letters pink 88.
(photo credit: )
Pretend, if you dare,
that everything's ok
Sir, - As a high school English and homeroom teacher, I sent this e-mail to all MKs regarding their lack of involvement in the education crisis and teachers' strike:
"I realize that once voted into the Knesset, it may become difficult for you to stay in touch with "the people." So I decided to make you aware of how one person feels about what is going on in Israel's education system. I won't bore you with details of how far behind we are compared to the rest of the world; you can read up on those statistics yourselves. I also won't tire you with complaints about salary, conditions in and out of the classroom and my personal opinion of the bagrut exams.
"What I would like to bring to your attention is the fact that we haven't heard from you! Against, in favor - it doesn't really matter. I want to hear MKs on the radio, read their opinions in the newspapers and see them on TV - all of you discussing the education crisis.
"The problems didn't start with this or that government. All the political parties are responsible for the education of all Israel's children. You MKs should all be shouting at the tops of your voices, along with us, that a change for the better needs to be made.
"Education needs to top our country's agenda, and one way to accomplish that is to bring the issue to public awareness. Education needs to be talked about on every level of society, top, bottom and middle, regardless of political affiliation. Only by showing solidarity can we can truly aspire to a better system, for students and teachers.
"Pretend, if you dare, that everything is ok. Act as if you have no point of view on education, even though walking the path of the blind will only cause you to collide with more obstacles on the way. Or let your voices be heard, take a stand and show that you are aware of the need for change" ("Child abuse, Larry Derfner, October 25).
Sir, - At least as printed, Calev Ben-David's "Return of the Oslo Rabin" (October 25) presented the ups and downs of peace hopes as if they were a mere matter of popular fashion, like the length of belly shirts. Although the piece mentioned the impact of Hamas and Hizbullah on the Olmert initiative, it failed to note that the public turned against the Oslo plan following an unprecedented string of terror attacks on Israel's city streets. The polls of autumn 1995 were predicting a stinging defeat for Rabin in the then-impending elections.
MARK L. LEVINSON
Sir, - Calev Ben-David's analysis was juxtaposed with "Fatah terrorists wound two in Samaria shooting spree." Who do you think gave those terrorists the guns they used in the shooting, if not Yitzhak Rabin?
There is no "return" of the Oslo Rabin. That Rabin has been here to haunt us with every Israeli citizen and soldier wounded by those guns. There has been no peace. And the current prime minister continues in the same vein, negotiating with the head of Fatah.
Finally, Ben-David's closing comment that Rabin was "the foremost martyr of... Israeli democracy": Try telling that to the thousands of Israelis maimed, or to the families of those killed by the guns of Oslo. Or to the Goldwasser, Regev and Schalit families.
We need the Rabin of the Six Day War, not the "Rabin of Oslo."
Forward to the past
Sir, - Re "Jerusalem mufti: Western Wall was never part of Jewish temple" (October 25): Ikrema Sabri claims the Kotel was part of a mosque, and says if Jews want real peace, they "must not do anything to try to pray on the Temple Mount."
The only difference between our past history and now is that we have access to the Western Wall because we control Jerusalem. If Prime Minister Olmert sincerely wishes to divide Jerusalem, then our past will most likely become our future - again.
Sir, - Avi Shafran's "The truth about shmita" (October 24) answers the question "Is it possible that all the critics of the haredim are wrong and we are right?" in the affirmative. But this time, the critics are right and those who have encouraged huge segments of Israel and world Jewry to "transcend" the heter mechira loophole are, with all pious intentions, wrong.
They are wrong for two reasons: First, they are being disrespectful to the rabbinic giants of our modern history by seeming to be more holy than they were. What was acceptable to Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Spektor, the originator of the lenient attitude toward shmita in our day, and to chief rabbis Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook, Isaac Halevi Herzog, Isser Yehuda Unterman, Shlomo Goren, Ovadia Yosef and Avraham Shapira should be acceptable to today's lesser rabbinic lights and to all halachically observant Jews.
Second, they are putting Israel's agricultural life at risk and, scandalously, preferring to buy produce from those who hate and would destroy us, rather than from those who support and defend us.
Finally, to say that "every major Orthodox kashrut-certification agency in North America approves only Israeli produce hewing to the highest shmita standard" is disingenuous, to say the least. They are forced to accept this embarrassing stricture. If they didn't, they would be out of business; Avi Shafran's followers would reject their kashrut certifications.
As Ecclesiastes says: "Do not be overly righteous; why should you come to ruin?"
RABBI HASKEL LOOKSTEIN