Is Mitt sincere?

Sir, – Regarding “Does Romney plan to visit Jerusalem soon?” (May 25), I am an independent voter in America. I am neither Republican nor Democrat.

I have seen Mitt Romney in person and found him to be aloof, almost cold and lacking human sensitivity or passion of any sort. Instead of asking if he plans to visit Jerusalem, I wish reporters would pin him down and ask if he really has a unified Jerusalem in his heart? Also ask if he believes in a “New Jerusalem located someplace else in the world and pin him down for specifics.

Romney may be good at business management, but is he good at diplomacy? Will he back an ally in good times and bad, and not just spread rhetoric along the campaign trail? Americans and Israelis need to know these answers before the Republican convention because if he cannot show a firm loyalty toward Jerusalem he is a backward thinker and shouldn’t be the party’s nominee.

The man has contributed millions of dollars to his Mormon Church and has a net worth exceeding $200 million. If Romney truly believes in Israel, let him prove it by opening his personal billfold, and not use campaign or taxpayers’ money. Let him prove his sincerity.

JAMES A. MARPLES
Longview, Texas

Influential Jews

Sir, – I did not realize The Jerusalem Post had such a sense of humor in naming Binyamin Netanyahu the world’s most influential Jew (“The 50 most influential Jews in the world, 2012,” Shavuot supplement, May 25).

Our prime minister was unable to not only persuade US President Barack Obama to release Jonathan Pollard, but could not even get the courtesy of a reply.

He has such influence that even where our very existence is in danger from the Iranian threat to wipe us out he cannot get the support of Obama to destroy Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and stands idle while every sanction is watered down to be of no effect.

Netanyahu has such influence that he toes the American/Quartet line when it comes to building in our own land. He has such influence that even in his own government he has only the reluctant support of grass roots Likud ministers because he behaves like a dictator and threatens them with the loss of their jobs if they fail to agree with him – even though his policies are 100 percent at odds with the promises that brought him to power.

He has such influence that rather than fight for his country and people he would rather grovel and beg a terrorist like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in order to give him Jewish land.

Netanyahu is a man with a self-inflated sense of importance, and this ridiculous honor will do us no good at all.

EDITH OGNALL
Netanya

Sir, – Responding to the request of the editors of your Shavuot supplement, I submit the names of two people who were omitted but strongly merited inclusion.

Charles Krauthammer, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a renowned syndicated journalist, writes authoritative and meaningful articles defending the policies of Israeli governments and counters the biased anti-Israel sentiments. And Irwin Cotler, former minister of justice and attorney- general of Canada, speaks to audiences world-wide and writes op-eds justifying Israel’s handling of security threats from militant Palestinians and countering frequent false claims that its actions contravene international law.

MONTY M. ZION
Tel Mond

Sir, – I was surprised at the utter absence of the haredi, hassidic, Lithuanian and modern Orthodox leadership in your list.

Something’s wrong somewhere if this is how “most influential” is viewed.

I have no doubt that if, say, only three leaders from the aforementioned group called for a mass demonstration, no fewer than half a million followers would fill a square in no time at all.

STUART PILICHOWSKI
Mevaseret Zion

Sir, – Since Haim Nahman Bialik had no children, Mayim Bialik cannot be a “fourth generation descendant” of the Israeli national poet.

IDA SELAVAN SCHWARCZ
Ganei Omer

The editor responds: This is correct. Mayim Bialik is related to, but not descended from, Haim Nahman Bialik.

The Gaza lesson

Sir, – Chuck Freilich (“Egypt with dread,” Comment & Features, May 24) makes the case that progress on the Palestinian front, including a settlement freeze, would help defuse Egyptian hostility toward Israel. He also points out that terrorist attacks from Gaza could inadvertently trigger war with Egypt.

However, the lessons of Gaza point to a different remedy.

The withdrawal from Gaza not only failed to buy goodwill, it also led to the rise of Hamas and a drastic increase in terrorist attacks. A Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria could easily turn into another Gaza, with even more violence and potential for wider war.

Until the ideology of rejection wanes, the best way to maintain the peace is an Israel that is strong enough to discourage aggression.

DAVID KATCOFF
Jericho, Vermont

Father and son


Sir, – Jody Rudoren of The New York Times states in “The fight over who fights in Israel” (Comment & Features, May 21) “that when Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog’s son Chaim wanted to abandon the yeshiva to dedicate his life to the new Israel Defense Forces, Herzog was enthusiastic.” A personal experience of mine may shed a little more light on this.

In 1956 I was a student at the Ponevez yeshiva in Bnei Brak. On Purim a friend from the yeshiva, the late Rabbi Zalman Druck, took me to Rabbi Herzog’s home, for the Purim meal.

There was a long dining table with 40 to 50 guests and the rabbi at the head. Zalman introduced me to Rabbi Herzog as a yeshiva student who had come from America to study Torah in the Land of Israel. The rabbi asked me to sit next to him. I was a bit overwhelmed, to say the least.

In the middle of the meal there was a shudder of excitement as the tall, imposing and handsome commander of Jerusalem, Chaim Herzog, entered and sat down near the middle of the table. He was wearing what they called “battle dress” and what we Americans knew as the “Eisenhower jacket.” It was a period of terrorist incursions and he was the man of the hour, responsible for the defense of Jerusalem.

A few moments after he sat down Rabbi Herzog motioned to him and said, “Chayimel, come here.” Chaim had to walk around the whole table, all eyes on him, until he stood with awe and reverence before his father. I saw it and felt it.

Rabbi Herzog said to him, “Chaim, this young man has come all the way from America to study Torah in the Land of Israel. Can you imagine that – all the way from America! Chaim, say ‘Shalom aleichem (welcome).’” We shook hands warmly.

I was as choked up then as I am now writing this. I saw a father who wanted to yet again impress on his son the importance of Torah study. It was a deeply moving scene.

A number of months later, I received smihah (rabbinical ordination) from Rabbi Herzog, which is the most precious document on my living room wall.

SHOLOM GOLD
Jerusalem

APOLOGY

The item “Minivan crash kills eight family members in Tiberias” (May 23) reported, “Hours before the crash, the family was in Migdal Ha’emek, celebrating a Torah dedication at a synagogue in the name of [crash victim Rafi Atias’s] father, the late rabbi Shimon Atias.” Rabbi Shimon Atias is very much alive. We deeply regret the error.

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