What comes after?
Sir, – Then-prime minister Ariel Sharon promised that a
solution had been prepared and was available to address the needs of all those
who were to be expelled from Gush Katif. Today, everyone knows that was a
And now, regarding a neighborhood of Beit El, Prime Minister
Netanyahu has promised: “For every house that is destroyed, I will build 10”
(“PM wants to relocate 30 Ulpana outpost homes,” June 3).
track record would appear to indicate that his promise is no more reliable than
Sharon’s. Besides which, how would this address the immediate needs and assuage
the trauma of those whose homes he seems determined to destroy? The prime
minister has had over a year to come up with a compassionate solution to the
problem created by the Supreme Court’s ruthless, hardhearted decree that serves
no one’s interests.
It should be remembered that the residents of the
Ulpana neighborhood (it is not an outpost!) violated no laws when constructing
or purchasing their homes. In fact, they were aided and supported by government
agencies all the way up to the point of final permits from the Civil
The source of the problem today is that those permits
were never issued. Nonetheless, there is no law as such that requires the
demolition of these homes, the harsh and uncompromising decision of the Supreme
The matter is in the hands of Prime Minister
Given the will and the courage, he can still allow a free vote
in the Knesset to save innocent Jewish families unnecessary pain and
Sir, – Do I detect a malodorous stench
of duplicity? Prime Minister Netanyahu is avidly against legislation that would
circumvent the top court’s decision to remove the Ulpana homes and has ordered
his coalition members to oppose the bills. However, there seems to be a
legitimate solution to this very grievous problem by relocating the 30 homes to
land that has already been authorized for housing in the Beit El
The fact that the land has been authorized for such activity
would seem sufficient and certainly not require any further decision by the
So if this can be technically accomplished, why is
Netanyahu soliciting a judgment by the attorney-general before he decides to
take such action? Could it be that by asking for this unnecessary decision he is
signaling that he would not mind a negative response? Such a response would
allow him to argue that he earnestly tried for a fair solution but was
frustrated by the legal apparatus.
The settlers who have acted in good
faith with the encouragement of Israeli governments from the Left and Right are
surely entitled to fair and equitable treatment!
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, as a member of Knesset, helps make Israel’s laws,
and the Supreme Court is supposed to be familiar with these laws and help
There seems to be problems on both fronts regarding
First of all, the West Bank is captured territory lost to Israel
by the Kingdom of Jordan in its failed attempt to annihilate the Jewish state in
the Six Day War.
Local Arab land owners forfeited their property rights
when Jordan lost the war and renounced its claim to the territory.
these grounds there is no basis to evict 30 families and destroy valuable and
well-constructed buildings. That the families lacked permission to build is
another matter, which can be overcome with an appeal and possibly a
Even more embarrassing, Gal- On is quoted as saying that building
in the West Bank “would deal a death blow to the peace process.” Madam, there is
no peace process. The West Bank is now a part of Israel. This point will become
clear to one and all when we assert authority over the area’s educational system
and its mass media. (Or does Israel’s minister of education insist on
perpetuating anti- Semitism under the Israeli flag?) Both the leader of the
Meretz Party and the Likud minister of education should know that there is no
longer an Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There never was an independent
Palestinian state, nor are there today citizens of such a non-existing state.
The Arabs living in the West Bank were once citizens of Jordan, a citizenship
they forfeited when that country lost the 1967 war and cut them off by rejecting
the territory as part of its domain.
We could save so much time, money,
sweat and tears if the Knesset and judiciary were required to take a course on
what has happened since the Six Day War.
Who is a
Sir, – I fully support your position (“Recognizing rabbis,” Editorial,
June 3) that “the Jeffersonian separation of Church and State is universally
applicable. Its goal is to protect the integrity of both religion and
politics.... The state has no business interfering with religious autonomy...
only religious movements should decide who is a rabbi and who is not.”
only caveat is that these movements should organize themselves separately
following the model of the various Christian denominations that are recognized
by the state. If they define clearly their criteria for matters of such personal
status as conversion, marriage, etc., they should be free to do so.
would avoid “the mixing of religion and politics [that] has created absurd
situations [where] secular courts have found themselves issuing decisions on
purely religious matters.”
There would be a disadvantage in that
membership in the Reform and Masorti (Conservative) movements would not imply
automatic recognition of being a Jew in the eyes of the Orthodox, but this is a
necessary price to pay. It could be avoided, of course, if they were willing to
grant “Orthodoxy a monopoly over marriages, even if this discriminates against
Israelis who are not Jewish according to Orthodox criteria” in order to avoid
Their response to this challenge would make clear whether they really
are interested in upholding the unity of the Jewish people or are more concerned
with furthering their own sectarian agendas.
MARTIN D. STERN
Sir, – Thank you for your balanced editorial on the dilemmas and opportunities
created by the State of Israel’s legal recognition – at last – of “rabbis of
It is indeed a courageous
Although I don’t necessarily agree with your view of
“justification for granting Orthodoxy a monopoly over marriages,” I applaud your
conclusion: “But when it comes to rabbis on the state payroll, the separation of
religion and state would do nothing but good. Both Judaism and politics would
benefit from the divorce.”
Your editorial is a contribution to reasoned,
intelligent journalistic discussion.
Sir, – Instead
of authorizing salaries for liberal rabbis, our government should withdraw
salaries from all rabbis.
Mishne Avot teaches us asei leha rav – we
should choose rabbis for ourselves, not have them imposed on us. By putting
rabbis on the government dole we have succeed primarily in empowering those who
are hungry for political power and enjoy squabbling shamelessly among
The great 20th-century talmudic scholar Rabbi Shaul
Lieberman, when asked for an example of humor in the Talmud, offered the line
from Tractate Berhaot 64: Talmidei hahamim marbim shalom baolam (rabbis increase
peace in the world.) Witty, indeed, and tragically true.