Let gays serve
Sir, – As a religious Jewish IDF veteran I was saddened to read
the remarks deprecating homosexual Jewish IDF soldiers (“MK Ariel says IDF
should not draft gays, cites Torah,” June 19).
As a junior officer I have
served with IDF soldiers of many sexual and personal persuasions, and in my 14
years of service found the gay soldiers to be just as patriotic, morally decent
and dedicated as their heterosexual counterparts – in some cases even more
I would ask the MKs who believe that gay Israelis should not be
permitted to serve in the IDF to reexamine their position with greater
compassion. They should take into greater account Israel’s security needs and
try to balance these with the Torah’s halachic strictures. I believe that if
they do they will moderate their harsh conclusions regarding IDF service for
gays and, hopefully, realize that all Jews are in this together and that we are
one big family.
Sir, – MK Uri Ariel says of
homosexuality: “The Torah comes out against this phenomenon harshly and levels
very heavy penalties.”
There are also very heavy penalties in the Torah
for Sabbath- breaking, blasphemy and adultery. Does Ariel think that those who
are guilty of these regrettable sins should also be exempt from army service? If
so, perhaps any shortfall in IDF personnel could be made up by more righteous
souls who at present are not called up for army service.
Where credit is due
Sir, – Your article on Judy Feld Carr and the supposed
rescue of Syrian Jewry (“Canadian rescuer of Syrian Jews: It was the biggest
secret in the Jewish world,” June 19) is an insult to former US president Bill
Clinton and his entire administration.
Carr did admirable work rescuing
numbers of individual Jews from Syria. However, the successful effort to
extricate the entire Syrian Jewish community was undertaken and achieved by the
US government and the Council for the Rescue of Syrian Jews, composed by members
of America’s Syrian Jewish community.
The mass exoduses were achieved via
a very intense international and diplomatic human rights campaign and with
enormous work, great pressure and finesse by the US. It was not a secret mission
and did not occur over 30 years. It was achieved in just under five years, from
1989 to 1994, and was very public, involving large-scale demonstrations,
congressional resolutions, delegations to Syria and many heads of state, as well
as the cooperation and involvement of US diplomats in Syria and members of the
American and international Jewish community.
This is only a very brief
description of a very complicated and involved campaign.
Much of the
documentation is public record.
ALICE EVE HARARY SARDELL
New York The
writer is president of the Council for the Rescue of Syrian Jews
So be it
In “The good fence?” (Comment & Features, June 19), Nachman Shai says that
“fences by definition separate and divide.” So be it, given our
Robert Frost once said, “Good fences make good neighbors,” and
he didn’t live in the Middle East.
Sir, – As an adoptive mother I find it crucial for the adopted children
to have as much as possible in common with their parents (“Adoption and faith,”
Editorial, June 18). This makes their search for identity, already complicated,
Therefore, I would like to see the possibility of converting
adoptees to Judaism without the imposition of raising them in a religious
environment. Throwing one’s fate with Israel and the Jewish people is quite
Sir, – You conclude your editorial by saying, “The time
has come to separate religion from the adoption process.”
We Jews have
survived for thousands of years because of tradition more than
Religion has brought wars all over the world. Religion should
be a private option.
We are running out of time on separating religion
from state in every facet of life, not only adoption.
OLGA P. WIND
Sir, – Kol hakavod to Israel for its many positive efforts
toward a more sustainable future (Solving the world’s environmental problems,”
Environmental Affairs, June 15). However, I want to stress what many generally
overlook: the major negative impact that animal-based agriculture has on the
The production of meat and animal products is a major
contributor to climate change due to the large amounts of methane emitted by
farmed animals. Animal- based agriculture is also a major contributor to
deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, rapid species extinction, air and
water pollution, and other environmental problems, and uses massive amounts of
water, energy and other increasingly scarce resources.
I urge my fellow
Jews to help fulfill our role as a “light unto the nations” by increasing
awareness and activism in order to help shift our imperiled planet to a
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ
New York The writer is president of
the Jewish Vegetarians of North America Sake of heaven
Sir, – A not
inconsiderable number of our brethren, many of whom are Holocaust survivors,
feel that the public playing of Wagner is intolerable (“Who’s afraid of Richard
Wagner?,” Comment & Features, June 11). Why cannot we respect this, if just
for the sake of heaven? Lovingkindness, respect and desisting from our own
wishes is not derisory, weak or surrendering.
Just for once, cannot we
put the feelings of others first? Wagner can be played in many situations in
Israel, just not publicly.
Ring of fire
Well, it’s happening a lot quicker than I thought it would when this
inexperienced rookie somehow was elected president of the United
In Egypt, Barack Obama caused Hosni Mubarak to fall by not
supporting him. Now we have to face the Muslim Brotherhood along our very long
and porous border.
In Turkey, Obama just can’t imagine that the present
regime is no longer a friend of the West.
Its prime minister, Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, has even prevented Israel from taking part in NATO exercises.
Every Turkish act is calculated to draw that country away from the West and
In Syria, for over a year President Bashar Assad has been
brutally slaughtering his own citizens.
The world yawns. The UN pulls out
its “peace-keeping force” because it is too dangerous for them to be
Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton misjudged Assad right
from the start and thought he was a Western-educated reformer! The Iranians, of
course, are working flat out to get an atom bomb with which to blow us all to
smithereens. Obama still thinks he can negotiate with them and that they will
keep their promises.
Iraq is still exploding. Pakistan and Afghanistan
are furious with the Americans for repeated mistaken drone attacks on their
civilians. The Russians, through all this, are stirring the broth like the USSR
Of course, Obama didn’t create this awful situation all by
himself. But he has failed over and over to differentiate between friend and
Look at the map. This failure has created all around us a ring of
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