Sauce for the gander
Sir, - Instead of running around like proverbial chickens with their heads chopped off, bemoaning the actions of the UK in allowing an arrest warrant to be issued for Tzipi Livni ("Outraged Jerusalem says Livni arrest warrant threatens ties with UK," December 16), why are the Jews of Britain not taking some solid action? After all, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If a court will issue a warrant against her, the same rules can be applied against any number of other foreign leaders who have been involved in recent wars.
I'm sure that the British government's lack of action in the case of Livni will be rapidly eclipsed by the galvanization of its back bench once they realize that more than one set of players can play the same game and the warrants pile up.
No warrior, but going the right direction
Sir, - Binyamin Netanyahu has taken an important, clearly defined step toward a solution in which both sides make compromises ("Rattling the Cage: How not to be a 'warrior for peace,'" December 17). The limited construction freeze gives the Palestinians an opportunity to take their long-awaited step toward peace. Netanyahu's move was not a grandiose gesture, but it was a concrete move in the right direction. One step, one promise kept, one small advance might finally end in a showing of real progress.
The article mentions Oslo as an example of... what, exactly? We are still suffering the effects of that one, just as we are still suffering the effects of Ariel Sharon's poorly thought-out decisions. The "peacemakers" Yitzhak Rabin, Sharon, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert didn't create any peace with their gestures and offers to the Palestinians.
On the other hand, in our successful peace with Egypt, Menachem Begin made the wise decision, painful though it was, to return the Sinai territory because such far-flung borders were impractical for us. Both sides had something to gain there. And that's the only way to make peace in real life.
Mr. Derfner ends his piece by advising us not to expect peace to be made by this prime minister from the Right. I seem to remember that the settler movement was put in place by a prime minister from the Left.
Cause and effect
Sir, - The report on child allowances seems to show that the researchers have fallen for the sophomoric error of mistaking correlations for cause and effect ("Child allowances strengthen Arab, haredi birthrates," December 17). As an undergrad, my first statistics assignment was to read How to Lie With Statistics. In it, the author points out that Brooklyn, New York, had the highest per capita number of churches and bars, trying to show cause and effect.
Family sociologists know that people have babies because of values - not because you give them money. The research findings in this study prove it: Secular families remain uninfluenced by changing child allowances.
The researchers' chronological findings have probably tapped into long-term changes taking place in both haredi and especially Arab family values in Israel.
PROF. HAYIM GRANOT
NBN is just 'far better'
Sir, - The two articles regarding Nefesh B'nefesh and the Jewish Agency really made my blood boil (Jewish Agency director-general: 'Nefesh B'Nefesh delegitimizing aliya from outside US'" and "What American aliya?", December 16). Having made aliya from the US in December 2006, I can unequivocally state that had it not been for Nefesh B'Nefesh, and Nefesh B'Nefesh alone, our aliya process would have been the nightmare that my friends went through before NBN came into existence.
The Jewish Agency's Moshe Vigdor "praised Nefesh for being 'far better than us at marketing.'" Let me tell you from personal experience: NBN is "far better than us" at everything pertaining to aliya. How many pre-aliya meetings did the Jewish Agency set up for me to discuss job placement, kitchen appliances, what to expect upon landing or just simply life in Israel in general? After we made aliya, how many times did the Jewish Agency call me to see how things were doing? Not even once. To this day, I still get calls from the NBN office to see how our aliya is proceeding.
CHERYL WADLER MESKIN
Outside the camp
Sir, - Rabbi Shlomo Amar's regrettable halachic decision regarding the burial of a conservative Jewish convert outside the borders of the Jewish cemetery in Madrid brings darkness to our Hanukka celebrations. How can a rabbi be so callous? There are rabbis and scholars who have taught us (Gittin 61a) that in the name of peace, we may even bury gentiles next to Jews. In addition, we have been taught (Brachot 43b) that one should enter a fiery furnace rather then embarrass another person. How humiliating it must have been for the Ben-David family, having been denied the elementary right to bury their son in the Jewish cemetery.
It's a sad day when the chief rabbi of Israel is insensitive to a Jewish family and disenfranchises them, placing them literally outside of the camp both in life and death.
RABBI BARRY SCHLESINGER
President of the Israeli
A halachic state
Sir, - How can Nahum Rakover say that it would be possible to run a modern state in accordance with Halacha when he admits that Halacha allows for women and non-Jews to be treated as second-class citizens ("Who's afraid of a halachic state?," December 11)? For instance, Rakover states that if witness are disqualified from testifying according to Jewish law (because they are women or non-Jews), "the two sides can agree to admit their testimony." That means that one side can object to their testimony on whatever grounds they like!
A modern and fair legal system would not allow the possibility of eliminating a witness's testimony on the basis of gender, race or nationality. That is called racism and sexism. Rakover also states several times that capital punishment is forbidden today in Jewish law. That doesn't mean Halacha wouldn't make violating Shabbat a crime subject to a severe punishment.
I think it speaks volumes that Rakover refused to answer questions about the appointment of women as judges in courts that rule exclusively in accordance with Halacha. As long as women are prohibited from such positions, women will never be able to participate fully or equally in society. All the laws impacting their lives will be decided, interpreted and imposed on them by men. That does not make for a fair or democratic country.
Fly while you can
Sir, - In light of South Africa's growing animosity toward Israel and the Jewish people in general ("Row with South Africa over diplomatic passports for security guards may end El Al flights to Jo'burg," December 16), my advice to South African Jewry is: Take El Al flights while you still can!
DR. LILY POLLIACK
Sir, - In the last few days, I read of Hamas's reaction to a Miss Palestine contest ("Hamas raps Miss Palestine contest," December 13), wondered whether they would be less inclined to rap if they were exposed to the calming effects of Mozart ("Mozart music may help preemies gain weight, TA researchers find," December 14), was intrigued by joint Israeli-Saudi research ("Computer 'bot' problem sees TA University and Saudi researchers collaborating," December 14), and was concerned about our reputation of having more lawyers per capita than any other country in the world ("'Time to raise the bar on lawyers,'" December 15).
These, and many other articles, make me pleased I get The Jerusalem Post every day.