Letters: week of July 29

Readers' reactions to Glenn Beck's support of Israel.

Still making waves
Sir, – In “Israel – You are not the bad guy” (Cover, July 22), Michael Freund and Gil Hoffman reflect on Glenn Beck’s tearful Auschwitz experience with a sensitivity and understanding that throw light on his important commitment to the welfare of Israel.
“This isn’t showmanship – it is a sense of kinship, an expression of Beck’s deeply felt solidarity with the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” they write. “It is that sense of amity, of pathos for the Jewish suffering and delight in Jewish success, that permeate the interview with him.”
Having had the privilege of listening to Glenn Beck in Australia, I fully agree.

Sir, – Will the real Glenn Beck please stand up? The Glenn Beck I know was (and probably still is) a rabblerousing, right-wing fanatic who made Fox News so popular among the uninformed and misinformed in the United States. Now he leaves Fox and comes to Israel to preach to us about how good we are; in other words, “don’t take any crap from anyone.”
I would like very much to believe that this new Glenn Beck is the real one, but that’s a hard switch.
Sir, – Glenn Beck is one of the most controversial media figures there is – and your writers cannot think of a single tough question to ask him, say, for example, about the charges that many have leveled against him of anti-Semitism and trivializing the Holocaust. This article might as well have been a paid advertisement.

And the merits?
Sir, – There may be a case against Sundays off (“Never on Sunday,” Guest Columnist, July 22), but David Rosenberg doesn’t make it.
Two potential flaws are mentioned in brief (whether the added hours will be productive and whether commuting for half a day is wasteful). But if he argues that the Sunday plan is a “less-than-noble” tactic of populism meant to secure a future where Silvan Shalom replaces Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister, then his response is a similar tactic meant to scare the audience.
Some red herrings: Half a day on Friday is wasted because the Israeli hours overlap only somewhat with Europe, and not at all with North America, says the author. However, there is currently no overlap with those places on a fullworkday Sunday. OECD numbers describing how many Israelis don’t work are used as proof; will those who now don’t work on Sunday end up working less with vacation Sundays? Least productive in the discussion is the convoluted suggestion that the extra work hours will exhaust us too much to enjoy our 2.5-day vacation (have you met the person too tired to relax?), while statistics rating Israelis’ life satisfaction say we’re happy enough – we apparently don’t need the break anyway.
At the same time we are reminded that “most of us already have a two-day weekend.”
According to the last study on the subject (Gutman), 25 percent of Israeli Jews are Shabbat-observant, while another 50%, mostly Jews of Middle Eastern heritage, are traditional and somewhat Shabbat-observant. While the survey dates from 1993, it is clear that a large proportion of Israeli society (that which refrains from many actions on Shabbat and spends Friday in preparation) does not “already have a two-day weekend.”
As for Israel’s large Muslim minority, before suggesting that the plan is somehow aimed against it as part of a regional conflict, the author would do well to note that the largest Muslim state, Indonesia, along with states such as Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia and Turkey, all have Western-style Saturday- Sunday weekends.
While the author is clearly critical of the political Right, which is at the moment a central backer of the proposed changes to the work week, it is unfortunate that he focuses more on the criticism and less on the merits.
Lost in time
Sir, – “The Beduin host on the Mount of Olives” (Feature, July 15) was very interesting. It seems Ibrahim Abu el-Hawa’s family was on the mount since the time of Muhammad, when the area was nice and green. No mention is made of the Jewish cemetery that has been there for around 3,000 years.
What is more interesting is the fact that Ibrahim’s father was “a stone-cutter and he delivered headstones to all the Jewish communities.” The question arises as to what headstones he cut and what Jews he delivered them to between the years 1949 and 1967, when no Jews lived there.
Hatzor Haglilit
Two tacks on Sarah
Sir, – Reading Sarah Honig’s “Double standards to uphold” (Another Tack, July 15) is a horrific and sick-making experience. The column is an exemplar of precisely what she accuses others of and is in itself no more than extreme and vicious incitement.
Irrespective of one’s personal political opinions, this piece of frothing-at-the-mouth journalism is a disgrace to the writer and the newspaper that publishes it, and an insult to your readers. For the sake of responsible and sane journalism, I strongly urge her to try “another tack.”
Sir, – Sarah Honig’s column took me back, way back to the days of The Palestine Post, back to 1947-48 when I served as foreign news editor. David Courtney (a.k.a. Roy Elston) produced a column that was always an insightful take on a major story in the day’s news. We are fortunate to have a worthy successor to him in Sarah Honig.
I only regret that there is no published collection of her articles – I find myself cutting them out every Saturday night! Warmest congratulations, and keep up the good work!
They didn’t RSVP
Sir, – Neither Jonathan Rosenblum’s well-reasoned account of the halachic debate (“No winners in the ‘Torat Hamelech’ controversy,” Think Again, July 15) nor Sarah Honig’s exposure of the venal media’s agenda-driven bias really dealt with the real issue surrounding the questioning of rabbis Dov Lior and Ya’acov Yosef regarding Torat Hamelech: Both had been summoned by the police to give evidence regarding an investigation, and both declined to do so.
This is unacceptable if there is to be rule of law. What choice, then, did the authorities have? All the arguments about police bias against the Right (even if justified – and in light of the constant attacks against the police by the Left, hardly plausible) are irrelevant. If you are called to give evidence, you go or suffer the consequences with dignity. End of story.
Rosh Pina
Sir, – Jonathan Rosenblum accuses the police of “...dragging respected rabbis in for questioning...” and “hauling them in to the police station....” I had understood that the police summoned the two to be interviewed and they both refused. Only then were they escorted to the station by the police. Not hauled and not dragged.
He goes on with, “What could possibly have been gained from such questioning? The police were presumably not intending to engage (the rabbis) in halachic pilpul – something... beyond their competence....” He finishes by accusing the deputy state prosecutor of inflicting “deep, and unnecessary, damage to our already frayed social fabric.”
One would have thought that as a Yale graduate in law, Rosenblum would expect community leaders such as rabbis to respect a summons by the state prosecutor’s office.