Months on paper

Sir, –The president of Israel’s Supreme Court says courts should include the Hebrew date alongside the secular date (“Grunis orders Hebrew date on court documents,” October 10). This has, in fact, long been been the rule affecting all government institutions. Apparently, it has been ignored by the legal system.

Surely this begs the question as to why the names of the Hebrew months are more “Jewish” than the familiar names used today throughout most of the world. In the Pentateuch, the months are simply known by numbers – first, second, third, etc., just like the days of the week. It was only during the first exile in Babylonia in the 6th century BCE that the Israelites began to adopt Babylonian names, and ever since the months of the Jewish year have been called after Babylonian or Akkadian deities – Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tamuz and so on.

In the present Gregorian calendar only the first six months are deity names, July and August being named after the Caesars, and later months being simply numerical – e.g., September and October, from the time when the Roman year had only 10 months.

On balance, therefore, a third of the Gregorian months are quite inoffensive, even echoing the biblical number system, whereas the entire Hebrew calendar derives from pagan deities. Are we to conclude that Roman deities are non-Jewish, but Babylonian deities are Jewish?

GEOFFREY PREGER
Caesarea

Flawed ardor

Sir, – Ami Ayalon is an advocate of the two-state solution. His ardor is reflected in a flawed article in which he draws an unsupportable connection between progress toward creation of a Palestinian state and a US-led coalition to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb (“The red line should go from Tehran to Ramallah,” Comment & Features, October 7).

Ayalon posits an absolute necessity for inclusion of “moderate” Arab countries in the ill-defined coalition.

However, this will not be possible, he avers, unless the Arab masses can be pacified, lowering the flame of anti-American hostility and thereby allowing their leaders to join. Naturally, appeasement of the Arab street is to be bought by Israeli concessions toward the creation of a Palestinian state.

The threat of Shi’ite Iranian regional hegemony and possession of nuclear weapons, and not approval from the Arab street, will dictate a course of action for the Turkish and Sunni Arab governments. Iran is currently the overriding consideration, with “Palestine” coming in a distant second.

As far as the Arab masses are concerned, they would continue to hate the United States, Jews and an erstwhile Israel even after the creation of an Arab state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Their vitriol, imbibed from the mosque, family, school, media, government and peers, is founded on centuries of ideas and emotions about the West. The Jews’ possession of “Muslim” land and the perception of dispossessed Palestinian Arabs only hardens an intrinsic abhorrence that no Israeli or American concession can placate.

Arab attitudes toward the West are the result of centuries of lost pride as the Middle East realized its backwardness. Lately, to compensate and seek a stronger self-image, much of the region’s population is turning to religion.

As larger numbers embrace radical Islam, the term “moderate” referring to countries in the Middle East becomes inappropriate.

Ayalon links this adjective to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, distorting the truth: Saudi Arabia is the home of Wahabiism and is its sponsor world-wide.

Egypt, ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood, is an unstable country increasingly tolerant of the persecution of Christians, and tests the demilitarization of Sinai.

Turkey, once a secular nation, is traveling inexorably toward fundamentalist Islam.

Disregarding facts and reality leads to faulty theories and conclusions, and to fatal decisions.

BERNARD SMITH
Jerusalem

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