letters to the editor.
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What about Orthodox women?
Sir, - Michael Freund demonstrates a significant problem with his own vision of Orthodoxy: He does not mention the role of women ("Orthodoxy against itself," February 8). He describes a circle of men, surrounding the groom, and thinks that this represents some utopian, feel-good goal. In fact, half of the wedding participants, and the bride, are not even in the equation. Nor are women included in potential solutions. Could exchange programs not exist between women's seminaries, as well as those between men's yeshivot?
Orthodoxy does have serious problems, especially when articulate advocates of Orthodox unity ignore half of our population.
Sir, - Kudos to Michael Freund for advocating unity and tolerance at a community level.
Fostering respect for differing opinions is a very positive and powerful tool for Orthodoxy to use in strengthening our religion, our nation and our culture.
Sir, - While Michael Freund is worried about Orthodoxy, it seems to me the following fact should hit home: Keeping the Torah and mitzvot is the only way that the Jewish people will survive. No watering it down, even to a minor extent, will work. The only ones that will be watered down are those who do so.
Orthodoxy in all of its different forms is alive and well, thank you. (There are those on the fringe that may act Orthodox and fool the media or the general public, but they are impostors). We are united. We have diverse opinions, and are proud of it. We will remain faithful until the end of time as the Torah says, "The Children of Israel kept the Shabbat throughout the generations, an everlasting covenant." Michael Freund, if you want your children and grandchildren to remain Jewish there is only one way: Torah and mitzvot.
Cut Anglican ties
Sir, - The British Israel Group (BIG) unreservedly condemns the decision of the Anglican Church to "divest from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the territories." This is the blackest day for Christian-Jewish relations in the UK in decades ("Lord Carey 'ashamed to be an Anglican' after church votes for disinvestment," February 8).
Following the divestment decision, our organization intends to cut off relations with the Anglican Church of the UK and calls on the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Office of the Chief Rabbi and other Anglo-Jewish organizations to do likewise immediately.
We note with approval, however the statement of the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
BIG will continue to maintain warm relations with its personal friends in the Anglican Church, Anglicans for Israel, Christian Friends of Israel and related organizations.
NORMAN W. COHEN
Chairman, British Israel Group
Who's appeasing whom?
Sir, - Mark Steyn criticizes the appeasement of the British and others in light of the Muslim riots resulting from the publication of cartoons in Denmark ("Militant Islam intimidates," February 8). But in the appeasement business are we in Israel any better?
On the same page, the editorial deals in part with the parliamentary immunity of Arab MK Azmi Bishara ("Treat wrongs equally"). Here is a man who does not hide his hatred for Israel, who frequently travels illegally to enemy countries and consorts their with officials.
With this record he ought to be in jail rather than in the Knesset but there is no serious talk of removing his Knesset immunity. On the other hand, soon after Rabbi Meir Kahane was elected to the Knesset he was expelled on the grounds that he was in favor of transferring Arabs (ironic given that the Israeli government recently did so to the Jews of Gush Katif).
I think we pander too much to the feelings of our would-be destroyers who interpret this behavior as weakness that only encourages them more.
Sir, - Why do you keep picking on MK Azmi Bishara ("Treat wrongs equally")? It's beginning to look like Arab-baiting. Really, it's not very nice.
Actually, he's just playing a game with his associates in the Knesset, and as long as he gets away with it, bully for him! At least he hasn't stolen any money or done any of the nasty things that other MKs have been accused of.
Least of evils
Sir, - I call to your attention two headlines from the your February 7 edition: "Labor slams Kadima for criminal ties," and "Kadima starts anti-Netanyahu campaign." I want to hear why I should vote for a given party, not why I shouldn't vote for its competition. If the best one can say about his party is that the others are worse, that's precious little recommendation. It does seem to reflect the tenor of our times, though.
Many people are trying to decide which party is the least of the evils.
Sir, - Reader Joshua Mark is wrong in a critical area ("Save the recognition," Letters, February 2). Fatah has never recognized Israel. Its constitution still calls for Israel's destruction.
The only reason people think as he does is because of the one difference between Fatah and Hamas: Fatah is mainly secular and knows how to use PR to con people into believing what it says to Western media rather than what it says and does with its own people.
Hamas's religious fanaticism is refreshing for only one reason: Its people say clearly what they mean. Politics might force them to change, and then that difference will go away; but, for now, Hamas is good in that some people might actually really look at the Palestinians.
Sir, - Two important articles appeared side by side in your February 6 edition. The first proclaimed the government's intention of transferring NIS 250 million to the Palestinian Authority ("Gov't okays release of tax revenues"), while the second informed us "Top PA officials flee Gaza with millions of dollars."
The next day we were unabashedly told in your pages that because of the expected rise in violence, "Israel may totally close [its] Gaza border."
The above is evidence of the dangerously muddled thinking of our political leadership. Surely those millions of shekels could have gone to help so many of our own very deserving people who are very much in need.
Sir, - Why are our leaders giving our land away to a group of people who are blatantly out to destroy us? Why are we giving them money? Maybe it would be more expedient just to blow ourselves up?
Wake up call
Sir, - Congratulations to Uri Dan who seems finally to have come to his senses. Alas, had he written something like "Hamas saved Israel" (February 8) to his friend Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before disengagement, he could have saved many Jewish lives and much pain and anguish.
If only the prime minister could wake up and read Dan's article perhaps he would, at least, have some regrets.
Sir, - So the Kassam rockets continue to rain down upon Sderot and northwards towards strategic installations at Ashkelon.
Any normal, self-respecting nation would deem these attacks a blatant act of war and react accordingly. The best response our government can mount is the elimination of a few small-fry terrorists via expensive aerial attack (that only evinces Kofi Annan's concern), and the ploughing of empty fields by artillery shells ("IAF strike kills 2 Kassam planners," February 8).
If disengagement is the path of our uninspired leadership, then let's pursue that goal to its logical conclusion. It is time to disengage the population of Gaza from Israel in every respect: no more Palestinian workers crossing into Israel, the disconnection of the Israeli power grid from its Palestinian counterpart, and closing the flow of petroleum products to the PA.
In short, if Israelis in the western Negev cannot go about their daily lives, then neither should the residents of Gaza.
Sir, - I read that the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri, a publication few in the West have heard of, is planning to sponsor a contest for cartoons that denigrate the Holocaust to see how the West reacts ("Iran planning Holocaust cartoon contest," February 8). As if we would deign to notice such ridiculous doings.
If your readers can actually find a copy of Hamshahri, I would suggest they best use it for cleaning up minor spills around the house or to wrap up the garbage.
Sir, - This is an appeal to the Israeli people. Please start a "Buy from Denmark" campaign and appeal for worldwide support.
We need it!
Sir, - The violent reaction of Muslims, whose sensibilities were offended by cartoons in a faraway land, should serve to clarify why Israel is building a security barrier between its citizens and Muslim neighbors who declare their sensibilities offended by our very existence.
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