Sir, – As a first-generation American Jew whose families emigrated in the last century from the most virulently Jew-hating areas of Russia and Poland, how can I explain to my friends the disgusting demand of Israeli rabbis to ban the rental of properties to non-Jews (“Let the rabbis go,” Editorial, December 10)? The United States supports the existence of Israel at least partly for its concern for personal freedom and equality. How shall I argue that this discrimination is not the equivalent of that promoted by the Nazis or today’s Islamic world? Shame on them! These rabbis do not represent my views or those of free and modern Jews around the world. In fact, their intolerant demands are an affront to God and can be forgiven only by God.
Sir, – The first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, was told on appointment that he was the titular head of the country and was banned from engaging in anything outside his official duties.
Unfortunately, the current president thinks he is still the prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister, etc., making statements beyond his position.
As this is a Jewish state, there must be guidelines set, and there are no better qualified people than rabbis, whose knowledge has been honed over the millennia. It has been traditional Judaism that has enabled the Jewish people to survive.
If the president can engage in politics outside his titular role without a hue and cry from the citizens, then what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and the voice of concerned rabbis should not be considered anything different.DR. COLIN L. LECI
Jerusalem Other way around
Sir, – Your article “Turkish FM coy on reports Israel offering $100,000 for each of the ‘Marmara’ dead’” (December 10) raises the possibility that Israel will pay compensation to the families of the nine Turks who were killed on the Mavi Marmara.
What absurdity! Our men were acting in self-defense and preventing the endangerment of Israel’s security. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has the right idea when he says “the Turks should apologize to Israel.”
Jerusalem They turned it down
Sir, – Your December 10 report “Officials bicker about Hamas MPs who have made their de facto HQ at east J’lem Red Cross office”) says that “Like all east Jerusalem Arabs, [the MPs] held blue ID cards, which gave them Israeli residency but not citizenship.”
A reader could easily understand that the State of Israel denied citizenship to east Jerusalem Arabs, whereas in fact such citizenship was offered, only to be declined by the great majority.MARK L. LEVINSON
Herzliya True colors
Sir, – Tzipi
Livni is showing her true colors (“Livni calls for PM to quit after
comptroller points to failed firefighting services,” December 9) If I am
right, Israel’s firefighting services have been around since the early
days of the state. How, then, can their underfunding be the fault of the
present government? What did the Kadima-led government do for the
firefighting services? Instead of investing in them, it spent millions
of shekels on the disastrous withdrawal from Gaza, which begat the First
Gaza War. How much did that squander in lives and money? NEIL FRIEDMAN
– It’s simple to lay the blame on the prime minister for the abysmal
state of Israel’s preparedness in fighting forest fires. In fact, the
blame should land squarely at the feet of each and every one of our
prime ministers since the state’s inception.
It’s no secret that
Tzipi Livni would have saved the day had she been in the PM’s shoes –
simply because she would have been engaged in conducting her own fire
sale of the State of Israel.
Shame on Livni, the opportunist.S. JONAH PRESSMAN
Beit Shemesh No second chances
– Did those who perished in the Carmel forest fires die because of
negligence? Most resoundingly yes. However, this debacle is only a sign
of what’s to come.
A massive earthquake is overdue here. Some
900,000 buildings – a full 20 percent of all construction – were not
built according to earthquake- resistant standards.
I have lived
through several California quakes. Does Israel’s general population know
that from the moment of the first tremor, one has only 14 seconds to
exit such buildings? Shall we wait until this tragedy happens or will we
realize that there are no second chances? DAVID C. SAIDOFF
Jerusalem A man, a plan
– In light of the tragic fires in the North, it is important to
understand that while Israel lacks what might be called “strategic
depth,” Jewish people in the Diaspora can provide that depth and
constitute a valuable resource in times of danger.
What I am
suggesting is a Jewish reserve force for public service that could be
trained and administered in the Diaspora. The recent fires provide a
good example. A reserve force of volunteer firefighters in New York,
let’s say, could have periodic training for emergencies by American or
Israeli experts. Its members could even gain experience by being
utilized to help out at home. They would be a complete unit, ready to
transfer to Israel and go to work upon activation.
could be trained to support hospital personnel as orderlies and in
supplemental patient care, as emergency responders, to replant forests
and to assist in agriculture and infrastructure repair. They would
understand that upon deployment they’d be working in difficult
conditions with limited personal comfort. They might even be expected to
pay for their own transportation.
You might ask whether comfortable American Jews would be willing to commit to such an obligation.
Speaking for myself and, I am sure, for many others, it would be an honor and a privilege.MICHAEL GEWIRTZ
New York CLARIFICATION
– The column “The rise and fall of the Gaza blockade” by Frimet Roth
(Comment & Features, December 8) incorrectly stated that United
Nations Under Secretary- General for Political Affairs B.
Lynn Pascoe did not refer to Gilad Schalit in the briefing he gave to the Security Council at the end of November.
fact, a whole paragraph – number 24 – of the briefing was dedicated to
this issue and reads as follows: “11 November marked 1,600 days since
the capture of Israeli Staff Sergeant Gilad Schalit, and we reiterate
our call for his immediate release. Humanitarian access to him should be
granted without conditions. There has been no apparent progress on
efforts to complete a prisoner exchange for some of the 9,000
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.”
reflected the consistent call of the United Nations for the release of
Gilad Schalit and for providing him with basic human rights, most of all
access. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his special coordinator
for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, have repeatedly
expressed this position, including in visits to Gaza and in several
meetings with the Schalit family. We have also provided assistance in
the effort to secure the soldier’s long-overdue release.
We hope these calls will become a reality soon.RICHARD MIRON
Chief Public Information Officer Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO)