March 7: No road to joy

"I'll stop it if he does" can work to resolve a quarrel between children. Unfortunately, Israel is at war against an implacable terrorist enemy.

letters 88 (photo credit:)
letters 88
(photo credit: )
No road to joy Sir, - "Olmert says IDF will halt operations if Hamas does" (March 6) made me realize how rapidly Purim is approaching, with its associations of pretense and escape from reality. "I'll stop it if he does" can work to resolve a quarrel between children. Unfortunately, however, Israel is at war against an implacable terrorist enemy ideologically committed to its destruction, and so it cannot, dare not, go down this inappropriate path. The Purim Megillah describes the antagonist's purpose as to "kill, slay, and cause to perish" all Jewish young and old. The story does end with joy and happiness for the Jews, but only after Haman and his sons are hanged and all others who sought to harm to the Jews are totally defeated. ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva Be smart Sir - Michael Freund makes some good points in "They had their chance. Now take back Gaza" (March 5). Yes, the Gaza Strip is rightfully ours, as well as Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. And, yes, in retrospect the 2005 Disengagement was a dire mistake. However, being right doesn't necessarily mean being smart. Do we really wish to embrace a hating community of 1.5 million Arabs who support our worst foes? Mr. Freund, don't mock yourself. The Gaza problem has nothing to do with being a Rightist or a Leftist, but with sheer realpolitik. ROI SCHVARTZ Kiryat Haim Move to Tasmania Sir, - How can Israel honestly try to negotiate with Palestinian extremists like Hamas and its supporters, who are depraved enough to use their own people as human shields? A no-win situation is to try and talk peace across a table with someone who just wants to kill you. I actually believe that the only way for world peace is to move Israel to a tolerant and isolated place like Tasmania, Australia. Yes, a logistical nightmare, but well worth the result. Extremists would then have to put down their guns and end their sick ideologies ("Hamas's human shields," Editorial, March 5). ANDREW KERR Brisbane Over the line Sir, - While Rabbi Alan Haber rightly points out that some egalitarian minyanim may circumvent the halachic process, I think his criticism steps over the line ("Egalitarian minyanim? Not authentic. Not Orthodox," February 27). Jewish legal authorities are certainly "duty-bound to objectively and honestly assess the sources," but halachic literature never analyzes sources in a vacuum. From a woman trying to establish her husband's death, to medieval merchants with warehouses full of beer as Pessah approaches, to modern farmers confronted by the sabbatical year - rendering a halachic ruling requires taking into account the emotional, economic and political situation of the petitioner. Moreover, Rabbi Haber questions rulings that have no precedent or rely on a minority opinion. That being the case, how does he justify teaching Talmud to young women at his seminary? Does that ruling emerge from an impassive evaluation of the relevant sources in Tractates Sota and Kiddushin, following precedent and majority view, or does it factor in the mores of modern society? Unfortunately, contemporary Orthodoxy has become preoccupied with excluding those who hold slightly more permissive or less restrictive views. If an admittedly flawed halachic process produces a ruling which ultimately draws on genuine sources, should those who follow that ruling be effectively excommunicated? RABBI JOSEPH BLOCH Jerusalem Power talk Sir, - Re "H 2 Go" (UpFront, February 29), David Shamah has fallen prey to a fundamental misunderstanding, unfortunately shared by many, concerning hydrogen. Using hydrogen to power vehicles is an issue not related in any way to "solving the problem of oil once for all." The question of producing hydrogen is simply glossed over in the article: It is not an energy source but - given that a few problems can be solved - a means of energy distribution. REUVEN AMIR Ramat Hasharon David Shamah responds: The question of how much the "hydrogen economy" will impact oil use overall is still being debated by scientists, of course; that's why nuclear, wind and solar power sources are also considered viable alternatives, and why Israel, among others, has made a commitment to the electric car. However, the fact that US President George W. Bush is willing to spend over a billion dollars on developing hydrogen (http://www.hydrogen.gov) - "to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy" - is pretty significant, and has made C.En's efforts to solve hydrogen storage and production problems worth paying a great deal of attention to. Package deal Sir, - If the Post Office is an independent, for-profit company, why stop at NIS 35? Why not charge NIS 5,000 shekels to receive a package from abroad? This is a tax which will largely affect new olim who receive birthday gifts from relatives abroad, and therefore prejudicial ("Getting a package from abroad? It'll cost you at least NIS 35," March 6). JUDY SLOME Alon Shvut Must-read for Diaspora Sir, - David Horovitz's "When Jewish communities lose their voices" (March 3) should be compulsory reading for Jewish communities in the Diaspora. It can only help, and may contribute to averting unknown tragedy. RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne