November 21, 2016: Troubling comments

Why Rabbi Amar has not been arrested is a mystery.

November 20, 2016 21:02

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Troubling comments

A few decades ago, then-president Ezer Weizman made some very disturbing remarks about of homosexuals. He was soon visited by a delegation of prominent Israeli LGBTs to correct him, after which he apologized. He explained that he not only regretted hurting people, but what he said had been untrue and undeserved. He promised to never say such things again and kept his word.

The reported words about LGBTs by the Sephardi chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, are even more serious (“Incitement complaint filed against Rabbi Amar,” November 18). They come decades after the incident mentioned above, a period in which the public has learned tremendously.

The rabbi insulted all nonstraights and said they were liable to be put to death. The Nazis called this “life unworthy of life.”

Did the rabbi really say this? It’s hard to believe. Let him deny it.

For those who are more traditional than Orthodox, let me review major problems with this statement according to Orthodox Judaism – which the rabbi is paid to represent.

• His attack makes Judaism seem archaic and ruthless, which is a desecration of God’s name (Judaism’s worst sin, no less).

• Needless evil speech is tantamount to the sins of murder, idol worship and illicit sexuality combined – far worse than the sins in others that the rabbi sees.

• The sin of speaking slander about a group of Jews is compounded by the number of Jews one degrades and the number of one’s readers or listeners.

• Only under extremely rare conditions was homosexual intercourse punishable by death; in all of history, these conditions were probably never met.

• Lesbians and trans-gender people are not connected to this theoretical sin at all. In any case, no one is a sinner for his or her physical condition, including sexual orientation.

On top of all this, a democratic society cannot tolerate such incitement against vulnerable groups. Just imagine if someone said that politicians with certain convictions were liable to be put to death – this person, after the murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, would be put on trial.

Why Rabbi Amar has not been arrested is a mystery. In addition, those of his colleagues who do not distance themselves from his comments share in his guilt and stand by idly, a biblical sin in itself.

The writer, co-author of the recently published Homosexuality and Halacha: It Is Not That Simple – an Encyclopedic Look at How Jewish Law Deals with Love and Sexuality between Men, has informed the Post that the name is a pseudonym and requested that a place of residence be withheld.

Their own questions

With regard to “Excuse me for asking” (Encountering Peace, November 17), Gershon Baskin assumes that if Israel were to annex Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem without granting full citizenship to the Palestinian-Arabs who live there, it “would not be able to hold on to all of it.”

He also assumes that if full citizenship were granted to these people, Israel would no longer be the Jewish nation-state.

As an international creation, Israel’s purpose was, and still is, to be the homeland of the Jewish people. In that reality, Mr. Baskin needs to recognize that any nation with a specific ethnic group – France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Russia, etc. – is inherently racist, and that Israel has the same right to protect its nationality.

The Israeli-Arab population must remain a minority in Israel to maintain Israel as a Jewish state. Those Arab citizens who are willing to leave should be financially compensated. Those who stay should remain under the jurisdiction of Jordan and accept peaceful coexistence.

Tel Aviv

I have a simple question to ask of Gershon Baskin: Show me one sovereign nation that successfully granted full citizenship to sworn enemies determined to destroy it, yet survived. If he can, we have deal.


Unfavorable view

Much can be said about Ben Lynfield’s “Who is Walid Phares, Trump’s Mideast adviser?” (November 16), and none of it favorable. It is mean spirited, wholly selective in “facts,” pungent with character assassination and judgmentally arrogant.

It whitewashes the true culprits in the morass that afflicted Lebanon.

Three external forces were behind the collapse of Lebanon starting in the mid-1970s: a Syrian military assault, Palestinian warfare and the Iranian intervention.

The Lebanese were losing their country to foreign predators, and the essential Christian component of the population, without which there was no history or future for the country, faced exile or extinction.

Walid Phares, a Lebanese Maronite academic, ideologue and activist, was one of many patriots who joined the struggle to save Lebanon and its destiny.

He understood the stakes and the diabolical actors, and personally witnessed the havoc on the playing field.

The Palestinian massacres of Maronites at Damur and Ayshieh in 1976 were ignored in the West. Syrian assassinations and the political intimidation of politicians, judges, journalists and clerics from all denominations subdued and strangled the voices of many Lebanese. But others, like Abu Arz and Bashir Gemayel, chose the path of resistance.

Phares was not, as Lynfield derisively calls him, a warmonger.

He was a loyal son of his people and country, writing and teaching for national freedom and human dignity. Indeed, the liberation of Lebanon from alien warmongers led him to appreciate the role Israel might play in the complex political equation.

Lynfield haughtily expects Phares to change his views, but with Donald Trump’s victory and Phares now slated for a top policy post in his administration, that will hardly be necessary or justified.

Jerusalem T
he writer teaches Middle East studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rothberg International School and authored two books on Lebanon: The Conscience of Lebanon: A Political Biography of Etienne Sakr (Abu- Arz), and War and Politics in Lebanon: Unraveling the Enigma.

Ben Lynfield responds: People should read the article and then decide who is “mean spirited, wholly selective in ‘facts,’ pungent with character assassination and judgmentally arrogant.”

A Cohen fan

Thank you for one of the most moving, relevant and inspiring op-eds or eulogies I’ve ever read in your paper, James A. Diamond’s “A farewell ‘hineni’ to Eliezer, the Cohen of song” (Comment & Features, November 16).

This piece is a keeper for the thousands of us here in Israel who are Cohen fans.


• Due to a technical error, the continuation of the November 20 Page 1 report “Ruth Gruber, journalist who helped Holocaust survivors, dies at 105” did not appear on Page 9. The missing paragraph is: “Gruber, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants who settled in Brooklyn, graduated from high school at 15 and from New York University at 18. After earning a master’s degree in German literature, she went to Germany and, at age 20, earned a doctorate from the University of Cologne with a dissertation on the author Virginia Woolf. The New York Times reported at the time that she was the youngest German doctor of philosophy. (JTA)
• In “Cruel and unusual” (Editorial, November 20), Jonathan Pollard’s first name was inadvertently misspelled. In addition, it was the Federal Bureau of Prisons and other agencies that allowed the interview in question, and not as stated.

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