(photo credit: REUTERS)
Sir, – With regard to EU slams Israel over PA tax freeze” (January 7), to avoid any external accusations, Israel should on a regular basis deduct from the monies it collects for the Palestinian Authority not only to repay all outstanding bills, but to cover the building of shelters, the reinforcement of schools and synagogues, and the extra security needed to protect citizens from Palestinian terror.
It is hard to imagine that anyone could protest these actions as opposed to a freeze – which is usually reversed after much international pressure. But then again, we live in an upsidedown world.
VEL WERBLOWSKY Jerusalem
Lots in denial
Sir, – When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “mocked Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua head Tzipi Livni” by asking “Can they stand up to Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran?” (“Netanyahu unveils plan for two-party political system,” January 6), he was unwittingly asking a fateful question about the future of the State of Israel.
Israel is surrounded by Arab nations dedicated to wiping it out. Iran is on the verge of being actively nuclear. Hezbollah has tens of thousands of accurate, advanced missiles that can reach all of Israel. The list goes on. We live under a threat of annihilation.
Denial is a psychological defense mechanism in which what is consciously intolerable is unconsciously rejected by a protective mechanism of non-awareness. Reality is regarded as non-existent or is transformed so that it no longer is unpleasant or painful.
I contend that half of Israel’s citizens unknowingly live in a pathological state of denial. Blatant denial is displayed by thinking that a lasting, secure peace can be negotiated with the Arabs by any less than withdrawing from the entire Middle East.
Elections are around the corner. Anyone who regards social and economic issues as being of the essence when choosing our next government is suffering from blatant denial.
Israel’s future can be ensured only by a government dedicated to military security and reality orientation in the Middle East, no matter how unpleasant and painful it might be to give secondary importance to social and economic issues.
YEHUDA OPPENHEIM JerusalemThe writer is a psychiatrist.
Sir, – With regard to “Tolerating the intolerable: State revocation of religious conversions” (Comment & Features, December 31), I am amazed at the temerity of our religious authorities to revoke conversions granted by one of their colleagues – and even more amazed by the Supreme Court backing for the decision.
The Talmud (Yebamot 46a-b), the Rambam, the Shulhan Aruch (Yore De’ah 268:12) and others are in full agreement that a convert “who relapsed and returned to idol worship is to be considered like a wayward Israeli” (Yore, ibid).
In our country’s religious climate, where converts see fully accepted and highly respected Israelis drive on Shabbat, not praying three times daily, not adhering to minor fasts and similar behavior, it must be expected that a number will become like them – average, normal Israelis – and not tzadikim (righteous people) of the highest order as far as religious ritual observance is concerned.
To expect more is unrealistic and unjust, and drives thinking people away from religion. That’s a pity.
As a former superintendent of the Institute of Jewish Studies, Israel’s main official artery leading to conversions of new immigrants, and one who has met thousands of converts and hundreds of their teachers, I can attest to the fact that the vast majority of the converts consider themselves loyal sons and daughters of the people of Israel.
Thank God for that! Our country needs them.
ERVIN BIRNBAUM Netanya The writer, a rabbi, is founder and director of the Russian outreach program Shearim Netanya.