Letters: Week of November 18

Is there ever really a united rabbinical perspective on anything significantly important to the State of Israel?

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Well founded ideas
Sir, – In your November 4 issue, there are two exceptional articles that exemplify what is needed in order to provide for Israel’s security.
Israel Kasnett (“Leading by example,” A View from Israel) states that the entire world “would scream and holler, but Israel has the authorization, according to all human-rights laws, to defend itself.” How true.
Naomi Ragen (“How did we get here?,” (Consider This, November 4) wrote: “What is it going to take for this government to act in a responsible way which shows it is running a sovereign state, not negotiating with the Czar’s police to prevent another pogrom?”
Kol hakavod to both of them for their well-founded ideasMARILYN CYTRYN Jerusalem
Poor behavior
Sir, – Naomi Ragen details the constant terrorist attacks under which our people have been living for so many years, as well as the non-intervention by our esteemed defense minister, well known for his scare tactics that end up with him in surrender mode and the enemy left in charge.
Only in Israel does the enemy make the decision when to have a ceasefire and when to resume killing. Even though we are fighting for our very existence, our prime minister sees fit to continue only a tit-for-tat reaction while at the same time begging the terrorist-in-a-suit Mahmoud Abbas to please negotiate so that we can make him a gift of our land.
Ragen writes of a proposed visit to Gush Katif expellees, only to be phoned at 10 o’clock the night before and told it had been cancelled because the only bomb shelters were IDF-supplied sewer pipes and it was therefore too dangerous. It beggars belief.
The answer to how we got here, in my opinion, started with Moshe Dayan taking down our flag on the Temple Mount and replacing it with a Muslim flag. It continued when we were afraid to go the extra mile and defeat our enemies and instead made concessions – when we gave up Sinai, Hebron and Gaza; when Shimon Peres brought back the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat from Tunis, enabling him to eventually murder and maim over 1,000 more Israelis; when we have to ask our enemy for permission to enter our holy sites and are refused because it might upset them.
We don’t know how to behave like a sovereign state.YENTEL JACOBS Netanya

Fright rail
Sir, – With a heavy heart and after much hesitation, I write you in response to “The not-so fast track” (Real Israel, November 4).
Ever since the start of the Second Intifada, I have ridden Jerusalem buses thanks to brave Egged drivers who risk their lives all day long to keep our city life going. They are experienced and pay attention to everyone coming in, always ready to slam the door on any spooky face.
How different the new light rail is. Passengers pour into the cars without any supervision. While buses have doorpersons, the rail monster offers free entrance to all.
As icing on the cake, the ride starts in east Jerusalem. Its advocates call it the “peace train.” I call it the “rest in peace train.”
I now walk the length of Jaffa Road and intend to keep doing so. Better to arrive late than dead.
Let us cut our losses and abandon this blight rail.MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem
Riotous comedy...
Sir, – Regarding “No laughing matter” (Interview, November 4), Jason Alexander and One Voice are definitely a laughing matter.
A two-state solution will only happen when the Palestinians of both the PLO and Hamas (you could also include Hezbollah as an outside potential partner) forget their all-or-nothing stance. Also, they will need to change their educational programs to deal with peace and not hate.
And let’s not forget land swaps. There are Arab towns and villages along the 1949 armistice lines that constantly side with their Palestinian brethren; let them become part of that state.MOSHE JOSEPH Kiryat Motzkin
 ...and funny numbers
Sir, – Regarding “The Palestinian refugees: The real victims of Arab politics” (Above the Fray, November 4), the true victims are not mentioned at all.
Most of the 700,000 “refugees” from 1950 noted in the article can hardly be considered Palestinian. The UN census required only that they were in Palestine for two years prior to fleeing the war. That definition allowed thousands of Arabs who came from Iraq, Syria and other places to be included.
Many of these people came to British-controlled Palestine in search of better economic conditions. Some helped build Haifa port in the 1930s. Despite our myth about Jews building roads in Galilee, much of that work was also done by imported Arab labor.
Lax British border controls – at least with regard to Arabs – resulted in a massive increase in the Arab population that even official documents could not explain.ARYEH WETHERHORN Elazar
Rabbis disjointed
Sir, – I found your November 4 Judaism section really incongruous – in fact, quite annoying.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin (“No gain from the pain,” Parshat Lech Lecha) verified, via his rabbinic seal of approval, Israel’s right to bring Gilad Schalit home, and then stated that Israel, as a sovereign state, should refuse to negotiate with terrorists.
Then, Rabbi Shlomo Brody (“Does Halacha support the Gilad Schalit exchange?,” Ask the Rabbi) – albeit via a different rabbinic seal of approval – verified that we should be using military solutions to free captured soldiers.
So what was, or is, our collective rabbinic perspective on this vital and critical issue of captured soldiers and negotiating with terrorists? Is there ever really a united rabbinical perspective on anything significantly important to the State of Israel? Rabbi Reuven Hammer (“The new Jew and the true Jew,” Tradition Today) harassed us about driving habits here in Israel as compared to the US and Australia (which, unlike us, use stringent rules and severe fines to control bad driving habits), and used this to introduce Prof. Gad Yair’s new book, The Code of Israeliness.
Hammer honed in immediately on our negatives without considering that when there is darkness, there is always the possibility of light! “Have we really sunk so low,” he asked – and then sank really low by criticizing and castigating us collectively for forgetting “the qualities and characteristics that Jewish tradition has tried to inculcate in us for thousands of years.”
I found Hammer’s comments to be incredibly self-righteous, highly judgmental and even offensive. Israel is almost 64 years young. We are doing the best we can and could do even better if our rabbis were to unite in some useful way to guide and teach us how to “soften the New Jew” he yearns for in his column.JANET SERNACK Zichron Ya’acov
Tasteless in hard times
Sir, – I find it most distasteful that you continue to publish articles and photographs of luxury homes in Israel following a clear and popular demonstration from the public criticizing the unavailability of affordable housing.
The cost of one house described in your last issue (“View from the top,” Homes, October 28) probably exceeds the cost of several apartments for families with three or four children.
In deference to the needs of so many of your readers, please refrain from publishing these articles.MYRA ZION Tel Mond