Sir, – Thank you for providing Page 1 coverage of the evil
Iranian regime’s nuclear military ambitions in the wake of President Barack
Obama’s reelection (“Barack, Bibi and the bomb,” Analysis, November 8). Clearly,
this is one of the most pressing security issues that the US will face in the
first year of a new presidential term. It is also the overriding issue that will
test the seriousness and solidness of the US-Israel relationship as the
electioneering dust settles.
Unlike the Republican contender, Obama
subtly distanced himself from Israel by repeatedly referring to the need to stop
Iran from having a nuclear weapon, rather than preventing it from achieving a
nuclear weapons capability. This is very problematic since Iran might never
declare “a weapon.”
Obama won and can signal how serious he really is by
changing at least his rhetoric on Iran, even before our own elections in
January. The clock is ticking for America and the world, and especially for
Sir, – If ever there was a picture
worth a thousand words, it was Ronny Brown’s depiction of today’s US Democratic
Party as a Trojan horse being blithely led into the American homeland (Cartoon,
Just as ancient Troy was mortally misled by the gift from
the Greeks, so were those who voted Obama in for a second term.
the beginning of the demise of America as the bastion of truth and democracy. I
pray I’m wrong.
Sir, – There
is a very simple answer to the question posed by reader Steven K. Ross (“A man,
a plan,” Letters, November 8) as to why Israel cannot sit down with Hamas and
Fatah and thrash out a deal without involvement by the US.
There is no
chance that any such meeting could take place because Hamas, as its charter
makes perfectly clear, is not and never was interested in land for peace. It is
not a territorial dispute – Hamas simply does not want Israel to exist and wants
to drive the Jews out.
Fatah cannot do anything while Hamas is more
popular and in power in the Gaza Strip. At any rate, it quite likely believes
much the same, and says so in Arabic to its constituents.
Women at the Wall
Sir, – Reader Sarah Pearl (“Response to Rabinowitz,”
Letters, November 7) asserts: “The late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein established a
minimum of three feet as necessary for a mehitza to be kosher in a place of
prayer,” and that the mehitza, or the barrier separating men from women, at the
Kotel, or Western Wall, “meets the extreme standards of the haredi
Actually, Rabbi Feinstein ruled that a minimum of five
feet would suffice, but only in extenuating circumstances. Yet the writer
entirely omitted one extremely important part of his ruling.
the mehitza only has to act as a physical barrier and need not keep women out of
sight. But this only applies if the latter “meet the clothing requirements for
modesty” and, if married, have their hair covered.
cannot always be assumed to be the case at the Kotel, so the mehitza must be
opaque and high enough to keep them out of sight.
As for “women who wish
to observe family members celebrating a bar mitzva or other momentous occasion,”
the problems Pearl mentions may be a good reason for not celebrating them at the
Kotel, but rather at a more suitable venue.
MARTIN D. STERN
Sir, – Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz (“Not Orthodox and not Reform,” Comment &
Features, November 5 demeans Women of the Wall, not by incorrectly identifying
us with Reform Judaism, but by his claims that we hold demonstrations and are
responsible for the arrests of some of our members and supporters.
a proudly pluralistic group with Reform, Orthodox, Conservative,
Reconstructionist and other Jewish women who assert our right to pray at the
Western Wall. We come to pray once a month for less than an hour each time. This
is not, as the rabbi states, a provocation but a sincere and heartfelt
expression of our spirituality and reverence for our people, our tradition and
Rabinowitz writes that the Western Wall is “not
Where else is a place for prayer divided with a physical
barrier keeping men and women separate except at an Orthodox site? He also
writes that the Kotel “was there many years before we... split into streams and
camps....” What he neglects to point out is that for most of those years there
was no mehitza at the Wall.
Those who, in Rabinowitz’s words, “turn the
Western Wall... into an arena of public dispute” are those who oppose us. We
come to pray and celebrate the new month. We deliberately and respectfully
choose to gather at the back of the women’s section so that those who do not
approve of our practice do not have to be bothered by it. Those who are bothered
choose to be bothered.
We come, as the rabbi writes, “with... respect and
brotherhood (sic).” We only ask for the same treatment by Rabinowitz and his
CHERYL BIRKNER MACK
The writer is a member of the
board of Women of the Wall
Sir, – With regard to “Average salary
NIS 8,994 in August” (Business & Finance, November 7), the publication of
this information is an insult, a disgrace and a joke.
On one hand, the
Knesset announces an increase of NIS 1,000 per MK. On the other it allows for
price increases on basic food items, putting more strain on us, the low income
families struggling to make ends meet.
For me and most of my fellow
workers (50 of us), this national average is more than two months of salary. We
provide catering and maintenance facilities – the food being dished up with the
same love as a mother – to nearly 2,000 soldiers on a northern army base of the
Education Corps. Because of the nature of our work we would not even think about
striking for better pay.
The powers that be, who sit in the head office
in Tel Aviv and are led by the decision-making chairman of the board, refuse to
adjust salaries to make life a bit more bearable. None of us have seen any
increases for over five years. Only promises and high hopes.
Let them decide
Sir, – Reader Steve Kramer’s argument (“What Balfour
meant,” Letters, November 5) is based upon the assumption that Jordan is
Palestine. But who is he or anyone else to decide this for the Jordanians? I
think King Abdullah and the Beduin would have something to say about this
Kramer and others with the same belief can’t face reality that if
we want peace, we must end the occupation. (According to a recent poll at least
two-thirds of Israelis support an end to the occupation.) I don’t care what
former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy and others say when they claim that
there isn’t any occupation.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary,
occupation is “the action, state or period of occupying.” To occupy is “to take
control of (a place) by military conquest or settlement.”
If people can’t
accept the fact that Israel occupies the West Bank, they are
Nominalism is a doctrine in which universals or general
ideas are mere names without any corresponding reality. Even Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,
who is right-wing, ruled that to peacefully resolve the conflict with the
Palestinians is a matter of saving human life.