(photo credit: Courtesy)
They couldn't wait...
Sir, - The fact that the police have said the 19-year-old Palestinian shepherd found dead in the West Bank this week was killed in an accidental explosion, and not by settlers, should have been front-page news for all to see ("Resist the rush to judgment, Editorial, October 5). The masses just could not wait to put the blame on the settlers.
It usually works this way: Arabs murdered, blame the settlers. Settlers murdered? Tough, they brought it on themselves.
Sir, - It is an unfortunate and well-known fact that Arab and left-wing Israeli NGOs are unreliable and guilty of using what Winston Churchill called a "terminological inexactitude" - in plain English, lies. Once these lies are pronounced it is impossible to correct them.
Sir, - A related problem: The tardiness of IDF and government spokesmen in presenting the facts. How to remove this inertia?
Sir, - My appreciation to Caroline B. Glick for her weekly dose of good sense. With pristine logic she sets out in straightforward prose a basic picture of Israeli reality. Courageously she outlines the grotesque behavior of our leaders and the many dangers that confront us in the hope that an understanding of what is being socked to us may wake us out of our slumber.
Her October 3 review of Ehud Olmert's offer to declare the bankruptcy of our nation was a prime example ("Olmert's parting blows," October 3).
Of tenuous deals
Sir, - David Horovitz's "all for one and one for all" column was very rah-rah stuff ("National maturity," October 3). However, he imploded his own reasoning when he stated: "Time is of the essence, especially given Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's tenuous grip in the West Bank."
What can Israel achieve by concluding a deal with an ephemeral "partner" who carries no weight except his own? Israel has a history of tenuous deals. Deals are worthwhile only if made with stable governments such as Jordan and Egypt, with Israel negotiating from a position of strength.
The reality is that for any agreement to be concluded, it's not Israel that needs national maturity but the Palestinians, who have yet to demonstrate their ability to grasp and embrace the concept of life and peace rather than death and war.
Smokescreen of Durban II
Sir, - The way to neutralize the impact of Durban II is to view it as an Islamic propaganda stunt based on Durban I's performance ("US Congress joins fight on Durban II," Gerald Steinberg, October 5). The themes of Durban I may have ostensibly focused on "racism," but they really followed Shari'a, or Islamic legal, principles.
First, there was the demonization of Israel for alleged human rights abuses - in violation of the obligation of religious minorities to accept dhimmitude, or inferior status, under Islamic sovereignty. Then there was the denunciation of blasphemy, under the cloak of religious tolerance. Blasphemy is a capital offense under Shari'a, which does not tolerate religious dissent.
These are the benighted rules that have led to unrelenting warfare against
Israel and to riots and death threats against writers and cartoonists.
Once this ideological framework is understood, the conference's pretentious use of the language of human rights will be seen as a mere smokescreen for its reactionary agenda.
Blind, or just respectful?
Sir, - David Kimche made a sweeping generalization in "Breaking the law" (October 3). He wrote: "When Menachem Begin was prime minister, it was well known among those working closely with him that one of his weaknesses was his blind idolization of anyone in uniform."
Blind? Kimche should reconsider. Equally well known is that Begin tweaked Ezer Weizman, sardonically putting him down as "my mischievous general."
Indeed, Begin exhibited more outward respect for the army, its ensign and its generals than other politicians; but then again, he also wore a tie regularly, probably more in one week than David Ben-Gurion wore in his lifetime.
"Blind" is too extreme an adjective. And Kimche would surely tremble at being thought extreme.
Sir, - Israel once again proves its uncanny ability to shoot itself in the foot by denying Jose Portuondo-Wilson the right to become an Israeli citizen ("Chicago Orthodox convert fights Interior Ministry in bid for recognition," October 5). One would imagine that in the case of Anusim who can trace their lineage back to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, every effort would be made to welcome them back into the fold.
Non-Jews married to Jews have been granted Israeli citizenship simply by virtue of spousal relationship, even though many never become Jewish. If Mr. Portuondo-Wilson were to marry a nice Jewish girl who was born into the faith without any halachic complications, he would have few problems in making aliya - an absurd situation.
Why can't he simply appear before a committee appointed by the Chief Rabbinate for reconfirmation of his Jewish knowledge and commitment to Judaism? If he passes the test, he can then be issued with documents attesting to the fact that his conversion in his home country has been confirmed in Israel. It would save a lot of time, money and heartache.
Though haredi communities worldwide boast large families, Jewish demography has still not recovered from the losses sustained during the Holocaust and via assimilation.
Under the circumstances, one would imagine that someone who sincerely wanted to be Jewish, who had given up an easier lifestyle and devoted several years to the study and practice of Judaism could be assured of membership in the House of Israel.
How can our so-called great rabbis ask the Creator for compassion during this solemn period when they show no compassion themselves?
Sir, - Around five years ago, my dear mother, an elderly Orthodox Holocaust survivor, wife of a known cantor in Montreal and mother of a community leader, had her aliya delayed because the letter she had to bring from her rabbi, attesting to her Jewishness, had gotten lost. (Incidentally, the Aliya Department staff knew my family personally from shul and could have attested to her Jewishness without any letters, making the entire situation more absurd.)
Openly non-Jewish, sometimes even anti-Semitic Russians have been granted citizenship status with no problem - and now Chicagoan Jose Portuondo-Wilson, a descendant of Anusim and a perfectly kosher observant and committed Jewish convert, is being denied oleh status.
It is about time those appointed to decide who merits returning to the Jewish homeland were relieved of this onerous decision-making. We need fair-minded and halachically knowledgeable people in the position.
I look forward to hearing about Jose's imminent aliya - God willing, very soon.
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