Sir, – With regard to “Supreme Court hears arguments over fate of Beit Shemesh election” (January 24), my son and his family are residents of the area designated Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef.
He and his wife are religious Zionists and totally observant.
They made the conscious, deliberate decision to raise their family in a pluralistic religious community comprising haredim, religious Zionists and secular Jews in the hope and intent of building a healthy and vibrant Israeli society wherein the various components might learn to appreciate and respect the other and thus strengthen the ties that bind us all. Sadly, 14 years later there is almost no one left of the secular segment, mainly due to the fact that the haredi world does not share their view and in no way encourages the tolerance necessary toward its realization.
The usually meticulous standards of haredi religious observance seem to totally disappear when engaged in a bitterly contested mayoralty election, when ethics, morality, civility, truth and honorable behavior can be easily exchanged for deception, lies, name-calling and totally irreligious behavior, even when facing the ubiquitous portrait of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Is not the portrait of this Torah giant being debased when it is exploited for partisan political purposes? The incumbent mayor had signs stating that “true religious Jews vote Abutbul.” Who are they? Do they dress in black garb and get arrested for the use of fraudulent identity cards in order to elect a “religious” candidate? Or is it my son, a practicing attorney and graduate of a hesder yeshiva who, while strict in his religious observance, continues to volunteer in the IDF reserves even though long-finished with his obligations as a reservist, and strives in all his endeavors to bring honor to God’s name?
Ballot in hand
Sir, – I wish to thank Amotz Asa-El for his thorough and informative column on the history of the Israeli presidency (“Don’t know much about politics,” Middle Israel, January 24).
In a true democratic society, wouldn’t citizens elect their president? Let us “cast our votes” by writing to every Knesset member demanding that they elect Dan Shechtman, an enlightened intellectual, as described by Asa-El, and give us a president who will respect and fulfill the defined role of the office.
SHEBA F. SKIRBALL
Were there more?
Sir, – If the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) found three members of an al-Qaida terror cell (“Three al-Qaida recruits in Jerusalem nabbed for planning ‘large-scale bombings,’” January 23), one can conservatively expect that there were others it did not detect.
What do you think will happen if the so-called West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is handed over to a putative Palestinian state under the leadership of PA President Mahmoud Abbas? Not only is he a weak leader, but he doesn’t control Hamas or the Gaza Strip, which has about one-third of the Palestinians in the territories.
Does anyone seriously think that al-Qaida will not set up a large scale operation in such a terrorist- prone entity? The two-state solution will be a prescription for suicide for the State of Israel.
Sir, – On January 23 you published two very interesting items that show an amazing double standard.
On the front page was a story about three Palestinians recruited by an al-Qaida operative in Gaza to undertake “large-scale bombings” all over Israel. On the front page of the Comment & Features section was a column by Isi Leibler concerning price tag attacks (“The ‘price tag’ crimes must be dealt with now,” Candidly Speaking).
I suppose that your opinion of these stories depends upon who you are and which side you are on. However, they illustrate the different standards of behavior of the two extreme communities. Extremists on one side use bombs and bullets to make their point, while extremists on the other side use spray paint and, on rare occasions, knives to slash car tires.
What is most disturbing to me is that so many governments, newspapers and people all over the world do not see much difference between these two groups. They only see which side they are on. If a group supports one view, their actions are acceptable or even heroic, no matter how extreme they might be.
Murderous Palestinian terrorists are heroes in Ramallah no matter how cowardly or brutal their attacks were. On the other hand, our price tag “criminals” are treated as outcasts for relatively minor offenses.
I do not support price tag people or their actions, but I do not see them as any kind of major threat to the world or the region.
If their actions ever turn more brutal, my opinions will turn against them. On the other hand, the Palestinian killers and bombers have been a definite brutal threat for years.
Sir, – Isi Leibler says he is “profoundly ashamed of the ‘price tag’ crimes committed by Jewish hooligans and bigots” and that he is “shocked by our collective failure to bring an end to these ongoing outrages.”
I myself am ashamed and shocked at the quick response by Leibler and our government to anything that looks like an attack on Arabs, no matter how trivial, as opposed to the real danger the Arabs pose to the “settlers.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon recently ordered the police and army to destroy vineyards and orchards on Jewish land at the Eish Kodesh outpost, in the process causing over NIS 80,000 in damages to two of the residents. When residents of other communities came to show their support and decided to hike through the adjacent hills to show that they consider the area to be their home, they were ambushed by hundreds of Arabs who bound them and beat them. When soldiers arrived they convinced, rather than forced, the Arabs to release them. And who was arrested? The hikers, of course.
Afterwards, photographs of the bloodied and broken Jews, bound and prostrate, were proudly displayed by members of the mob on their Facebook pages.
It is a disgrace that law-abiding citizens have been branded criminals while our enemies are treated with kid gloves. That is what to be ashamed of and shocked by.
Sir, – With regard to “Circumcision – defending the indefensible” (Comment & Features, January 23), the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a revised Circumcision Policy Statement in August 2012. The statement has been endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
In brief summary, their evaluation of peer-reviewed, English-language literature from 1995 through 2010 indicated that the preventive health benefits of elective circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure.
“Specific benefits include prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The procedure is well tolerated when performed by trained professionals under sterile conditions with appropriate pain management. Complications are infrequent, most are minor, and severe complications are rare.”
None of us likes to hear newborn babies cry, but this is no reason to jettison a medically approved and religiously sanctioned procedure – even if it is denounced by a filmmaker.
JOEL Y. RUTMAN
The writer is a retired pediatrician
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