What is a Jewish state?
Sir, – The debate about the proposed loyalty oath that
would require non-Jewish potential citizens to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish
democratic state (“Cabinet asked to approve loyalty oath to Israel as ‘Jewish,
democratic state,’” October 7) ignores the basic question.
What does it
mean to be a “Jewish democratic state”? Does “Jewish” require some public
adherence to religious observance? Is there an agreed definition of who is a
Jew? What does being a democratic state say about the rights of minorities, some
of whom deny Israel as “Jewish and democratic”? This includes Jews who don’t
believe in democracy as well non-Jews.
Political leaders repeat the
slogan but rarely are willing to define it.RABBI YOSEF BLAU
Sir, – When first confronted with the proposed new amendment to the Citizenship
and Entry Law, I had mixed emotions.
I had sudden painful memories of the
McCarthy era loyalty oaths in the United States in the 50s.
Ayalon’s essay, “Identifying with Israel’s national character” (October 11),
however, quickly brought me back to my senses. The writer gave an excellent
perspective and background to what Herzl, the Zionist movement, Ben-Gurion’s
Declaration of Independence, and the United Nations Partition Resolution of 1947
If non-Jews wish to live here as citizens of our Jewish
and democratic state, it is only reasonable that they obligate themselves to be
loyal citizens, especially so in the light of the enormous hostility and threats
that we face on a daily basis.
Yes, philosophical, religious, national
questions still remain in our definition of who is a Jew.
But we will
solve them right here on our own land and in our own state.
be praised for his courage and consistency in the face of today’s post-Zionist
apologists. His withering indictment of those who have forgotten who and what we
are, revealing their confused ideologies and politically correct agendas, are a
whiff of fresh air in today’s climate of mendacity and
Modi’in A real racist law
Sir, – The
proposed amendment to the Citizenship and Entry Law was condemned by the usual
suspects as racist. In fact, the proposed law is nationalistic, not racist. The
proposed law is proper, because every country has exclusive control of who is
eligible to become a citizen, and exclusive control of the conditions of
Israelis who are looking to strike racist laws from the
Israeli law books should look carefully at the law which sets aside four seats
in the Knesset for Arabs.
In the US, a provision of the Hawaiian
Constitution limits the right to vote for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs
to Hawaiians, a category defined by descent from the peoples inhabiting the
Hawaiian Islands in 1778. Harold Rice, a white man, was not a Hawaiian under the
constitutional provision, although he was born in Hawaii, and although he was by
law a citizen of that state. He was excluded from voting on account of his
He sued, and won in the US Supreme Court. It was held that a
race-based voting qualification, whether couched in terms of race or in terms of
ancestry, is unconstitutional.
Opponents of racism would do well to
direct their efforts to repealing the set-aside of the four Knesset seats. That
is, through and through, a racist law. Jewish Israelis are barred, based on
ancestry or race, from voting for four Knesset members.STEPHEN KRUGER
Hong Kong ‘Residents,’ not ‘settlers’
Sir, – I have to agree with Josh Hasten’s
analysis of life over the Green Line (“I want my ‘Galgalatz’!,” October
The very first thing that needs attention is for everyone to stop
calling these towns and villages “settlements” and their inhabitants “settlers.”
They are residents the same as the residents of Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon and
other cities in Israel.
It is just disgraceful that certain cellphone
providers and radio frequencies are denied to part of the Israeli population. If
the first settlers on the farms and kibbutzim had been treated as second-class
citizens, the Zionist dream would have died before it could draw
Petah Tikva What legal ground?
Sir, – I read that an
absolute condition for the PA to continue peace talks is a continued Israeli
building freeze on the West Bank (“Arab League poised to back Abbas decision to
leave talks,” October 8).
As a tourist I passed through the West Bank and
was told that the PA is undertaking a 40,000- apartment building program in the
very same region! What is the legal ground for permitting such activities
exclusively for the PA? Why doesn’t Israel require a corresponding building
freeze by the PA? Canadian solicitor J. Gauthier, after 20 years of studying
Israel’s land ownership under international law, says in his detailed report
that no border or land claims have any validity under international law until
settled by a mutual peace treaty.
It seems that there is a battle as to
whether international law or arbitrary decisions by different institutions and
governments (UN, Security Council, US, PA or Israel) are to be applied in this
peace process.ULF EMELEUS
Helsinki Hold the dogs
Sir, – As president of
Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I read with much interest Jonah Mandel’s
article, “Rabbis’ debate over casings threatens hike in kosher hotdog prices”
(October 8), which discusses whether or not major hotdog producers in Israel are
using non-kosher ingredients, including pig skin, for their products’
One way to avoid possibly eating non-kosher products is to adopt
a plant-based diet. Such a diet is most consistent with Jewish mandates to
preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment,
conserve natural resources and help hungry people.RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ
Staten Island, NY How inconsiderate!
Sir, – The Israel government is so
inconsiderate. Just when people have learned how to tweet, send text messages
and use their cellphones while they cruise along at 100 kilometers per hour, the
government has the nerve to up the speed limit to 110 kph (“Speed limit on some
roads to change as per panel proposals,” October 11), so the timing of these
tricks has to be relearned.P. YONAH
Shoham Educate against road rage
Sir, – One need only drive around anywhere in Israel to note that if an Israeli
driver sees you trying to back in or out, instead of slowing down to let you
progress he will accelerate to show he is in charge. A lot of road carnage is
simply a lack of consideration and courtesy that is inherent in Israel
Maybe, just maybe, tackling this problem through education would
reduce road rage and carnage, as well as promote a more caring society where we
can enjoy the civil considerations we all deserve! BEN MIRKIN
brought to light
Sir, – Great article by Matthew Kalman on the end of the
fiveyear forgery trial in a Jerusalem courtroom (“Putting the case to rest,”
October 7). But would it have been too much to add that the ossuary inscribed
“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” was first brought to light in the pages
of the Biblical Archaeology Review, in an article by the great Sorbonne
paleographer Andre Lemaire? HERSHEL SHANKS
Biblical Archaeology Review