Contempt for voters

Sir, – I was appalled and disgusted by your February 28 editorial (“Italy’s elections”).

Do you have any evidence whatsoever to support your allegation that Israelis “treated the electoral process as something of a lark,” or your assertion that Israelis who voted for Yesh Atid treated their ballots carelessly? I spoke with many members of the public – strangers, friends, taxi drivers, high-tech managers, young people, senior citizens (to which population I belong) – and every single person who voted for Yesh Atid did so not because it was trendy, as you assert, but because they believed that more of the same, as it exists today, would be disastrous.

“Sharing the burden” of national service and other civic responsibilities is not, as you contend, an “emotive” issue – it is an existential issue and the only way to keep our country from coming apart at the seams.

Shame on you for treating voters with whom you don’t agree with such contempt.

RISA LOTTO
Haifa

Political drift

Sir, – In addition to the one-liners quoted in “Say it again, Sam” (Arts & Entertainment, February 28), Mae West brilliantly managed to describe virtually all situations of human fallibility.

In her 1933 film I’m No Angel, playing opposite leading man Cary Grant, she makes an aside that could certainly be used as a headline for most situations concerning Israeli politics: “I used to be Snow White – but I drifted.”

Unfortunately, the rate of drift here seems to be increasing.

RICHARD RINBERG
Ra’anana

Kashrut comeuppance

Sir, – With regard to “IKEA stops selling all minced meat products from main supplier” (February 28), one European country after another has tried to interfere with kosher ritual slaughter. Now one European country after another is discovering it’s eating horse meat that might be contaminated with dangerous drugs.

Is this a case of “measure for measure?”

JOSEPH FELD
London

Hidden away

Sir, – Why oh why was the photo of Iitayes Aeinao, our new Miss Israel, hidden away on one of your back pages (“A beautiful moment,” February 28)? It would have been great to be welcomed in the morning with her lovely face on the front page instead of all the depressing political items.

ROSE BARR
Shoresh

Obama’s itinerary

Sir, – I find it difficult to understand Arik Henig (“Will Obama speak at Rabin Square?” Comment & Features, February 28) since he seems to be on all sides of the question that he himself asks.

US President Barack Obama will speak wherever he is advised to do so. However, I feel certain that with his sense of the dramatic, he will ask to speak at the site where Rabin was brutally murdered. Surely, our side cannot turn him down no matter how much Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would probably like to.

And what a speech it will be!

LEONARD ZURAKOV
Netanya

Sir, – It was heartwarming to learn through the words of Secretary of State John Kerry that President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel and to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would be primarily a trip of learning (“US Secretary of State Kerry says Obama coming to listen, not ‘plunk down’ peace plan,” February 27). It will not be one where he applies pressure before he has learned what he feels he needs to know.

Our Foreign Ministry should have the courage to show Obama some sites that might enhance the stability to review his ideas. I am going to suggest two or three that might give him a different perspective.

One of them certainly should be the underground Herodian Mansions museum beneath Yeshivat Hakotel, where Obama would see the homes of the priests who performed their religious rituals in the Temple up until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE. He will learn that these rituals went back to even before the Temple was built. He will also learn that during the Feast of Tabernacles (Succot), many nations came to the Temple to offer sacrifices.

There was no Muslim religion then.

A second place that Obama should visit is where the Mandelbaum Gate stood on the line that divided Jerusalem prior to 1967. He will learn that today’s city cannot be divided under any circumstances.

A third place for him to visit is Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, which has been the scene of so much contention.

He can see the model of 770 Eastern Parkway and make the “pilgrimage to Brooklyn” and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. If he cannot go there because it is in east Jerusalem he can visit Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem and see the miracles that take place there in a very integrated hospital.

The United States and Israel have a vested interest in making this trip meaningful to the president’s comprehension of the situation.

Let him go and see!

TOBY WILLIG
Jerusalem

Giving the get

Sir, – You write about a serious problem with regard to a Washington, DC, couple that was civilly but not religiously divorced (“Washington Jews to rally against Congress staffer over contested divorce,” February 27).

Each side has a serious problem.

The court awarded the husband some weekend visitation rights with the couple's daughter, but since he is Orthodox and since the weekend begins on Friday nights, he loses more than half the visiting time. On the other hand he refuses to give his ex-wife a get, or religious divorce, so she remains an aguna, essentially in limbo and unable to remarry.

Why could she not agree to his picking up his daughter earlier on Friday in exchange for his agreeing to give her the get? It’s a win-win deal.

DEENA SPIGELMAN
Jerusalem

Sir, – Through inaccurate information, the reader might be left with the mistaken impression that Aharon Friedman, an aide to US Rep. Dave Camp, has some sort of justification for refusing to give his wife a get.

Two points should set the record straight.

First, by order of the Circuit Court of Maryland in July 2011, Friedman was granted visitation rights on alternate weekends from Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon – neither of which can be construed as impeding Shabbat observance. Second, the “Shar Hamishpot rabbinical court” is not recognized as a rabbinical court, and a get arranged by it is not considered valid in Israel, neither by the Directorate of the Israeli Rabbinical Courts nor by the office of the Chief Rabbinate (as stated in letters dated 2008 and 2009, respectively). This should give you a picture of the body’s worth.

To quote a newspaper report of a “declaration” by this unaccepted, self-declared rabbinic court, and juxtaposing it, to quote the article, with the “widespread rabbinic opposition to Friedman” is disingenuous or, at the very least, unprofessional.

Lest readers be confused, the facts today are simple: Friedman is a get-refuser who is keeping his Orthodox-wedded wife in chains as an aguna. This has been determined by the Rabbinic Court of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, joined by Rabbi Hershel Schachter of Yeshiva University as well as the Va’ad Harabanim (Rabbinical Council) of Greater Washington.

Such abuse of power is shameful and is condemned in the strongest terms in the rulings of these august rabbinical bodies. That Friedman has continued to refuse to grant a get is inexcusable.

RACHEL LEVMORE
Jerusalem

The writer is a rabbinical court advocate

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