We don't recognize
Regarding "Nides: There was nothing political about Biden’s visit to east Jerusalem hospital" (July 19), Does Mr. Nides take us as fools? Or does he not understand the implications of what it means for the president to have visited east Jersusalem without the Israeli flag and without an Israeli official with him.
De facto it was the same as saying we don't recognize east Jerusalem as part of Israel. It was demeaning, it was deliberate and made a farce of all that Biden had said previously.
Someone should tell Ambassador Nides that the more one shouts and screams “It’s not true, it’s not true,” the less one’s protestations are believed. So too, his denial of any significance to the removal of the Israeli flag from the front of the presidential limousine.
Mr. Nides, who are you kidding? Even if you are correct (and I believe that you are) in your emphasis on the president’s love and affection for the State of Israel and its people, that is definitely not the case with his puppeteers.
Last month, we were on vacation on the Greek island of Rhodes and we took a boat trip to an adjacent island. The route of the trip passed through a stretch of water claimed by the “Turkish occupational forces.” And, what do you know? During those few minutes, the flag of Greece was removed from the mast and replaced by that of Turkey.
What do you say about that, Mr. Nides?
From their very first meeting
To hear Leah Aharoni tell the story ("The writing has been on the Wall," July 17), one would think that Women of the Wall started their Rosh Hodesh services, complete with women raising their voices in group prayer and reading from the Torah at Robinson’s Arch, and never faced any harassment until they decided to deliberately spit in the face of the haredim at the Kotel’s main plaza.
That did not correspond to my memory of the events, so I did a bit of research. The first Women of the Wall Rosh Hodesh service was held at the main plaza of the Kotel in 1988, several years before it was suggested that Robinson’s Arch would become the place where egalitarian prayer services would be conducted. The WOW participants were subject to abuse from their very first meeting, despite the fact that they had sought counsel from Orthodox rabbis and their group included Orthodox women.
I also recall discussing the situation with my (Conservative) rabbi some years back. At the time, I didn’t understand why WOW continued permitting its participants to be subjected to the abuse when, I thought, moving to Robinson’s Arch would have permitted them to pray as they wished without disturbance.
My rabbi told me that the compromise was far from perfect. Robinson’s Arch was an active archaeological site which was not always available for prayer services, there was a possibility of there being a fee for use of the site, and some concern that the proposed expansion and upgrade of the prayer area would compromise the site’s historic record.
As things stand now, we know that WOW is still trying to hold services at the main plaza, still facing harassment, while people who don’t approve of egalitarian prayer are disrupting the services at the Ezrat Yisrael. At this time, when we begin to recall the destruction of the Temples, it is time to end the sinat hinam, senseless hatred.
Work should continue to make Ezrat Yisrael an appropriate place for group worship (the Post reported a few months ago that toilet facilities have yet to be constructed) and the police need to prevent verbal and physical attacks on worshipers (whether Orthodox, Masorti, or Reform). To those who say that the Women of the Wall are not sincere in their prayers, but only want publicity, I respond: If that is the case, they should have been completely ignored. Publicity seekers would have stopped showing up if no one noticed them.
TOBY F. BLOCK
The whole story of the Women of the Wall is long, complicated and sad – for all sorts of reasons. However, in her op-ed, Leah Aharoni's views are disingenuous, to say the least.
She states that they, WOW, show up “with as much noise as possible, chanting at the top of their lungs, assisted by audio devices, completely disregarding the prayer experience of the numerous peaceful women around them."
I would like to point out to Ms. Aharoni that the only reason WOW are forced to do this is the ongoing attempts by their opponents to drown them out by shouting, screaming, blowing whistles and using amplified sound systems. It is the noise of the rabid opposition which is the cause of the disturbance.
WOW are simply attempting to pray the morning service. If left alone to pray in peace, the sounds would be no different from the men praying the morning service on the other side of the mechitzah.
In addition, Ms. Aharoni fails to take into account that the WOW minyan is a women's minyan. It is not an egalitarian minyan; the arrangements at Robinson's Arch are for mixed minyanim. The two requirements are not the same.
As she quite rightly points out, WOW "refused to move its events out of the traditional Kotel." WOW's services are not "events." They are women's minyanim.
I look forward to reading an op-ed which genuinely addresses the situation and can help all parties move forward to a more meaningful prayer experience for everyone.
Minutiae of law
Regarding "Lapid: Present Iran with credible military threat" (July 15): So, President Biden declared publicly that the US is “committed to ensuring Iran never obtains nuclear weapons.” Sounds good.
But, I was bothered by the use of “obtain.” After referring to several definitions in reputable dictionaries, my own conclusion is that the most common understanding of the word is to obtain something from someone or someplace else.
What the president did not say was that Iran would not be allowed to develop nuclear weaponry. Big difference.
Part of our Jewish heritage is to pick over words and details. We do have volumes and tractates that do just that over minutiae of law.
It’s time to stop hiding our heads in the sand and relaxing, and avoiding what is certainly a crisis for humanity worldwide.
Westerners won’t tolerate
Regarding "Ukrainian refugees want to work," (July 18): While many westerners believe that such refugees become permanent burdens on their new host/home nation, I've found they actually want to work hard – and not just those fleeing the destructive war in Ukraine.
I have noticed over decades the exceptionally strong ethic practiced by migrant workers, especially in the produce harvesting sector. It's typically back-busting work that almost all post-second-generation westerners won’t tolerate for ourselves.
Also, often overlooked is that many migrants are leaving global-warming-related chronic crop failures in the Southern Hemisphere widely believed to be related to the Northern Hemisphere’s chronic fossil-fuel burning, beginning with the Industrial Revolution.
While I don’t support domestic businesses exporting labor abroad at very low wages if there are unemployed nationals who want that work, I can imagine migrant laborers being more productive than their born-and-reared-here counterparts. I’m not saying that a strong work ethic is a trait racially/genetically inherited by one generation from a preceding generation. Rather, I believe it is an admirable culturally determined factor, though also in large part motivated by the said culture’s internal and surrounding economic and political conditions.
Nevertheless, I anticipate that as decades pass, strong work ethic and higher-than-average productivity, unfortunately, will likely give way to these motivated laborers’ descendant generations’ young people having become accustomed to the relatively easier western way of work.
One might already witness this effect in many of them getting caught up in much of our overall liberal culture – attire, lingo, nightlife, as well as work. I’ve also found that "western values" often means the unfortunate acquisition of a strong sense of entitlement.
FRANK STERLE JR.
White Rock, British Columbia
Right these ugly wrongs
Kudos to your editorial writers. "Democratic support" (July 17) as well as "Lying Regev" (July 12) were gems. I'm sure it takes a lot of guts for a newspaper that is not affiliated with a particular political party to express opinions on subjects as controversial as these, and on many others in recent times.
Regarding "Democratic support," the last paragraph is spot on. However, if you – or anyone, for that matter – has any feasible, practical, foolproof ideas on how we should and/or can "work with those who might be influenced in a negative way by the extremists," I am sure that I speak for many, many of us who are neither politicians nor journalists and would be happy to form or jump on a grassroots bandwagon to try to right these ugly wrongs – and maybe even succeed.
Greatest current threat
Kudos for your comprehensive coverage of what is arguably the greatest current threat to humanity. Your articles, including “UK headed to hottest day on record” (July 19), “Wildfires rage in France, Spain as heat waves sear continent” (July 17), and “Australia floods worsen as thousands more flee homes” (July 6), et al, effectively cover the almost daily examples of severe, sometimes record, climate events.
And climate experts are issuing increasingly dire warnings about climate change soon reaching an irreversible climate tipping point. UN Secretary Antonio Guterres has called the situation “a Code Red for humanity,” and stated “delay means death.”
Israel is especially threatened by climate change, as climate experts project the Middle East to become hotter and drier, which will make instability, terrorism, and war more likely. Further, the coastal plain that contains most of Israel’s population and infrastructure might be inundated by a rising Mediterranean Sea.
Therefore, it is urgent to promote and apply the only possible way to have a chance to avert a climate catastrophe – a society-wide shift to vegan diets. This would not only sharply reduce emissions of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, from cows, it would also, most importantly, enable the reforestation of the vast areas of the world now used for grazing and growing feed crops for animals. This would sequester much atmospheric CO2, reducing it from its current very dangerous level to a much safer one.
The world now really has a chance between a mostly vegan future or a catastrophic one. So, please consider going vegan. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for helping leave them a decent, habitable, healthy, environmentally sustainable world.
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ