Letters to the Editor: PA is no ally

Human rights is a fine idea as long as the idea includes all of us.

December 7, 2016 21:15

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

PA is no ally

It beggars belief that The Jerusalem Post would assert in a news article that the Palestinian Authority is one of “two key allies of the Jewish state” – and this in a Page 1 report under the byline of the paper’s editor-inchief (“Republican senator pushes aggressive bill to suspend aid to PA, Egypt,” December 6).

No less egregious is the insinuation of a rift between Israel and US Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, one of our country’s most ardent friends in Congress. The article – one hopes unwittingly – conflates Graham’s laudable pursuit of legislation to reduce funding from the PA budget that pays stipends to terrorists with Israel’s interest in maintaining the Palestinians’ financial stability.


Perplexing issue

With regard to “Jewish, Muslim MKs call to push ‘muezzin bill’” (December 6), the issue is perplexing to me.

I arrived in Israel for the first time in July 1967. I distinctly recall that the Jerusalem muezzin calls were quite muted and limited to the immediate adjacent area as far as the decibels were concerned. Over the years, especially in the past decade, the volume has multiplied many times over.

It is abundantly clear that this increase is politically, not religiously, motivated as a deliberate nuisance to Jews and Christians within range.

As far as I can tell from the Muslim Hadith, since the onset of Islam until Thomas Edison, the call to prayer was done by someone climbing to the minaret top and shouting at the top of his lungs. Therefore, massive amplification cannot be an Islamic requirement.

The proposed law has no objection whatsoever to continuing the original procedure, so no one should be intimidated by a law that returns Islamic practice to its classical origins and permits neighbors of all faiths to enjoy a good night’s sleep.


Religious rights

This might be the first and only time I agree with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (“There is no freedom of religion for Jews in Israel, says Lapid,” December 6).

Lapid is at least partially right, for there is also no freedom of religion for religious Jews who want to pray on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the Jewish religion: Religious Jews who want to go and pray there are forbidden from doing so. For example, a young man who wants to fulfill the ancient custom of praying there before his wedding can be harassed, pushed around and maybe even jailed for the “offense” of just moving his lips! Religious Jews also go to the Western Wall for bar mitzva ceremonies – which we would like to be able to celebrate with joy and without undo commotion – and I suspect that Lapid is trying to pander to the “human rights” of a certain segment of the American Jewish community.

Well, human rights is a fine idea as long as the idea includes all of us.

Are some Jews less than human? Again, in my lifetime?

Petah Tikva

Missing the point

For all the praise that Elliot Cosgrove heaps upon Chabad and its achievements (“Lost sparks,” Comment & Features, December 6), there is one overriding principle that he is, to say the least, uncomfortable about.

Chabad may “have their windows closed” to all of the modern, pluralistic innovations of Conservative and Reform Judaism, but that is something it has never covered up. I learned early in my rabbinic carer that with all the Chabad outreach, there comes one underlying, immutable principle: There is only one Torah from Sinai, and it can never be debated.

I was invited to join a dialogue at the local Reform temple publicized as “The Jewish Community Faces the 1970s,” in which I, the Orthodox rabbi, would participate together with a Conservative rabbi and our host, the Reform rabbi. I reached out to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein for a ruling – can I accept the invitation or not. He was not readily available at the time, and therefore I contacted a dear Chabad friend, knowing that Chabad does participate in programs at Conservative and Reform temples.

I soon received an answer from a Chabad outreach professional, a man who spoke to the Rebbe daily. His answer to me, in the presence of the Rebbe, was: “Go! As long as Torah will never be debated. There is only one Torah.”

If the Rebbe stated this immutable principle, agree or not, it would be the guiding principle of this unusual dialogue for our community. For this reason, Rabbi Cosgrove missed the point.

The principle of Chabad’s outreach is and always has been that there is only one Torah.

Accordingly, patrilineal descent is a non-existent principle.

Mixed seating at services is beyond the pale. Shabbat and holiday observance cannot accept a policy of driving to services.

And there is only one acceptable conversion to Judaism – according to Halacha.

Yet this does not prevent its stellar outreach, even standing in airports and on the corners of streets in major cities, seeking to cajole Jews to express their inner feelings of “the pintele yid” to put on tefillin and recite the Shema. And more.

At a recent meeting of the Jewish Agency, a Conservative rabbi wondered how Chabad had grown so rapidly while the Conservative movement was experiencing a sad shrinking of its ranks. A distinguished Chabad emissary from Yorba Linda, California, responded by saying that Chabad emissaries, both husbands and wives, agree to be on call 24/7 for all (halachic) Jews and to open their home to all in need, and for an annual salary of no more than $35,000.

In this way, Conservative clergy would also succeed.


The writer is president of the Council of Young Israel Rabbis.

Frustrated man

With regard to “Kerry: Settlements steering Israel ‘to a place of danger’” (December 5), US Secretary of State John Kerry is a frustrated man – he can’t make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He is not sure whether the settlements are the problem because he has no proof whatsoever that they are built on Palestinian land.

What he does not mention is that the Palestinians are adamant in not recognizing Israel.

In fact, they have openly said the land should be completely free of Jews. He should also openly state at the United Nations that the multiple resolutions there that attack Israel more than any other country are not helping the Palestinians in any way.

I hope Mr. Kerry will one day realize that the settlements have nothing to do with making peace; it is the absolute refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel.


Can’t understand

I cannot understand the uproar or the legal hand-wringing over the possible annexation of land in Judea and Samaria.

I remember when I was living in England and the front part of our garden was annexed by the state – they called it “appropriation” – for the purpose of widening the road. We were not consulted. We were not offered land as compensation (although there was land available behind the property). Nor did we receive any financial compensation.

Arab landowners, if they exist, may not have been consulted in the case of the Amona outpost, but they are being offered financial compensation or alternative land.


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