Letters to the Editor, May 31, 2023: Personal piggy bank

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

 Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Personal piggy bank

In the editorial headlined “Proceed with caution“ (May 28), the author states that the passage of a two-year budget was an impressive feat. In my opinion it was nothing of the sort.

It was 64 politicians celebrating the greatest extortion scandal in the history of Israel. It was the outcome of a prime minister who considers public money to be his personal piggy bank to be used to buy as many votes as needed in order to remain prime minister.

Minority political parties have been empowered into taking over the levers of the government. They have become intoxicated into believing that they rule Israel and can pass whatever laws they desire. It is a slippery slope that will inevitably not have a happy ending.

The voices of the opposition parties can be compared to the volume switch on TV. No matter how loud the volume is turned up, it has no effect on the picture. The budget process was nothing more than the prime minister handing out billions of shekels of public money to those who offered to support him.

It has lowered the bar of what it is to be considered acting morally. In the process, the commandment “Thou shalt not steal” has been willfully ignored. It does not augur well for the future of Israel.



Jews deserved it

Regarding “10 takeaways from US strategy to combat antisemitism” (May 28): Many, if not most Muslims, have been led to falsely believe that the 2000-year desire of Jews to return home to Jerusalem and their Land of Israel is only an excuse for colonialism and hatred of Arabs. Israel’s effective resistance to extermination by Arabs is seen as vile and inhumane.Those antisemites of Christian background enjoy having Muslim allies who validate their hatred of Jews. The fictional Protocols of the Elders of Zion, on the other hand, is an Arab best seller, as it, in turn, corroborates Muslim suspicions of Jewish evil intent. 

These two deep infections of hate are transmitted culturally, as one Arab put it to me, “in their mother’s milk.” Teaching Holocaust means little, as in their eyes Jews deserved it and more.

The issue is as difficult as trying to persuade Muslims that Muhammad wasn’t, or Christians that Jesus wasn’t. They deeply believe that Jews are a force of evil in the world and any good they appear to accomplish is but a camouflage by Satan.

The new US strategy to combat antisemitism presents a few palliatives and pablum for some Jews, giving the appearance that the current administration is doing something, but comes nowhere near any possible treatment for chronic Jew-hate.



Soul of this country

I won’t deny that there are undoubtedly a small number of legislators – from both the coalition and opposition – who quietly and under the radar embrace Basic Law: Nation-State as a way to legally discriminate against Israel’s Arab population (“Ministers to debate Zionism’s influence on gov’t decisions,” May 29).

The concerns expressed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel are therefore not entirely unfounded, but the group has not provided a justifiable argument against the law. Israel was created as a Jewish state, and while there may be some ambiguity as to what that means exactly, there should be absolutely no disagreement over the official day of rest, the holidays that are observed and celebrated, and the recognitions that the Jews who emigrated to Israel over the last seventy-five years have brought to this land a diverse and varied collection of traditions that have one thing in common: they all reflect Judaism in one way or another.

Those who would encourage apartheid policies and chant “Death to the Arabs” do not reflect the soul of this country, and certainly not mine.Yet the government is willing to accept the haredi demand that Zionism not be identified as a national characteristic. The haredim are not being forced by law to stand in honor of those who gave their lives for this country or recognize the very special meaning of Israel Independence Day, and yet they dare infringe upon those who do.

And while I certainly respect the importance of yeshivas and the ongoing learning that goes on there, I am well aware that advanced learning and national service are by no means mutually exclusive. There is ample room for both.

So, please leave the Basic Law: Nation-State untouched. It is applicable to all Jews living in Israel, including the haredim. Their next demand, you know, would be to return to the table the infamous 1975 UN declaration equating Zionism with racism. Even Israel’s Arabs would never go so far.


Ginot Shomron

Blanket exemption

There are a number of points I could make in response to the article by Douglas Altabef, “Playing with fire” (May 23). However, I will suffice with just two.

Firstly, he is right that Ben-Gurion created the deferment of the draft for haredim; however his suggestion that the increase in the numbers of haredim receiving deferments every year is simply due to their high birth rates is disingenuous. Ben-Gurion agreed to a specific number, not a percentage. 

Secondly, equating the failure of “rich kids from North Tel Aviv” with that of haredim is pure chutzpah. The “rich kids from North Tel Aviv” do not have a blanket exemption granted by the government, do not receive stipends from the government when they fail to enlist, and for the most part, they move into the working population. The suggestion that their contribution to the economy can be compared with the drain on the economy at the hands of the haredi population is, simply, egregious.



I agree with Douglas Altabef, but the road to overcoming baseless hatred is a two-way street. While praying, frequently and fervently, for a return to Zion, the Jews of the Diaspora also contributed to the societies which gave them (temporary) asylum, rebuilding their lives in new places of refuge until the next expulsion came.

I cannot believe that all haredim would desert the kollels and yeshivot if students were given a secular education in addition to their religious studies. Indeed, I believe it is a sin to deny boys the education they need to become men able to support the large families haredi men are encouraged to father.

Resentment against the haredim does not come solely from people irked over the absence of haredi men from the ranks of the IDF and from the workforce. Much of the resentment arises from the fact that all Israelis need to deal with haredi officials or members of the state rabbinate when seeking to get married or needing to arrange a funeral for a deceased loved one.

Woe to the person who does not want a strictly Orthodox ceremony (perhaps the bride wants to give the groom a wedding ring or a daughter wants to walk with her brothers in escorting their father’s body to the grave site). Or consider the plight of hundreds of thousands of olim from the former Soviet Union who entered Israel, legally, under the Law of Return, whose mothers weren’t Jewish or who can’t prove that their mothers were Jewish.

These unfortunate souls are unable to marry Jews in Israel because the state rabbinate put barriers in their path to conversion, expecting them to convince their entire families to convert or expecting converts to move immediately from totally secular lifestyles to Jewish observance on a fervently Orthodox level. 

What about the prospective bride or groom who is informed that she or he is not actually Jewish because a converted mother has not maintained a totally observant lifestyle? What of the Western oleh or olah who has been active in his or her Conservative or Reform synagogue who fears making aliyah because he or she might not be considered Jewish (if a female forebear was converted by a non-Orthodox rabbi) or because an adopted child might not be considered Jewish in Israel if the parents’ non-Orthodox rabbi converted the child?

Israel is the nation-state of the Jews, not the nation-state of only one type of Jew. The state should be giving the answer to the question of “Who is a Jew” and setting the criteria that must be met for the recognition of conversions made under the supervision of rabbis ordained by the seminaries and yeshivot of the various branches of Judaism worldwide. 



Serious threat

Regarding “How much will Israel spend on the environment this year?” (May 29), it is urgent that far more be spent, since climate change is such a serious threat to Israel. Climate experts have projected that temperatures  here could reach 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) several times this summer and the Mediterranean Sea could rise 2.5 meters by mid-century, inundating the coastal plain which contains most of our population and infrastructure.

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) warned in 2018 that “unprecedented changes” are essential by 2030 in efforts to avert a global climate catastrophe. However, atmospheric CO2 has continued to increase since then.

In order to have a chance to leave a habitable, healthy, environmental sustainable world for future generations, it is essential that averting a climate catastrophe become a central focus with a very significant increase in funding allotted to meet that goal.



Feeding and sleeping

Sharon Roffe Ofir bitterly criticizes the 2023-2024 state budget passed by the government (“An out-of-control train is leading us to the abyss,” May 29). The criticisms also seem out of control.

What about free education for children aged 0-3? Do the eager parents really need financial help immediately after the infant is born? Can’t they carry the burden of education for the first year or so which mainly involves feeding and sleeping. Do they really need a 24/7 au pair immediately after birth?

What about free education while the baby is still in the mother’s womb? It has been demonstrated that the yet to be born infant is already capable of learning even before birth: languages and arithmetic fed into the surroundings of the mother.

As for providing for the elderly and students, why didn’t the elderly save for a rainy day during their working lifetime? Let the students get part-time jobs. Where is the personal responsibility? From where is the government expected to have the resources to support a socialist utopia – free lunches for everybody? In what country does this work?.

On one issue, Ofir is absolutely correct. The support of the ultra-Orthodox is out of control. Let them get jobs and support themselves, study Torah in the wee hours of the morning, and stop the begging  lifestyle.