In a diplomatic Danse Macabre, the IAEA was sending yet another delegation to Tehran (“IAEA visits Iran in effort to break logjam,” December 19), undoubtedly to be met with yet more stonewalling by the tyrannical Iranian regime, which will yet again trumpet the visit while continuing to enrich uranium illicitly.
The skeleton of the long-dead JCPOA (Iran deal) will be made to dance again. The question then becomes, in whose interest is this morbid charade? Several parties are involved.
First of course are the tyrants of Tehran. Every time they can prolong the appearance of negotiations, they gain additional time to produce more enriched uranium and weaponize it. Then there is the Biden administration, whose Ahab-like pursuit of a reanimated Iran deal is unaffected by the fact that it would guarantee an industrial strength Iranian nuclear arsenal.
Of course, there is also the European Union, which wants to sell its wares to Iran and import Iranian oil with no regard for Iran’s threats elsewhere; after all Josep Borrell, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy has stated that every place outside Europe is “a jungle.” Why should he care if Iranian nukes explode elsewhere?
Russia’s and China’s dalliances with Iran scarcely need detailing. All of these parties are complicit in prolonging the image of negotiations regardless of the consequences for the security of Israel, the Middle East, and the world at large.
That security is already endangered by the fact that Iran will soon have enough weapons-grade uranium for several atomic bombs. It won’t necessarily take very long for the Iranians to produce such bombs.
As was the case with the Hiroshima bomb, a gun-type design which fires an enriched slug of uranium into another, concave piece of enriched uranium is a very simple design, so much so that in 1945, the US determined that it didn’t need to be tested. And if conveyed by a truck or a ship, it doesn’t need to be made compact or streamlined.
The IAEA and the Iranians will palaver meaninglessly in Tehran while the Iranian uranium centrifuges spin. And it doesn’t have to be like this. All previously successful nuclear arms control agreements have required the country in question to completely rid itself of nuclear infrastructure in exchange for economic and other benefits, or face a credible external military option to enforce denuclearization.
This is what’s needed to eliminate the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons. Anything less is a macabre masquerade.
DANIEL H. TRIGOBOFF
The article by Amnon Eldar headlined “The Israeli choice – education or hi-tech?” (December 19 ) highlights a number of important failings of the education system in Israel. He mentions the low pay of teachers and makes the point that enrollment for teacher courses in Israeli universities and colleges has fallen by a third compared to last year. Clearly, the Israeli educational system is failing. This does not augur well for the future.
As a person who was employed for over 20 years at the American International School in Israel, I would like to add my opinion based on my experience. The main factor that contributed to the outstanding education received at the American School was that the school was designed with classrooms that held a maximum of 24 students. This reduced the noise level and indiscipline in the classroom. It gave the students the chance to interact with the teacher and to excel.
What is happening in Israeli schools is the exact opposite. Most Israeli schools have classes with over 40 students, taught by teachers earning ridiculously low salaries. This is a strategic blunder that requires immediate remedial action by the government.
The government needs to understand that better education is the engine that accelerates the future growth of the country. Teacher salaries need to be increased significantly and the maximum number of students in a classroom needs to be substantially reduced. This will entail building more schools and training more teachers. So where will the government find the money to do this?
Well, the government has started a sovereign fund that derives its income from taxes on exporting gas to neighboring countries. This fund already has over two billion shekels and will continue to grow as more gas fields become productive. A sovereign fund is designed to safeguard the future.
One of the best ways of safeguarding the future is to improve the education system. Better education leads to higher-paying jobs and a better quality of life. It allows people to qualify for mortgages and to buy apartments. This is the way to build Israel into the powerhouse that it is capable of becoming.
Hopefully, the government will find the wisdom to implement the suggestions above. The present educational system must be drastically improved before it is too late.
This article omits one piece of the equation: the support of parents. If parents do not support the teachers and administration, particularly discipline in the classroom – without which it is impossible to teach – teachers will not be able to teach the students who want to learn.
Also, a good principal sets the tone for a school and enables everything else. Pay principals enough to attract the best, and give them as much autonomy as possible.
Heart of the matter
Praise goes to Boris Lozhkin and Jonathan Greenblatt for their avid defense of Ukraine’s struggle against Putin’s aggression (“In the face of Russian propaganda,” December 19). Their appeal for support against Russian propaganda goes beyond the imperative of a geopolitical stand. It reaches into the moral heart of the matter – Ukraine’s struggle is “a rare instance of good and evil in clear distinction” as already defined by Ukraine’s president.
This new geopolitical reality, therefore, must be confronted straight-on without any reference to past historical grievances concerning Ukraine. We must not let history trump such moral clarity. Anything less will only weaken the West’s psychological struggle against Russian aggression today and what it bodes for tomorrow.
Hiding or being hidden?
The film review “Norway’s Holocaust role explored in ‘Betrayal’” (December 19) brought to mind a trip that I made to Norway several years ago. As we were driving past numerous small towns alongside the spectacular fjords, nestled at the foot of towering mountains, our very charming and knowledgeable Norwegian guide described the mercantile history of the area dating back to the medieval Hanseatic League which regulated business in this area.
Remembering that Jews were excluded from this organization but conducted business under their own auspices, I asked the guide whether there had been any Jews living in this area. She quickly replied with an abrupt “no.” I wondered about her answer, when a short time later, she returned to my seat and pointed up toward the mountains, she said: “up there, during the war, maybe.”
I was left to reflect on whether these were Jews hiding or being hidden by the Norwegian resistance, but no further information was forthcoming. What is known, however, is that in this Nazi-occupied country, while 732 Jews were deported, the remainder of the 1700 Jews somehow were spared.
Today, while Jews are scattered throughout the country, communal Jewish life is mainly found in the capital, Oslo. Additionally, Norway and Israel have strong diplomatic relations. It therefore behooves us, as the article suggests, to further explore the history of Jews in that beautiful country.
Most moral military
Regarding “IDF admits Palestinian girl likely killed by Israeli fire” (December 13): 16-year-old Jana Zakarneh was probably killed by Israeli fire as she watched, from the roof of her home, Islamic Jihad terrorists fighting Israeli forces. The terrorists were on an adjacent roof. The IDF is the world’s most moral military. It investigates its actions and admits its errors.
The major responsibility of any government is to protect its population. Israel is obliged to go after those targeting its citizens. Eighty-five Palestinians have been killed fighting Israel this year; 27 Israelis were murdered; 450 terror attacks were prevented.
Surrounded with holiness
Your editorial “Sundays off!” (December 13) is spot on. It shows how the vast majority of Israelis want Sundays to be a day off. As you wrote, enactment of such a law would reduce societal tensions around state and religion.
But there is another reason, more individual than societal. Thirty-one years ago, Peter Sichrovsky published a book called Abraham’s Children, a series of interviews with young Israelis. Some of those young people grew up religious but abandoned observance as they entered adulthood. The number one reason they gave for their choice was the lack of any day during the week to just take the day off.
Shabbat is surrounded with holiness and halachot, while Sunday is for sports, shopping, and driving to parks or the beach with the family.
The comments attributed to Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (“Chief Rabbi Yosef: Conservative, Reform Judaism a new religion,” December 12) are nothing more than divisive rhetoric made in order to create a stranglehold on the Jewish community both here and abroad under the guise of religious practice.
It’s a ploy to enhance the power of the rabbinate on the community they are supposed to serve, not command. As a modern Orthodox Jew who went to Orthodox yeshivas in the US, I was able to sit and learn with fellow students from all walks of life. If a student was Jewish, and met the academic requirements to attend, they were usually admitted to the yeshiva, regardless of their family’s denomination.
Discrimination among Jews wasn’t accepted then, nor should it be now. The rabbis believed that the yeshiva environment would rub off on the students and hopefully they would become more observant: not haredi, nor hassidic, not even necessarily Orthodox, but more religious in their way of thinking and practice.
Of course, if they became more religious it would be considered a win. No rebbe would ostracize a student or their family if they came from a Conservative or Reform environment. Regardless, nobody relegated them as non-Jews, or Jews belonging to a non-religion. Isn’t it better for Jews to practice their religion in their own way than not at all?
What gives you Rabbi Yosef the right to espouse rhetoric denigrating another Jew? Stop preaching blasphemy and start showing love for all Jews. After all, it has never been easy being a Jew, and you’re not making it any easier. To say you never saw a Conservative or Reform Jew repent is nonsense. What are they repenting for, that they don’t meet your standard of religious practice? Obviously, you wouldn’t be cognizant of what goes on in their environment.
To say that a Reform or Conservative Jew cannot become a ba’al teshuva is paramount to closing the door on less religious Jews and their current religious observance. Instead of castigating Jews who don’t fit into your mold, why not open your mind and heart and accept the reality that not everyone is as religious as you are?
After all, there will always be someone or some group who claims to be more religious. What will happen in the future if your way of thinking is the lay of the land? Will the modern Orthodox become the next victims of your philosophy? Will the Gur, Satmar, Lubavitch, and other sects turn on each other under the guise that they’re not religious enough?
What you and your Ashkenazi colleague Rabbi David Lau should be doing is creating an atmosphere of unity among all Jews here and abroad. It’s none of your business how they practice their religion. As chief rabbis, you should give guidance to your fellow Jews and not create a hostile environment among Jews throughout the Jewish community. Such behavior is contrary to what we as Jews believe in and stand for, and something you should know.