January 13: A time for everything

I am appalled at the directions taken by those understandably upset by the recent events in Beit Shemesh.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
A time for everything
Sir, – I am appalled – nay, furious – at the directions taken by many of those who are understandably upset by the recent events in Beit Shemesh (“Beit Shemesh goes to the streets,” Cover, December 30). I fear that the essence of the matter has been perverted beyond recognition.
There is no doubt that it is criminal to spit upon, and verbally or physically abuse, young girls and women who represent a way of life different than one’s own, – or for any other reason. There is no excuse for this type of behavior.
But we are confusing a way of life with women’s rights, separation with discrimination, and thuggery with religious beliefs. In the process, we are condemning many positive experiences that take place in the Jewish community.
I refer specifically to the letter of December 30 (“Dark collaboration”), which strongly condemned an advertisement for an event for women and girls only. As Kohelet wrote in Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything under Heaven.” There is a time for men and women to work together and a time for them to be apart. There is incredibly great strength created when women learn together, perform together, sing together and band together in the many organizations that do works of kindness and charity in Israel and throughout the world.
Let us please separate the issues so we can help our leaders proceed with clarity to create a more wholesome society.
Sir, – The objection by letter writers Anthony and Judith Luder to an ad for a women-only performance (“Dark collaboration”) is precisely the sort of intolerance we do not need.
While not all Orthodox Jews believe that the prohibition of kol isha, a woman’s singing voice, is applicable in many modern circumstances (there are always religious Jewish men in the audiences of musicals and other performances where women sing), it is still a legitimate position within the body of halachic literature.
The prohibition, significantly, is not against women singing. It is against men listening to them sing. Many religious women are deeply uncomfortable performing in front of men. The recent growth of womenonly performances has provided a fantastic opportunity for religious women to express their talents to 51 percent of the population without compromising their values. I make special note of the Raise Your Spirits theater group, which performs, from what I am told, on a professional level and gives women and girls the chance to fulfill their dreams.
Anyone who objects to this is not defending women at all, but simply attempting to censor their chosen religious lifestyle.
The danger to Israel
Sir, – Alon Ben-Meir has it all wrong (“The settlers’ movement is a threat to Israel’s existence,” Above the Fray, December 30). Settling our biblical homeland of Judea and Samaria isn’t the threat – it’s those who swallow the Arabs’ story, hook, line and sinker! Hoodlums are a small group amid the hundreds of thousands of people who live there today, and, yes, they should be dealt with.
But they threaten Israel’s existence? They, at least, realize the importance of the Land of Israel to the people of Israel, as does Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Many others, Ben-Meir included, have forgotten this integral part of our national heritage – and that our nation’s heart was in Shiloh, Beit El and Jerusalem, and not in Tel Aviv or Herzliya.
The problem is the conflicting message put out by the government. On the one hand, Netanyahu has not capitulated and given in to the world, but the orders to demolish established outposts, where many people live (as opposed to a one- or two-building plot), go out seemingly every week. Our prime minister has to decide which side of the fence he’s on.
Sir, – Alon Ben-Meir, who is a professor of Middle Eastern studies, should know better.
He should know that Israel’s very existence is basis for the threat to its existence, not the settlements. The same threat existed before there was a single settlement in Judea and Samaria (or, as he calls it, the West Bank).
Ben-Meir says that the issue of settlements “is viewed as a matter of inherent historical rights and existence of each side.” He should know that Israel’s claims are based on 4,000 years of Jewish history, not a political claim by the Arabs that emerged after Israel reclaimed the land following the defensive 1967 war. Until then, the claim for a nation of Palestine had never been recognized, even by fellow Muslims and Arabs.
If Israel’s security has been greatly endangered by its withdrawal from Gaza, what makes Ben-Meir think it will be enhanced by a withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and the Jordan River valley? I can’t understand why he would endanger Israel’s existence based on false hopes rather than securing its existence based on true facts.
Sir, – I am really surprised at Alon Ben- Meir, a professor whose knowledge of history seems to start from 1967. All he does is blame the “settlers” and the “occupation.”
My daughter-in-law’s great-grandfather was slaughtered at the dinner table on a Friday night in 1929 in Hebron. In 1947 my cousin, a mother of three young children, was hit in the throat and killed by a bullet from an Arab sniper in Jerusalem. In 1948, on the last night of Passover, our district was shelled because Iraqi gangs wanted to adjust their gun sights. Because of the constant shelling later on, we were forced to spend months at a time with little food in tiny basements together with dozens of people who stank because there was no water to wash themselves.
These are only a few of our personal experiences.
Who were the “occupiers” then? Who were the “settlers” then?