No intrigues, please
Sir, – Shalom Hammer wrote an intriguing column (“Next
election: Israel’s chief rabbi,” Comment & Features, February 11). He
discussed how important it is to make the Chief Rabbinate relevant to the
ever-growing religious population.
The haredi population barely accepts
the Chief Rabbinate, whose purpose is to bridge the gap in knowledge among the
various Israeli sectors, to command the respect of all to carry on their Jewish
identity and practice, to give religious values in the best sense to the State
of Israel, and to deal with other faiths to try to make the world a better
The Tzohar rabbis have brought much needed status to the rabbinic
role. They will continue to reach out and influence most of the population
because they understand the problems of the average person and have the ability
to mingle and talk one-on-one with the average Israeli.
In this modern
age, with its moral questions and cultural diversity, the Chief Rabbinate is too
important to be left to the intrigues of modern political maneuverings. The
religious Zionist aspect of the state is too important to be left to
Hammer’s article is too valuable to merely read without acting
upon it.THELMA SUSSWEIN
Hang your heads
Sir, – Under the
heading “OCHA clarifies” (February 11) you published a letter from Amanda Pitt,
spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA). In it Pitt insisted that Khulood Badawi, who on Twitter
fraudulently blamed Israel for the death of a child whose death had been
accidental and totally unrelated to any Israeli action, was not “de facto
If in fact Badawi was not fired for lying in such a blatant and
biased manner, the staff of OCHA, an organ of the United Nations, ought to be
hanging their heads in shame.LESLIE PORTNOY
When will our government stop pussyfooting around with the EU about Hezbollah
(“The EU and Hezbollah,” Editorial, February 10)? It’s past time to tell the EU
to stop trying to insert itself between us and the Palestinians until Hezbollah
is declared a terrorist entity and proactive action is taken against
Alfei Menashe Some ‘improvement’
Sir, – Reading Naomi
Tsur’s “The road not taken: Why Israel’s transportation policy is a
contradiction in terms” (Comment & features, February 10), I was surprised
to discover that she considers Jerusalem’s public transportation system to be
“rapidly improving” and “impressive.” Commuters would beg to differ.
daily commute, for example, used to take 45 minutes to an hour; now it regularly
takes close to an hour and a half. On every bus ride, people around me are
making similar complaints.
Bus lines have been shortened so that a
traveler must wait for a first bus, get off and wait for a second bus, and often
proceed to a third bus or train as well. The average waiting time for each
vehicle is 12- 20 minutes. How can that possibly shorten a trip? And in my
neighborhood, several bus lines begin their routes at the same time, so if you
miss one you’ve missed alternative lines as well.
Some essential lines in
the city run only every 20 or 30 minutes, causing long waits.
processing also takes an inordinate amount of time.
Why did Egged install
such slow, inefficient card-processing machines? The light rail indeed looks
very nice and offers a smooth ride, but I’m afraid that’s all that can be said
in its favor. It is slow. During much of the day its frequency (or lack thereof)
causes long waits. It is usually overcrowded and it always entails additional
bus rides (and waiting times) to get to most destinations.
Please do not
boast of an efficient public transportation system unless the next changes
really are improvements.FRAN SCHNALL
Jerusalem Them, not us
Sir, – When
as smart and sympathetic an observer as Yossi Klein Halevi (“The Anxieties of
American Jews,” Observations, February 8) can fall into the trap of
“occupation,” you know we have a problem. However, the problem is far more
self-fulfilling due more to semantics than actual geopolitics.
Halevi would have Zionist Orthodox Jews lamenting the “consequences to Israel’s
soul of occupying another people against its will.” Wow, what a loaded
confession! The image conjured up is that of a bedraggled people, chafing under
the yoke of persecution, yearning for nothing more than to be free and
autonomous, seeking nothing more than their own self-determination without
designs on the national integrity of those from whom they seek relief.
Jerry Seinfeld would say, “Who are these people?” Perhaps the Kurds, the
Armenians, certainly the Jewish residents of the pre-state Yishuv. But the
Palestinians? How many Israelis truly believe that this depiction fits the
Palestinians? Maybe 10? Maybe fewer? The whole reason for the bifurcated reality
that Klein Halevi correctly depicts is because the Palestinian idea of
self-determination leaves no room for Jewish self-determination.
therefore in a state of combat, not occupation.
The territories are
classically in dispute, as has been the case of all territorial disputes between
If a Palestinian Nelson Mandela were to emerge and
preach the kind of self-determination that Yishuv leaders showed in 1947 by
accepting half a loaf of territory in the name of gaining a state, there would
be peace here in a week and a half. Until then, we live with the grim
realization that we have no choice but to hold our ground, hoping for a
different future – but not falling into the trap of believing that that future
is ours to effectuate.DOUGLAS ALTABEF
Sir, – Yossi Klein
Halevi writes that “most Israelis have internalized the Left-Right divide and
agree with the Left’s anxiety over the occupation and with the Right’s anxiety
over a delusional peace.” Yet, in the absence of a credible peace partner,
Israelis are not, as the writer states, “moving on with our
Instead, we continue to obsess over the Palestinians while we
wait for them to return the negotiating table, when we know, given the
“red-lines” of each side, that no agreement is possible. They won’t recognize us
in any borders, let alone those that might include some of the Israeli
communities beyond the Green Line.
I’d like to make a
Let us out-Palestinian the Palestinians.
our intractable situation – which is one of existence – into a border dispute!
Let us recognize a Palestinian state in Area A and Area B.
return we state explicitly that as part of this recognition we are keeping the
Jordan Valley, annexing all the areas inside the security barrier (with a few
adjustments) and offer – if the Palestinians ever wish – to negotiate their
border over what’s left.
The Palestinians won’t agree, but they will be
forced to argue with us over their border rather than our existence. In fact,
the international community won’t agree either, but through consistent actions
on our part (continued building and a respect for the new border), the “State of
Palestine” eventually will come into being just about where we say it
And we’ll know where our state is, too.BARRY LYNN