Sir, – Yes, as you say in “Obama’s strategy” (Editorial, September 2), “the ongoing civil war in Syria is primarily a humanitarian crisis.” And yes, Iran does present a far more consequential, though not unrelated, geopolitical challenge.
That, however, hardly ensures that the West in general, or the Obama administration in particular, will be any less vacillating and timorous in addressing it. The administration’s past pushbacks against congressional sanctions against Iran, and its demonic pursuit of deadend diplomacy, long have foreshadowed the willful weakness projected by this latest foreign policy fiasco.
At best, Obama’s strategy is ad hoc, neither well considered nor wise. Its bedrock foreign policy principle appears to be abhorrence at any projection of American power. The administration absolutely cannot be counted upon to confront the growing Iranian nuclear weaponry threat.
Seldom has the Psalmist admonition “Trust not in princes” been more apt. If Iran is to be stopped, it is Israel that must do it.
RICHARD D. WILKINS Syracuse, New York
Sir, – It is a tragedy that the United States, once considered the leader of the Western world, stands alone.
She has no real allies. England will not do anything about Syria. France is waiting for America and will not commit itself. The Arab League is desperate to avoid American actions and has begged the United Nations to act. Russia and China are protecting Syria.
Iran will emerge as the only great power in all this Middle East conflagration because the US has allowed small violations against morality to become huge violations. So the world, which allowed the Nazis to bring about World War II, is allowing Iran to bring about a nuclear holocaust.
Cowardice never pays off.
The US is now faced with the consequences of its long inaction.
We pray it can still find its moral compass and do what is necessary in Syria – and defeat Iran there.
THELMA SUSSWEIN Jerusalem
Sir, – In 1951 I made aliya and have retained my UK nationality (in addition to Israeli). Since then I have usually been proud to be British. But Parliament’s recent rejection of the prime minister’s proposal to act against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of gas on innocent civilians filled me with shame.
Must the US act without the support of the “mother of democracy,” which has recognized Syria’s opposition coalition as the “sole representative of the Syrian people?” I understand a reluctance to invade following the Iraq and Afghanistan experiences, but the US only wants support for limited strikes.
Parliament’s vote reminded me of Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler at Czechoslovakia’s expense.
If this rejection is irrevocable, the UK could at least agree to accept a significant number of Syrian refugees and provide ample aid to refugees taken in by other countries. It must also take a firmer stand against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
RAPHAEL RAYMOND BAR-ON Ramat Hasharon Tolling for us
Sir, – Regarding “Merchants at Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall react with shock at foiled Rosh Hashana terrorist plot” September 2), I never fail to be surprised that there are those who are stunned when our “peace partners” turn on us.
Wake up, people. It is never going to change. In fact, there is no incentive for change because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has told his people, and ours, that he will liberate all of Palestine, whereafter there will be not even one Jew.
Prospective terrorists realize there is no consequence for murdering Jews, whether they be men, women, children or babies. They will serve some time in an Israeli prison, where they will be treated to first-class accommodations (lest we be accused of maltreatment) and then released as a concession to prop up the terrorist Abbas.
Our prime minister has made it clear to them that he is ready, able and more than willing to surrender more Jewish land, even at the cost of making hundreds of thousands of his own people refugees in their own country.
The bell tolls. It tolls for us.
EDITH OGNALL Netanya Seeking Sara
Sir, – Regarding the list in “Gal-On: Gov’t should need MKs’ approval for war” (September 2) about the chain of authority for decision-making, starting from the government on down to the “kitchen table,” at the end of the day where is Sara Netanyahu in this picture?
URI HIRSCH Netanya
Sir, – We read the article about Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (“South African-born Mirvis replaces long-serving Sacks as UK chief rabbi,” September 2) with interest. However, there was a surprising omission.
For the past 17 years Rabbi Mirvis was the highly successful leader of the Finchley (Kinloss) community, where we spent a very happy seven years before making aliya. His work there was supremely successful in unifying a fractured community and transforming it into the flagship of the United Synagogue.
Under his aegis, education programs for all ages and levels of knowledge have flourished.
The Kinloss Learning Centre is a model already followed by many other communities.
There is a recently established kollel. Morasha, a new Jewish primary school to which he gave much support, is thriving.
We wish the rabbi and his wife, Valerie, every success in their new and challenging roles.
SIDNEY and AVELYN HASS Jerusalem
Sir, – Look at the tragedy happening in Egypt.
Dozens of our Coptic churches have been set on fire. Priests and nuns have been beaten and humiliated. Catholic orphanages have been burned.
Christian children have suffered attacks by the Muslim Brotherhood and even by “moderate” Muslims.
Christians have been living in Egypt since before the rise of Islam. Why does the Christian world not help us? The Muslim Brotherhood wants to make a holocaust of the Christian population and the world keeps silent.
Only in Israel, of the whole Middle East, are Christians free and our rights – and rites – fully protected.
GEORGES KHOURI Jaffa
Nutty or not
Sir, – The custom of many people is not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashana. Why? Because the word for sin in Hebrew is mistakenly given the same numerical value as the Hebrew word for nut.
Those who observe this custom do so because they do not wish anything that suggests sin to interfere with their repentance.
The main reasoning is flawed, however, because the numerical value of the Hebrew word for nut, 17, is not the same as that of the Hebrew word for sin, which, when properly spelled with a silent alef, is 18.
Instead, the numerical value of the Hebrew word for nut equals that of the Hebrew word for good. Therefore, the eating of nuts should be permitted at Rosh Hashana to remind one of the central theme of the High Holy Days, namely, to change one’s sinful behavior to good.
Another of the “mystical” reasons for preventing nuts from being consumed at Rosh Hashana is because they overproduce saliva, which can prevent the worshiper from properly articulating his or her prayers. Perhaps the worst offender is the peanut, which, God forbid, can stick in one’s throat. However, for Passover, peanuts magically morph back to kitniyot, or pulses, rather than nuts – which shows the inconsistency of these customs.
Let’s get serious. It is the penitential, not penutential, season!
LEONARD BOOK Ashkelon
The writer is a rabbi