Regarding “Middle East manifest destiny” (December 25): It is easy and perhaps a human fault to want to view each side to a conflict as morally equivalent. But it is not usually the case. Were the two sides, Allies and Axis powers in WWII, morally equivalent? Certainly not.
Are the two sides in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, morally equivalent? Certainly not, Russia is the aggressor. So why should we assume that the two sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict are morally equivalent?
In his article, Uri Pilichowski argues that both sides are equally to blame because they both believe they have manifest destiny to control the land, but the historical record does not support his theory. First, after WWI the Allied powers, divided up the former Ottoman Empire and gave four countries to the Arabs (Syria, Iraq, Arabia and subsequently Jordan), but the Treaty of Lausanne and the League of Nations (the precursor to the UN) gave the Mandate of Palestine to the British in 1922 in order to create a Jewish homeland. So under international law the claims of the Jews and Arabs to the land were not equivalent.
Then when the UN finally faced the prospect of partition in Resolution 181 in 1947, the Jews voted to accept partition, but the Arabs rejected it and five armies attacked the Jews. To everyone’s surprise, the Jews won that conflict and Israel was founded in 1948.
Then twice at least in history since, Labor prime minsters of Israel, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, offered the leaders of the Palestinians, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas respectively, a state in exchange for a peace treaty, but they both walked away from the negotiations. They cannot accept recognition of Jewish rights to even part of Palestine, because that goes against their claim to total control over all of Palestine.
So the two sides are not morally equivalent and the Jews have the greater moral, historical and legal claim to this land. After 74 years of stalemate and murder, it’s time the Jewish side took action to establish that claim.
JACK COHEN, Beersheba
Noise pollution, which affects so many of us on a daily basis, can be harmful to health, as Judy Siegel-Itzkovich notes in her article “Ministries work to reduce unhealthy noise” (December 23).
The loudest, most persistent and most irritating noise near me is the blasting call to prayer from a nearby mosque. It disturbs my life during waking hours and also interferes with my sleep.
This letter is not an anti-Muslim rant; it is rather a quiet call for equal application of the law. No group, religious or otherwise, should be allowed to disturb others aloud through the blaring of unreasonably loud noise through loudspeakers – not even once, and certainly not multiple times each day.
ARLENE FAUNCE, Ramle
Regarding Ruthie Blum’s “Lapid’s dig at Likud-voting mothers and Jewish antisemitism” (December 23): I wonder if the woman from Ramat Gan, who yelled at the 12-year-old girls from Bnei Brak playing at the playground near her home, realized that calling the girls “termites” put her squarely in the company of Louis Farrakhan, an infamous American black supremacist and antisemite.
Farrakhan is notorious for calling Jews, all Jews, “termites.” You are truly known by the company you keep.
MARSHA DALIN, Modi’in
The analytical article on December 19 by Herb Keinon about Netanyahu’s assurances to the world concerning his incoming government (“Netanyahu tries to reassure world he’ll be in charge”), left me wondering again where he is coming from and where he is headed.
He has been interviewing more with the foreign press than with the Israeli press, for reasons that are not all to do with the incoming government, one being to promote his recently published memoirs. He continues in other media to try to tamp down the negative press that Itamar Ben-Gvir has generated.
Continuing in that vein, he, (Netanyahu), assured NPR and Al Arabia that he’ll have “two hands firmly on the steering wheel” to make sure LGBT rights and Arab citizen rights are not trampled. He states that, since the other coalition partners are smaller, they will follow his, Netanyahu’s, policy. In every interview, Netanyahu ended by asserting his sole responsibility for maintaining the democratic state of affairs in Israel.
His egotistical take on affairs of government seems to be the appetizer to his unknown agenda of governance. Yes, the majority voted him in, including me, but I never thought there would be a one-man controlled government. Netanyahu has never delegated responsibilities before and there doesn’t appear to be any indication that it would happen now.
In addition, these new ministers are pushing more one-sided agendas of their own, so we’re in for some additional indigestion. Hopefully the main dishes for the new agenda menu will be the recognition by the government ministers and all, that Jews must protect each other, no matter their religious following, and preserve the Jewish, Zionist, democratic State of Israel that serves as a beacon of light for all the world to see.
DEBRA FORMAN, Modi’in
I agree with Barry Newman (“The shifting December dilemma,” December 18) that Israel needs to maintain a Jewish majority population. But making the Law of Return applicable only to Jews who are considered Jewish by Halacha is the wrong approach. It would deny a fundamental raison d’etre of Zionism, having a place where, when Jews needed to go there, they could not be turned away.
There are still people in this world who suffer persecution and discrimination because of their Jewish roots, even if they are not halachic Jews. There are others who have been denied access to Jewish education, even if they are the children of Jewish mothers. There are also many Jews in America who are actively Jewish, belonging to Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist synagogues, whose status would be questioned by Israel’s state rabbinate, especially if there is a female in the family tree who received her conversion under non-Orthodox (maybe, even modern Orthodox) auspices.
The answer is not to change the Law of Return, but to change the policy of the rabbinate, which has historically put obstacles in the path to conversion for those non-halachic Jews. The state should take the position that people gaining citizenship under the Law of Return should be encouraged to come home, not only to Israel, but to Judaism. Efforts should be made to reach out to ‘non-Jewish’ olim, and to secular Sabras, as well as secular olim.
The state should set standards for conversion and develop a system for approving conversion programs run by Orthodox and non-Orthodox rabbis and teachers. Programs should recognize that it is to the advantage of the nation-state of the Jews that its people be knowledgeable, proud Jews even if not completely in line with haredi standards of observance.
Thus, on the one hand, outreach programs should not be limited to only those needing conversion. On the other hand, converts should not have to fear that their conversions might be revoked if some bureaucrat questions their level of observance.
TOBY F. BLOCK, Atlanta
Regarding “We are family” (December 21): With all due respect, Conservative Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz wants us to conflate the two separate aspects of who is a Jew – one by ethnicity and the other by religion. His entire focus is on the ethnicity side, while Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef was referring only to the religious side. No one is suggesting that born non-Orthodox Jews are not ethnically or genetically Jewish and many have been a major part of the global Jewish support network.
Rabbi Yosef is saying that there is a separation religiously between those who believe that Torah was received by revelation vs written by inspiration. Believers in revelation accept and perform the requirements of Jewish law. However, when Torah is assumed to have been man-made by inspiration, then its interpretation becomes totally fungible and its assumed emphasis evolved into helping the whole wide world.
The result of that is tangible: a 72% rate of intermarriage and concomitantly a rapidly shrinking US national membership in non-Orthodox temples.
The whole idea of religion is devotion to a higher power. If children are taught that it’s simply made up by men, and changeable by anyone, it loses value as a God-fearing religion. That was the meaning and focus of Rabbi Yosef’s pronouncements that a radically different set of religious beliefs held by some Jews represents for Torah-believers essentially a different religion.
This was unfortunately ignored in Rabbi Lebovitz’s response.
GERSHON DALIN, Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut
The writer of the December 18 editorial “Israel is not Canada” campaigns against the possibility that the Knesset might vote for parliament’s right to override Supreme Court decisions. He obviously did not read my letter to you earlier this month on the issue. Had he done so, he would have realized that shooting down the analogy with Canada, where an override bill is in place but unlike Israel they have a constitution, is quite irrelevant.
As I wrote, the UK, which hosts the “mother of parliaments,” does not need to have an override ability, because Parliament has unrivaled sovereignty over the Supreme Court. And importantly, the UK does not have a written constitution either. Unlike Israel’s left wing, which only respects democracy when the elected government supports its liberal ideas, the UK obviously trusts Parliament more than the opinion of a few selected lawyers, no matter how erudite they are.
ALAN HALIBARD, Beit Shemesh
No interest in peace
Regarding “US equates Israeli, Palestinian extremism at UN Security Council” (December 20): Just what the unashamedly antisemitic UNSC needed was another boost from far-Left Americans. From refunding the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, to threatening to open a ‘Palestinian consulate’ in Jerusalem and giving the Abu Akleh family red carpet access in Washington, this administration is proving it is a third term of Barack Obama, complete with his leftover Islamist advisers.
It is shameful to equate Israeli violence, which is rare and localized, with PA/Hamas/Islamic Jihad terrorism which is endemic in Palestinian society. Israel is a liberal democracy and the West’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East.
The PA and Hamas are failed kleptocracies. They are political parties at best. They have demonstrated thousands of times they have no interest in peace with Israel or ties with America. Their cry is “death to Israel, death to America.”
It is a fantasy to believe the Biden administration has any influence over the PA or Hamas. Only the Abraham Accords states or the Arab League can influence the Palestinians and nudge them toward peace with Israel and a two-state solution.
LEN BENNETT, Ottawa