Lack of responsibility
While I definitely agree with the spirit of Yedidia Stern’s interesting article (“Leave the Law of Return alone,” December 9), I wonder if Prof. Stern’s warning to MKs who oppose the Grandchild Clause should better be directed at young Jews in the Diaspora contemplating their future and considering marrying out, that a bad decision regarding their future and lack of responsibility to their peoplehood would in affect be a “divorce decree” (as he calls it) to their people, their families and to the Jewish state.
Not all these MKs are worried by the halachic definition of “who is a Jew.” Many of them and their constituents are worried about the state of Jewish demography in Israel.
Kibbutz Kfar Etzion
Reality set in
In your editorial “Sundays off!” (December 13), you endorse the proposal by South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein (“Knesset: Heal the divisions, give Sunday off,” December 9). He advises to “declare Sunday a weekly day off for the country.” His remarks outline the many benefits that this policy would provide. His column is worth reading – twice.
I would like to make one additional point. Much effort and funds are expended in encouraging aliyah. My husband and I are long-time olim from the US. We would travel back and enjoy a 1-2 week visit, seeing friends and “the kids” nearly every day; but it was only once a year, if that. Imagine our joy when they made aliyah just two years ago!
Now, imagine our disappointment when reality set in. We all observe Shabbat and live in different places. With heavy work and school schedules, we can rarely get together, and then only for a day or so. Free Sundays would change all that and do much to promote the aliyah effort. We are frequently asked about aliyah. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.
Regarding “Chief Rabbi Yosef: Conservative, Reform Judaism a new religion” (December 12): Besides the oft-repeated canard that Conservative and Reform Judaism is a new and different religion, and even not Judaism at all, I can personally testify to Rabbi Yosef being wrong in his outrageous statement, according to the article, that Reform Jews cannot/will not ever “repent,” because I am such a Jew, having ‘repented’ and becoming Orthodox after being raised in a Conservative-turned-Reform home.
And of course, there are countless others just like me, so all Rabbi Yosef does in this idiotic statement is show how superficial, fundamentalist, and ignorant he is of the Jewish world-at-large. But even more infuriating is his directive to the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites not to allow Reform Jewish women to light candles at the Kotel.
How dare he so denigrate and dismiss one of Judaism’s most basic concepts, that all Jews can repent? Is he totally ignorant of a famous Midrash regarding a particular verse in last Shabbat’s Torah reading, Vayishlach, whereby the Patriarch Jacob is punished for hiding his only daughter, Dina, in a closet in anticipation of meeting his twin brother, the evil Esau, so that the latter will not marry her, because – according to the Sages – he felt that had Dina married Esau, she might have been a good influence on Esau and caused him to repent?
And how dare the chief rabbi try to prevent any Jewish woman, no matter what her community or personal affiliation, from performing any Jewish ritual or custom? I dare say that if anyone has invented a new Jewish religion, it is Rabbi Yosef and his ilk.
Rabbi Yosef is quoted as saying, “Have you ever seen a Reform Jew who repented? I didn’t see any. There are none.”
Setting aside the theological issues, the condescension and gross insensitivity, the sheer ignorance of this statement is breathtaking. It’s truly an embarrassment that this man has any official capacity here.
In “Too many ministries: That’s bad for all of us” (December 13), Ofer Kenig maintains that the increase in the Israeli government ministries will lead to excessive bureaucracy, complicate decision-making processes and lead to competition which in this case will undermine efficiency rather than increase it.
All of this can also be interpreted positively. The politicians involved in the various ministries will squabble endlessly and be unable to pass legislation supporting their notions about how to improve and interfere with our lives. One should remember the timeless wisdom in the saying that “no man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session,” a saying attributed to Gideon J. Tucker and proven correct in countless countries.
Rafael Medoff’s article “When antisemites sue the Jews” (December 12), while objectively correct in its recitation of the facts about Al Jazeera and Qatar, omits one very important consideration: the International Criminal Court is not like any of the recognized courts of the Western world, whose trials and proceedings are presided over by objective judges and practitioners and who are part and parcel of a legal and value system of the nation which appointed them.
Whatever may be the record of the ICC in any other matter, the State of Israel has never, ever received a fair shake from it. Therefore the hope that a trial before the ICC will expose the fundamental antisemitism and cynicism of the Qatari case is largely illusory.
The fact that such a case can be initiated in the first place demonstrates the basic error of conception of this terrible institution, and the fact that the file was accepted by the ICC proves just how open it is to abuse. In other words, the fact that Qatar can initiate the matter in the first place is already a win for Qatar, which cannot be undone whatever the result.
While many commentators (myself included) have written regarding the ethical issues for operators and executives of charitable organizations in general and charitable organizations directed toward the Jewish community in particular, Arnie Draiman’s article (“Ethics when donating,” December 9) sets forth many ethical issues for donors to charitable causes. One of Mr. Draiman’s imponderables posed the issue of whether and how much a third-party solicitor should be remunerated for the donations he or she generates for the charitable organization.
At one continuing legal education seminar ten years ago where I gave a presentation, a co-panelist with whom I shared the podium strongly urged donors to directly ask the solicitor (1) whether he or she is a professional fundraiser; and (2) how much of each dollar donated actually is remitted to the named donee organization.
My co-panelist, who had previously served as director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations, had taken the position that replying to such questions with false answers constituted a fraudulent act of interest to his governmental regulatory organization.
The tzedaka process clearly requires ethical conduct on the part of donor and distributor alike.
KALMAN H. RYESKY
More consciously Jewish
Amotz Asa-El sets himself and titles his column as someone who represents what he believes to be “middle Israel” (“The Middle Israeli revolt,” December 9).
But his most recent column shows that far from representing a middle-of-the-road perspective, he has really succumbed to advocating a very far-Left outlook that is far from the current centrist Israeli mainstream that is more traditional and mildly Right-of-Center, which the recent election reflected very clearly.
The wishes of some newly elected Knesset representatives who might become ministers, are not barbaric, they do not threaten any destruction, nor do they threaten any civil liberties whatsoever. They just seek to infuse today’s Israel with a more consciously Jewish and pro-Israel educational system, with police and armed forces which will not back off in the face of threats to Jewish lives in southern towns, and the right for Jews to pray at a central place in Jewish tradition, even if those who hate the presence of Jews here scream and protest.
Not very sovereign
Regarding “Defeat from the jaws of victory” (December 12): I would point out that the Abraham Accords were signed by the Arab countries only after being substantially bribed by then-president Trump and on condition that then-prime minister Netanyahu stop any imposition of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, together with an agreement by Netanyahu to the two-state solution.
This is a red line for the Arabs which they have stated numerous times in interviews. Also a red line is if the Israeli government takes any steps in a direction not in line with their thinking.
Muslim holidays do not, as Micheal Humphries incorrectly writes, take a back seat. In fact they are often the harbinger of attacks with the Jewish people having to be kept from visiting the Temple Mount. The mount, although one would be hard pressed to see it as such, is the holiest Jewish site.
Mr. Humphries has a strange way of looking at victory, while I and others see it as capitulation and weakness, something all too familiar in our not very sovereign State of Israel.
Showing its own hypocrisy
Regarding “EU-Israel agreements to face challenges under new government” (December 12): As this article admits, these agreements also faced challenges with the outgoing government, and rightly so. The EU does not recognize that eastern Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights are lands that came under Israeli rule when Israel liberated them from the control of hostile nations (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) in a war instigated by Egypt and Syria with the open intention of destroying the Jewish state and annihilating its people.
In objecting to allowing holders of EU grants to work in these areas, the EU has failed to recognize Israel’s generosity in offering to share some of the land with the Palestinians (under the Oslo Accords). In fact, the EU is showing its own hypocrisy.
Not only has the EU not called upon Palestinian leaders to negotiate with Israel to establish a Palestinian state co-existing with Israel, with recognized and stable borders for both states, but the EU has funded Palestinian attempts to grab land in Area C (designated by Oslo for full Israeli control) instead of directing that the Palestinians must use EU-donated funds to build in Areas A and B (which Oslo put under Palestinian control).
TOBY F. BLOCK
The BDS plague, it seems, has extended its venomous reach to the EU. The security and cultural-related agreements and cooperative activities entered into with Israel are now embracing the motif of terrorism, and are forcing a compromise based on the so-called Green Line. I expect that our caretaker Prime Minister Lapid will simply monitor this situation as it progresses. The time has come for Benjamin Netanyahu to end his ongoing negotiations with his coalition cohorts and get a government settled in. Indeed, the EU may in fact be sensing that Israel is particularly vulnerable during this twilight period and force Jerusalem into an irreversible course of action.
But how, then, should Israel respond? There would be absolutely no advantage to creating enmity between Israel and the EU. Too much is at stake – for both sides – to allow relations to go south. A unified stance against the threat of Iran as well as protection from the economic strength of China demand that the alliance the two parties have enjoyed and relied on not be disturbed.
It would therefore be wise for the EU to stand back and allow Israel to work out an understanding with the Palestinian leadership. Whether such an understanding involves a two-state solution or something else altogether is irrelevant; the outcome cannot be the result of political coercion or economic or cultural boycotts.
Similarly, Bibi should ensure that his less laid-back coalition partners do not adopt a cowboy attitude; diplomacy, at this point, is the requisite course of action. Once Israel convinces the Brussels leadership that it will not cave in to demands regarding the territories of Judea and Samaria, a less stringent policy will undoubtedly be adopted. Israel has proven itself to be an indispensable player in Middle East politics and economics, something the EU will be unable to overlook.
BDS proponents throughout the world, of course, are jumping for joy at this development and would like nothing more than to see the EU twist the screws even more than it currently is. The EU, though, is fully aware that caution must be exercised. Once the world sees that the demands they’re making are not being taken seriously by Israel, the union’s credibility will begin to deteriorate, and will soon become as irrelevant as the United Nations.