I think Alden Tabac (“Easy to be Jewish, but easier to decrease observance,” July 14 ) may be jumping the gun when he describes Orthodox Jews in Israel as being more lax in “their observance of Halacha compared to people in similar communities in the Diaspora.”
Drawing on a few random samples, he paints all Orthodox with the same broad brush.
The yeshiva boys he observed dancing to the music in Mahaneh Yehuda may have numbered 10 or even 100 out of the thousands and thousands of yeshiva students studying here in Israel who think of it only as a place to buy vegetables for Shabbat.
The kippah-wearing diners he observed not washing for bread may be eating gluten free or may have washed before sitting down at their table. As for Grace After Meals, many people who seem to be checking their phones are in fact praying from the Tfilon app.
Also, both in America and Israel, many rabbinic authorities allow the use of halachically-approved electric scooters on Shabbat for those who need them
We should always remember another basic tenet of Judaism, that of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, and judging people with a favorable eye.
Consider their message
Considering that “Biden’s visit and Israel’s security” (July 12) was written by a former Mossad director, a former Shin Bet director, a former IDF deputy chief of staff, and a former special ambassador and diplomatic adviser, I think it is especially important to consider their message. Making it even more noteworthy is that one of the writers is the chairperson and the three others are members of Commanders for Israel’s Security, “a movement of well over 350 retired senior officials who have led the Israeli security agencies and worldwide diplomatic missions over past decades.”
Their basic message is that a “negotiated two-state agreement is vital for Israel’s future as a strong Jewish democracy” and it would “enhance Israel’s security.” Without a comprehensive, sustainable, just resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, how will Israel be able to avert continued violence and diplomatic criticism, effectively address our economic, environmental, and other domestic challenges, and remain both a Jewish and a democratic state?
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ
Why such desperation?
Disgust is the word which comes to mind when reading “US officials remove Israeli flag on limo during stopover at E. J’lem medical center” (July 17). This of course would never happen in any other sovereign country and shows a distinct lack of respect for Israel, as well as once more showing Israel’s lack of control over the Jewish land and its desperation to please.
Why there is such desperation is a mystery to me, considering that we have so obviously shown in the past that we can defeat multiple Arab armies looking for our destruction, without grovelling to anyone for recognition. How did we allow the Diaspora mentality, of looking upon ourselves as inferior, to become so strong? Should we be satisfied that President Biden reiterates former president Trump’s views that west Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, while specific boundaries must be resolved through final status negotiations between Israelis and so-called Palestinians?
Absolutely not. And to make sure we were firmly put in our place, we were told and obviously accepted that no Israeli would accompany Biden on his visit to the east Jerusalem hospital.
Anger comes to mind when reading “Biden: I support two states based on pre-1967 line” (July 17). This, the US president tells us, is the way “to achieve equal measures of security, prosperity, freedom and democracy for the Palestinians as well as Israels.” Never mind that the terorist in a suit Mahmoud Abbas daily rants about our ‘occupation of his land’ and that we have no connection to any part of the land to where apparently he and his people have been hundreds of years before us.
Saudi Arabia agreed to Israeli flights in its airspace in exchange for Israeli consent to remove the international peacekeeping force from Tiran and Sanafir, two islands in the Straits of Tiran. The force is part of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. The Saudis also stressed that they will not normalize relations with Israel until a two-state solution is reached with the Palestinians (“Saudi allows Israeli overflights but says no relations without two states,” July 17).
Poor little Israel – so desperate for recognition that it doesn’t see the destructive path laid out for it.
Scratching the surface
Your coverage of the Biden visit was very extensive and superficially welcome. But, after scratching the surface of all the wonderful mutual compliments and expressions of warmth and closeness, one wonders how all this will pan out in real life.
How much pressure will the US put on us to allow the opening of a consulate for Palestinian Arabs in our own sovereign territory? One wonders how the US would react if Israel is indeed forced to take matters into its own military hands against Iran and its atomic threat (“Lapid: Present Iran with credible military threat,” July 15).
Biden has said, as you reported, that the US is prepared to use military force to stop Iran. As the Yiddish saying goes – “So he said it, so what?”
On the other hand, I was very excited to read “Leaders of Israel, US, India, UAE hold virtual meet” (July 15). This is indeed a breath of fresh air. Four countries which have found enough common interest to join hands and look to a future of mutual cooperation in the vital fields of economics, agriculture, health and science.
Each of these countries brings with it their own knowledge, experience, research and wealth and each brings with it, its own set of international connections, so that, in no time, this spirit of mutual cooperation may envelop a substantial part of the globe in which we live to the benefit of all.
Are we looking at the birth of a new world order? If so, it is indeed exciting.
Corrupt victim culture
I admire Gershon Baskin’s heartfelt desire (“Homelands,” July 14) to assist the Palestinians to create a state where “they can freely express their identity, language, culture, religions.” But what have they done to achieve this state? After the Oslo Accords, Israel offered six comprehensive peace agreements to the Palestinians, and each time the offers were rejected, none with any counter-offers, and one not even acknowledged.
One agreement brokered by Bill Clinton and signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat was immediately annulled by Arafat who told Clinton that if he (Arafat) went through with the agreement he would not last long on the street, meaning that the Palestinian people reject normalization with Israel. In the following years with the increasing influence of Hamas, normalization has been even more intensely opposed to the extent that the PA now pays its people to kill Israelis.
Despite this, Israel has remained the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people while the Palestinians have become a corrupt victim culture relying on foreign payments to keep them going. Baskin’s loss of interest in being a Zionist because of his perception that Israel feels superior to its neighbors is misdirected. What should Israel do, remain weak inviting more wars against it?
Israel’s survival requires a strong economy, culture and military. If Israel being strong makes the Palestinians feel weak, and to change the balance Israel has to give it all away, then two states is not worth it.
Oh, the poor Palestinians: Arab leaders went to war instead of helping the Arabs of Palestine prepare for their first-ever taste of self-rule in the 1940s. Two-thirds of the Arabs who fled the coming war in Palestine left without seeing a Jewish soldier or hearing a shot fired. Many of the others fled at the direction of Arab commanders who told them to leave for a week or two, until the Jews had been massacred; then, the Arabs were told, they could return to enjoy the spoils.
Between 400,000 and 700,000 Arabs fled and no more than 30,000 of them are still alive, but there are 5,500,000 Palestine refugees on UNRWA rolls. The UN has abetted Arab leaders (including Palestinian leaders) in keeping the “refugees” in limbo, insisting the only acceptable solution to their plight is for Israel to give them the homes the “refugees” claim their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents... lost in what became modern Israel decades ago.
Thus, we see the source of the conundrum. Arab leaders wouldn’t let the refugees come home, to live fairly close to the places where they’d been born, among people with whom they share language, religion, and culture. Some “refugees” are now living on land Palestinian leaders claim they want for their future state, but the Palestine refugees won’t be welcomed there, either.
The problem is that Palestinian leaders view “two states” as a Palestinian state from which all Jews have been banished and a Muslim-majority Israel, peopled by Arabs who’ve been taught to blame Israel for all their suffering, Arabs who have grown up seeing people honored and rewarded for murdering Jews.
In contrast, Israel absorbed and uplifted 800,000 Mizrahi Jews thrust from their homes in the Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa. The descendants of those Mizrahi Jews comprise the majority of Israel’s current Jewish population.
Israel welcomed the Mizrahim while rehabilitating Holocaust survivors, recovering from damages inflicted by the Arab armies, and dealing with terrorist incursions from lands illegally occupied by Egypt and Jordan between 1948 and 1967. Israel experienced food shortages in its early days but went on to become the Start-Up Nation, sharing advances in many fields with the world and responding to natural disasters far and wide.
Israel has earned the right to be the nation-state of the Jews in the Jews’ ancestral homeland. Instead of trying to destroy Israel, the Palestinians should show some appreciation for Israel’s willingness to share its land. The Palestinians proudly declare that they are “an all-or-nothing” people. Unless they change their ways, they shouldn’t be surprised when they end up with their second choice.
TOBY F. BLOCK
The title of the article “Jellyfish season begins, might as well sit back and enjoy it” (July 1) gives the false impression that there is absolutely no danger. The photo above showing someone picking up a jellyfish adds to this dangerous impression.
The article itself strongly cautions against doing this. Even though some jellyfish are harmless, nonetheless, among the 17 species of jellyfish which visit Israel’s shores, there are those which do sting. Although the article itself urges people to take precautions, many casual readers will get the wrong impression from the photo and title unless they read the full article carefully. A better title for the article might be: “Jellyfish season begins: Heed the cautionary purple flags at the beaches.”
ZEV BITMAN & ESTHER BERNHAUT