May 3: True religion

These highly praised individuals who often hold respected “religious” positions are not at all devotees of the Torah – true religion, which I hold dear, no matter what they may appear to be from their external garb.

By JPOST READERS
May 3, 2010 13:01
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True religion

Sir, – I am deeply shamed by individuals who call themselves “religious” or “haredi” or “dati” and establish racial barriers between Sefardim and Ashkenazim (“Talks on discriminatory Emmanuel girls’ school snagged over compromise details,” April 30), or set fire to lands owned by innocent Palestinians, or nullify conversions performed by respected Orthodox rabbis, or refuse to grant contracts of divorce to women being held up for ransom by recalcitrant husbands.

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These highly praised individuals who often hold respected “religious” positions are not at all devotees of the Torah – true religion, which I hold dear, no matter what they may appear to be from their external garb.

My Torah teaches that “You shall love the ‘other’ as yourself, because you were both created by the same God”; “You shall love the proselyte”, “You must find every leniency in order to free a woman chained to an impossible marriage”; and “You must sustain the gentile poor together with the poor of Israel.”

Anyone who fights for the “purity of Israel” before attempting to assuage the pain of an individual Israelite, or who makes racial distinctions among Jews, or who treats gentiles as though their person and property were fair game in the name of misguided nationalistic revenge, is turning his back on the God who created every human being in His image. Our God defined Himself as the God of “unconditional love, the God of compassion, freely-given graciousness, long-suffering, full of loving kindness and truth.” It is about time that truly religious Jews declared the racial bigots among us to be the real destroyers of our faith and the desecrators of God’s name.

SHLOMO RISKIN

Chief Rabbi, Efrat



The Holyland litmus test

Sir, – In her article “Perverse justice” (May 2), Liat Collins says that “the fight against corruption is important.” At a time when Israel is trying to convince the world that Jerusalem should remain united and under Jewish control, the Holyland corruption scandal raises serious questions as to whether Israel has the will or the ability to carry out such a heavy burden – and it may be the litmus test. What must be probed in a systematic manner is, first and foremost, how such a monstrosity was ever approved, and safeguards to prevent this faulty process from being repeated.

Ms. Collins is correct when she states that corrective action and punishment should only be taken after there has been a thorough examination of all phases of this affair. This case is too important to jump to conclusions before the probe is complete. The police, on the other hand, should not be allowed to drag their feet. The way Israel handles this scandal will have a direct influence on world opinion regarding Israel’s ability to govern a united Jerusalem.

P. BERMAN

Shoham

The Arab ‘peace’ plan...

Sir, – In his letter to the Post, James Adler endorses the Arab League peace plan of 2002 (“...to spite one’s face?,” Letters, May 2). He contends that “it’s been on the table for nearly eight years, and we’re the ones who have been the rejectionists.” He asks rhetorically, “Why do we reject the Arab League offer of complete and total peace and security, as well as demographically Jewish permanent borders?”

Either Mr. Adler is not as familiar with the Arab League peace plan as he should be, or he has chosen to omit a salient condition from that peace plan. The plan calls for the acceptance of large numbers of Palestinian refugees within the borders of Israel, which would certainly deny Israel the “demographically Jewish borders” that he touts in his letter.

BARRY EISENBERG

Jerusalem

... and a Palestinian Museum of Tolerance

Sir, – I admire Ray Hanania’s emphasis on mutual tolerance and his level-headed voice coming from a Palestinian’s perspective (“Stop saying tolerance,” April 28). But I don’t think that a country has to claim a spotless tolerance record to justify building a Museum of Tolerance.

Museums can represent values that a country aspires to teach its children, regardless of past shortcomings. I wish the Palestinians would also build a Museum of Tolerance. If they did, I – and, I imagine, many fellow Jews – might ignore its proximity to emotionally-charged Jewish landmarks, in exchange for the hope of imbuing the next generation of Palestinians with the value of tolerance.

MARK SMILOWITZ

Beit Shemesh

Indyk’s priorities

Sir, – I was waiting for an article castigating America’s former ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, as an apologist for President Barack Obama’s anti-Israel program, and Isi Leibler’s article didn’t disappoint (“From pro-Israel lobbyist to anti-Israel apologist,” April 29).

However, I would like to address one point that Mr. Leibler didn’t mention. As quoted in Tovah Lazaroff’s recent article, Indyk said, “Israel has to adjust its policy to the interest of the United States, or there will be serious consequences” (“Former US envoy Indyk warns of a ‘serious crisis’ in US-Israel relations,” April 22).

It is well known that nations have no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. For Mr. Indyk to order Israel to prioritize America’s interests over its own – in other words, to be a vassal of America – is both insulting and dangerous to Israel's independence and, ultimately, its existence.

STEVE KRAMER

Alfei Menashe

Help free Schalit, Mr. President

Sir, – A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, found that two-thirds of Jewish voters disagree with President Barack Obama’s handling of the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. These numbers are telling and are very unfortunate.

What is also disturbing is the lack of attention the Obama administration gave when Hamas released an animated film last Sunday bearing a grisly message for Israel: If it does not meet the Islamic militant group’s demands, an Israeli soldier, who has been held for nearly four-and-a-half years, could return home in a coffin (“Hamas hopes animated short will pressure Israel into Schalit deal,” April 26).

The soldier, St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit, is a prisoner of war abducted by Palestinian terrorists on June 25, 2006. Attempts to secure his release have been unsuccessful. The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict, which released its report in September 2009, called for Schalit to be released. Note that the video was released just two days after Israel permitted the daughter of Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad in Gaza to pass through Israel to an Israeli hospital, where she was airlifted to Jordan to receive medical treatment.

I encourage President Obama to follow the lead of former president Bill Clinton or Rev. Jesse Jackson, who have gone overseas to help rescue Americans from other countries. President Obama should make a forceful effort to go himself or to send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Israel, with the sole purpose of winning St.-Sgt. Schalit’s release. If that were to occur, I am sure that individuals in both the United States and Israel will know that President Obama is deeply concerned about the State of Israel. This, in turn, may improve his ability to seek peace in the Middle East region.

IRA I. SILVERSTEIN

Illinois State Senator

Chicago

Job-search advice

Sir, – Regarding the expected closure of an experimental welfare-to-work program, I’d like to share some job-search advice (“‘Wisconsin’ jobs program looks set to close,” April 29).

Several years ago, I moved into an apartment. My new neighbors came around and, upon hearing that I had a computer science degree, told me that their startup needed a technical writer.

And that’s how I got my first job in Israel.

I’m now once again looking for employment. But I’ll never forget the valuble lesson I learned then: The best way to get a job is to sit at home and wait for someone to knock on your door and offer you one.

YONATAN SILVER

Jerusalem

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