Waiting for Obama

Sir, – One of the finest things US President Barack Obama can do for Israel while on his visit here is quite simple.

When he meets Yityish Aynaw, the new Ethiopian-born Miss Israel and a former IDF officer as well (“Miss Israel tells ‘Post’ she is ‘very excited’ to meet Obama,” March 14), all he has to do during the photo op is point out that they are both there at the personal invitation of the Israeli president, and be publically quoted as asking: “Does this look like an apartheid state?” Afterward, he ought to write this across the photograph and send autographed copies to Nobel laureates Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and others of their ilk, saving one more for The New York Times, daring the paper to print it on the front page.

GERALD FLANZBAUM
Givat Olga

Sir, – Poor Barack Obama.

What ignorant advisers he must have. We hear that all the universities in Israel will be sending representatives to hear the US president speak later this week – except for those who study at Ariel University (“Ariel students protest their exclusion from Obama speech,” March 14).

I assume that no one among the president’s entourage (including Obama himself) knows that there is a large group of Arab students at the university.

So who is being punished? Who is being boycotted now? They might as well not have invited the students from Hebrew University’s Mt. Scopus campus. Albeit, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is much older, but still, our ownership of the land it’s on is questioned by some people.

Many years ago, in 1925, my father attended the festive opening ceremony of Hebrew University.

Of course, he was a child and was not officially invited. He had climbed a tree to watch.

So Mr. Obama and company: My family’s connection to this land goes back more than 100 years. The connection of the Jewish people to this land goes back thousands of years. Don’t try to take away any more pieces of it.

THELMA JACOBSON
Petah Tikva

Sir, – With the imminent arrival of US President Barack Obama, I call on each and every one of us to create a united front and demand the immediate release of Jonathan Pollard.

Behind the hugs and smiles of Obama lurks a cruel paranoia due to which Pollard is rotting in jail.

Let us sanctify the man we recruited to deliver information on Arab states, and who sacrificed everything for us. His health is not good, and we bear full responsibility for bringing him home, now.

GIDEON BEN-YA’ACOV
Ra’anana

Friend of ‘agunot’


Sir, – The many hundreds of civilly divorced but “chained women” whose lives are on hold because their husbands refuse to grant them a get (religious divorce) may feel cautious optimism in finding the name of their most important champion on the list of cabinet ministers in the upcoming government (“The 33rd cabinet,” March 14).

For more than 20 years, Eliyahu Ben-Dahan, the incoming deputy religious services minister, with responsibility for conversions, the Chief Rabbinate and yeshivot, has been at the forefront in the fight to ease the plight of agunot.

In the matter of divorce and remarriage, Halacha can certainly appear to be restrictive – and yes, even cruel. Yet Ben-Dahan can be expected to work hard within the bounds of Halacha to unchain these women.

FRED GOTTLIEB
Jerusalem

Grading education

Sir, – Despite the retraction by Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes of her Twitter posting about MK (and apparent education minister-designate) Shai Piron (“Yesh Atid’s Piron condemned property sales to Arabs in 2002,” March 13), her message was quite clear: No religious person should have any influence over the education of her children or that of any children of modern-thinking Israelis.

Well, allow me to disagree, and I base my disagreement on the achievement records of the more outstanding education ministers, such as Shulamit Aloni, Amnon Rubinstein and Yossi Sarid. (I am unable to mention the late Zevulun Hammer, since his hands were effectively tied to ensure his impact would be kept to a minimum.) Today we reap the achievements of the more enlightened ministers: overall low grades for almost all elementary and high schools; student violence and even violence against teachers; theft; drugs and alcohol; promiscuousness leading to rape and teenage pregnancies. All are signs of social illness.

In addition, I must sadly mention lack of patriotism and selfhate.

To his credit, outgoing minister Gideon Sa’ar has shown that good education and grades are possible.

RAFI ROSENBAUM
Kiryat Ono

Road to anarchy

Sir, – Is it now okay for members of Knesset to not only violate Israeli law, but protect others who do so. Has Israeli democracy come down to this? On March 13 you reported that three female MKs joined the Women of the Wall in violating the ruling of Israel’s Supreme Court, which outlawed the group from congregating at the Western Wall in inappropriate religious garb and creating a provocation at the holiest place in Judaism (“MKs join group’s prayers, no arrests,” March 13).

Did not these MKs violate their oath of office to uphold the laws of the State of Israel? Engaging in these illicit activities violates not only the ruling of the Supreme Court, but also the directives of the attorney-general.

Are they sending a message that people can do whatever they want, the law be damned? Like all civilized countries, Israel is a “country of laws, not of men” (nor of women). Don’t these legislators realize they have now given cover to haredi protests that are sure to come over moves to force the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox men into the IDF – moves that are based upon the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Tal Law, which previously exempted them from such service? If the three MKs saw fit to intentionally violate one Supreme Court ruling, how do they not thereby encourage others to violate other such rulings? This is the sure road to anarchy.

HARVEY SCHWARTZ
Jerusalem

Test tube kashrut

Sir, – The production and consumption of meat violates basic Jewish teachings on preserving human health, treating animals with compassion and helping the hungry. A shift by Jews to plant-based diets would show the relevance of Judaism’s eternal teachings and help move our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path.

Another important reason for a dietary shift is that the 65 billion animals raised for slaughter annually around the world are a major contributor to climate change, deforestation, soil erosion, loss of species, desertification, water pollution and other environmental problems.

Kashrut authorities should consider whether producing meat and fowl with great cruelty on factory farms violates the prohibition against cruelty to animals, and whether such meat can be considered kosher. It might be kosher by dint of shechita (ritual slaughter), but the ongoing cruelty that inevitably precedes the cut renders the meat and fowl unkosher and unpalatable to many Jews, both observant and non-observant.

The future lies in “in vitro” meat; that is, meat grown in a factory lab from a single cell of a living kosher animal. The meat would be exactly the same as regular meat and not entail any cruelty at all. Steak and chicken parts in a test tube, if you will.

Slaughter could declared to be against Jewish law, as there would be no more need to kill animals. This would be true “mehadrin” kosher, top of the kosher line.

MARK J. FEFFER
Jerusalem

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