Driven to drink
Sir, – A potentially explosive cocktail was mixed in The
Jerusalem Post in recent days.
“Debunking the fascist label” (Editorial,
April 1) was the first ingredient, “Jewish nationalism, not democracy, holds top
place for Israel’s youth” (April 3) the second, and “Report: Israel faces
‘existential threat’ of becoming a religious state” (April 4) the
The word fascism is abhorrent to me, but is there another word to
describe adequately the plethora of laws that restrict actions considered an
intrinsic part of a democratic society? The existential threat stares us in the
face daily due to the inordinate political power of the haredi community. Those
who pander to their whims, economically and socially, are part of the problem.
The modern Orthodox – erudite religious Zionists – do nothing to mitigate the
damage that the God-fearing haredim are doing and seem blissfully unaware that
their Zionist dream may be going down the drain The worst thing of all is the
rise of nationalism among our young, a factor that did not exist before 1967,
when we were happy and proud just to live in our own state. Is this the result
of an education system that infers that Arabs living in our midst and in the
occupied territories have no rights, or that instills in them the idea that we
are better than everyone else? Or is it the present leadership, which instills
fear and insecurity, and the inference that human rights are for Jews only? The
Arabs surrounding us are no longer the problem. We are.
The media are
also culpable. An atmosphere exists that we are not honestly facing.
the mass of decent people with genuine values, are being dragged along in the
The cocktail is mixed. Who will be imbibing?
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Tel Aviv What threat?
Sir, – Regarding the University of Haifa report on the
“existential threat” of becoming a religious state, this is an old fallacy
designed and restructured to pit one section of the population against the
Religious Zionists have always been very much present in the
military and economic life of Israel. They are continuing to have children,
which will be even more of an asset. The haredi population has changed and will
continue to change.
Young haredi men are now serving in the army and are
in the work force.
What is needed now in Israel is an appreciation of the
population growth of the religious communities, and special efforts to enable
this sector to achieve the best in secular education that goes hand-in-hand with
Torah education. Israel then will continue to enjoy the enormous creative force
that lies in their intellectual capacity and love of Israel, and the rest of the
country will be imbued with some of their patriotism and creative and spiritual
Jerusalem Evil not an ailment
Sir, – “Eichmann’s
only regret: Not finishing the job” (April 4) is a fine and noteworthy historic
news alert, except for one slip of the keyboard – he didn’t have a “demented
When we discuss these kinds of villains, we need to stay clear
of calling them victims of craziness, retardation, stupidity or other brain or
The adjective always needs to express their blemish as
being unethical and extraordinary – words like immoral, evil, wicked,
malevolent, horrendous, hideous, disgusting.MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN
Jerusalem The magic gardener
Sir, – Regarding “Shalom Maagan, gardner of Kibbutz
Lavi and the passing of an era” by David E.Y. Sarna (Comment & Features,
April 3), the very first home that my wife and I had in Israel after six months
of ulpan in Afula was Kibbutz Lavi.
We arrived at the end of 1969 and
remained there for a year and a half.
My first impression was how lush
and green the kibbutz was and it was hard to believe that members spent years
clearing rocks so that Shalom Marcovich, as we knew him, could perform his
One of the compelling factors that helped us make the transition
from New York to Israel was the privilege of knowing people like Shalom and his
wife, Edith. After we left the kibbutz, we always made sure we stopped by to say
hello to Shalom and Edith whenever we visited.
David Sarna can truly be
proud of his grandfather and the example he set. Shalom will be sorely missed by
all the people whose life he touched – and considering the fact that thousands
of people passed through Kibbutz Lavi during his lifetime, that is no small
Shoham Here versus there
Sir, – Rabbi Yosef Blau (“The
struggle for the soul of religious Zionism,” Comment & Features, April 3)
painted an idyllic picture of modern Orthodoxy in the United States versus the
“messianic” Orthodox elements here. He decries what he perceives as contrasting
mentalities here yet states: “The multiplicity of views [in the US] on most
issues within the boundaries of Orthodoxy is a given.” Why does he deny us here
the right to a multiplicity of views? Blau is not too happy with the religious
youth in the settlements but finds so much good in Diaspora youth. Yet he
forgets that the former serve in the Israeli army and carry the holy burden of
historic responsibility while their peers there do not. They also live closer to
Itamar so that they, “the settler youth,” may see reality more clearly and
vividly than do Blau and his youth.
He chides the rabbis for “seeing
Western morality as conflicting with Torah morality.”
Come now, but of
course there are many points of conflict.
Does Blau believe that Western
morality is equal to or ascendant over Torah morality? He seems to credit the
American Jewish community with “profound growth of formal Jewish education for
Does Israel lag behind or has Israel been an innovator and a true
pioneer in the field of education for women? Every generation has its mitzvot
that cry out for fulfillment.
Yes, the mitzva of settling the land (and,
incidentally, living in it) is “paramount,” and the state was established
precisely for those reasons.
This is not Messianic. I call it being in
touch with the essence of Judaism in our time. Jewish history is being written
Sir, – At the end of his piece, Yosef Blau
states: “...but I realize that living in America reduces my influence.”
Immediately below this, the Post notes that he is both president of the
Religious Zionists of America and spiritual adviser at RIETS of Yeshiva
Blau is correct that his influence on public policy and
debate here in Israel is greatly reduced due to his current location. Imagine
for a moment were he to make aliya. Imagine the influence he would
Imagine all his students and the thousands of RZA members seeing
him board that plane for Israel. There would be no greater spiritual
message.ZE’EV M. SHANDALOV
Ma’aleh Adumim Tough, not clean
“Enough already!” is the right thing to say (“Lindenstrauss launches probe of
‘Bibitours,’” April 1). Who cares how much Prime Minister Netanyahu spent where,
on whom, for meals, cigars or whatever, over 10 years ago? Israel lives in a
We face an enemy that is clever and determined and
has no scruples. Our military officers and governmental officials have to be
tough – set the bar with excessive scrupulousness and who will serve? Given the
choice between an immaculate boy scout and a tough guy with spots, Israel had
better choose the latter.
MICHAEL W. GOLD
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