letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - The police adopt harsh measures against illegals' children and hound Filipino workers. But they fail to deport foreign nationals who come here with the purpose of fomenting violence ("Hundreds attend protest of Sheikh Jarrah evictions," August 11).
In most cases the police know their names and addresses. It's time the minister of the interior took decisive action and the Knesset showed it was prepared to defend our national interest as would any other sovereign government.
Sir, - Your item about a sex-crazed husband who was finally compelled to divorce his wife after eight years reminds us of the gross inequality in Torah marriage law ("Sex-crazed husband, jailed by rabbinate, gives 'get' after 8 years," August 11).
The commentator Rashi says about the verse in Genesis, chapter one, which refers to the husband "conquering" his wife, that from this we learn that the male dominates the female so she should not be promiscuous. In this case, the husband was uncontrollably randy, but the wife has no equal rights here.
Those who want a state run according to Jewish law (Halacha) should think about this. Either the law of marriage and divorce has to be amended, or the idea of a halachic state has to be given up.
Sir, - Do we really have to read - on page 1 - how many times a day this man demanded sex with his wife, how many days a year, on which holidays, when she was menstruating, etc.? Young children read the paper, and a small article without all this information inside the newspaper would have done.
Fully trousered in the PR war
Sir, - There is a dire need to revise our entire approach to PR, in the realization that the information war is as vital as the military war.
The Foreign Ministry's intention to create a team that will go over the Goldstone report when it is received with a "fine-tooth comb" to respond to its charges is sadly typical of the reactive approach that has failed us so badly over the years ("Israel prepares for Goldstone report," July 27).
By the time we react, the report will have been widely read and ingrained into perceptions as factual. Nobody will show any interest in our explanations offered weeks or months later. It was Winston Churchill who said: "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
We should act proactively. The team should already be closely studying the testimonies given to the mission in Gaza and Geneva (available on the Internet), preparing our counter-arguments and publicizing them widely so that credible, positive factors about Israel's actions are absorbed into public consciousness in advance of the official report.
We need to follow up on Judge Goldstone's statement that several potential witnesses withdrew for fear of retribution and emphasize that witnesses were evidently too afraid to testify to the storage of weapons in mosques and schools, and the boobytrapping of houses. Use should be made of testimony that supports Israel's position: For example, Prof. Newton made it absolutely clear that white phosphorous is a legal weapon even in urban areas. He contradicted claims that it is a chemical or incendiary weapon, and emphasized an equally binding legal obligation on non-state actors like Hamas to avoid firing on civilians and mingling civilians with combatants.
We must express disappointment that the mission paid no attention to the incitement that led to the rocket firing, and that continues to this day. Had there been no incitement, there would have been no rockets and no Cast Lead operation.
10 to one
Sir, - Re Leonard Zurakov's "...or wake up" (Letter, August 10): As important as it is for Israel to have good relations with the US, so is it important for the US to have good relations with Israel. Forty years ago, in an address to the American Jewish Congress by an American senior naval intelligence officer, we were told that the information in many matters that the US recieves from Israel is worth 10 aircraft carriers.
Fact and fantasy
Sir, - Re the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, Jeff Barak claims it is difficult to think of Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman being evicted from his formerly Arab-owned home in Talbiyeh in favor of the original owner's descendants ("The decline of east Jerusalem's stature," August 10).
This statement staggers the imagination. Israel has de-facto sovereignty in east Jerusalem. Were the Palestinians to enjoy the same in Talbiyeh, Mr. Neeman's very survival would be the thing difficult to imagine.
Mr. Barak hangs his own values on an unlikely hook. Realism is generally more prudent than fantasy.
Rabbis in the Yishuv
Sir, - Re "War of the sages against the prophets" (UpFront, July 31): I will not address Michael Netzer's polemic against our sages - but I must point out the generalizations he makes about the Orthodox rabbis of Europe and the libelous statements to the effect that they were opposed to returning to our homeland.
While it is true that some rabbis were against going to Eretz Yisrael, it must be pointed out that the old Yishuv, which existed for centuries before the reestablishment of the general Jewish settlement, was made up primarily of great rabbis, their students and their communities.
In the early 19th century, the Vilna Gaon sent all his students to settle in Erez Yisrael.
My own grandfather, Yehuda Leib Katz, made aliya in 1867 because his rabbi in Hungary said Erez Yisrael was the only place for a Jew to live. He helped found Petah Tikva and other places in Israel. When, in the late 1800s, the secular Zionists' aliya began, religious settlements such as Mazkeret Batya, Rehovot and Rishon Lezion already existed.
Unfortunately, Israeli history as taught today stresses only the secular Zionist movement and refuses to give credit to the religious Jews who withstood many hardships in these early years and played an important role in paving the way to reestablishing the Jewish state.
Sir, - Michael Netzer put forth the absurdly shallow argument that the prophets (chiefly Isaiah) denigrated ritual observance in favor of spiritual conduct. The prophets could hardly be advocating the downgrading of formal ritual behavior since the Torah itself emphasizes the importance of the sacrificial services, issues of purity and impurity, holiday observances, etc.
From the selected passages Netzer quotes, it is clear that the prophet's criticism is aimed only at the hypocrisy of individuals who ostensibly observe the ritual commandments while simultaneously behaving immorally. In such cases, the ritual is emptied of all meaning and becomes an abomination.
It is clear that the myriad halachic ordinances instituted by the sages were meant to serve as a vehicle to train, elevate and refine the spiritual dimension of man. This is in contrast to Christianity, the religion of "love," more or less bereft of any halachic-style system of jurisprudence, in which such horrors as the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and, ultimately, Holocaust could freely develop.
Michael Netzer responds:
Ms. Gross: There's a difference between leaders who made aliya with their communities and leaders who nourished a movement which prepared the homeland so that all Jews, religious and secular, could make aliya and rebuild the national home.
Mr. Karlin: When ceremonial worship supercedes "walking humbly in His ways," the prophets were explicit about ritual observance being expendable while spiritually moral conduct is not. The living proof: We no longer have the Temple for sacrifices, but will always have the opportunity to become a more just and righteous people.