October 22: Religious freedom

Machsom Watch should remember that freedom of observance is not a one-way street.

October 21, 2006 19:36
letters to the editor 88

letters to the editor 88. (photo credit: )


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Religious freedom Sir, - On October 19 you published a large advertisement by Machsom Watch calling for freedom of religious observance for all. It includes complaints that the State of Israel prevents Muslim men under the age of 45 from praying at the Aksa Mosque. There was no such problem until Muslims visiting al-Aksa threw rocks down onto the heads of Jews praying at the Western Wall. When I do not need an armored bus or an army escort to prevent Muslims shooting me en route to Jewish holy sites, such as Rachel's Tomb or Joseph's Tomb, I will support pleas like this. Until then, Machsom Watch should remember that freedom of observance is not a one-way street. LESLIE PORTNOY Netanya Sir, - If anyone had a doubt that Machsom Watch is an anti-Israel and anti-Jewish organization, he has had his proof in their large advertisement demanding that Israel "allow" Muslims to pray at the Temple Mount. Machsom Watch knows full well that the "age limit" was imposed to prevent troublemakers and likely terrorists from entering. The fact that last Friday 200,000 Muslims worshiped at the site seems to have escaped the group's notice. If Machsom Watch is so concerned with people praying at their holy sites, how about demanding that Jews be allowed to pray at their holiest site and not just their third holiest site. We have just celebrated our holiest days and were unable to pray at our holiest site, the Temple Mount, because the Muslim Wakf that Machsom Watch is so concerned about will not let us do what they demand for themselves. EMANUEL FISCHER Jerusalem Sir, - I too would like to pray on the Temple Mount, but if I make it up there I am not allowed to pray, and if I move my lips, I am escorted off the premises. DANIELLA TEUTSCH Efrat Counterproductive Sir, - As someone who has dedicated my personal and professional life to Israel advocacy, I want to commend Larry Derfner for his excellent but, sadly, controversial article ("Anti-Semite and Jew," October 19). To throw around the label of "anti-Semite" to silence dissent or as a tool of criticism is not only wrong (as Derfner notes, all anti-Zionists are not anti-Semites) but also counterproductive. The greatest failure in Israel's PR battle is, in fact, the crude nature in which it is often carried out and the needless demagogic attacks on those who criticize Israel, both justly and unjustly. The lack of rationality of many of those who claim to defend Israel - of which calling those with whom we disagree anti-Semites is just one of a litany of problems - does not serve the case of Israel. The reckless use of the term anti-Semite has made the term meaningless and serves to weaken Israel. Thank you Jerusalem Post for serving as a voice for rational voices committed to the well-being of Israel! AVI HEIN Jerusalem Sir, - Larry Derfner defines an anti-Semite, in the true, pre-inflationary meaning of the term, as "someone who hates Jews, plain and simple." However, many prefer the more acceptable definition appearing in American Heritage Dictionary: "One who discriminates against or who is hostile toward or prejudicial against Jews." While I agree that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch criticize Israel and also her opponents, there has been ample proof that such criticism is frequently, in fact usually, severely weighted against Israel. The question is, why? Is it because we have built up a military force which is strong enough to defend us from the annihilation that our opponents seek? No, it is because we are the Jewish nation and they are expressing their anti-Semitic attitudes in the now more acceptable post-inflationary way. ROBYN ROTBERG Kfar Saba Sir, - Perhaps it is time to replace the euphemistic and equivocal "anti-Semite" with "anti-Jew." And while all anti-Jews are likely to be anti-Israel, all anti-Zionists are not necessarily anti-Jew. GERRY MANDELL Jerusalem Untenable ban Sir, - The Defense Ministry's ban on the admittance to higher education of deserving Palestinians, as exemplified in the case of Sawsan Salame, is untenable ("Universities urge end to ban on Palestinian students," October 19). It is on the same level of narrow-mindedness as the vicious boycotts promulgated in the UK against Israeli academics. Here is an opportunity for Israel to demonstrate its goodwill at a level on which we have not had many opportunities to demonstrate it. Such nurturing of Palestinian talent can do only good for the region. Many years ago, when I worked at Hebrew University, I became friendly with a promising young Israeli Arab student whose academic studies were summarily cut off when a marriage was arranged for her. I saw how her brief opportunity to study at H.U. had broadened her mind and spirit. We should welcome Sawsan Salame and allow her to experience Israel; we should be proud of, and stimulated by, the opportunity to further her education and learn from her. The sweeping decision of the Defense Ministry fills me with dread. We should be grasping every opening to afford our neighbors the possibility of education and the experience of the positive achievements of our society. MARILYN BAR-OR Dundas, Ontario People's choice Sir, - Reform Rabbi Michael Boyden argues that Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau should not be elected president of Israel because he is unacceptable to Reform Jews ("Israel needs a president," October 19). But Reform Jews represent a minute fraction of 1 percent of Israelis. Let the people chose whom they want. ANDREW M. ROSEMARINE Salford, UK Gil's failure Sir, - Let's face it! The Gil Pensioners Party has failed the expectations of the senior population that propelled it into government with an empowering seven Knesset seats (On Int'l Day for the Elderly, pensioners' rights advocate bashes Gil Party for 'not doing enough,'" October 18). Many seniors anticipated that the party would, at the very least, arrange for government-controlled corporations, like Bezeq, Israel Electric, cable and fuel companies, as well as other government-dominated entities, to grant discounts or other considerations to its senior customers. The Gil Pensioners Party is also well positioned to encourage and lead volunteer citizen campaigns to convince business owners throughout the country of the competitive advantages and the financial benefits of increasing turnover by attracting seniors with discounts. If the Pensioners Party fails to deliver in this current Knesset, it might not have a second chance. JACK CARLIN Jerusalem Sadat's murder Sir, - Taalat Sadat's charge that "the assassination of Anwar Sadat was an international conspiracy" is confirmed by a report filed by the renowned London Daily Telegraph correspondent, John Bulloch on October 6, 1981 ("Sadat's nephew on trial for saying assassination was conspiracy," October 19). Bulloch reported that Sadat's assassins belonged to an Egyptian military unit which harbored North Korean military advisers. This means that almost a decade after the so-called Egyptian expulsion of Russian military advisers, personnel from Russia's sole Far Eastern ally were still embedded within the Egyptian military. Compounding this information is the fact that in the wake of the assassination, Leonid Brezhnev (at the October 1981 Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) called for the "convention of an international conference on the Middle East [read on Israel] in order to move on from dead center." A conspiracy indeed. Today, in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test, the 25-year-old Bulloch report and the Moscow proceedings deserve to gain the respect they failed to receive when first brought to the attention of Western policy analysts. KARL HUTTENBAUER Berlin Unfair to Safdie Sir, - All the media are talking about Safdie plan to expand Jerusalem westward ("Ministry delays decision to implement Safdie plan in capital," October 18). I think this is not fair to the architect Moshe Safdie. The plan to build housing projects westward of Jerusalem is a program of the Jerusalem Municipality; Safdie is only the architect. Safdie became world famous with his Habitat project in Montreal (1967). Since then he has designed more then 15 museum buildings around the world, received many international awards, did the planning of Modi'in and designed the new Yad Vashem building. FRITS DE WIT Rehovot Not again Sir, - Re "IDF preparing for large-scale incursion into Gaza" (October 18). There they go again making announcements. Why not give them the date and the hour, as well as the plan of attack. Such information only alerts the enemy, makes the going tougher and increases the chance for more casualties. Is this what the IDF is looking for? JOSEPH DASHEFSKY Massapequa Park, New York Electoral reform Sir, - "Don't rush electoral reform" (Editorial, October 16) is the best advice I've heard recently. I am strongly in favor of electoral reform. My reason: It will give us Knesset representatives directly responsible to the voters. Anyone pushing for piecemeal electoral reform, or any reform that does not include direct election of Knesset members, has a personal political agenda which will not benefit the voters. SARA LEE WOOLF Ramat Beit Shemesh Ooh la la Sir, - Now that the French National Assembly has passed a bill making it a crime to deny that Ottoman Turkey committed genocide against Armenians during and after World War I, can we expect the French government to approve a similar law that would make denial of the French government's own complicity in genocide against the Jews during World War II a criminal offense as well? IRWIN DIAMOND Toronto

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