A double standard...
Sir, - One stands aghast at the inversion of all norms of life and civilization in a week when Ahmadinejad, leader of a government expicitly inciting to genocide, supporting genocidal terror, trampling the human rights of its citizens, and defying UN resolutions against its nuclear enrichment, can come to the Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen without being indicted and arrested for his crimes against humanity - and an arrest warrant is issued by Great Britain for Tzipi Livni, for the "crime" of being a leader in a government protecting itself against such genocidal terror ("Outraged Jerusalem says Livni arrest warrant threatens ties with UK," December 16).
Great Britian's ambasssdor to Israel should hang his head in shame.
ELIHU D. RICHTER
... of royal
Sir, - I applaud your article on the Queen not visiting Israel ("British historian blasts Queen for not visiting Holy Land," December 14). What a disservice to the British people, indeed. The State of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is a nation based on freedom, surrounded by despots, ignorance and dictatorships. One of the most important countries on earth... and the Queen of England has never visited it? Her Majesty has visited most of the Arab states, but not Israel. I wonder how many Brits are aware of this affront? I did not know, and I'm sure many Britons don't know.
RAYMOND MOFFAT HUGHES
British Columbia, Canada
Sir, - I wish I could have been there to hear Andrew Roberts's speech about Britain's unspoken ban on royal visits to Israel. I hope the Queen herself was sent a copy, and every British citizen in England and around the world. This is the pot calling the kettle black at its extreme.
'Normal life' for the Palestinians
Sir, - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's settlement freeze was questionable from the beginning.
Some 3,000 housing units in various stages of construction will be completed - whether currently merely a foundation or genuinely close to being finished. Construction continues unabated in east Jerusalem. Netanyahu has promised the freeze is a one-time deal ("Netanyahu: Settlement freeze is only temporary," December 2), and Israel will go back to building at the end of it - while the settlers keep building even now.
In addition, non-housing construction is exempted: Synagogues, schools, kindergartens and public buildings essential for "normal life" in the settlements will continue.
Throughout this decade alone, Israel denied more than 94% of building requests submitted by Palestinians. From 2000-2007, only 91 construction permits were granted to Palestinians, while 18,472 housing units were constructed in settlements. For every construction permit granted to a Palestinian, 18 other buildings were destroyed and 55 demolition orders were issued. And the Palestinian population grew 30% faster than Israel's.
What about "normal life" and "natural growth" for Palestinians?
What a farce this plays out during Hanukka, our Jewish celebration of freedom.
0Jews for animal rights
Sir, - As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I think the Israeli group Anonymous for Animal Rights deserves a kol hakavod for its efforts, which shine a spotlight on the inconsistencies between Jewish teachings on the proper treatment of animals, and current practices on factory farms ("Animal rights group to stage protest presentations against unnecessary cruelty in meat and egg industries," December 14).
In addition to these inconsistencies, the production and consumption of meat and other animal products arguably violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and pursue peace.
It is time that this issue be put on the Jewish agenda, especially since there is currently an epidemic of diseases strongly connected to animal-based diets, and animal-based agriculture is contributing significantly to global warming and many environmental problems that threaten Israel and, indeed, all of humanity.
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ, PH.D.
Staten Island, NY
Sir, - The Jerusalem Post's article "UK supermarkets to heed advisory on West Bank labeling" (December 12), about new British government guidelines advising retailers to use clearer labeling of goods and produce originating from the West Bank, misleads readers about Oxfam's fundamental beliefs.
Sources quoted in the article written by Jonny Paul strongly insinuate that Oxfam is in favor of "a wider boycott campaign" against Israel, and one states outright that the organization is "viciously anti-Israel."
Both of those claims are totally false - and deeply upsetting. We neither support a boycott of Israel nor are we anti-Israel. We have been working in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since the 1980s in partnership with both Israeli and Palestinian civil societies. We are in support of a durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on international law, in the interests of civilians on both sides. We have consistently called on both Palestinians and Israelis to refrain from violence, and we have underscored the urgent need for Palestinian reconciliation as a key element in securing a peaceful future.
As a global aid agency, however, we do strive to help poor people who are suffering as a result of natural disasters, climate change, conflict, injustice and poverty. Some of those people are Palestinian farmers who struggle to make a living under difficult circumstances with limited access to the resources they need. Part of our work is done in these West Bank communities. It is clear that settlements have led to the denial of rights and create poverty for many.
The world over, Oxfam believes in ethical consuming. We support the right of consumers to know the origin of the products they purchase so as to make an informed choice. We support an end to violence against civilians whether they be Israeli or Palestinian - or Darfuri, Congolese or Colombian, for that matter. We rally against policies that prevent people from pursuing productive lives. And we support a peaceful solution that will benefit all people of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory .
Executive director, Oxfam International
Jonny Paul writes: The article accurately quotes sources within respected Jewish community organizations that question Oxfam's agenda. In contesting the article, Oxfam will do nothing to persuade these organizations that their perceptions of Oxfam are inaccurate.
Sir, - I was cited in Matthew Wagner's article about a Conservative convert who was buried in a "special" section of Madrid's Jewish cemetery ("Amar sets precedent: Conservative convert must be buried outside Jewish section of cemetery," December 14). I would like to clarify:
1. I was not interviewed for this article.
2. The ruling attributed to me is taken out of context from a responsum I published in 1999.
3. In any case, it is irrelevant to the subject under discussion. Rabbi Amar seems to think that a Conservative convert is not halachicly Jewish. That is totally incorrect. I have shown in various articles and responsa that Conservative conversions are entirely in keeping with Jewish law.
RABBI DAVID GOLINKIN
President, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem
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