June 17: Where is the center?

Is it the midpoint between polar opposites, or is it an effort to find a consensus around which the great majority can agree with and rally around?

June 16, 2013 21:55

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )

Where is the center?

Sir, – The headline notwithstanding, Edward Beck’s justifiably concerned piece is really about the survival of the Jewish People more than the State or People of Israel (“Empowering centrists to ensure Israel’s survival,” Comment and Features, June 13).

He laments that the Center cannot hold, but never really identifies what the center consists of.

Defining the center is tricky.

Is it the midpoint between polar opposites, or is it an effort to find a consensus around which the great majority can agree with and rally around? The first option is a non-starter and only calls to mind another classic Jewish axiom – that each Jew believes all others to be either fanatics or apikorsim (heretics), with only himself occupying the golden middle.

The reality is that the Jews of America and the Jews of Israel are facing very different issues.

Each community’s spectrum, and the center thereof, is rather removed from the other.

How does one expect a centrist consensus from the US, where an increasing percentage of the community is not halachically Jewish, to be applicable to a Jewish People in Israel that demographically and culturally is becoming increasingly religious? I am all in favor of reminding ourselves what the consensual principles of Judaism and Jewishness are. But I fear such an exercise will be viewed as loaded and biased, as it will inevitability not fit within the self-conception of a great many Jews as to what the golden mean – the center – should look like.


A non-entity

Sir, – Michael Freud pointed out that the economic boycott of Israel and its citizens who live in Judea and Samaria has reached – of all nations – Germany (“Shame on Germany for boycotting Jews,” Fundamentally Freund, Comment and Features, June 11).

What a disgrace! The European Union’s mad rush into labeling and therefore being able to boycott products made in Judea and Samaria has reached a point of madness. I firmly believe that it reflects hatred of Israel, total partiality and a desire to preclude any real negotiations with any chance of success.

Why doesn’t Europe demand a boycott of products made in Gaza? Gaza is a source of hostility, not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian Authority as well.

Gaza is guilty of killing so many people by incessantly shooting rockets onto Israel.

This business of boycott has even made the absurdity of Britain’s semi-fascist trade unions apparent to the world.

The GMB trade union of Britain has recently come out with the statement that anyone visiting Israel under the auspices of a strong pro-Israel organization is to be threatened by expulsion from the union (“British trade union to ban trips to Jewish state arranged by pro-Israel organization,” June 9).

The European Union is fast on its way to becoming a non-entity because of its amorality.


Council clarification

Sir, – In Yoel Lerner’s appreciation of Howard Grief, who died a fortnight ago, and with whom I worked in 1990-91, he writes that the “gradual detachment by Great Britain of Eastern Palestine (Trans-Jordan) from the Jewish National Home” followed the “awarding of a Mandate for Palestine by the council of the newly formed League of Nations in July of 1922” – as what could be understood as the proper chronological order (“Remembering Howard Grief,” Comment and Features, June 11).

That requires clarification.

Between the April 1920 Sam Remo Conference and the July 1922 mandate confirmation in Geneva, Winston Churchill, then colonial secretary, convened the Cairo Conference in March 1921. For all intents and purposes that was when the removal of Trans-Jordan, the territory of the historical Jewish homeland, was adopted as government policy.

Later that month, in Jerusalem, Churchill conferred with Abdullah to confirm the new arrangement.

In his diary entry for June 21, 1921, Col. Richard Meinertzhagen records that the Colonial Office and Palestine Administration “have now declared that the articles of the mandate relating to the Jewish national home are not applicable to Trans-Jordan and that the severance...is in accordance with the terms of the MacMahon pledge.”

The revised draft of the Mandate, presented by Britain in August 1921, was the first public indication that Trans-Jordan was to be separated from the territory of the Jewish national home.


Twisted gratification

Sir, – Edward Snowden’s lame explanation as to why he leaked classified information to our enemies is a simple “Snow Job” (“Former CIA worker Snowden revealed spy programs ‘to inform public,’” June 10).

This traitor should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Whether he gets jail time or the death sentence for leaking sensitive, classified secrets depends on how well our military laws are put forth in prosecuting Snowden and others willing to sell this great nation down the river for their twisted gratification.

Some think Snowden is a hero. Heroes don’t compromise US security.

I agree with Rep. Peter King, former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Snowden has done significant damage and harm to the security and safety of America.

HERB STARK Mooresville, North Carolina

Manhole manpower

Sir, – Last Sunday morning, on my way to work, I accidentally dropped my new smartphone into a sewer near Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.

While I had little hope of retrieving the phone, I called the city services hotline and reported the loss, asking if there is any possibility for city workers to open the manhole and find the phone.

To my utter surprise, 10 minutes later, I received a call back, instructing me to return to the site and that city workers would meet me there within 30 minutes.

And to my even greater surprise, less than 30 minutes later, two workers from Gihon met me at the sewer; opened the manhole, reached in and returned the smartphone. The entire exercise took less than one hour.

I do not know of any city in the Western world that would have provided such a service, both efficiently and even with a smile. Only in Israel! SHIMON ARBEL Jerusalem Cruise control Sir, – Juan de la Roca’s article “Cruising the Aegean” in The Jerusalem Post’s June 2013 Tourism magazine contained many inaccuracies.

It is not true that “Mano is the only one that offers a cruise that embarks from and returns to Haifa.”

I am considering one of the MSC cruises that embarks from Haifa, but I have not yet booked it because of the tiring vetting process faced by cruise passengers embarking on cruises from Haifa.

The security measures enforced by the Israel Port Authority have passengers waiting in line for more than an hour – often outdoors, in searing heat – to have bags scrutinized, which is then following by standing in line for another hour for passport control and, then, stading in line again to board the vessel and, once again, to receive magnetic cards.

At my advanced age, I have found that flying to vacation destinations is easier than cruising.


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