False indeed

Sir, – Thanks for publishing Ashley Rindsberg’s insightful column (“Secularism’s false dichotomy,” Comment & Features, July 10). Clarifying this false dichotomy deserves front-page coverage! Antagonism and, sometimes, discrimination by secularists toward the religiously observant is not new. Sixty five years ago, a group of young American scientists, graduate students and academics founded the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists (AOJS) both to clarify this dichotomy in the popular and academic mind, and to provide mutual support in an often unaccepting world.

As proof of the way central Jewish figures combined religious Orthodoxy and worldly knowledge, Rindsberg mentions Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Kaplan, besides having had a distinguished rabbinic career in his short life, received an MA in mathematical physics at the University of Maryland. It was the scholarly Kaplan who, from February 1972 until May 1973, was an associate editor of Intercom, published by the AOJS.

ELMER ELIEZER OFFENBACHER
Jerusalem

Baskin on Sherman

Sir, – Once again, Gershon Baskin parades semi-truths in order to mow down the Right (“Thank you, Mr. Sherman,” Encountering Peace, July 10).

Baskin self-righteously ignores the many attacks we have suffered at the hands of the Arabs, He pretends they truly want peace with us, claiming that Yasser Arafat recognized Israel.

This is the same Arafat who refused to talk real peace and would not budge an inch, even with the great deal then-prime minister Ehud Barak had offered.

Do the Palestinians truly want peace with us? What about their schools that claim we do not exist? What about their young children who, at an age in which they should be playing peaceful games, are trained to attack us? Has Baskin noticed the name “Israel” on their maps? Don’t bother looking – it isn’t there.

For them it’s all Palestine.

And as far as the famous and holy pre-1967 borders go – borders that were only ceasefire lines and never meant to be permanent borders – why, if they are what our non-partners desire, did the Arabs attack us in the first place? Does any thinking individual truly believe that if the Arabs had won the war in 1967 (or any of the wars in which they joyously attacked us) they would have given us an inch of the conquered territory? Perhaps one good thing will come out of Baskin’s column: More people will read Martin Sherman’s well written and researched pieces.

RHEA ISRAEL
Rehovot

Sir, – Why does Gershon Baskin, in his lengthy response to fellow columnist Martin Sherman, use the term “Palestinian-Israeli village?” Just as he uses the terms Jewish-Israeli and Israeli-Druse, either Arab-Israeli or Israeli-Arab would be fitting.

I find the term he uses both incorrect and somewhat telling about his views.

DONYA MEIJER
Jerusalem

Sir, – Gershon Baskin is right in calling Martin Sherman’s recent column, “The honorable thing to do” (Into the Fray, July 6) a “scathing attack” and “vile slander” against him.

With elephantine pretentiousness, Sherman accompanies his curses with quotes to hide his diminutiveness from giants like Euripides and Einstein while calling for “two staters to apologize and bow out of public life” and slurring Baskin as “seditious.”

In his columns Sherman freely uses the following terms or phrases: seditious, suicidal, fool, deceit, imbecility, iniquity, inept, stupid, subversive, seditious, obduracy, malice, idiocy, dummy, perfidy, dogmatic intransigence, twostaters, Arab-appeasers and Muslim- mollifiers, and noxious brew of delusion and hubris.

A year ago this month outgoing Post editor-in-chief David Horovitz, in his final column, noted that in his first column as editor-in-chief he had written: “[T]he greatest threat to our existence...

stems from internal hatreds, from an absence of moderation in our domestic climate of debate.”

Incoming editor-in-chief Steve Linde, in a column just afterward, warned that the media “sometimes, perhaps unwittingly, fan the flames of hatred.”

May I respectfully suggest that the Post’s columnists on the Left and Right be held to high standards – above all, Martin Sherman.

JAMES ADLER
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Not just the draft

Sir, – With regard to “Readers comment on fallout from Tal Law” (Letters, July 10), the important issue is not whether the haredim will serve in the army but whether as a community they will accept the values of democracy and whether they will agree to allow the common core curriculum of the modern world to be taught in their schools.

Unless the haredim accept democratic values and raise their children to be citizens of a democratic society, they represent a danger to the continued existence of Israel’s democracy. The political clout they will have in the next generation could destroy us.

If they refuse so vociferously to allow their young men to serve in army units specially designed just for them, how can we expect them agree to anything along these lines that is meaningful?

BARRY LEONARD WERNER
Netanya

Woody’s view

Sir, – Regarding “Is $18m.enough to bring Woody Allen to Israel?” (July 10), why would any Israeli want to contribute money to have him make a movie here? Allen is a very talented and intellectual producer whose sole aim is to make movies in which he acts as a Jewish nebbish.

He has no connection to Israel and has never visited. But he is very good at portraying Jews as nerds. Just how we want to be profiled.

He would fit in nicely in Saudi Arabia.

HARVEY MATTHEW
Jerusalem

Not a good sign

Sir, – Kol hakavod to Jeff Barak (“Netanyahu refuses to seize the day,” Reality Check, July 9).

It seems our prime minister doesn’t really want an answer to the troubling problems facing the government with regard to national service of some kind for haredim and Arabs.

Apparently, there is a sickness that pervades the Likud, no matter who its leader is. Probably the only difference between Bibi and the late Yitzhak Shamir is the fact that Shamir never hid his indifference to the problems that existed (and still exist) between the two above-mentioned groups.

Perhaps the almost-weekly protests tell us something Bibi should not ignore: More and more angry and disappointed Israelis are beginning to flex their muscles, which is not a good sign for Netanyahu and his cohorts.

LEONARD ZURAKOV
Netanya

Jewish rights

Sir, – Michael Freund (“Anti- Semitism on the Temple Mount,” Fundamentally Freund, July 5) eloquently and passionately expresses the right of all Jews to pray as they wish and the injustice of Israel in denying them such rights.

Freund clearly states the case: “Jews, like anyone else, have the right to commune with their Creator, sing, dance and yes, even move their lips. The fact that the police enforce such rules, and interfere with the right of Jews to pray freely, is scandalous.”

Freund goes on to convincingly argue that this is a cause that all Jews, regardless of level of observance, should care about.

I could not agree more. I hope Freund and all those who agree with him will be at the forefront defending the rights of women to pray, dance and sing at the Wall in any way they wish and with any tallit they wish.

No one has stated the case for them better than Freund has.

ALAN EDELSTEIN
Jerusalem

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