letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - If German Chancellor Angela Merkel turns out to be the first senior EU leader to successfully get the message across that the Palestinians must take responsibility for themselves, stop blaming everyone else for their plight and stop expecting European and other handouts, then she will have richly deserved her honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University. It can only be a positive sign that "Palestinians [are] 'offended' by pro-Israel Merkel" (April 4).
Sir, - Your headline and report made my day. Angela Merkel continues the excellent record that Germany has for supporting Israel and combating neo-Nazism at home.
Just one thing: I want to correct the PA official who claimed that "She's trying to be more Israeli than the Israelis." It should have been "more Israeli than the Israeli leaders."
M.M. VAN THIJN
Prophets in our land
Sir, - "Blind Arrogance" (Editorial, March 29) was more about the politicians we have today than about any one person. What has happened to all our true statesmen - Moshe Ahrens, Uzi Landau, Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and a host of others, male and female, who could and should be helping to save this country? Where are they?
We know that "no man is a prophet in his own land." However, we desperately need these people to save us from ourselves and return us to the ideals upon which Israel was founded.
Make up your own minds
Sir, - Re "US Orthodox, Reform at odds over Iraq" (April 2): The debate over US policy in Iraq is a political, not a religious one. Individuals should form their own views about Iraq and other divisive matters without being told by their rabbis - regardless of whether those rabbis are Orthodox or Reform - what their opinion should be.
This Orthodox Jew believes that President Bush's efforts, while well-intentioned, have completely and irreparably failed, that there is no longer any purpose in maintaining an occupation force that stands in the middle of a brutal civil war, and that it is therefore immoral to continue to send soldiers to die and be maimed.
I do not purport to base my position on Halacha or on "Jewish values," and nor should the Agudath Israel organization, or the Reform movement.
Kitniyot relief is at hand
Sir, - Chananel Rosen is apparently not aware that there actually is relief for that strict vegan's culinary stress, and for anyone else in Eretz Yisrael who would like to eat kitniyot on Pessah ("A kitniyot conundrum," Pessah magazine, April 2).
As you mentioned briefly in "Is Marijuana kosher for Pessah?" (March 27), the Beit Din of Machon Shilo in Jerusalem has issued a ruling allowing all Jews (in Eretz Yisrael) to eat kitniyot. The ruling has generated a lot of interest - as well as considerable controversy - since it was released over a week ago; over 200,000 people have visited our Web site since then.
To view the complete ruling, see machonshilo.com
Sir, - I heard the cries of victory from the professional feminists when Haim Ramon was convicted of an indecent act, but I feel justice has not been done.
When a women flirts with a man and gives him her address, he will respond in some way to these signals. Having sent them, she has no right to cry foul when the response is not exactly what she expected.
While I do not condone what Ramon did as he was so much older than that silly little female, he was not the only one who should have been punished. Girls too have to learn that there are boundaries which should not be crossed because it is dangerous. Placing men in a position where they are the only ones who bear the blame for a woman's promiscuous behavior is unfair and ridiculous ("Boim could clear spot for Ramon," April 1).
Sir, - A kiss is uptown shopping for downtown business. That's what's important.
Sir, - Your March 30 photo of Ramon was captioned: "Haim Ramon's crime did not involve moral turpitude, the judges said."
Moral turpitude is not the issue here. This man was caught in a spectacular failure of judgment. Even if it was only momentary - an adult with the judgment of a wayward teenage boy should never be appointed to a position of power. Certainly not in Israel, where there are serious, palpable threats to the country.
Ramon's next momentary failure of judgment could cost us our lives.
Too similar for words
Sir, - Re: "I am not a plagiarist" by Naomi Ragen (March 22): In 1994, a reader told me that scenes from Chapters 4 and 5 of my autobiographical book Growing With My Children: A Jewish Mother's Diary (1990), had appeared - with considerable wording intact - in Chapter 13 of the novel Sotah by Naomi Ragen (1992). I didn't feel concerned, especially since shortly after my book's publication, Ms. Ragen had invited me to her home and had warmly encouraged me to continue writing. Only when a second reader made the same comment did I look into it.
What I saw shocked me. Some lines had been reproduced exactly, others obviously modified to disguise the similarity. Above all, I was pained that significant events in my personal life were misused and distorted for purposes I found repugnant.
In a phone call, Ms. Ragen completely denied everything. Upon my insistence that the similarities were too blatant to deny, she finally admitted having been "inspired" by my story, but said I should be happy because my audience was very small, whereas she had an international following. Ultimately, she agreed to either delete those passages or acknowledge my book in future editions.
I chose deletion, and informed her publisher. However, Ms. Ragen now maintained that any similarities were due to the fact that Judaism is a compendium of ideas passed down through the generations.
For three or four years on erev Yom Kippur, I sent a one-line message to Ms. Ragen saying I had not forgiven her. She never replied. Apparently this was something she could live with.
Michal Tal's recent lawsuit prompted me to contact her attorney, Gilad Corinaldi. I had never read Sotah in its entirety, and at first couldn't believe it when his staff recognized a second episode of my book (Chapter 15) in Ms. Ragen's novel (Chapter 40).
As it is written in Psalms 85:12, "Truth comes out of the ground."
Sir, - Happy Pessah, and a happy Easter to you, from Hamburg to Jerusalem.