Rules for giving

Sir, – I fully agree with Arnie Draiman’s “Hanukka gelt, Hanukka guilt” (Comment & Features, December 13) in that the charity scene in Israel is full of dubious organizations with fancy letterheads, websites and long lists of board members meant to boost their credentials.

I manage a modest registered trust fund that distributes money to worthy causes and have established the following rules:

1. I never respond to phone requests. If someone wants to be considered I tell him to send a fax or a website address. I recall one who did – he foolishly sent me the organization’s balance sheet, from which I learned that the director was paying himself a salary of NIS.25,000 per month. Needless to say, it got nothing.

2. Although the majority of our trustees are Orthodox, we do not support yeshivot, no matter how impressive their list of rabbinical sponsors, unless they are a mechina, which aims to strengthen a boy’s Judaism before he enlists in the IDF.

3. I am extremely chary of those involving the emotive combination of “children” and “cancer.”

There seems to be so many that I wonder why they cannot amalgamate and minimize their expenses.

4. Even if you are legally registered, be prepared for some probing questions, as Draiman suggests.

There are many honest, dedicated charities that deserve support.

It’s a shame there are so many reprehensible organizations that trade on our good nature.

GEOFFREY PREGER
Caesarea

No room for him

Sir, – Might Douglas M.

Bloomfield (“Evading peace,” Washington Watch, December 13) be mocking Groucho or Harpo Marx as he incessantly grouses that our leaders alone can create peace? Despite the urging and actions of all our founding fathers to liberate and reestablish our home millimeter by millimeter on its proven foundations, Bloomfield harps on blaming us for failing to agree to land-rich Islamic bloodthirstiness for our tiny land sliver.

As my decades-long subscription regrettably may contribute to the fee of the threatening distant critic Bloomfield, his attack on all of us living here does not deserve any space whatsoever.

ESTER ZEITLIN
Jerusalem

Response to response

Sir, – I read Ira Youdovin’s “A response to Ambassador Michael Oren” (Comment & Features, December 13) with great sympathy.

As an Orthodox rabbi and former president of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis, comprised of nearly 60 rabbis of all flavors, I found that many of his comments resonated, especially when he highlighted the disdain of Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi for the non-Orthodox. Isn’t the chief rabbi the spiritual leader of all Jews in Israel?

However, it’s time for Reform Jews to get better educated about what the settlements are and why they are every bit a part of Israel as are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. So much of the American Jewish leadership has demonized settlers as crazy, lawless loonies.

I am officially a settler, but that doesn’t describe me or the 40,000 other Jews who live in Ma’aleh Adumim. We are here to make a statement – that all of Israel, the only Jewish state, belongs to the Jews.

The other aspect of Youdovin’s remarks that I didn’t agree with is what he said about Israel accepting Reform marriages and conversions.

There are so many Reform rabbis who insist on no standard of Jewish observance, and many who perform intermarriages.

How is that good for the only Jewish state? Finally, the author is absolutely right about the shameful way that women are treated at the Western Wall. There is nothing fair or Jewish about placing them in 20 percent of the space or arresting them for wearing a prayer shawl as if it were a criminal offense.

ELAN ADLER
Ma’aleh Adumim

Many roads

Sir, – Kudos to Rabbi Yuval Cherlow (“Leading national-religious rabbi calls for state recognition of non-Orthodox denominations,” December 12). Each of our forefathers felt a different and unique relationship with God, and God spoke to all three of them.

We may not agree with how other Jewish denominations see God (and sometimes even how our own denomination views “what God wants”), but we need to accept that there is a multiplicity of roads to bonding with the Creator. The alternative is to be like all the other countries that surround us.

YAACOV PETERSEIL
Jerusalem

Celebrity debtor

Sir, – The recent ruling by a Supreme Court justice to grant a 21-hour reprieve to Eyal Shani to deposit almost NIS 190,000 or face imprisonment over debts (“Court to celebrity chef: Pay part of bankruptcy debts by Monday or go to prison,” December 10) is a prime example of a misguided, anachronistic approach to debt enforcement.

Rather than introducing innovative measures, our legislative and judicial branches are prepared to send a talented chef to prison, where perhaps he could prepare gourmet meals for fellow inmates. A more enlightened approach would involve a ward or guardian who would be given full control over the debtor’s finances and assets until his or her creditors are paid in a controlled manner. This would save significant amounts of time and expense in pursuing costly appeals and motions to stay enforcement proceedings.

It’s high time to take a fresh look at our system of debt enforcement.

STEVE KRONENGOLD
Rehovot

The writer is an attorney practicing commercial and corporate law.

Gisha responds

Sir, – It is unfortunate that NGO Monitor, which purports to foster honest and robust debate about NGO reporting, has once again offered criticism that is at best misguided and at worst deliberately misleading.

In her recent op-ed “Bigger fish to fry: Balancing human rights and security” (Comment & Features, December 10), NGO Monitor’s Avigail Sugarman accused Gisha, the Israeli human rights group promoting freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza, of “ignor[ing] the flagrant threat to national security” that Israel is facing from Gaza.

As proof, Sugarman quoted a sentence from a statement in which Gisha described the current situation as “an opportunity [for Israel] to finally end the civilian closure of Gaza and enter into regional arrangements that will allow residents of Gaza the freedom of movement to which they have a right.” To make her argument, however, she inexplicably omitted the second part of the sentence that she quoted from Gisha: “…while protecting the security to which residents of Israel are entitled.”

This kind of deliberate omission is neither new nor incidental.

Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, recently published an article on the Algemeiner website in which he accused Gisha of, among other things, ignoring the threat posed by rocket fire.

If NGO Monitor were more honest in its portrayal, it would note that Gisha has repeatedly referred to the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza at Israeli population centers as a war crime; pointed to the responsibility of Palestinian authorities with regard to restrictions on movement and access; and regularly referred to the highly complex security challenges Israel faces vis-à-vis Gaza.

We share NGO Monitor’s stated concern about fairness. But willful mischaracterization – by NGOs or their monitors – obscures the possibilities that could emerge from an honest and rigorous debate about how to ensure security while protecting human rights.

SARI BASHI
Tel Aviv

The writer is executive director of Gisha.

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