Sir, – I was astounded by “Will corruption undo Israel?” (Comment & Features, June 8).
Daniel Doron constructs a fascinating chain of events culminating in “political favoritism that breeds corruption.” This might indeed be so. However, describing a century-long development originating in his unique definition of socialism, continuing with kibbutz ideology and the Labor Party, and culminating with Ehud Olmert and other financial scandals, is a very long and quite twisted stretch.
Particularly striking is Doron’s attack on the kibbutz movement and its “romantic adulation of ‘soul purifying’ manual labor, preferably in farming; this, at a time mechanization and innovations were cutting sharply the need for farmers….”
As a kibbutz member for some 30 years starting in the mid-1950s, I can assure him that just the opposite is true. Indeed, the kibbutz movement glorified farming, but as the return to the soil of Israel after many centuries. Contrary to his description, the kibbutz movement was in the vanguard of mechanization, scientific management and research and development, and was renowned throughout the developing world. Manual labor was never viewed to be an aim in itself.
The current corruption in Israel has many roots, but manual labor, tilling the soil and socialism are not among them.
Sir, – Reader Jack Cohen (“Evolution in schools,” Letters, June 6) is gratified that evolution is to be taught in middle schools. But the kind of evolution he would like to see taught is out of date and wrong. It's from the 19th century.
The science of biology has come a long way in the past 50 years. We have discovered *information* as an essential component of life. For natural selection to account for common descent (e.g., man evolved from apes, etc.), it must describe how the information in living creatures can be built up.
The theory cannot do this and is therefore not a valid scientific theory.
Organisms do indeed evolve. We see them evolving. But it is not the evolution of common descent. Organisms have the ability to do their own genetic engineering in response to environmental changes, enabling both themselves and their progeny to adapt to the new environment.
Evolution is rapid, even within one generation. This is all well supported by recent research, and detailed in my forthcoming book *The Evolution Revolution*. It is the kind of evolution that should be taught: It happens, it has been observed and it poses no challenge to the traditional Torah viewpoint.
The writer is a physicist who has published several papers and two books on evolution.
Sir, – It is a sad day when the state proposes to teach Darwin’s theory of evolution to middle-school students.
Is it now the purpose of the state to promote the belief among students that the Torah is not true and that God does not exist?
What are Jewish kids to think when on Friday nights they hear in the blessing over the wine, “Blessed are you, King of the Universe, who created the fruit of the vine”? They might say: “But Dad, we learned in school about evolution. Grapes, all fruits and vegetables, and even we just came about by a blind process of random mutation followed by natural selection of the best mutations. Why do we recite a blessing saying that God created them?”
Sir, – Darwin's theory of evolution involves long-time scales.
In *Genesis* as an ancient Near Eastern text (ANET), Adam, who refers to Agricultural Man, lived approximately 6,000 years after the last ice-age meltdown (i.e., when the Hebrews entered the world) and at the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution in 12,000 BCE. This is why there is no place in the narrative where it says, “Let there be water.”
An important consequence of this anthropological entry into this ANET is that a Darwinian time-scale of human evolution on the planet is in no way implicit in the narrative.
JOSEPH D. LEVINSON
The writer is a retired professor of philosophy and author of the forthcoming book
The Six Days in Genesis According to Moses.
Sir, – Caroline B. Glick’s analysis of Israel’s relations with the PLO and Hamas (“Ending Abbas’s winning streak,” Column One, June 5) is excellent. It is virtually a textbook description of the state of play in Israel-Palestine political relations today. Few commentators on either the Left or Right would argue with it.
The problem is less in her diagnosis and more in her treatment: to freeze payments to the PLO. Even this action-plan is not difficult in itself to defend. The problem with it is that it would only serve as yet another single, simple solution to a very complex situation that has defied resolution since the inception of the Israeli state. That situation might be subsumed under the rubric of the unbridged – and perhaps unbridgeable – cultural-cum-political divide between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. So, the real question is: Is it bridgeable?
In the West, until now, it has only been bridged when Arabs have been able to soften their Oriental identification and season it with the Occidental. Even then, Westernized Arabs, of whom the late Columbia University professor Edward Said was emblematic, have been well able to ride both horses without falling off either. And to ride the Arab stallion means to deny Israel its right to existence.
So what is the bottom line? Probably masterly inactivity, the very path chosen by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He knows that he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Basically, there is nothing Israel can do other than to defend its borders.
Sir, – I wish to correct a misrepresentation in “Celebrate Israel Parade marches for 50th time in New York” (June 2) by Maya Shwayder, who wrote: “Yisrael Medad of the Menachem Begin Center in Jerusalem posted on his Facebook page on Sunday morning that he would be joining the anti-NIF protesters.”
In the first instance, I had no intention of physically joining the protesters as I remained in Israel. Second, my Facebook page is my personal platform. It does not reflect my professional position at the Begin Center. For all intents and purposes my Jerusalem Post blog column “Green-Lined” could have been a better identifying instrument. Third, at that Facebook page I have drawn attention to activities from across the political spectrum, including Peace Now, the Al-Aqsa Foundation, Peter Beinart, Im Tirzu, like-minded bloggers and columnists, posters and, mostly, humor.
Sir, – In his article “The Rise and Fall of the Iraqi Jews” (Comment & Features, May 7), Emil Murad ends with the following: “The glory that was, and the fall that followed.”
Although this is a depressing statement, the success of Iraqi Jews in present-day Israel, especially among Israeli-born Iraqi Jews, is something that their forebears could never have imagined. Iraqi Israelis have contributed and continue to contribute to every aspect of Israeli life, from academia and business to government and religion.
Let us also not forget that Iraqi Jews are the ones who created the Talmud, which is the very backbone of Judaism as a way of life.