(photo credit: Courtesy)
What is it about...
Sir, - There is something sick about a "human rights" outfit that singles out Israel - under very real, permanent, existentialist threat from the world's most savage organizations and nations - for an arms embargo; even equating us with a depraved gang of terrorists hell-bent on our destruction and calling to deprive us, over time, of the opportunity to defend ourselves.
What is it about Amnesty International that seemingly allows hatred of the very concept of a Jewish state to motivate its policy? ("No pardon for Amnesty," Editorial, February 24.)
Sir, - It does not seem to matter one bit to Amnesty's code of morality that Israel is a recognized, legitimate state belonging to the United Nations, and that the Palestinians have been acting like a terror group, forcing Israel to take care of thousands of victims throughout its existence as a nation.
Amnesty, in addition, plays the power game constantly. It issues no report regarding the Russian treatment of Chechnya. It has never urged a boycott of Russia, nor even issued a report on other nations which have dealt with insurgent groups.
Amnesty International is not the judge of morality or proportionality. It is a group which is not accountable to any nation with which it chooses to deal and therefore can allow itself to be extremely partial to its own point of view.
The nerve of it
Sir, - I am fuming, as I hope other readers are ("Visiting US congressmen say Israel has to change 'counterproductive policies,'" February 22).
We have given so much just to live at peace. Has anyone in the Obama administration bothered to apprise these congressmen of the civilian targets we have been for the last eight years? Let them walk the streets of Sderot with only 10 seconds to make it to a bomb shelter.
Open border crossings, give millions in humanitarian aid that can be used for weaponry in Gaza?
The US should assess the intelligence and tactical understanding of those it sends out so they don't make themselves look like fools - and Israel needs to respond to these people's damaging, inflammatory remarks before we lose the support of our best friend.
Rep. Ellison faces the real Hamas
Sir, - Congressman Keith Ellison might remember that recently, when invited by Fatah to address a rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, his home state, he was unable to speak because of the violent confrontation initiated by a Hamas group, which shouted hateful threats against Fatah, and even burned an Israeli flag. Despite his pleas for calm, Ellison came face to face with the real Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, the cause of suffering to those who elected them "democratically."
Both Ellison and Congressman Brian Baird lack an understanding of our narrative, and we must ask ourselves why Israel is so delinquent in presenting it.
Hamas is part of the international terrorism network; Israel is at the forefront of the battle against world terrorism. It is thus unrealistic to seek a regional solution.
This is the education we must give to our visitors, and to the world.
Other people's business...
Sir, - "Eating macaroni vs sitting shiva" (Letters, February 24) on the topic of ill-informed visiting politicos reminded me of an occasion after the Yom Kippur War when a "fact-finding" mission of 12 British MPs arrived at a kibbutz near the West Bank and were greeted by an elderly, wizened kibbutznik in baggy shorts.
Addressing the gathering in the exquisite tones of a British Queen's Counsel, he said: "Gentlemen, who asked you to travel 2,500 miles to tell us what to do with our country?"
...could be ours
Sir, - In the gathering storm of anti-Israel feeling, perhaps we should pick up the gauntlet of the countries threatening to take us to the International Court in the Hague - and thus have an international platform from where we can prove to the world the justice of our cause, the humanity of our army and the real face of our enemy?
It could be our "finest hour."
Solutions to fights
Sir, - In his interview with Ruthie Blum Leibowitz ("Of clouds and silver linings," February 19) Bobby Brown stated: "One of the directions of the Ne'eman Commission was that all conversions would be Orthodox, and that the Conservative and Reform rabbis would be allowed to be masters of ceremony at weddingsâ€¦ So by being a little innovative and a little open we could have solved two problems simultaneously. But often the two sides don't want to be logical. They like their fights better than they like solutions."
As a member of the Ne'eman Commission, let me set the facts straight. It is true such a proposal was discussed. However, when the actual draft was presented, there was no mention of weddings or any other "concessions" to the Conservative and Reform rabbinate other than permission to participate in educating converts, who would then be converted by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate. Not even being "master of ceremonies" at a wedding was offered.
Implying that the Ne'eman proposal - that for a trial period we suspend our conversions, participate in educating converts and let the Chief Rabbinate do all conversions - was rejected by us is not accurate. We had agreed to go along with it if the Chief Rabbinate agreed. Unfortunately, it rejected the idea out of hand, issuing an extremely harsh statement blaming Conservative and Reform for everything wrong in Jewish life today.
The subsequent difficulties raised by the rabbinate in matters of conversion, including the revoking of all Rabbi Haim Druckman's conversions, indicate the degree of their cooperation.
That is why the Rabbinical Assembly, at its recent Jerusalem convention, called for the privatization of the Chief Rabbinate. Let it exist, supported by those who wish to identify with it - but not as a part of the governmental structure of the State of Israel.
We prefer solutions to fights. It would be nice if there was a partner that thought the same way.
RABBI REUVEN HAMMER
Head of the Rabbinical Court of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel
Chief to chef
Sir - It is wonderful that you featured Rabbi and Mrs. Jonathan Sacks's visit to the Reuth Medical Center ("Solidarity through song," photo, February 23).
On that same day, the couple went to the Hazon Yeshaya soup kitchen in Jerusalem, where the Shabbaton Choir also performed, and where, to the admiration of all around, the chief rabbi and Mrs Sacks rolled up their sleeves and helped out in the kitchen.
A truly honorable couple.
The story in yesterday's paper on Sir Roger Moore's visit to Israel should have noted that he was donating a performance fee to the UNICEF program to encourage male circumcision in Africa, where Israeli expertise is being used to train doctors in the operation; and not, due to an editing error, as published.