letters pink 88.
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Sir, - Please extend my heartfelt thanks to the Israel Air Force for going "Old Testament" on the suspicious Syrian sites last week. As my grandfather used to say, "Sometimes you just have to lift up the cow's tail and look the situation in the face."
This is the Israel I learned about in Sunday school as a child, and it is gratifying to know somebody over there hasn't forgotten that ("There's a reason world is quiet on alleged IAF strike," Herb Keinon, September 18).
Sir, - In his informative "In praise of James Madison" (September 19) Elliot Jager stressed the values of the American Constitution. Summing up, he listed secularism as one of the main features of the Madisonian model of democracy.
While secularism may have been one of the original features of the Constitution, this feature was subsequently changed by law, several times, to include items which related to God.
In 1864, the first coin was minted with the statement "In God We Trust," and has been used ever since. In 1954, the phrase "Under God" was included in the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1956, Congress passed a resolution declaring "In God We Trust" the national motto.
Since Israel so relies on the US for guidance and support, perhaps the time has come for the Jewish state, for the people who presented the Bible to the world, to recognize God in our coins and national events.
Sir, - Elliot Jager's article called to mind a slogan of the American colonists in their struggle for independence from England: "No taxation without representation."
Israelis are taxed but not represented in their parliament. One does not, of course, advocate non-payment of taxes legislated by the Knesset. However, a national movement to suspend the payment of party dues and a refusal to vote in party primaries or national elections might be effective. It might just convince the immunity-enshrouded self-servers who rule us to enact a truly representative governmental system.
Equality rules at
Sir, - As proof that Yediot Aharonot's claim that Israel is a "racist society" is baseless, Elliot Jager described the absence of favoritism he observed during his visit to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus ("The taxi ride during which nothing happened," September 5). I would like to add my own experience.
Following a complicated pregnancy, my daughter was due to give birth to twins by Caesarean section. After being hospitalized for a month at Hadassah Ein Kerem, on the day she was informed that the delivery would take place she waited for a number of tense hours before being taken into the operating theater. Although her preparation had already commenced, after a few minutes she was brought out for a further wait because another delivery had become more urgent than hers. This Arab baby was given priority over her two Jewish babies because urgency of treatment is, of course, decided solely on the basis of medical considerations.
Had the situation been reversed and the Arab woman had to vacate the operating theater for my daughter, there are people who would probably have called it "discrimination."
In my long experience of Israeli hospitals and medical centers during the 50 years I have lived here, I have never seen discrimination, nor expected it. Arab doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff work together, and patients of all communities and religions share rooms and services.
More on shmita
Sir, - For the record, it is important to remember that the heter mechira - sale of the land to a non-Jew - has been discussed by halachic authorities throughout Jewish history, and was always controversial.
Israel's first Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Avraham Yitzhak Isaac Kook, implemented the heter as official policy due to the fledgling state-in-formation and the clear danger of forbidding the working, planting and cultivating of the land in pre- (and even post-) state Palestine/Israel. He recognized the problems with the heter, and mentions in his writings that it should be seen as a temporary and virtually emergency measure until the Jewish people could once again observe shmita in its fullest sense. The often bitter battles over the issue within our Chief Rabbinate are really over a basic argument as to whether modern Israel has reached that magical point.
However, it is also obvious that the heter serves another, and perhaps even more important purpose, also implied in Rabbi Kook's writings: more unity of the people and basically preventing the vast majority of the population from violating Torah-mandated shmita laws - just like other 'leniencies', for example, selling hametz on Pessah and the heter iska for banks to prevent violation of strict anti-interest laws. The Rabbinate was always meant to work with, and for, the general population, a wide range of stricter options anyway being available for more stringently observant communities.
In its new "the local rabbi will decide" policy on shmita, the Chief Rabbinate is betraying its moral and legal mandate to the entire nation - and shooting itself in the foot, since attempts to force all Israelis to observe stricter religious standards usually have the exact opposite effect ("Supreme Court challenges Rabbinate over shmita ruling," September 12).
Respect & suspect
Sir, - I can't help but feel that Michael Freund and others are somewhat naive in their rush to embrace the Christian neo-proffering of love and friendship ("No way to treat our Christian friends," September 19).
Do they really expect to balance 1,800 years of severe persecution and death in the name of Jesus, their Christ, with 30 years of alleged friendship? At best Jews should approach this phenomenon with "respect and suspicion" (kabdeihu ve'hashdeihu).
Perhaps after many years of Christians' stretching out the hand of amity, we might be comfortable enough with their sincerity to take it.
HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, - It would be wise, at Rosh Hashana time, for charitable and other organizations and businesses of all kinds to weed out from their voluminous mailing lists those who have moved or deceased.
Our mailboxes overflow with appeals, solicitation letters of all kinds - especially at this season but also throughout the year, and thousands of shekels are wasted in the vain hope of receiving contributions.
And what about the poor mailmen who have to shlep all this hopeless mail? A shekel saved is a shekel earned.
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