August 17: No Churchill

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
No compunction
As a physician, I resent it that the forced-feeding of the prisoner Muhammad Allan has become a medical and medical ethics issue (“Arab MKs vopce anger, worry over hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner,” August 14).
If a doctor inserts a feeding tube into a hunger-striking prisoner, it has nothing to do with medical treatment or medical ethics. The prisoner has not come to the doctor seeking care, nor has the doctor agreed to treat the prisoner for his benefit.
The doctor is merely a technician carrying out the legal request of prison authorities.
The actual issue is political: the will of the State of Israel versus the will of Muhammad Allan.
Prisoner status is a status of reduced individual rights. If the prisoner feels his rights are reduced illegally or immorally, he may appeal to the court.
Israeli courts have consistently proven themselves more committed to upholding justice and guarding individual rights than have many Israelis, and certainly more than most Palestinians.
A hunger-strike to achieve political or personal goals is a passive-aggressive and illegitimate action that constitutes blackmail. “You do what I want or I’ll kill myself.” Given Israel’s precarious international status, such threats become a very powerful political weapon. (One could see the look of satisfaction on MK Haneen Zoabi’s face when she came to visit the hospitalized prisoner and declared: “If he dies, it will be the fault of the State of Israel.”) As a medical student and young physician, I inserted nasogastric tubes hundreds of times.
The procedure is moderately uncomfortable but is not difficult or dangerous, and certainly is not torture. The nourishment is merely a matter of liquefying a normal diet in a blender and running it through the tube.
Anyone with the skill – not necessarily a physician – can do this.
If a prisoner resists, he might have to be physically restrained, but he is a prisoner and has entered into an aggressive battle pitting his will against the will of the state. I personally would have absolutely no compunction about aiding the state in dealing with such a blackmailer.
The writer is a retired cardiologist.
We must act now
If there is one sentence in Amotz Asa-El’s “Rebels with a cause” (Middle Israel, August 14) that sums up the main theme of the piece, it is this: “The conversion crisis is an emergency situation that demands emergency action.”
In addressing the new, controversial and revolutionary network of rebbinical courts that will convert non-Jews in disregard of the Chief Rabbinate, Asa- El sheds light on an issue that has long divided and frustrated organized Jewry in the Land of Israel. It is no less than an earth-shattering event. I, for one, welcome it.
Rabbi Yitzchak Hacohen Kook once described the vast gap between religious and non-religious observance as the idea of Jewry being in a state of “needing repair.” Just as Jews who repaired a broken fixture in the Holy of Holies were spared, so must we spare our lost members any injury while we “fix” ourselves.
The application of this viewpoint is to be seen in the current emergency whereby hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews need to be regathered, converted and returned to our people.
In addition, today’s Orthodox features of head covering, blessings, rituals and other practices were all institutionalized after years of talmudic discourse and rabbinic leadership. Many take into account local conditions.
We know of hundreds of bitter disputes as decisions on practice developed. It took great sages to know when to make changes to ensure the future of the people of Israel.
We need the wisdom of those sages. It is to be hoped that today’s ultra-Orthodox rabbis will begin the long process of raprochement with those whose approach to God is less rigid, but just as committed as theirs.
The need to act now is imperative.
No Churchill
How dare Alan Dershowitz even mention Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the same breath as Winston Churchill (“Netanyahu is emulating Churchill,” Observations, August 14)? Churchill was a great statesman and courageous leader, as well as a man of letters and culture, an author, artist and noted historian, a man of honesty, integrity and democratic principle.
Our prime minister cannot boast any of these qualities. He is a political coward with a tendency to megalomania. Honesty and integrity have no place in his vocabulary, and his sole concern is to preserve his status and perks of high office.
Netanyahu’s rhetoric on Iran is primarily intended to deflect attention from his unwillingness to address the serious issues facing Israel, notably the endemic lawlessness of the settler movement and accompanying unbridled religious extremism, not to mention the Palestinian question, the poverty gap, rabbinical coercion and rampant corruption.
No, Mr. Dershowitz. Netanyahu is no Churchill. If he were, Israel would be a much more respected nation, untarnished with the opprobrium that our government justifiably attracts.
Fighting Obama
In “Netanyahu versus Obama: Who will win?” (Observations, August 14), Ben Caspit writes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in stridently opposing US President Barack Obama on the Iran deal, is fighting a losing battle. He believes the prime minister is endangering Israel’s security by antagonizing America, Israel’s most powerful friend.
In fact, the majority of Americans are supportive of Israel and trust Netanyahu more than they do Obama on the Iran issue. Israel also has majority support in Congress; hence, Netanyahu is not antagonizing America, though doubtless he is antagonizing its current president.
As for the existential issue, on which Israel’s survival may well depend, Netanyahu has to choose between two bad options: to fight the US president or submit quietly and hope for divine intervention. In 1938, Czechoslovakia chose submission and no longer exists. Netanyahu has chosen the other option, and rightly so.
All of us who have contacts in America can support our government by urging friends and relatives to lobby their representatives in Congress to oppose the disastrous capitulation to the Iranian mullahs.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Haman’s deals
With regard to “Simon Wiesenthal Center criticizes ‘gutter level’ of debate on Iran deal” (August 13), I agree with Rabbi Marvin Hier that when the Iran deal was being negotiated, the matter of Iranian genocidal designs on Israel, as per the frequent calls by the country’s leaders, and its arming and support for Hamas and Hezbollah, were not on the table. This in itself is a major reason to reject a deal that results in a nuclear Iran in about 10 years and awards it with $100 billion in the short term to use in its battles against Israel’s citizens.
It is one thing that western European nations – which condemn Israel at the UN for killing civilians while fighting Hamas, while they themselves kill civilians in their fight against ISIS – regularly have a different standard when it comes to Israel. In this case it is a US president who indicates that while Iran cannot get a nuclear weapon for 10 years, the deal doesn’t need to stop it from sending missiles and money to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbolla.
I hope that the other Jewish members of Congress follow the lead of Sen. Chuck Schumer, that they be like Queen Esther and not tag on to Haman’s “deals.”
New York