February 27, 2017: Sorting priorities

"One in five Israelis lives in poverty yet we send help to many countries, many of which are enemies, spending who knows how much money?"

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Sorting priorities
I believe the Palestinian Authority still owes us billions of shekels in unpaid electricity bills, and now the hospital in Nahariya is saying that because the government owes it NIS 300 million for the cost of treating some 1,550 Syrian civilians in the past four years, the opening of new departments and the purchase of advanced equipment have almost been stopped (“Nahariya hospital may stop treating Syrians over gov’t debt,” February 24).
I need to get this straight in my head: One in five Israelis lives in poverty yet we send help to many countries, many of which are enemies, spending who knows how much money? The government is prepared to allow our own people to live in humiliating circumstances, forced to look to charity to feed their families?
How dare there be cases of children going to bed hungry and not having a sandwich to take to school! It’s time the government got its priorities sorted out.
Mr. Metzger...
With regard to “Metzger gets extra year for crimes” (February 24), the Shabbat Torah reading states “You shall not take a bribe,” and this former chief rabbi was involved with, among other things, bribery in a very big way.
Although he made a plea bargain for a certain prison sentence, Yonah Metzger has now been served an extra year. I personally feel the biggest punishment would be to take away his title of rabbi. Even after he has served his time, he should not have this honor.
...and Pvt. Azaria
Former Israeli chief rabbi Yonah Metzger got 4.5 years for bribery. IDF soldier Elor Azaria was sentenced 1.5 years for taking a human life, killing a wounded Palestinian who, evidence indicated, could have been arrested for his alleged crime.
MKs and citizens continue to fall over each other calling for a pardon, early release and even a retrial for Azaria. Is this the new definition of Jewish justice?
O’Connor, Australia
Causing antisemitism
In “Israel does not cause antisemitism” (Observations, February 24), Alan M. Dershowitz makes excellent points in countering Roderick Balfour’s declaration that the “increasing inability of Israel to address [the condition of Palestinians], coupled with the expansion into Arab territory of the Jewish settlements, are major factors in growing antisemitism around the world.”
The contemporary Balfour is forgetting that a seeming relationship in itself says little about causality. It can also be that growing worldwide antisemitism is causing the world to see Israel’s actions as “expansion into Arab territory,” justifying a boycott of Israel, rather than as more benign actions of a sovereign state coping with an issue of disputed territory.
It seems that Dershowitz’s factand logic-based comments support this latter interpretation. Preconceived prejudices can and do impede rigorous thinking.
Prof. Alan M. Dershowitz will be pleased to know that Roderick Balfour, whom he rightly castigates for his bigotry, is not a descendant of Arthur James Balfour, author of the Balfour Declaration.
Arthur, Earl of Balfour, was a confirmed bachelor. He never married and had no children; hence, no descendants. In the 87 years since his death, a number of his distant relatives, mostly decent but undistinguished men, have succeeded to the title.
Neither Prof. Dershowitz nor I will lose any sleep if Roderick, black sheep of the family, is absent from celebrations of the centennial of the Balfour Declaration in November.
Tel Aviv
Creating an antisemite
In reference to “McIlroy takes heat for golfing with Trump” (Sports, February 24), you might consider it fair to criticize the president of the United States because he is a public figure and well able to deal with the press. But this article attacks Rory McIlroy, one of the finest golfers in the world today, with baseless hatred.
What possessed you to print such unnecessary filth? If Mr. McIlroy were to read this article, you will have created another antisemite, completely purposelessly.
I would seriously suggest that you reconsider your editorial stance.
Trump no antisemite
It is disturbing that many in the media appeared surprised when US President Donald Trump condemned the ongoing spate of threats against Jewish community centers (“Trump condemns recent wave of anti-semitism,” February 22).
The facts surrounding President Trump’s acceptance of the Jewish people are clear. He happily accepted his daughter’s conversion to Judaism and marriage to a Jew. He appointed his Jewish son-in-law to be a senior White House adviser. He loves his three Jewish grandchildren. He also employs and relies on many Jews and has been a steadfast supporter of Israel.
One can argue whether President Trump should have handled certain situations regarding Jews differently (such as question at recent press conferences), but it is too great a leap of logic to conclude that he acted out of antisemitism.
It is certainly permissible to engage in the academic exercise of whether one should have responded differently to a question. It is wrong, however, for individuals to ascribe antisemitism to someone who harbors no animus toward Jews, but merely phrased a response or sent a tweet that they do not like.
Atlanta, Georgia
The writer is an adviser to the National Diversity Coalition for Trump and chairs the Georgia branch of Jews Choose Trump.
Misleading examples
In “There are no shortcuts for a regional breakthrough” (Comment & Features, February 22), the examples that Nimrod Goren brings to prove his thesis that a regional solution depends on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are misleading.
• Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel because it realized that Israel could not be defeated militarily. It also wanted the Sinai, with its valuable oil fields.
• Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel a decade after it had relinquished its claims and involvement in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). It didn’t care about “Palestinians” during its occupation of the area or afterwards.
• The Arab Peace Initiative demands that Israel go back to the 1949 armistice lines and allows the establishment of a Palestinian state in return for an offer of “normal relations,” which can easily be rescinded. It’s a suicide deal.
• A so-called “peace process” with Palestinians was used to cover Palestinian terrorism and incitement. It never led to any regional development.
Who’ll be irrelevant?
Toward the end of his “Editor’s Notes” column of February 17 (“Return of the Palestinian state”), Yaakov Katz takes the Orthodox Union to task for banning women from serving in the clergy. He says that such a position is making the OU “irrelevant to a growing segment of American and Israeli Modern Orthodox Jews.”
I consider myself Modern Orthodox, and Katz certainly does not speak for me.
The OU has taken a position in line with traditional Orthodox opinions that have kept the Jewish people intact for millennia.
Women as Halacha “consultants” is one thing, but calling them rabbis in one form or another is something else.
I venture to say that in 50 years, it will not be the OU that is irrelevant, but, as has happened with almost every “reformist” movement in Judaism, the so-called open orthodoxy movement will become irrelevant.
Beit Shemesh