July 31: No gumption

It's an indication of the weakness of the Jewish communal leadership in the UK that American academics needed to take it upon themselves to speak out and petition against the anti-Israel academic boycott.

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July 30, 2007 23:16
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No gumption Sir, - It is an indication of the weakness of the Jewish communal leadership in the UK that American academics felt the need to take it upon themselves to speak out and petition against the anti-Israel academic boycott mounted by their misguided British counterparts ("UK academic boycott backlash grows," July 30). Would that the Jews in Great Britain had the gumption and fearlessness of US Jewish leaders to stem the apathy that presently prevails among the vast majority of British Jewry. LEILA CUMBER London Love conquers all... Sir, - I was shocked to read Zev Gershon's response to Shmuley Boteach's "Stop ostracizing the intermarried" ("No hugs and kisses," Letters, July 24). Firstly Boteach did not say anything about hugs and kisses, he talked about a Shabbat dinner invitation to introduce the prospective spouse to the beauty of Jewish tradition. If those bigots in Noah Feldman's class are happy that they cut him out of their lives in the same way he was cut out of the class photo, I can only say it is their loss, not his. What a pity we should lose someone like Noah because of these narrow-minded, shortsighted people. If Mr. Gershon thinks that ostracizing someone who marries "out" does act as a deterrent, then he has a lot to learn. I can assure him from personal experience that when two people from two different worlds fall deeply in love, no amount of pressure from either side will keep them apart. He thinks that because "nearly everyone in Noah's class remained Orthodox" it was because of the fear of being ostracized. I think it was simply because they had not fallen deeply in love with a gentile woman. I am thankful that when I, a Protestant Swiss Calvinist girl, fell in love with a Jew and he with me, a hand was reached out to me and I was invited to a Shabbat meal and introduced to the beautiful traditions of Jewish life. I was happy to come to Israel to be converted by the Orthodox rabbinate and marry my Jewish husband under a huppa. We have been living in Israel for 55 years and have three children and eight grandchildren - what a loss that would have been for Israel if people like your correspondent had ostracized my husband and we had remained a mixed family, Jewish husband and non-Jewish wife and children living in the Diaspora. No, ostracizing does not help, it only creates bitter feelings. YVONNE NARUNSKY Kfar Shmaryahu ...except when it doesn't Sir, - In "Does Noah Feldman deserve to be hated?" (July 30) Shmuley Boteach makes a ludicrous comparison when he lambasts those who criticize Jews who marry non-Jews as being "themselves guilty of lapses in Jewish observance" if they, for example, "take their yarmulkes off at their Wall Street and legal offices, even though they are stalwartly Orthodox in all other practices." There is no possible comparison. The latter act might be a minor "accommodation with the world," for which there are ample precedents in the halachic literature; the former must, apart from its intrinsic impermissibility, involve further infractions of Halacha on a daily basis. MARTIN D. STERN Salford, UK Sir, - In his defense of Noah Feldman's sensitivities regarding intermarriage acceptance, Shmuley Boteach missed the point. The main question is why Feldman took his case to the pages of The New York Times and, more importantly, why he felt the need to conjure up all sorts of Orthodox crimes. Why bring up Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir, insinuating that they received rabbinic approval? Why discuss the halachic topic of doctors treating non-Jews on Shabbat? The whole tone of Feldman's piece was of an immature whiner "telling" on those bad Orthodox Jews. It was a piece unworthy of Feldman, and Boteach's response showed an inability to see beneath the headline. TESSA AUMAN Bnei Darom Scalpel, please Sir, - How many more people have to die or be disabled for life before the penny, or rather the shekel, drops? In "All roads lead to Jerusalem" (July 27) Liat Collins rightly compared the aim of making the public "discard their apathy" to applying a plaster on a bleeding wound which requires major surgery. If road accidents kill more people than almost anything else, why does it continue to be attributed to chance, rather than holding people accountable? Accidents don't "just happen." They are generally caused by a person who disregards with impunity the basic laws of driving - by speeding, running red lights, driving the wrong way into one-way streets, ignoring stop or yield signs, overtaking on solid lines, etc., not to omit driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs; all coupled with extremely aggressive and irresponsible behavior. Psychological research shows that attitude change does not precede, but follows behavioral change. And behavior modification works when there are consistent consequences to shape the desired behavior. The anti-smoking lobby is finally getting it right by imposing stiff fines on violators of the law. The same must be done on the roads via adequate surveillance and hitting people where it hurts, in their pockets. By the way, so long as Cellcom offers a "Cellcom Navigator" which not only navigates traffic but "gives speed trap warnings," we are in deep trouble. CHANAH NIEDORF Jerusalem Knotty problem? Sir, - Re "Beinisch just wants the facts" (July 26), Dan Izenberg comments that "the gender factor could be crucial in determining the answer to the question (of cooperation between Katzav and the two 'Alephs')." One can take another point of view altogether - that the attorney-general perceived the case as a "Gordian knot" and, in classic fashion, cut it clean through to solve its unravelability. In effect, if your reporter is correct, the court ruled that within 21 days Mazuz shall prove that his perception of the situation is correct, but on the court's terms; that is, within the framework of the whole complicated issue of women's and men's rights and obligations, to self and the other, in the context of modern-day egalitarianism, especially in the murky field of sexual behavior. To say it yet another way, Mazuz has to prove that if he is not dealing with a Gordian knot, the problem is one interlaced with differing cognitive perceptions. MIRIAM L. GAVARIN Jerusalem Cats' rights Sir, - While I agree with Shifra Paikin (Letters, July 30) and Jill, Dutchess of Hamilton regarding the plight of homeless cats in Jerusalem ("Blair and the stray cats of Jerusalem" July 29), I've been assured by Uri Jaffe, chairman of Noach, the umbrella organization for animal protection, that much is being done to improve the situation. Obviously, the problem is difficult to solve, and each one of us must try to do our part in alleviating suffering. I agree that the atrocious act of cruelty described, as well as other such acts, must be appropriately punished by the courts. The law calls for up to three years imprisonment. Let's demand that it be enforced! ZIVA ELIEZER Chairperson SPCA Hasharon Tsofit Odd one out Sir, - In "Tu Be'av finds singles looking for matches" (July 30) you reported that 41,029 people got married in Israel last year. Can you please explain how is it possible for an odd number of people to marry? PHIL CHERNOFSKY Jerusalem

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