October 31: Geography lesson

I proudly live in Ma’aleh Adumim, a city with 40,000 residents located a few kilometers outside Jerusalem’s city limits

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Geography lesson
Sir, – I wish to take exception to wording used in “Children returned to mother following kidnapping by grandmother” (October 30), in which reporter Ben Hartman characterized the youngsters as having been returned “to their mother within Israel after they were taken to the West Bank....”
I proudly live in Ma’aleh Adumim, a city with 40,000 residents located a few kilometers outside Jerusalem’s city limits. My passport and all of my papers identify me as being a citizen of the State of Israel, so I am insulted by the reference that the children were taken “from within Israel” to the “West Bank,” as if those of us over the Green Line are not living in Israel.
Second, Hartman’s words sound as if the children were taken to a lawless, totalitarian location out of the country. I invite him and anyone else to visit us in our tranquil city and see first-hand that we are not the Wild West, and that indeed we are a solid part of the State of Israel.
And we live in Judea, not the West Bank.
ZE’EV M. SHANDALOV Ma’aleh Adumim
Courageous editorial
Sir, – The Jerusalem Post deserves praise for its courageous editorial calling in no uncertain terms for the abolition of the Chief Rabbinate (“Bennett’s revolution,” October 30).
It is absolutely correct to say that any laws granting greater religious flexibility are no substitute for ridding Israel of the tyrannical imposition of religious coercion that the Rabbinate represents. Freeing the country of this antiquated and unnecessary institution would permit Judaism to flourish and become relevant once again rather than represent some medieval outlook that is far from meeting the needs of this century and this land. It would also save the Treasury a great deal of money that could be well used elsewhere rather than being wasted on the salaries of unwanted religious functionaries.
The question now is whether there are any political leaders and parties willing to espouse this cause.
Aside from Meretz, silence on the issue seems to be the political response. It is too much to hope that Labor will take up this cause since it has always been the first to run after the religious parties. Certainly, the Likud would never advocate this any more than would Bayit Yehudi or Shas.
What about Yesh Atid? Does Yair Lapid have the courage to say that we do not need a Chief Rabbinate and that rabbinical and religious services should be privatized to break the current monopoly? Perhaps Tzipi Livni would take up this cause.
In any case, kol hakavod to the Post for taking this stance and bringing the issue to the fore once again. Now let’s hear from some brave politicians who really care about Judaism and understand that it will have a true renaissance here only when it is freed from the shackles of the Chief Rabbinate.
The writer is a rabbi Jack Straw
Sir, – With regard to “Former UK foreign secretary: AIPAC is the main barrier to peace” (October 28), it is small wonder that anti-Semitic incidents and hate speech against Jews is on the rise when senior government officials, representatives present and past of the so-called democracies, feel free to spout anti-Semitic ideas.
The latest is Jack Straw, who contributed to the idea that Jews use the power of their unlimited wealth to press their own agenda on the world. Shades of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion! It is no wonder that as in Australia and other places, anti Semites feel free to attack Jews.
Straw also complains about Germany’s obsession with protecting Israel. It is not this so-called obsession that is the problem. Rather, it is Europe and the US exerting obsessive pressure to impose an agreement on Israel and the reluctant Palestinians. And now some church organizations have joined the chorus, ignoring the fact that Christians are being terrorized and churches destroyed all over the Muslim world and obsessively demanding the boycott and divestment and the sanctioning of Israel (the latest being the British Methodist Church).
Straw says Israel’s intransigence is an impediment for peace. It is not Israel that is intransigent. Israel, succumbing to the demands of its “allies,” has made concession after concession in an effort to accommodate these demands, even to the extent that no other country would agree to. The release of murderers makes a mockery of our vaunted judicial system in an effort to entice our opponents to even pretend to negotiate.
Never in history has the losing side been the one to put impossible demands on the negotiators, knowing that they are impossible yet knowing they will be backed up by those who wish ill of the Jewish state.
No comfort there
Sir, – British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould gives a great speech, as evidenced by the comments he made at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference last week in Herzliya and which were adopted for your op-ed section (“Israel is not alone!” Observations, October 25).
Gould says forcefully that Israel is not alone when it comes to confronting Iran. He might truly believe this, but the problem is that I (and I suspect many other Israelis) don’t believe him. Not that he is knowingly lying, heaven forbid.
But what we’ve seen lately from the Western powers, especially the US, is that when push comes to shove there is a preference to get shoved (while they smile and talk).
The US, under President Barack Obama, has lost all credibility by letting Syria’s Bashar Assad off the hook after first playing up his crimes against humanity and then saying that the military reprisal would be “incredibly small.” Now Assad continues to slaughter his people while Russian President Vladimir Putin is viewed in the larger Middle East as the only reliable partner.
The US is viewed as having abandoned Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with both countries now looking to Russia. The Egyptians are finally taking the steps necessary to curb the Islamic fanatics of the Muslim Brotherhood, yet they get beat up by Obama.
Saudi Arabia is scared to death of Iran but doesn’t believe the US or the West will do anything. With Libya, the Benghazi cover-up still resonates (as if the murder of the ambassador was due to Islamic rage over a silly movie), while every day brings new revelations of US spying on its closest allies.
The Iranians cockily state that they are continuing to enrich uranium, while Obama pushes to ease sanctions. It’s clear that the US and the West will be perfectly satisfied leaving Iran a “screw-driver-turn” away from actually having nuclear weapons.
Under Obama, US policy has been “abandon your friends, engage your enemies.”
Sorry, Amb. Gould, but your nice words don’t buy me comfort.
LARRY BIGIO Zichron Ya’acov
About time
Sir, – Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar and his colleagues should be congratulated for having left Daylight Saving Time in place until the end of October, thus allowing Israelis to enjoy several more weeks of afternoon sunlight than in previous years, when the clocks changed prior to Yom Kippur.
The claim that the Yom Kippur fast is “shortened” by changing the clocks later has always struck me as specious, since of course the fast has always remains 25-hours long.
Breaking the link between Yom Kippur and Daylight Saving Time, which took years to accomplish, did more than simply make autumn more pleasant – it marked an important step in the long overdue process of separating religion and state, a toxic mix that has caused endless friction between various sectors.
Perhaps we can next set our sights on dismantling the Chief Rabbinate or on drafting yeshiva students.