letters good 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
PM does you proud
Sir, - I am a Finnish pastor. I read Binyamin Netanyahu's speech at Bar-Ilan university on June 14 and was very impressed. Israel should be proud of a prime minister who calls things by their right names, explains the case for Israel with such dignity and invites the Arab-Palestinian leaders to walk in truth and mutual respect.
I can also understand the enormous pressure Mr. Netanyahu is under these days ("Harsh realities," Letters, June 23).
I can't help feeling that anyone in the West or Israel who disagrees with Netanyahu's principles and outlinings is siding with terrorists and men of violence.
Too harsh on the president
Sir, - Shmuley Boteach has become very harsh on his president ("Spectator of the free world: Obama and Teheran," June 23). "Rarely before has an American president spoken out so forcefully in favor of moral relativism," he writes. "He seems too cautious" is the friendliest he gets in this attack on the president's relatively laid-back attitude.
But it is unfair.
Has the rabbi already forgotten Barack Obama's Cairo speech, which was so specific and comprehensive in his criticism of the Muslim world?
Boteach needs to remember that the world is recovering from an American presidency that represented decades of over-engagement in the world. Obama laid down his great vision clearly in his almost audacious Egyptian speech, which reportedly might even have inspired the Iranian uprising.
A great leader must know when to speak out, but also when to back off. Even if we are right, does that mean we have to quarrel all the time with anyone who doesn't agree?
Loyalty? Ain't none
Sir, - Since there are no "solutions" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Andrew Silow-Carroll, let's do talk loyalty.
I agree with Shmuley Boteach that the great majority of American Jews have a greater affinity for Obama and the Democratic Party than for the State of Israel. In fact, any number of issues are now much more important to most US Jews than Israel - abortion rights, gay and lesbian rights, environmental issues, the $5 foot-long at Subways, Kate and Jon's divorce, etc.
Why? Because Judaism and Israel's attachment to Judaism is just not that important to US Jews, except the Orthodox. In other word, there is no loyalty, nor solutions ("Let's talk solutions, not 'loyalty,'" June 23).
New Brunswick, NJ
Push for Zionism
Sir, - Zionism is successful - much more than was predicted 100 years ago; much more than expected on the eve of the Six Day War.
Now we have a strong state, the homeland of Jews who live there and of every Jew who wants to make aliya. In 2,000 years, only in the last 20 years has Israel really been able to offer a better quality of life than any other country.
But the Zionist movement and Diaspora leaders operate as if Israel does not represent the best option for Jews' development and survival. Enough of this. Events worldwide have shown that the Jews are better off by far being a majority in their own state. It is best for the collective, and for the individual.
Strong diasporas are good, some are even useful to Israel. But their fate is to disappear sooner or later, as has each and every diaspora in Jewish history.
Zionism must not fear. Diaspora Jews must get the clear message that there is a better and safer place for them in Israel.
Zionist organizations and emissaries have been very polite in their approach to the Diaspora. Now, this politeness is harming the Diaspora by letting it feel its role is too important for Israel and Zionism.
Hasbara and local lobbies will not help Israel as much as a flow of immigrants with real motivation to help build the best country in the world.
The Jewish Agency winds up its gathering today. Let's hope the Zionist agenda has been given a push ("Jewish Agency reform passes in assembly," June 24).
The writer was president of the Venezuelan Zionist Federation 2000-2005, and of the Venezuelan Jewish Community 2006-2009.
Come off it
Sir, - I read Elana Sztokman's "It's about the women" (June 24) with great interest until I came to "Radical Islam is worse for women than arguably any other group, except maybe Jews."
This remark is untrue, uncalled for and just plain anti-Semitic.
I know things are far from perfect and that there are halachic laws I do not understand or approve of. But I can do that without fear.
Who is like Moses?
Sir, - Dror Etkes of Yesh Din says, irrelevantly: "Even Moses managed without a synagogue."
Moses never lived in Israel, nor visited it. He was a desert wanderer with no permanent dwelling. He never needed a building of any sort. In the desert, Moses did have a "Tent of Meeting," where people congregated, and it was a portable structure.
We also don't have a person comparable to Moses ("Religious Affairs minister slams halt to settlement's synagogue construction, " June 24).
Fight 'em with cabbage
Sir, - As an observant Jew, I tend toward the view that a municipal parking lot should be closed on Shabbat ("J'lem mayor seeks compromise to avert secular-haredi crisis," June 24). However, I am shocked that the Eda Haredit has threatened extensive violence to enforce its views. This is unacceptable. Controversial questions should not be solved by hooligans, whatever their motivation.
The police well know that any attempt to arrest rioters and prosecute them for creating a public disorder will likely fail. In their frustration, they may fall into the trap of using excessive force; in effect, attempting to punish the rioters on the spot, knowing this is likely the only punishment they will get. This is equally unacceptable.
There is a class of chemicals called mercaptans which have a very powerful and unpleasant odor. In small concentrations they are perfectly safe, but still very pervasive. Adding some of these chemicals to the charge used in water cannons would have a salutary effect; merely spraying the rioters would be a powerful disincentive to further disruptions.
No injuries would ensue, but the rioters would likely stink unpleasantly for a few days, and their clothes might have to be discarded.
My recollection is that the smell is somewhat reminiscent of dead mice, though Wikipedia claims that the odor is more like rotting cabbage.
Don't be ridiculous
Sir, - Re the Ministry of Health notice in your June 23 edition saying that swine flu will now be treated at health fund clinics: Why?
How many people will be infected when those who think they have the flu go to the health fund's offices? All the people on the bus they go on, all those sitting in the clinic's waiting room, those they come in contact with when they leave.
If there wasn't an epidemic before, there will surely be one after this ridiculous procedure.
Set up one place for all these people to go in each city, and let us try and control the flu, not spread it.