December 10: Neeman's Torah commentary

December 10 Neemans To

Neeman's Torah commentary Sir, - Justice minister Yaakov Neeman may not have said anything new (his own declaration) nor exposed a "hidden agenda," contrary to what Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines claimed ("Neeman denies suggesting Torah replace laws of state," December 9). But he surely brought up a lot of disdain for and fear of the rule of Halacha among Israeli leaders. It becomes very clear that Israeli courts do not practice Jewish law. Not everybody knows or will admit that. And that got disclosed very finely. MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem Sir, - "Step by step, we will bestow upon the citizens of Israel the laws of the Torah, and we will turn Halacha into the binding law of the nation," declared Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman. "We must bring back the heritage of our fathers... The Torah has the complete solution to all of the questions we are dealing with." Yes, let's return to the days of bloody sacrifices and stoning adulterers. No graven images; no ornaments. Hundreds of crimes punishable by death - decapitation, strangulation, burning, among others. The "heritage of our fathers" (what about our mothers?): analyzed, debated, discussed, documented, legislated by and for our fathers. What about non-Jews living in Israel, or Jewish Israelis who don't accept the thousands-of-years-old 613 commandments as a prescription for their lives? What about Israel's Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty (1994), declaring Israel a "Jewish and democratic state" - emphatically not a theocracy? How is this any different from countries demanding Sharia law? JUDY BAMBERGER O'Connor, Australia Sir, - I found it most sad that those on the Left of the Israeli political spectrum should demand the resignation of Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman for apparently expressing hope that the Torah will become the basis the state's legal system. Rabbi Sa'adia Gaon wrote over 1,000 years ago that the Jewish people is only a nation by virtue of the Torah, so only by following its basic values can the State of Israel be considered a Jewish state. But then, I suppose that those on the Left would rather it were a secular Western democracy, cut loose from its Jewish roots. Unfortunately the phenomenon of the considerable number of largely secular yordim is the inevitable result of such a short-sighted program. MARTIN D. STERN Salford, England The Swedish two-state solution, cont'd Sir, - In response to Jack Cohen ("The Swedish two-state solution," Letters, December 9), allow me, as a native Swede and friend of Israel, to make a comment. Harsh as it may sound to many of you, Europe does not recognize any Israeli right to colonization of the West Bank, divinely inspired or not. That the West Bank was annexed as a result of a Jordanian attack on Israel is conveniently forgotten by now. This is at the root of the international problem and not likely to change. Those of a really nasty frame of mind might even suggest that your settlers become members of a future Palestinian state and subject to its laws, just as Arabs are in the Jewish State of Israel. As for the separation of Norway and Sweden in 1905, surprisingly enough, the Norwegians wanted their capital in Kristiania (Oslo), not in a partitioned Stockholm. They gained their freedom peacefully, too. This was in spite of the fact that there were quite a few remaining supporters in my country for upholding the Union and an army capable of enforcing it, should the politicians have decided otherwise. JAN-OLOF GRAHN Stockholm/Eilat All pain, someone's gain Sir, - Your editorial headline "All pain, no gain" (December 8) was painfully naïve. You rightfully point out that the settlement freeze has been rejected outright by the Palestinians, that the Obama administration has only minimally acknowledged it and that Netanyahu himself has barely attempted to make it part of a larger coherent strategy; hence, you wonder what its benefits are. Of course, you fail to see the elephant in the room, by ignoring personal and internal political machinations. Ehud Barak, who, as defense minister, is in charge of implementing this ill-begotten policy, has plenty to gain. First of all, it diverts attention away from the various scandals in which he is involved (hiring illegal workers, sticking the taxpayer with bills for hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of foreign luxury hotel junkets). Second, it solidifies his position as head of the Left camp, whose visceral hatred of the demonized "settlers" overrides all other national considerations. Third, it is an attempt to unify the Labor faction behind his leadership and prevent the far-Left radical rebels from splitting the Labor party, which would ultimately lead to Barak's downfall and the possible breakup of the coalition itself. The tremendous cost to the economy (estimated at nearly NIS 1 billion) and the trampling of the civil rights of those living in the settlements is a small price to pay for the above "benefits." MORRIS KARLIN Mercaz Shapira It could be worse Sir, - Mohamed ElBaradei (ElBaradei: "An attack on Iran is absolutely the worst thing that could happen. There is no military solution," December 8) is apparently supremely indifferent to the fact that President Ahmadinejad of Iran does foresee a military solution, of the atomic kind, to the continued existence of the State of Israel. Such a disappearance is not included in ElBaradei's list of absolutely worst things that could happen - despite the fact that it is impossible for such an attack not to impact nearby countries and local non-Jews. MIRIAM L. GAVARIN Jerusalem Just a little employed... Sir, - Defense Minister Ehud Barak's comment that "the woman had been employed... only occasionally" ("Barak employed illegal migrant worker," December 9) is like a woman being "a little bit pregnant." URI HIRSCH Netanya ...or fully and productively employed Sir, - While farmers continue to demonstrate and express their fury and frustration over their lack of manpower ("Tractor convoy en route to the capital in solidarity with Arava farmers," December 3), the solution to their labor problems is not intractable, in my opinion. With reference to Simon Deng's article "Israel must do right by its Sudanese refugees" (December 8), surely our government, instead of procrastinating, could cut through the bureaucracy and issue temporary permits enabling these genuine asylum seekers the opportunity to dignify their sorrowful circumstances. This would also eliminate the majority of highly profitable agencies engaged in questionable migration practices. GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS Pardesiya Making all of us proud Sir, - It was a pleasure to open The Jerusalem Post and, instead of my daily dose of depression, see the three smiling faces of the Orbaum triplets ("Dad would be proud: IAF sees triple after Sam Orbaum's girls enlist," December 9). It was interesting to be brought up to date with these delightful young ladies, about whom I had read in the late columnist's articles. ZELDA PORTNOY Haifa Sir, - We just want to say that we are also proud. What beautiful girls! Even though we did not know Sam personally, we still recall all his witty & humorous articles about his triplet daughters. Yes, indeed, he would certainly be "shepping nachas" from seeing his daughters in their IAF uniforms. HANNAH & JOE SONDHELM Jerusalem