September 21: Having it both ways

Perhaps Lurie would care to explain how any Zionist or remotely pro-Israel body could justify providing funds to organizations engaged in such activities.

September 20, 2011 23:48

Letters 58 (n). (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

Having it both ways

Sir, – Rabbi Brian Lurie (“The new leader of the New Israel Fund,” Comment & Features, September 19) is disingenuous. He alleges that in its guidelines the NIF refuses to fund any organization that “works to deny the right of the Jewish people to sovereign self-determination within Israel” yet reaffirms it is continuing to fund Adalah and many groups with similar agendas.

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In my column on his organization (“The two faces of the New Israel Fund,” Candidly Speaking, September 15), I pointed out that Adalah campaigned for the Goldstone report, urged foreign governments to “reevaluate their relationship with Israel,” described Israel as “a colonial enterprise promoting apartheid,” called for implementing the Palestinian right of return to Israel, provided affidavits to Spanish courts in order to charge Israeli officials with war crimes, and defended Hezbollah spy Amir Makhoul as a “human rights defender.”

These are all documented in detail by NGO Monitor, a respected research organization, despite NIF’s baseless attacks, unfortunately repeated in Lurie’s response.

Perhaps Lurie would care to explain how any Zionist or remotely pro-Israel body could justify providing funds to organizations engaged in such activities.


Sour notes

Sir, – Your editorial “Overcoming gender” (September 19) is right in stating: “Integration of both women and religious men into the IDF’s most prestigious units need not lead to strife and confrontation. In most cases both the religious sensibilities of devout soldiers and the aspirations of women for professional advancement can be accommodated, provided there is good will, mutual respect and the restraining of religious fanaticism.”

However, there is one desideratum that has unfortunately been omitted: the restraining of feminist fanaticism, in this case the insistence that male soldiers listen to female singing. There is no military need for this, so those who object should not be compelled to do so. Even if “several respected spiritual leaders argued... that soldiers had the option of quietly reciting Psalms or distracting themselves in some other way,” this is not the opinion of all rabbis, and many hold that a man is obliged to absent himself under such circumstances.

Obviously, the soldiers concerned adhere to the latter view.

Deciding on their behalf as to what is the correct religious behavior is no less coercive than forcing women to remove themselves from the front seats of a bus to accommodate male religious sensibilities.

Salford, UK

Sir, – The difference between mainstream religion and fanatic religion (in any religion) is that the latter do not have the word “compromise” in their vocabulary.

A haredi rabbi once praised a member of his community for being both Orthodox and a professor.

The professor, somewhat uncomfortable with what he considered undue praise, responded: “But rabbi, you must know I have to make compromises.” Whereupon the wise rabbi answered: “Professor, we all have to make compromises – the important thing is to know where to draw the line.”

Knowing where to draw the line requires learning and sincerity and may not always be readily discernible.

But the pragmatism of Judaism certainly includes this word in its deliberations of the issue discussed in your editorial.


With a capital H

Sir, – Alan Baker and Dan Diker (“The Palestinian gambit and UN hypocrisy,” Comment & Features, September 19) eloquently explain the truth and facts about how the UN always seems ready to bend its own principles and policies when the Palestinians are involved. Unfortunately, I could only feel after reading the entire article that they are basically preaching to the converted, since I am sure that the various nations and officials at the UN are well versed in the rules and regulations of the organization.

I am sure that if the formation of a Palestinian state faced opposition from any other nations, including Arab countries, the UN would indeed stick to its rules like never before and bury the entire idea in rules, regulations and committees.

Hatzor Haglilit

Two-way street

Sir, – Thank you Barry Rubin for finally pointing the finger in the right direction (“The failed policies of the West,” The Region, September 19). These democracies conveniently forget they are guarantors of the Oslo Accords, yet they have never criticized or threatened the PA for not implementing its first responsibility, namely to stop incitement and terror.

Add to that the Quartet, which forced Israel to accept its so-called road map yet abysmally failed to ensure compliance by the PA. Just to remind your readers about a few lines from the road map’s introduction: “The following is a performance based and goal driven road map with clear phases, time lines, target dates and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties....”

Then there is the heading for Phase 1: “Ending Terror and Violence....”

Can anyone claim that even this has been adhered to by the PA? No world leaders have publicly reprimanded it or instituted some form of boycott because of its non-compliance to a signed agreement, although they have felt free to continuously find fault with us. So why should we trust them anymore? They seem eager to reward hypocrisy and deny truth and facts.

Let us hope the new year will be blessed and bring with it some common sense, humility and an acknowledgement of the truth.

We can but hope, but none of us should hold our breath!


Doesn’t get it

Sir, – Readers’ letters are much shorter than Jeff Barak’s column (“Playing a dangerous game,” Reality Check, September 19), so there is no way to counter all the distortions, untruths and nonsequiturs he packed into almost every sentence.

I really don’t know what the Left wants. Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a 10- month unilateral freeze on building in Judea and Samaria, and the Palestinians refused to talk for 9.5 months, cynically agreeing to a photo-op at the end. Yet it is Netanyahu who is accused of cynicism.

We all know the Arabs could return to the table any time they want, so why is Israel to blame? I just don't get it.

Rosh Pina

Let us sleep!

Sir, – “Jerusalem business owners charge that new zoning laws are discriminatory” (September 16) gives a broad stage to the business owners and others claiming it’s all those big bad haredim trying to curtail our freedoms, and completely ignores the possibility that this has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with people wanting to sleep at night.

Sadly, more and more businesses operate in an inconsiderate way, completely ignoring the people living around them by causing noise until late at night. I have lost count of the people from various neighborhoods I have heard complaining that they have given up hope that the police or city council will enforce the law and alleviate their suffering.

A residential area is just that – for residents and not for latenight partying. To say it’s all a haredi ploy is like Assad saying the unrest in his country is a Zionist plot.


CORRECTION Unlike what was reported in “Goodbye Ankara, hello Accra” (September 15), Ghana does indeed have an embassy in Israel, at 12A Abba Hillel Street in Ramat Gan.

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