September 8: We’re not animals

Coming in the middle of the night to destroy the Guttmans’ home was not the act of a compassionate civil society.

letters (photo credit: JP)
(photo credit: JP)
We’re not animals
Sir, – “They smashed our hearts and souls” (September 6) devastates all of us. This is not the way to demolish a family home, nor should it have been demolished at all.
We are not animals. Coming in the middle of the night to destroy the Guttmans’ home was not the act of a compassionate civil society. I love being an Israeli, but this makes me heartsick.
We must change this horrible political agenda, although the media and our political system hamstring us.
We do not take down Arab homes that are illegally built while our government tries to find peace with Palestinians who don’t want peace. Why can’t we get our priorities in line with reality?

Naive in Ramallah
Sir, – Sefi Rachlevsky, one of the people who met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah (“Ross, Hale arrive for final push to start talks and block PA’s UN bid,” September 6), supports the PA’s plan for a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines because “this is a realization of the Zionist dream when a people declare their independence.”
How can he compare this to the 2,000-year-old Jewish dream to return to Zion? Rachlevsky says the group that went to Ramallah was deeply impressed by the “extremely moderate” views expressed by Abbas. What moderate views? What about all the anti-Israel statements the PA president makes in Arabic? Rachlevsky also says the West Bank and the Western Wall should be placed under Palestinian control, and that once there is a Palestinian state, “Israel can always demand that certain parts of the West Bank and the Western Wall be placed under Israeli control.”
The Arabs will say drop dead.
The funniest part of the article was when Abbas told his visitors that the Palestinian state will be “democratic and free, with equality between men and women.” Sure. Just like in Gaza.
How naive can Rachlevsky or anyone else be to believe this?

Creating controversy
Sir, – Both sides in the science- versus-religion debate need to come off their high perches (“Does questioning evolution make you anti-science?,” No Holds Barred, September 6).
Scientists are wrong to exclude purpose in evolution and to say that the cosmos and life came about by chance alone. On the contrary, the course of evolution is predictable based on its constraints, convergences and self organization.
And evolution has progressed from simple replicating nucleotides to human beings.
When progress is added to predictability, a powerful argument results: that the world was intended, not happenstance.
This intention includes ourselves.
But religion’s literalists are just as wrong in their insistence that the first seven paragraphs in Genesis provide the scientific data about the origin of the natural world.
These stunning paragraphs teach many crucial matters, including divine order, the unity of all that is and its inherent goodness. But if you want to know the facts of how the world came about you’ll need the sciences, from astronomy to zoology.
Of course the world has evolved – this was God’s method of creation.
Zichron Ya’acov

The writer is a physician
Sir, – Shmuley Boteach mixes his levels in trying to harmonize evolution and creation.
The former is backed by an empirical confirmation of its findings and is indeed subject to continuous modification, though its basics have not as yet been disproved. It can have no bearing whatsoever on biblical stories, all of which are there to teach us right from wrong and are totally irrelevant to the fruits of scientific research into evolution or medicine.
The moral imperative does not depend on empirical confirmation, which in any case is only temporary. Or as that renowned Orthodox rabbinic authority Yehezkel Abramsky was never tired of emphasizing at the conclusion of the Book of Esther: “And as for the acts of Ahasuerus’s power and might, and the full account of Mordecai’s claim to fame, are they not written in the archives of the kings of Media and Persia?” If you are looking for history, anthropology or any other scientific discipline, go to the universities, but not to the Torah, which is a timeless guide on how to behave and lead a good and holy life.

Sir, – Was Shmuley Botech being deliberately misleading? All science is theory because it is an on-going process, not an encyclopedia of facts. Unlike mathematics, which can establish proofs, it seeks to find the best possible understanding of natural phenomena in such a way that the conjectures can be tested.
There is a vast amount of DNA evidence to establish evolution and natural selection.
Find it in books and natural history museums. There is also much fossil evidence to support Darwin’s work. For example, trace the steps through which a small, five-toed creature turned into today’s large one-toed horse, or the steps by which a creature related to a modern day rhino became a whale.
Evolution in action can be seen in the scientists’ struggle to develop new medicines to defeat microbes that adapt to (and sometimes thrive on) other medicines.
No one with an open, rational mind can doubt Darwinian evolution in the broad sense, although biologists argue over bits of the detail.
Perhaps Boteach wrote the piece to trumpet that he had twice shared a platform with Richard Dawkins. It is a pity that a news organization as respected as The Jerusalem Post gave space to his nonsense.
York, UK

Political albatross
Sir, – Dan Halutz once again raises his voice in favor of failed policies that continue to harm Israel (“Former chief of IDF General Staff says Israel should talk to Hamas,” September 4).
Halutz’s command of the 2005 unilateral withdrawal of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip’s strategic Philadelphi line helped bring Hamas to power and destabilize the frontier with Egypt. His highly criticized over-reliance on air power against Hezbollah in 2006 led to his resignation soon after.
And now we have his call to negotiate not with a usual enemy, but with Hamas. One can only lose in any negotiation with the devil.
The Kadima Party would do well to remove the likes of Halutz from its ranks if it hopes to win the next election.

Jumping the gun
Sir, – UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness postulates (“UNRWA on op-ed,” Letters, August 25) that the US State Department has already conducted a study of Palestinian Authority textbooks that “found that the textbooks we use are free of incitement, and that the curriculum is ‘peaceful’ and one in which ‘religious and political tolerance was emphasized.’” That is not the case.
A State Department official has written to our agency saying it received reports from two Palestinian-oriented organizations that described PA textbooks in a positive manner.
However, the official also indicated that the State Department had not yet issued any report of its own on the subject of text books. The State Department is currently conducting a study under the auspices of Yale University’s Bruce Wexler.
It would seem that UNRWA jumped the gun.

The writer is director of the Israel Resource News Agency.