November 23, 2016: Fed up with El Al

No other airline pilots are treating the traveling public in this manner.

By
November 22, 2016 20:20
Letters

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Fed up with El Al

With regard to “El Al crisis continues as pilots refuse to fly round-trips” (November 21), is it not high time that El Al management and the pilots woke up to the fact that it might be pointless playing for public sympathy? There are plenty of alternatives on many routes, and the public is getting fed up with being treated as pawns. Both management and pilots could find that they are doing irreparable damage.

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No other airline pilots are treating the traveling public in this manner.

PETER SIMPSON
Jerusalem


Placement priorities

I was simply amazed to read on the front page of the November 21 Jerusalem Post “Ramallah’s Christians still make the best hummus,” while “Israel boycotted in Chilean gathering of diplomats’ wives” was relegated to Page 10. Where are your priorities?

SARA STERZER
Beit Shemesh


The article “Chief rabbi, Muslim clerics call for end to violence” (November 20) would have served all of us better had it been on the front page, and not relegated to Page 4.

So long as grassroots diplomacy and “Track 2” diplomacy are not treated as the worthy and powerful assets they are, their important and powerful work is diminished. Their voice is decreased, their essential contributions are lessened, and a bridge between Jews and Arabs is not fully used.

MICHAEL M. COHEN
Ketura
The writer is a rabbi.


A fit over Trump

With regard to “The Trump revolution, Israel and American Jews” (Candidly Speaking, November 21), the Anti-Defamation League and a slew of other liberally-bent Jewish advocacy, religious and social organizations are in a fit over Donald Trump’s election and his appointment of Stephen Bannon, a longtime opponent of antisemitism and anti-Israelism. They’ve gone so far as to label Bannon an antisemite on the flimsiest of evidence.

What of the disparaging comments by the Clinton campaign (and the Left in general) against people of faith, the intelligence of rural America and certain ethnicities? I’m sure that ADL solicitations are already in the mail, referring to Walmart stocks of crosses, white hoods and bed sheets being sold out.

If my sarcasm offends, consider the outrageous comparisons of Trump with Hitler, his policies with fascism and his election with the tragedy of 9/11, as well as accusations of sympathy for the Ku Klux Klan and the absurdity of shiva rites being practiced. Particularly haughty are the organizations touting their “Jewish” bona fides and their fight for alleged “Jewish” values in the process.

American Jewish leadership has presided over one of most self-destructive periods in Jewish history, resulting in horrendous assimilation and intermarriage rates at around 70%. Even if you accept attempts to spread the tent poles ever farther apart to increase the Jewish population, American Jewry is in decline due to a negative birth rate. The overstretched tent canopy is shredding.

Antisemitism has decimated the Jewish people by millions. But for all the efforts fighting for Jewish survival against external enemies, self-inflicted decimation has its millions of victims, too.

At least we in Israel know how to survive as Jews at the most fundamental level. We consider ourselves and our values worthy of reproduction. It would seem we are not the ones in need of lectures from our American elitist brothers on what’s good for Israeli or Jewish survival.

GABRIEL GOLDBERG
Jerusalem


Racism by design?

In “Excuse me for asking” (Encountering Peace, November 17), Gershon Baskin asks how Israel could become the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people while endlessly confining the Palestinians under occupation and settlement expansionism. Four Israeli prime ministers asked the same question and made an apartheid or South Africa connection, including David Ben-Gurion.

JanSuzanne Krasner, the only reader trying to “answer” this (“Their own questions,” Letters, November 21), says that states based on nationality, like many in Europe, are “inherently racist, and... Israel has the same right to protect its nationality.” But democratic countries originating in nationality are still egalitarian.

Both the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate declare that it is “clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” Israel’s Declaration of Independence says the state will “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”

Whether based on nationality (like Sweden) or on internationality (like Israel), is Israel or any country supposed to be racist?

JAMES ADLER
Cambridge, Massachusetts


Conversion tales

I offer two examples to help prove the thesis of Steven M. Cohen in his discussion of the two types of convert (“Rabbinical vs personal converts to Judaism: What’s the difference?” Comment & Features, November 17).

In 1962, I was given the opportunity to instruct a candidate for conversion. She was Chinese, and I understood from the sessions with her and her intended that it was very difficult for his parents. She was an excellent student, with a deep spiritual quest to be a good Jew. I completed my instruction and she was converted by a Conservative rabbi.

In 1966, my fellow chaplain, Rabbi David Saltzman, was serving in Vietnam. Often, he would fly to islands where Jewish soldiers were stationed, some with their wives. He reached one island in the Pacific and was taken to the home of an Air Force officer. Saltzman enjoyed a fine kosher meal, all the food flown in. The officer’s Chinese wife asked: “Where is David Geffen, who was my teacher?”

In Wilmington, Delaware, I served as a rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom. Two African- Americans came to see me. They wanted to enter a program of instruction to be converted to Judaism. One dropped out quickly, but after six months of intensive study, the other became a Jew.

Every Shabbat morning, this man religiously came to shul. Frequently, he was given an aliya. One Yom Kippur, one of the people who was to have an aliya became ill. The High Holy Day chairman told me he was giving the aliya to the convert.

On Yom Kippur morning, he was called to the Torah. Sitting in the last row, with 1,500 attendees, he walked through the synagogue that morning and chanted the blessings with real conviction.

DAVID GEFFEN
Jerusalem


Issues with pot


Some people have decided that cannabis is not so bad. Yet I have heard that in drug rehab programs, it is usually the cannabis smokers who are the most troubled patients, often showing a serious, withdrawn intensity coupled with strange conspiracy theories.

There must be good reason why marijuana is banned in virtually every country. It is also well known that regular users struggle with motivation. Many move on to harder drugs.

Marijuana use could bring out schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Like drinking and gambling, it can be harmless fun for many, but other users will develop serious problems. It is almost like playing Russian Roulette when trying these things.

Criminalizing users is usually counter-productive because they have enough problems as it is. They mostly need love, not criminal records or rejection. It is the dealers who should be prosecuted more harshly.

If there are any medical applications for for the use of marijuana, let us be guided by science rather than folklore so that it can be used properly.

MARTIN ZAGNOEV
Johannesburg


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