Sir, - If I hadn't lived here for over a decade I would have assumed that Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch's reprimand of Shas party leader Eli Yishai was a Purim joke ("Beinisch demands retraction from Yishai on ad accusations," March 13). According to the article, Beinisch rejected a segment of a Shas radio commercial in which Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef extends a blessing (Mi Sheberach) to anyone who votes for Shas, and Yishai took exception to the decision publicly.
Section 122 (6) of the Knesset Election Law "prohibits receiving the promise of a blessing in return for one's vote." Now, a Mi Sheberach is a blessing and a wish for good fortune, but certainly no promise. On the other hand parties are perfectly allowed to promise peace, security, prosperity, justice for all and other things that we all know none will ever be able to deliver.
Perhaps that's the reason blessings are forbidden: They may actually be delivered.
MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN
Sir, - Has anyone given thought to the welfare of the yet-to-be-conceived child which the Prison Service has agreed to let Yigal Amir father by artificial insemination? How would this baby feel growing up, knowing that his father was serving a life sentence in solitary confinement for the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin? Can anyone imagine the trauma this child would experience?
The anti-abortion people are quick to claim the rights of the unborn, why not the not-yet-conceived? Surely it would be better not to create such a child in the first place ("Yigal Amir permitted to father child from afar," March 8).
Sir, - I just can't keep quiet about this one. The headline in the Post "Yigal Amir rapped for sperm smuggling" (March 13) was just too, er, juicy, to resist. If you call the police when your house is burglarized, they'll interrogate you, as if you committed the crime. And forget it if your car is stolen like mine was; the officer to whom I reported it told me it was an "atonement."
But relish the absolute irony: Right under the "nose" of our criminal justice system, convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti conducted an electoral campaign from his prison cell, and convicted murderer Yigal Amir was caught, er, red-handed, attempting to smuggle his personal issue to his "virtual" wife. We got him!
It's all a Purim shtick, right?
Sir, - Just over 2000 years ago, a Persian leader held a party. Those Jews who attended were seen to be abandoning their people and indeed their faith. The same Persian leader then made public declarations that he wished to see the Jewish people destroyed.
More recently, a Persian leader has made clear his similar intentions toward the Jewish people, yet the Neturei Karta ran to his side in support ("Neturei Karta pays solidarity visit to Iran," March 9). The irony is certainly not lost on me.
Sir, - The recent publicity stunt by the Neturei Karta in visiting Iran has helped in the group's long-term goal of ending the "Zionist experiment." Despite being politically impotent, numerically insignificant and culturally obscure, they were able to distract large numbers of citizens from one of the most important elections in our history, which will be held in just a few weeks.
We will be casting ballots that will determine the future of our state. These decisions will not be made by Neturei Karta. Nor for that matter, will they be made by Hamas, Iran, quartets, or even President Bush. Any distraction from the seriousness of this plebiscite is at best a disservice and at worst a danger to our country. This is true whether the trivialization results from Neturei Karta antics or our nightly political entertainment hours produced by high-paid professional advertisers.
None of the jingles or exhortations or smoothly edited programs has even mentioned the issues that are important to me. I'm actually leaning toward Boaz's boyfriend. His prayers sound so sincere. Is he on the Meretz list?
Hamas is Iran
Sir, - A rational analysis of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's interview with the Post should leave one shocked ("'Within four years, we will separate from the majority of the Palestinian population,'" March 10). His attitude borders on unprecedented arrogance. His position is that we will force a solution on the Palestinians and the Arab world and then we will not need to negotiate any further. However, we who will pay the price for this policy cannot vote for such hutzpa. We know how our enemies will relate to our unilateral declaration of borders. In the business world when you make a unilateral move without a corresponding concession, such as Olmert suggests, you are quickly perceived as weak and competitors exploit that weakness.
Hamas is Iran. We cannot continue to provide rewards to Hamas or we will find ourselves facing Katyushas or worse in central Israel. Who would have thought Hamas could freely hurl missiles into Sderot and Ashkelon?
Back to '47
Sir, - The policies articulated by Kadima should make us all very nervous about the future of this country. The Post quoted Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra as saying the "IDF will remain after West Bank pullout" (March 13).
The terror from Gaza gets worse and worse while the army has admitted that, short of a ground operation there, it really can do nothing about it. In the case of a withdrawal of citizens from Judea and Samaria the IDF would remain as sitting ducks.
Kadima's slogan for the future seems to be: Retreat to the borders of '47.
Sir, - There is much head-scratching going on around the world as to how to alleviate the suffering of the poor Palestinians ("Disunity among donors on how to fund a Hamas-dominated PA," March 10). Before one more dollar, euro or shekel in so-called humanitarian aid is transferred to the PA, donor nations must demand a stop to the tens of millions of dollars that are paid annually to Suha Arafat. It is outrageous that the hardworking citizens of the US and Europe, as well as terror-targeted Israelis, be expected to bankroll Yasser Arafat's widow in the style to which she has become accustomed. Money is fungible and she is ultimately, therefore, one of the unworthy recipients of our funds.
Closer to home
Sir, - British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, speaking on behalf of "Her Majesty's government," includes Israel among four Middle East countries that have "posed a nuclear threat" to the region. I know of two European nations that, following Straw's logic, could, by dint of having such weapons, pose such a threat to Europe. One is that of Her Majesty. Straw should be in a position to deal with that problem before tackling more distant ones.
ABRAHAM D. COHEN
Sir, - Further to Jack Straw's designs on a nuclear-free Middle East, does his vision include the visiting naval fleets which have nuclear bombs in their arsenals?
Leaving the door open
Sir, - While nearly 400 rabbis from across the United States and the denominational spectrum did send a letter to President Bush last week calling on him to "preserve the future possibility of bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table," by constructively engaging Palestinian moderates and maintaining humanitarian aid, the letter did not address legislation pending in the US Congress as reported ("Splitting hairs or hair-raising splits?" March 9).
As your report said, these rabbis stand with Israel's leadership in wanting the US government to remain resolute in the face of those who deny Israel's right to exist, while also leaving the door open to resumption of negotiations in the future by preventing "a humanitarian crisis and total collapse of the PA." Poll after poll demonstrates that a sizable majority of American and Israeli Jews, as well as Palestinians, want to see their leaders achieve a negotiated, two-state solution. Let's not tie their hands as they continue the search for peace and security, for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
RABBI JOHN S. FRIEDMAN
Brit Tzedek V'Shalom
Durham, North Carolina
A step ahead
Sir, - I have a modest proposal to solve twin dilemmas facing the Conservative movement. It is a solution which will solve the debate in the movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards over sanctioning gay ordination, as well as the movement's declining membership. Simply hire a reliable polling organization and decide on gay ordination according to results of a survey: Whatever is currently popular will receive halachic sanction.
While Conservative Judaism is lagging behind Reform Judaism on the homosexual issue, it could take the lead on other issues. Since adultery is also very "in," why not amend the Ten Commandments to ban only certain instances of adultery? This would increase the movement's popularity and put it a step ahead of its Reform competitors, and probably even a step ahead of God ("Jewish Theological Seminary students struggle with movement's delay on gay rabbis, marriage," March 12).
Dream come true
Sir, - I fail to understand why Sharon Stone's visit to Israel was her dream trip. There was nothing stopping her from coming whenever she wanted over the past dozens of years; certainly, one would presume, not a lack of funds ("Sharon Stone makes 'dream' trip here for peace," March 9).