December 2: Large as life

Baron Elie turned and whispered to me, “When do we get to taste the wine?”

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Large as life
Sir, – Greer Fay Cashman’s article “Remembering Rothschild” (November 28) brought a smile to my face.
Arriving in Israel from the UK in the early 1950s, I was fortunate to be offered a job at PICA (Palestine Jewish Colonization Association), the Haifa-based facade of the Rothschild Foundation that inter alia, had established and developed the management of several industrial enterprises since the 1880s.
Fundamentally, this was to facilitate and expand the marketing of agricultural produce from its kibbutzim and other settlements and to provide kosher wine and bread for an increasing population at home, and for the former, abroad.
The Rothschild family maintained an on-going interest in these activities, so it was no surprise that in 1953 Baron Elie de Rothschild, a connoisseur of wine among other talents, made known his wish to tour the Carmel Mizrachi winery at Zichron Ya’acov. And I was asked to accompany him.
The management at Zichron was given suitable instructions and come the day, Baron Elie and I were driven down from Haifa.
He was good company, easy to talk to, verging on the flamboyant and large as life.
A red carpet had been rolled out from the main entrance to a point where our car stopped.
The management and workers had lined up to greet their guest with awkward bows, smiles and suitable deference, and all was spick and span.
On entering the building, we were confronted by a long table covered with snow-white shelf paper on which a row of a dozen or so differently labeled bottles had been suitably placed, each with its own sparkling wine glass.
The imposing guest was offered a sequential swig, poured for him from each bottle, and to disgorge it if he wished, into a large basin.
On nearing the end of the row of bottles, Baron Elie turned and whispered to me, “When do we get to taste the wine?”
Political obtuseness
Sir, – Melanie Phillips in her column “The basic ambivalence over the Jewish state (As I See It, November 28) discusses the basic uncertainty of the “Jewish state” bill currently dividing Israeli society.
By dissecting the fundamental issues raised by the bill, Phillips correctly points out that nothing in the bill explicitly criticizes democratic values regarding non-Jewish residents of Israel. It merely re-enforces legal and lawful authorization for courts to refer to the Jewish nature of our state.
Interestingly enough, it is exactly that idea, so basic to Herzl and Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky, which today’s progressive- left find so objectionable.
After this summer’s brief period of unity following the murder of the three teenagers and the shock of rockets terrorizing much of the country, one must be dismayed at the sudden downward path of internal friction now being expressed by so many.
It seems that once the immediate threat by our enemies subsides, we forget so fast and resume fraternal animosities.
The protesters of the “Jewish state” bill justify their political obtuseness by praising PA President Mahmoud Abbas as a partner despite all evidence to the contrary.
How sad to see that political objectives so cloud the minds that they are blinded to the ongoing dangers.
It is also not a coincidence that our declared enemies are shrieking and panicking along with Israel’s progressive-left over this “Jewish state” bill.
That alone must tell us something.
Go ahead
Sir,- After weeks of outcries by both Arabs and a large portion of the usual Jewish far-left crowd of “Bibi-bashers” to
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s suggestion that Israel be called the Jewish state, a few hundred protesters finally made it to the Prime Minister’s residence for an ‘angry’ demonstration (“Hundreds protest ‘Jewish state’ bill at PM’s residence, November 30).
I wish to point out the following in connection with this subject, which is far more of a nonsensical, petty storm in a tea cup than an important historical or security matter.
First, if a demonstration was to be held by Israelis who agree with Netanyahu’s decision, there would be thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, of participants.
Second, there are several states in the world that declare themselves to be either Christian, Muslim or Buddhist and no one finds anything wrong with that.
Indeed, many Americans would define their country as a “Judeo-Christian” state , as it was settled 400 years ago mainly by Bible-believing Protestant Christians.
Third, most Muslim Arab and non-Arab states have no problem defining themselves as such even if they have Christian or other minorities.
So, Mr. Prime Minister, please don’t be put off by the chattering, hysterical few, for whom you can do nothing to correct anyway, and go ahead and do what should have been done from the start.
And even though David Ben-Gurion decided to call the Jewish people’s promised land ‘Israel,’ rather than Judea, he nevertheless did mention that while Israel was the land of the Jewish people to which every Jew had the Right of Return, all citizens, no matter what their religion or ethnic origin, had equal rights.
Kiryat Ono
Come to a vote
Sir, – Okay, so Caroline B. Glick (“The storm over the teacup”, Column One, November 28) Moshe Arens (“Netanyahu- Rivlin spat on ‘Jewish state’ bill may put off early elections,” Noevmber 27) and other right-thinking people think the new Basic Law is unnecessary and as such is a bad idea.
But it’s on the table and will come to a vote.
If they were in the Knesset, would they really join those against it and vote no? I would hope not.
Lacking character
Sir, – The proposed “Jewish state” bill has been addressed by the various columnists in your paper as legally necessary due to the fact that the Declaration of Independence, declaring Israel to be the Jewish state, cannot be used by the Supreme Court in deciding cases.
It has been translated that the prime minister said the following in support of the proposed bill: “Now, many are challenging the Jewish character of the State of Israel, and therefore we need to anchor that character in the ‘Jewish state’ bill.” (“Battle at Ben-Gurion’s grave over ‘Jewish state’ bill,” November 28).
The prime ministers and members of Knesset cannot legislate the character of Israel.
They can only lead our nation with it.
If there is a question among the nations that Israel lacks character, only our actions, and not our legislation, can reverse an impression that Israel lacks character.
Talk to the dead
Sir, – Regarding comments by Yair Lapid (“Cabinet approves ‘Jewish state’ bill,” November 24) one can only conclude that he has joined the likes of Herzog in being able to speak with the dead.
Lapid’s recent remarks that Ben-Gurion, Begin and Jabotinsky would never have allowed the” Jewish state” bill to pass seems to imply that he has engaged in recent conversations with them.
It amazes me that when politicians do not have the backbone to state their position that they float ‘trial balloons’ by invoking the names of the dearly departed.
Jerusalem, Toronto