June 21: Faithful to the Rav

I emphasize that the vast majority of Evangelicals are decent people supporting Israel and promoting Christian values.

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June 20, 2007 20:52
4 minute read.
letters March 2008

letters good 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Faithful to the Rav Sir, - Ellen Horowitz in "Beware theological red lines," (June 20) misrepresents my views about Evangelical Christians. She alleges that I unconditionally accept outpourings of love and goodwill by Evangelicals and accuses me of classifying them as a monolithic group. In fact, my op-ed specifically stated that not all Evangelicals are philo-semites, that some seek to convert us, and others may even be anti-Semitic. However I emphasize that the vast majority are decent people supporting Israel and promoting Christian values like public morality and family values, which mirror our approach to these issues. Horowitz also distorts my view of Rav Soloveichik's position on interfaith relations implying that I sanction theological dialogue with Christians. I explicitly wrote that I uphold the Rav's position and have never favored theological dialogue with other denominations. However, I do support joint activities on common social and political issues, especially support for Israel, which the Rav explicitly endorsed. Finally, Horowitz should appreciate that forging alliances for specific objectives does not entail a meeting of the minds on all issues. I have never implied that we should blur religious differences between Jews and Christians. As an observant Jew, I reiterate my appreciation for the unconditional and passionate support for Israel provided by large segments of the global Evangelical community. Their support is particularly critical during these difficult times when so many of our former allies have forsaken us. ISI LEIBLER Jerusalem Viva Lithuania Sir, - Bless the rabbis of Lithuanian ultra-Orthodoxy for ordering their yeshiva students not to take part in the anti-gay demonstrations, "Haredi leaders forbid students to protest gay parade." (June 20) This means Lithuanian haredim won't be involved in violence, won't be insulting or publicly ridiculing fellow Jews, and will be studying Torah - which is what we tax-payers expect for subsidizing their lifestyle. MARCEL RICHARD Ramat Hasharon Freedom's limits Sir, - One of America's greatest jurists famously affirmed that freedom of speech was not an absolute. "Free speech," he said, "would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater, and causing a panic." America's Bill of Rights lists, in the First Amendment, not only freedom of speech and assembly, but also freedom of religion. This entails the right of people not only to the free exercise of their religious beliefs, but also the right to educate their children in the spirit of their faith. Admittedly, the delicate balance between freedom of speech and assembly on the one hand, and freedom of religion on the other, is not always an easy one to maintain. A gay parade, aggressively flaunting behavior that is deeply offensive to the fundamental values of all three monotheistic religions - in a city populated by a religious majority - represents a denial of a right surely no less basic than the right of assembly. Looking at rights in absolute unidimensional terms is neither prudent nor democratic. DAVID ROTHNER Beit Shemesh1 All present and accounted for Sir, - With reference to your fine Frontlines feature "Might and Morals" (June 18), Harav Avichai Ronsky is actually not the fourth IDF Chief Rabbi - he's the fifth. Rabbi Goren was succeeded by Rabbi Mordechai Piron who was succeeded by Rabbi Navon. MEIR FACTOR Jerusalem Military affairs correspondent Yaakov Katz replies: You are correct. My mistake. Thanks for pointing it out. Family ties Sir, - Re "Steinhardt vs. Steinsaltz: Believer and nonbeliever face off over Jewish continuity," (June 20): Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz's task in explaining the need for Jewish continuity is much easier than Michael Steinhardt's. Orthodox Jews believe that their purpose in life is to live exemplary lives of service to God and do mitzvot. Explaining the need for Jewish survival without referring to this Divine mandate is more problematic. However, many non-religious Jews have a deep sense of appreciation for Jewish survival because of their connection with Jewish history and community. Many believe with the late Professor Emil Fackenheim that no posthumous victory should be awarded to the haters who have tried to destroy us. Many, too, have a love for the richness and variety of Jewish tradition and culture in all its manifestations. Steinsaltz and Steinhardt each in their own way believe that Jews are a family who need and must help each other, however problematic this may be at times. SHALOM FREEDMAN Jerusalem Israel New thinking needed Sir, - The Jerusalem Post editorial, "Fuad's testimony," (June 20th) deals with a topic that makes you want to cry. Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer testified before the Winograd Commission about the causes for the failure of the Second Lebanon War. He is right in saying that everything went wrong, from the way Israel entered the war to how it was handled on every level. Ehud Olmert, as prime minister was totally inept. The defense minister, Amir Peretz, and the chief of staff Dan Halutz decided that an air campaign would win the war and were completely wrong. The IDF had been poorly trained in the year and a half prior to the war partly because it was busy with the disengagement in Gaza. No shake up is possible if the thinking of how to defend Israel remains the same. That is the tragedy. Meanwhile, there is little indication Prime Minister Olmert has truly learned from his mistakes. That is clear from how he handled his meeting with President Bush and his commitment to help Mahmoud Abbas. The world can look forward to more conflict in the Middle East because nothing is so hard to change as inertia. LILIAN SUSSWEIN Jerusalem More, Tom, please Sir, - Kudos to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman for his analysis "Boycott Built on Bias" carried in the Post (June 18). He's right in saying of the UCU that to "single out Israeli universities alone for a punitive boycott is rank anti-Semitism." As one of America's premier pundits, perhaps he would also comment on the British National Union of Journalists boycott. What is Friedman's stance on his British colleagues who do not publicly repudiate the boycott? What does he think of their journalistic integrity, ethics and possible anti-Semitism? JOSEF GILBOA Jaffa

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