With so much horrific news about Ukraine, it is not easy to focus on climate change, but “UN climate report says drastic action needed,” with the subtitle “‘Delay means death’ says UN Secretary-General Guterres” (March 1) should be a wake-up call to the urgency of doing everything possible to avert a climate catastrophe. As the article points out, “For people, time is running out to make the society-wide transformations needed, the report authors warn.”
There is only one possibility to avert a climate catastrophe, and that is with a society-wide shift toward vegan diets. That would have two major advantages that other approaches do not have.
First, it would sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since there would be far fewer cows emitting methane. This is very significant because methane is about 84 times more potent than CO2 per unit weight in warming the atmosphere and, unlike CO2 that remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, most methane leaves the atmosphere in ten years.
Second, and even more important, it would enable the reforestation of the third of the world’s ice-free land that is currently being used for grazing and growing feed crops for animals. That would sequester much of the atmospheric CO2 reducing it from its current very dangerous level to a safe one.
We have a choice between a mostly vegan world and a largely uninhabitable world. May we make the right choice so that there will be a decent, habitable, environmentally sustainable world for future generations. There is no planet B.
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ
Respect for all
Regarding the Mercaz HaRav event (“Grapevine,” February 18), I would like to correct some distorted facts: The event to commemorate 40 years since the passing of the former head of Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, took place in an auditorium of the International Convention Center (Binyanei Hauma) in Jerusalem and not in the yeshiva as mentioned. The auditorium was packed with thousands of people including former yeshiva students who have been serving as rabbis and heads of yeshivot for many years. Also attending were current students from Mercaz HaRav in addition to many students from other yeshivot throughout Israel and university students as well. I saw the entire event on YouTube Live while my husband attended in person and sat in a row close to the stage.
President Isaac Herzog, who is known for his attempts to unite society, was introduced with the highest respect and was applauded and cheered as he entered the stage. After his words of praise for the teachings of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda, President Herzog mentioned the tragic incident involving the death of the elderly Palestinian-American man who was stopped by soldiers who had asked him for identity documents. According to the soldiers, the man went ‘ballistic’ causing the soldiers to place him in a building on the side with three other suspects. The episode is still under investigation and the facts have not been fully established. President Herzog said that Jewish ethics would not tolerate such behavior and went on to quote Rabbi Zvi Yehuda’s teachings on ethical Jewish behavior which show respect for all human beings.
Yes, there were boos and heckling for a few minutes but not during the whole address. It seems that some young high school students were bothered by the fact that the president chose to speak about Jewish violence toward Arabs while not mentioning Arab violence toward Jews. It isn’t fair to accuse Mercaz HaRav students for the booing. There were so many students from different places in the audience.
After President Herzog ended his address, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, the rosh yeshiva of Mercaz Harav, walked up to the podium and criticized the hecklers by saying that our teachings of Jewish ethics require us to show respect for all even when their views are different from ours.
Offer it can’t refuse
Kudos to your reporter, Herb Keinon, for his masterful presentation of Putin’s unfolding strategy in relation to the Middle East in general and the Syria-Iran nexus in particular (“An unfolding war in the distance echoes loudly in the Middle East,” February 25). My op-ed article published on your pages of January 9, long before the current Russian offensive, “Ukraine and a new Russo-Chinese world order,” previewed what the West now confronts in spades. The West may, now in haste, sign a new nuclear pact with Iran thereby giving an ally of Moscow the resources exponentially to further destabilize the Middle East and especially Israel’s borders, while at the same time providing sanctioned Russia with a petrol windfall as Iran expands its output.
Such Iranian destabilization vis-a-vis moxie Israel, however, should be the last thing that Moscow needs as it comfortably continues to expand its forward military naval and air facilities in Syria, menacing the soft underbelly of Europe and Turkey. As a retired US foreign service officer with many years of service in the Muslim countries of the Middle East and Africa, I can foresee Tehran accepting a forceful Russian offer it can’t refuse – leave Syria to Russia. The message would be clear that both countries should focus on the bigger strategic objective of hobbling the West now that a new world order is in the making. In sum, Tehran could be persuaded that Israel can wait. What a way to advance geopolitical interfaith – an axis of Christian Russia, atheist China and Muslim Iran.
It is up to Israel to decide whether this would be a welcome development – a Syria totally controlled and protected by Russia alone with its implications for America. If Russia would miss having Iran’s military assistance in Syria, Iranian forces and their proxies could be replaced by pliable Muslim Chechen troops after their duty in Ukraine. However this may be, keeping belligerent Iran also in this new equation, with the imminent danger of a flare-up involving Israel, cannot be good for anyone.
Oath of office
Ruthie Blum”s “How dare Israel send an anti-Zionist envoy to Shanghai?” (February 25) brought to mind a question that has long bothered me on this subject. Some years ago I was part of a group of educators visiting an Israeli-Arab high school; during the question and answer period following our tour, one of our group asked how Independence Day was celebrated. The heretofore charming and accommodating principal replied adamantly, ”We don’t celebrate it – to us it is a day of mourning.”
I was shocked then since it was a government school, but I subsequently noticed similar sentiments expressed by members of our national government. It was hard for me to understand this since in the United States, every official, elected or appointed, from the halls of Congress to the most local village highway superintendent must take an oath of office attesting to his/her allegiance to the United Stated of America.
I understand Blum’s frustration, especially in case of a diplomat who is supposed to be the face of Israel to the world.
I read with incredulity William Daroff’s article (“Israel’s underlying Diaspora condition,” February 21) which declares that Israel drew a line between Jews in the Diaspora and Jews in Israel when it decided to close its skies earlier during the pandemic. He correctly cites examples of “we are one people,” when American Jews came to support Israel during the Intifada and Second Lebanon War. We are all so proud of our being one people. Even Israel’s decision to close its skies supports this critical commitment to one people.
As one people we continue to protect each other even when that means not entering into Israel when one is possibly carrying corona. As one people, we don’t potentially endanger each other. That’s why so many synagogues relied on Zoom for the first time. That’s why families even residing in the same city chose not to visit each other to prevent potential illness. Even though we didn’t visit each other, we are still one family today. Even when Israel’s borders were closed, we are still one people.
Obsessed with settlers
If you hadn’t included the pictures of Thomas Nides and Nitzan Horowitz, I might have thought they were one and the same person (“Nides: I’ll meet settlers, but won’t visit settlements,” “Horowitz: Settler violence is a strategic threat to Israel,” February 21). Both are obsessed with and reject settlers and over-emphasize “settler violence” while neither has a problem meeting and placating Palestinian leaders of terrorism who seek the destruction of the Jewish state.
Nides’ visiting Judea and Samaria is not what would be symbolically harmful. It’s his being here in the first place that is actually harmful to the State of Israel. Why welcome an “ambassador” who shows so much disdain and ignorance regarding a huge portion of the country? We need another “friend” of Israel telling it what’s good for the Jews and what isn’t? The only one in this equation doing “stupid things” is Nides himself, under orders from the clueless Biden administration further orchestrating Obama’s hateful agenda.
As well, instead of recognizing that the Israeli public has almost totally rejected his party and platform, Horowitz can’t keep his mouth shut. His party is known for acting behind the backs of majority-elected officials and subverting the will of the people. They are an ego-driven sham.
With friends like these...
‘Yes’ for an answer
Kudos for Milton Elbogen’s editorial correctly identifying the true cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, hate-ridden Islamist extremist enmity for any Jewish-governed area, and for any form of government except an Islamist caliphate.
Elbogen’s analysis of the wider threat this ideology poses was spot on. Of course the fact that this conflict has never been about land is also visible in Arab rejections of a Palestinian state in 1949, 1967 (the three no’s of Khartoum), 2000, 2001, 2008, 2014 (John Kerry’s plan), and the most recent rejection of the Peace to Prosperity Plan.
When your enemy won’t take “yes” for an answer, there is only one logical conclusion: you’re not actually being asked for anything, you’re being told that your existence is unacceptable. This is the central and unchanged message of Israel’s Arab enemies.
DANIEL H. TRIGOBOFF
Williamsville, New York
De rigueur for progressives
Meira Lerner is correct that recent events such as the Islamic hostage taking of four Jews at the synagogue in Coleyville, Whoopi Goldberg’s total ignorance of the Nazis’ singular racial reason for murdering six million Jews and the perverse Amnesty International report that has to willfully deny the incredible vertical diversity of Israeli society to spin its “apartheid” claims should all be a wakeup call to Israel and Jews across the globe (“Recent antisemitic events should serve as a wakeup call for Israel,” February 14).
However Ms. Lerner omits the most ominous recent event that all Jews should be concerned about: a demand by progressives that Jews denounce Judaism which occurred at New Paltz University in Upstate New York.
“New Paltz Accountability” is a group formed to focus on sexual assault policies – obviously an important issue for women who have been victims of sexual assault. The group was formed by a Jewish woman, Cassie Blotner, who believes in the foundational 4000 year old Zionist narrative of the Jewish Bible – the Jewish people’s Return to Zion – what today is Israel. So what has happened which is so ominous? Ms. Blotner and another Jewish member of New Paltz Accountability, Ofek Pries, have been forced out because they refuse to denounce Zionism which is, as indicated above, the foundational narrative of Judaism. This is not Stalinist Russia in 1952, nor Nazi Germany in 1935 nor the Spanish Inquisition in 1492; it is New York State in 2022 where at New Paltz Accountability it has become de rigueur for progressives to demand that Jews denounce their Judaism.
Finally the full antisemitic face of the progressive movement has been revealed. No longer hiding behind the antisemitic tropes of Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley, Jamal Bowman et al, the New Paltz progressives clearly representing the vanguard of the progressive movement have proudly donned the garb of Tomas de Torquemada and demanded that Jews denounce their religion. Ominous is an understatement.