Sir, – We were shocked to read in your distinguished newspaper false and prejudiced publicity against Chief Rabbi David Lau without having been contacted for a response (“Rabbi Lau accused of cheating on 1993 exam,” August 6).
The JTA article relates to an incident alleging that Rabbi Lau cheated on one of his tests over 20 years ago, something that simply never happened. It is a false blood libel.
For the past 20 years, a person who cheats on a test and is caught cannot continue in his studies toward the rabbinate, receive ordination or serve as chief rabbi of a city, as Rabbi Lau has done. Your paper rehashed baseless accusations that different parties who had competed with Rabbi Lau tried to market to the media during the race for chief rabbi in order to blacken his good name and hinder his chances of winning. Fortunately, these parties were unsuccessful.
Rabbi Lau passed all his written tests as required by law and with the greatest of success, and was never disqualified from any test.
YERACH TUCKER Jerusalem
The writer is media adviser to Chief Rabbi David Lau Another lesson
Sir, – Regarding “10 lessons for the South African ambassador to Israel” (Comment & Features, August 5), I disagree respectfully with my good friend Barry Shaw.
Ambassador Ngombane has shown a deep understanding of the relationship between Israel and South Africa and is interested in promoting technological exchanges between our countries, which would be of great mutual benefit. During an interview for The Jerusalem Post Magazine (“‘For us, Hamas is a national liberation movement,” Feature, August 2), he said: “Of course relations can be worked on and improved and we do our best to do this.”
While Shaw’s article correctly states that Ngombane said Hamas had “legitimate grounds to exist,” it incorrectly suggests that the ambassador said he supports the armed struggle. His actual words were: “We think that they [Hamas] have got legitimate grounds to exist and this to a certain extent was confirmed by their election.” Moreover, he said: “I’m saying that Gaza under Hamas is a work in progress and I’ve said we condemn violence.”
I don’t suggest that I agree with the ambassador’s views of Hamas, but differences of opinion should be discussed in civil discourse. I believe that Hamas deserves universal condemnation not only for the content of its charter, but also because of its actions and the statements by its leaders.
It is insulting to the ANC to compare its noble Freedom Charter to the Hamas charter, which declares in Article 13 that peaceful solutions contradict its principles. A few days after the UN resolution granting Palestine non-member status, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal declared publicly that Jihad and armed resistance was the only way.
MAURICE OSTROFF Herzliya
Sir, – I wish to dissent from Barry Shaw’s “10 lessons for the new South African ambassador,” especially Lesson No. 6, concerning the ambassador’s comment in his interview with The Jerusalem Post Magazine that when it comes to the ownership of property “there are very strong signals that [Israel] is going down that route” of apartheid.
Indeed, Israel already has discriminatory real estate policies not really different from those practiced in South Africa’s apartheid era.
I remember well that when I inherited a property in Cape Town from my late father, the deed had stamped on it “WHITE PROPERTY AREA,” and when I used the proceeds of the sale to buy a property in Israel it was obvious to me that to all intents and purposes Arabs would not be welcome to buy a house in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood.
So I stand here today, high on a hilltop, and salute you, Mr.
Ambassador, for exposing Israel’s hypocrisy.
LILY POLLIACK Jerusalem Critiquing criticism
Sir, – I cannot agree with Isi Leibler’s touchy assertion in “Distinguishing between critics and adversaries” (Candidly Speaking, August 4) that some of us have lost the ability to differentiate.
Why should “well intentioned” critics be insulated from robust criticism of their views? This is the hallmark of a healthy, vibrant democracy.
Take the case of Alan Dershowitz.
I find it demeaning for anyone to uniquely defend the Jewish right to exist as a nation state, and deplore the self-aggrandizement of an American lawyer who thinks it appropriate for a foreigner to publicly express what Leibler describes as “controversial views about the peace process that he had formulated in talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.”
I was not present at the conference where Dershowitz was heckled over these views, but if he saw fit to undermine the policy of the democratically elected government of Israel, in which he plays no part, he cannot complain that those present vocally registered their disgust and disapproval in the customary manner of a lively debate.
ROSLYN PINE London
Sir, – In “The Knesset and Raoul Wallenberg” (Comment & Opinion, August 4), Max Grunberg provides examples of the bureaucratic hurdles he faces in his attempts to find a proper interlocutor at the Knesset to deal with the Wallenberg case.
Last year, we bestowed upon him the Centennial Raoul Wallenberg Medal for his lifelong efforts to try and bring Raoul home. While we don’t always see eye-to-eye on how to achieve our common goal, which is to shed light on Wallenberg’s fate, we really appreciate his devotion.
We believe the Russian authorities have the answers to this mystery, but at the same time we should not forget that the Swedish authorities, as well as other governments and influential individuals, have done almost nothing. This is both heartbreaking and mind-boggling.
EDUARDO EURNEKIAN BARUCH TENEMBAUM New York
The writers are chairman and founder, respectively, of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
It’s in the stars
Sir, – With regard to “Leiderman withdraws candidacy for Bank of Israel governor position” (August 4), there were damaging reports elsewhere that Leiderman had been in regular touch with an astrologer.
This reminded me of a statement I heard none other than Jacob Frenkel say some years ago: “Economic forecasting makes astrology look good!”
MAYER BASSAN Jerusalem
Sir, – To ensure that the next Bank of Israel governor does not consult with astrologers, I suggest a Libra be appointed. We Libras tend to be skeptical and therefore are unlikely to believe in astrology.
No flub there
Sir, – At least one of your readers (“Haggadah flub, Letters, August 4) has seemingly upgraded The Jerusalem Post from a secular newspaper to a holy document.
There are several responses as to what constitutes shemot (pages that have God’s name written in Hebrew). The questions that arise include: 1. Is newspaper print considered writing, as it is usually composed of a series of dots? 2. Does the name of God in a secular publication still carry an element of holiness? 3. If the publisher is not an Orthodox Jew, must the publication in question require burial when no longer fit for use? By the way, the pages did not offend me. In fact, they encouraged me to purchase the Dry Bones Haggadah!
LEONARD BOOK Ashkelon
The writer is a rabbi