays.

Maybe capitalism won’t be such a dirty word to them once they realize that the money they are demanding comes from the taxes of those who worked for it.



Sir, – In his August 4 letter to the editor on the housing protest, Tuvia Brodie asks a very good question: If Israel accepts a two-state solution that requires the removal of settlers, where will they go? Six years ago the people of Gush Katif were forced from their homes, and thousands are still in temporary housing. With such a dismal record on resettlement, everyone should be concerned.



Sir, – The current protests seem to indicate that Israelis finally have become aware of their economic priorities (“‘Social’ party could win 20 seats if elections held today, ‘Post’ poll finds,” August 3). Is this the result of a broad consensus that the peace process is over, or is it a sign that the Jewish state is coming of age?



Sir, – Rather than presenting a mishmash of complaints and demands, the social justice demonstrators might do better to unify and agitate for electoral reform. Perhaps if the powersthat- be feared for their positions, they’d be more responsive to the voices of their constituents.



Wiser spending

Sir, – So the Interior Ministry’s Planning and Building Committee has approved additional projects at the entrance to Jerusalem, like a large cinema, convention center, hotel rooms and tall office buildings (“‘Entrance to Jerusalem’ project gains ground,” August 3). This must mean that the municipality and the government have money.

Do we need a large cinema, another convention center and more tall office buildings in Jerusalem? Wouldn’t the money be better spent alleviating some of our current social ills, with lower-priced housing, free early childhood education, more hospital beds and higher pay for doctors, nurses and social workers? Let’s say no to more cinemas and tall office buildings, and yes to correcting many of the social issues that are being protested across our country.



Unserious folk

Sir, – If the flotilla activists (“What do ‘Flotilla Folk’ do and why?,” Comment & Features, August 1) were really serious, they would be urging the Palestinian leadership to fight racism, teach peaceful coexistence and return to negotiations with Israel to hammer out the compromise that alone can bring peace.

Above all, they would use their experience with progressive activism to help Palestinians organize a real peace march that would speak truth to the power that oppresses them – their own leadership, which has repeatedly led them down the path of extremism, hatred and violence instead of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence with their neighbors.

If the “Flotilla Folk” put their energies into such efforts, they would have earned the title that was the name of their vessel: “The Audacity of Hope.” But as Ann Wright and Hagit Borer reveal, they have instead earned the title “The Audacity of Hypocrisy.”


Los Angeles

The writers are CEO and director of education and research, respectively, for StandWithUs

All or nothing

Sir, – Haim Amsalem (“We need to embrace zera Yisrael,” Comment & Features, July 28) alleges that according to Rav Tzadok Hacohen Rabinowitz, a convert need not accept all the mitzvot (commandments). However, the Rambam, in Chapter 13 of Issurei Bia, speaks of a non-Jew who wishes to accept the yoke of Torah, the entire Torah. Although Amsalem quotes Rav Tzadok, he gives no source.

Simple common sense dictates that acceptance of the mitzvot is a requirement. How can one be a Jew without accepting the mitzvot?



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