(photo credit: Courtesy)
August 31 UpFront: Bothered...
Sir, - I usually enjoy reading your weekly Arrivals and Veterans columns, which offer a chance to "meet" people like myself. However, one phrase in your August 17 column describing Arie RavÃ©'s reason for becoming a vegan bothered me: He "became a vegetarian when he was serving in the IDF and witnessed settlers mistreating the animals."
Your column, while presenting people of many different backgrounds, is usually relatively non-political. RavÃ© may be entitled to his "reason" for becoming a vegan, but I feel your writer could have chosen different words to convey it so as not to spread RavÃ©'s "blanket" blame over a population - "the settlers" - which includes over a quarter of a million people.
It would be fairer to write "allegedly" or "claimed that" when describing actions that may have been done by individuals belonging - perhaps - to a certain group, without casting aspersions on that group as a whole.
By the way, I know many settlers who are both animal lovers and vegans. How would Mr. RavÃ© handle this "dissonance," given his description of this segment of Israel's overall population?
Sir, - Arie RavÃ© states that he became a vegan and animal rights activist when he was serving in the IDF and "witnessed settlers mistreating the animals." I was amazed, and have several questions: Which settlers? Mistreating how? Which animals? Cows, goats, chickens, cats, dogs, pigeons?
I realize that the settlers are the bad guys of Israel - but this evil settler crime is one I have never heard of. My observations have led me to quite opposite conclusions.
It is also odd that Mr. RavÃ© managed to experience more than 30 years of life without noticing the horrendous crimes committed against animals all over the planet, covered daily in the media, and had to come to Samaria to find them.
Is it UpFront's policy to print every silly or outrageous remark interviewees make?
SHIRA TWERSKY CASSEL
Sir, - I found myself wondering, and strongly doubting, whether Arie RavÃ©'s sentence about becoming a vegetarian when he was serving in the IDF and "witnessed settlers mistreating the animals" would ever have seen publication had it read, instead, that he became vegetarian "when he was serving in the IDF and witnessed Palestinians mistreating the animals." It appears that under the currently accepted rules of political correctness, stereotypical and racist representation of groups is no longer considered as such when it comes to "the settlers."
A little perspective on a wonderful religion
Sir, - Kol hakavod to Debbie Koren for her enlightening "Standing up for Torah with worldly knowledge" (Letters, August 24); more so for rebuking Jonathan Rosenblum for writing "Feldman's bad faith" (August 10). Rosenblum's blinkered view of Jewish society represents all that which leads outsiders to wonder at the vagaries of thousands of non-productive Jews sitting on their backsides, studying day in and day out - and to what purpose?
Of course we need theological colleges to educate and produce graduates to meet our ecclesiastical needs, but surely an added incentive - and, I would consider, a most honorable mitzva for the majority of these students - would be to contribute to society via the normal, civilized practice of working for a living. I am positive that the added brainpower that could be generated by the gainful employment of the extremely religious would be of immense benefit to the Israeli economy, while ridding that community of its parasitical stigma.
Thank you, Ms. Koren, for putting the merits of our wonderful religion in true perspective.
Sir, - In light of Jonathan Rosenblum's critique of Noah Feldman's modern Orthodox education, I would be interested in his reaction to the following interviews: Dov Elboim in the April 2 issue of The Jerusalem Report and David Volach in Ha'aretz Magazine of August 24.
Elboim is a former student at the Hebron Yeshiva, and Volach a former student at the Ponevezh Yeshiva. Was there something inherent in the education they received in haredi yeshivot that made them rebel - and that caused Volach to say that he sees it as a "civic obligation" to drive through the streets of Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur?
Or is it simply the case that no matter what the educational structure is, haredi or modern Orthodox - or, for that matter, secular - the education offered does not fit everyone, and despite the best efforts of educators some students rebel or simply don't fit?
My guess is that Rosenblum, who sees his job as an apologist/polemicist for haredi Judaism no matter what, won't respond. But may I suggest that during Elul one needs to do some soul-searching before attempting to score cheap points on someone else's back, on an issue where we are all vulnerable.
Tragic for all
Sir, - The sickening, heart-rending destruction of the Gush Katif community, where homes, livelihood and life-style were uprooted, and the aftermath of despair and bureaucratic incompetence was tragic not only for the former occupants but, I believe, for all concerned ("Exile in Israel," August 10). It should be a wake-up call to all Jews regarding the way in which Israel is led and governed.
It allowed a delusional and tyrannical leader, using the excuse that he was their security blanket, to get the majority of a complacent and apathetic electorate to destroy its fellow citizens without question. The whole tragic saga only emphasizes the fact that Israel possesses a substandard political system, one devoid of a constitution and the necessary checks and balances that would stop such a travesty occurring.
Will history repeat itself? Does Israel require a succession of recycled or failed leaders who either have an ulterior motive, or, alternatively, have exceeded the level of their competence?
There is urgent need for reform of the political system. Such reform needs to include constituency representation; bringing individuals with ability into the political process; increasing the threshold for Knesset representation; and a constitution.
Equally important, we need a comprehensive education campaign aimed at protecting the democratic freedoms most of us take for granted, but which are denied to too many in the world.
Sir, - I read "Separation or resolution" by Naomi Chazan (August 10) with great interest, and got really excited when she wrote of transparency and inclusiveness, of "broad human security concerns," etc. Then it hit me. She was speaking about the Palestinians, and not the Swiss.
I give Ms. Chazan and other left-wingers in Israel great credit. They can ignore the factual experiences of the last 60 years and see the world the way they would like it to be, and not the way it actually is.
Well, here is my opinion: If Israel negotiates itself into a two-state solution at all costs it will mean a deluge of Katyusha rockets falling daily on Israel, from Haifa to Tel Aviv.
What will you give the Arabs then, Ms. Chazan?
Sir, - As a former Scot, I really enjoyed "One nation, under kilts" (August 24). The informative aspect of the article was roughly equal to the humorous one - not least the name given to these new male garments: man-skirts. (And there was no sign of the tired old question that seems to pop up with sad regularity in virtually every piece about kilts: "What are you wearing under your sporran?")