It’s in the learning
Sir, – Your editorial, “Diaspora continuity” (June 20),
makes some interesting points. You remind us that Orthodox rules, regulations
and traditions kept the Jews united and that there is a connection among the
Jews of Casablanca, California and Calcutta.
In a news article in the
same issue (“Knesset education committee head: Haredi schools need to meet
minimum education standards”), one person claims that what kept the Jews
“Jewish” was “yeshiva education” and not the study of “accountancy and
All of this is misleading.
Jews did learn accountancy
and literature, as well as math and medicine. It was this education that
financed their continued learning. Many Torah scholars were people with some
kind of skill that earned money.
Jews were not allowed to own land, and
even when we did we had to give it up when we were expelled.
as accountancy and medicine, could be carried out of one country and into
Sir, – Regarding
“What does the Orthodox rabbinate have to do to receive recognition?” (Comment
& Features, June 20) by Shalom Hammer, the rabbinate has to reinvent itself.
It has to join the 21st century and, most important, it has to achieve ethical
standards as pointed out in halachic sources.
It cannot continue to view
the secular populace as “the enemy” and continue to abusively exploit it at
It has to deal with people turning to it for
legislated life-cycle services.
Failure to do so will certainly lead to a
loss of the little influence it still has in Israeli life and open wide the
doors to streams of Jewish practice that are illegitimate in terms of Halacha,
thus causing a serious split in the Jewish nation.
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, – Gershon Baskin (“Unity, disunity and peace,”
Encountering Peace, June 19) perpetuates the fallacy that we are occupiers and
that Israel is “carrying out government decisions to take more of their [the
Since the decisions taken at San Remo have not been
superseded or abrogated, settlements anywhere in the Land of Israel cannot be
illegal, nor are Judea and Samaria occupied territory.
Johnnycome- lately Arab states refuse to accept the Jewish state and claim the
land belongs to them does not make it so.
Gershon Baskin asserts: “The actions of the Israeli government... clearly signal
to the Palestinians that Israel is not ready to talk real peace.” What, then,
was the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza? And why did Prime Minister Netanyahu
freeze settlements for 10 months? Baskin complains that the Palestinians are
literally losing ground because the world has failed to impose a compromise on
But a leadership truly dedicated to establishing a country for
its people would rush to negotiate under such circumstances rather than continue
to make maximalist demands as their bargaining position
Baskin argues that “the PA does not have the resources to
offer them alternative employment and salaries to support their families.” The
Palestinian people receive among the highest per capita assistance of any
population in the world. Most of it ($4 billion from 2009-11) comes from the
West, while support from Arab nations has steadily declined. But much of it
disappears, with no positive impact on the people the aid was meant to
The unhappy situation in which the Palestinians now find
themselves is primarily of their own making and exacerbated by their leaders’
corruption and adamant refusal to come to the bargaining table.