Gandhi no prophet
Sir, – I was shocked to read that President Shimon Peres had
been lavish in his praise of Mahatma Gandhi during a meeting with Indian
parliamentarians (“Peres to receptive Indian delegation: Gandhi was like a
biblical prophet,” July 20).
Peres was an adult during the Second World
War. Has he forgotten that when Gandhi heard about Jews being gassed in Europe
he voiced no protest? Instead, he advised the Jews to march quietly into the gas
chambers as a testimony to passive resistance.
Our Bible places the
highest value on human life. No biblical prophet would have taken Gandhi’s
position.ARNOLD I. KISCH
Schism over conversions
Sir, – In
light of the controversy about conversions in Israel (“Amar tells
bolt gov’t if conversion bill stalls,” July 19), I would like to state
following: The basis of Judaism is the divine revelation at Mount Sinai
regarding the belief that the written and oral Torah was given to the
people by God.
The appellations “Reform” and “Conservative” Judaism are a
misnomer, as adherents of these streams do not believe in the divine
Imagine one million Christians proclaiming their belief that Christ was a
prophet and not the son of God, thereby negating belief in the Trinity:
would claim that this is Reform Christianity and that it accurately
beliefs of Christianity.
It is true that the followers of Reform and
Conservative Judaism are Jews – but then the first Christians were also
Sir, – Prime Minister Netanyahu should stop
all the cackle and tell us precisely what aspect of MK David Rotem’s
bill he objects to, and describe it in specific terms – and not just
American Conservative and Reform Jewry object and it will cause a
If this bill resolves the conversion issue for olim from the
former Soviet Union – which presumably must be the intention of Israel
Party leader Avigdor Lieberman – why should it not resolve the issue for
American Conservative and Reform Jews (if and when they decide to make
Sir, – Our founding fathers were not personally
religious people, but they recognized the importance that Torah Judaism
to our survival over the centuries. Therefore, in establishing the State
Israel, they left intact the basic tenets of Shabbat, kashrut and
descent in confirming Jewish identity. They also wisely honored the
of conversion that have been observed over the years throughout the
As Jewish people settled in relative freedom and comfort in
Western countries, they interacted more with their non-Jewish neighbors
on progressively more of the culture around them. One of the changes
evolved was our religious observance, because that is one thing that
feel different. The lines between “us” and “them” blurred and it became
to moderate our religious strictures, to assimilate and intermarry.
individual Jew may decide to ease religious restrictions for himself,
but it is
unreasonable and unfair for him to foist his changes upon the rest of
cannot simply redefine what is a Jew to a concept that is comfortable
and then expect all of us to accept his version.
As one of my
teacher/rabbis put it, “if you change the ingredients, you get a
cake.” Personally, I prefer the original recipe.DEENA SPIGELMAN
Jerusalem Redefining democracy
Sir, – The Knesset is creating a law requiring
all new citizens to swear a loyalty oath (“Illegals must pledge
‘Jewish, democratic state’ to stay,” July 19).
According to Wikipedia,
“Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of
‘democracy,’ equality and freedom have been identified as important
characteristics of democracy since ancient times.” Yet even as the
debates the loyalty oath law, Israel’s High Court will hear a case about
an ethnically mixed city enriched by its many religions and peoples
residents protest ahead of court hearing on ‘Jews-only’ housing
What could be more undemocratic? Even I, a Jew, couldn’t imagine
swearing an oath to a “democratic” state that has redefined democracy by
violating its basic tenets so brazenly!
O’Connor, Australia What
do they care?
Sir, – Barry Rubin has correctly exposed the hypocrisy of “people
who don’t follow the issues, understand the debate or know the country
want to play with our lives” (“The Abandonment of logic on the Middle
region, July 19).
A good example is German Foreign Minister Gido
Westervelle’s opposition to the proposal by his Israeli counterpart,
Lieberman, to cut all Israeli responsibility for Gaza-Hamastan – in
constituting it as an independent entity.
While such an opinion may be in
diplomatic order for Westervelle, it is certainly undiplomatic, to say
least, to advocate opening up a “Danzig Corridor” across Israel for the
convenience of Hamastan’s Jew-hating population.KARL HUTTENBAUER
Berlin Don’t believe it
Sir, – In reading “Poll shows Obama charm offensive didn’t sway
Israelis” (July 16), in which it was reported that 46 percent of
believe the US president is pro-Palestinian, it would be helpful to keep
things in mind.
First, Israel unfortunately is stuck having only one
English-language network originating solely in the US. Fox News most
not a news network, but rather a Republican media group run by a former
strategist. Israelis (and, in particular, Israelis born in the US) have
Fox’s non-stop propaganda against President Obama since the day he won
Democratic primary, something that shapes Israeli public opinion to be
anti-Obama in all matters.
Second, even if Obama were indeed
pro-Palestinian, what would that mean? Israel is also “pro-Palestinian.”
wants a two-state solution, economic development and education reform
Palestinians, and human rights for gays and women in the Palestinian
Being pro-Palestinian does not mean one is anti-Israel. There
are very few people in the US (other than the 5-6% who are avid Fox
believe this administration is anti-Israel.JOEL SUSSMAN
Massachusetts Skip for health
Sir, – One of the main reasons the Netherlands did
so well at the World Cup is that it is a nation that believes in a
style from grade school through adulthood. It is the world’s leading
it comes to the fabulous art of skipping rope.
Muhammad Ali always
claimed that were it not for skipping rope, he never would have become
heavyweight champion of the world.SID SKIPPY MARCUS
attributed to journalist Harinder Mishra in “Peres to
receptive Indian delegation: Gandhi was like a Biblical prophet” (July
not made by him and do not reflect his views.
• J Street has not called
for and is not lobbying for the tax deductible status of organizations
settlement activity to be revoked, as posited in “J Street’s new
initiative” (July 19) by Isi Leibler. According to its statement on the
J Street is calling for an investigation into possible illegal activity
committed by these groups.