Guilty party Your editorial “Troubled water” (July 28) describes the unfortunate situation regarding our relationship with the more liberal elements of Judaism, which causes a dangerous rift that will, if not corrected, have a negative impact in our relationship overall with American Jews.
This concerns both the scandalous rule on mikvaot not being made available to these movements for conversions, as well as the delay in implementing the government decision to build a section at the Western Wall that will allow egalitarian prayer away from the main section of the Kotel so as not offend the haredim (in itself a surrender).
But blaming Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman is both unfair and unjust; he is merely doing his job, as ordered by his patrons, the Torah sages of United Torah Judaism. All blame should be placed on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, after the last elections, declared he’d form a coalition with his “natural partners.”
There is another option, and that is to call the haredi bluff.
There is little chance that Shas would bolt, and if UTJ does, Netanyahu should warn it that the goodies given the party when it joined the coalition would no longer be valid.
The prime minister could have shown strong leadership.
Instead, he caved. Therefore, he bears responsibility.
HENRY WEIL JerusalemContentious tracks
“The genius underlying the light rail on Emek Refaim” (Comment & Features, July 28) was written by Douglas Altabef, who lives in a completely different area. I do not read of people living in Jerusalem interfering with council policy in Rosh Pina, as I do not expect people living outside Israel telling Israelis what to do (although they do).
Not once have I heard anyone talk about the possibility of apartment prices being depressed as a reason not to have the rail line. The “ghost apartments” are there as investments and holiday homes, and most people who own them do come on aliya. Do not think that all these apartments are rented out (although many are); in all probability, the light rail would have very little effect on prices even if they were.
Further, why push the problem to Tel Aviv? Does Mr. Altabef dislike Tel Avivians more? We are living in a democratic country where people can spend their money how they want and on what they want.
Mr. Altabef, come live in the German Colony and then tell us what to do.
HERBERT KOPPEL Jerusalem
I am in agreement with the underlying point being made in “The genius underlying the light rail on Emek Refaim” when the writer says the outcry has been “shortsighted and predictable.”
However, the logic he uses to support the benefits of the new rail spur is spurious and muddled.
He proposes that such a development would solve Israel’s housing crisis by lowering real-estate prices along this highly desirable route, thereby forcing foreign owners of ghost apartments to sell. This kind of argument flies in the face of everything we know about the behavior of ordinary investors.
People are generally emotionally unprepared to take a loss – they will hold on in the belief that prices will recover. Israel’s Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman spells this out in detail in his brilliant book Thinking, Fast and Slow. In reality, the objections to the rail line are shortsighted for other reasons: They look at short-term loss and ignore long-term benefits (another tendency of amateur economists).
In my opinion, cleaning up the traffic problems of Emek Refaim will have enormous long-term benefits not just for residents and shoppers, but for the whole of Jerusalem. I strongly suggest that the nay-sayers be ignored.
HENRY KAYE Ashkelon
Douglas Altabef says that the genius of this project is that it will solve Jerusalem’s biggest problem: overpriced ghost apartments. But he does not seem to care about the many people living in this area who will be affected in a bad way, bringing down the value of homes already owned, not being able to move along a street that is already extremely narrow, and the businesses that will be shut down.
This project will also make it very difficult for older people, who enjoy being able to walk down the street.
You can’t punish many for the sake of a few.
SYLVIA WEISSMANN Jerusalem
Why would you print “The genius underlying the light rail on Emek Refaim” as an article rather than as the letter to the editor it really is? Douglas Altabef has no particular expertise and offers little more than an opinion – and in my view, one far less informed and thought out than others.
Altabef thinks that the light rail will solve the problem of ghost apartments and will “take the German Colony down a peg.” On the contrary, as inconvenient and destructive as the construction is likely to be, it is far more likely to result in a lovely, quieter, more pedestrian- friendly area of apartments that are even more valuable.
DANIEL CHERTOFF Jerusalem Next US president
Mike Evans is one of the most intelligent analysts of global jihad terrorism writing today (“America’s next president must declare a global ideological war,” Comment & Features, July 27).
It is indeed basically an ideological war, but for obvious reasons, the majority of those attracted to this ideology are Muslims (when combined with personal pathologies). Labeling these terrorists “infidels,” correctly defined by Evans as “one who does not believe in the central tenets of his own religion,” can be a powerful preventive measure only if so pronounced by Muslim religious authorities.
Can prominent Muslim clerics in the US and Europe be persuaded to do so?
SHUBERT SPERO Jerusalem
It is known that Hillary Clinton used an unsecured computer. I assume that there is at least one country or individual capable of hacking her. If she is elected president and anything incriminating is acquired, the one holding such information would have very significant leverage.
Mrs. Clinton would not want to be impeached or have a criminal trial waiting for her when her term in office ends. How far would this unscrupulous woman go to stay out of jail? America, beware!
TZVI MEIR Jerusalem Has his doubts
With regard to “Orthodox rabbi speaks out in support of parade” (July 22), I was astounded to read that Rabbi Donniel Hartman had “no doubt” that Jewish law would evolve to accept homosexuality.
For my part, I have no doubt that pigs will fly before Jewish law gives a stamp of approval to relationships forbidden in the Torah. It that were to happen, these swine would probably make a fine kosher meal, as there is no reason to assume that the evolution of Jewish law would not discard the Torah’s dietary laws as well.
Fortunately, I found a much more authentic and sensible approach to this issue on the very same page in “Arab Jerusalemites avoid LGBT parade,” where Maher Salem, a lawyer from east Jerusalem, is quoted as saying: “I am against this type of parade as our religion does not approve of homosexuality.”
Spoken like a true Orthodox rabbi!
KENNY FISHER Jerusalem
We enjoyed “Silence is golden in St. Martin” (Comment & Features, July 10) by Sarah Levin. It was interesting, and the photos were beautiful.
JAY and CHANAH STILLMAN Efrat