February 28: An influential rabbi’s funeral

It behooves us all to take measures against such an enactment in order to protect these selfless young men and women who are already risking so much of themselves on our behalf.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An influential rabbi’s funeral
As I made my way through the enormous throngs of people attending the funeral of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach in the streets of Jerusalem’s Sha’arei Hesed neighborhood, it was apparent to me that not a single green uniform could be seen – and with good reason.
As your article “Extremists as uncompromising against draft as hard-liner sage” (February 26) implies, what should have been only praises for the Torah learning of the deceased evolved into an IDF-bashing fest. With such ludicrous terminology as “war of extermination,” speaker after speaker vowed to maintain the policy of opposing any accommodation with the Israeli government, including the draft.
How would the tens of thousands of Haredi students counter Moses’s challenge to the tribes of Gad and Reuven (Numbers 32:6): “Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here?” The speeches at the funeral provided the answer clearly.
I was moved to cry at your front-page photo of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach’s funeral. Not at the passing of an 86-year-old rabbi, but at the sight of thousands of black-hatted, able-bodied men swarming the streets of Jerusalem, all mourning a man who considered serving the Israeli army as unnecessary.
These men should serve their country in defense against our enemies... in addition to studying and taking part in a funeral procession.
Good manners are news!
I wish to express my admiration for the professional manner in which Greer Fay Cashman penned her excellent “Yehuda Bauer receives Nahum Goldmann Medal” (February 26). However, there is one observation she did not mention.
Though this is virtually unheard of when listening to radio, TV talk shows and, particularly, political debates in Israel, during the fascinating two-hour panel discussion by learned historians presenting their differing points of view, there was never a moment when two spoke at the same time. If only this could be the norm in Israel.
Tel Mond
Whose war is it?
In “Iceland’s declaration of war on Judaism” (Fundamentally Freund, February 25), Michael Freund points to making circumcision a crime as a direct attack on the Jewish community. In reality, the ban on circumcision is more of an attack on the Muslim population of Iceland.
The total population is about 329,000. The Jewish population is less than 100, while the Muslim population is closer to 1,000 and growing. It is the Muslim community that should be up in arms.
Torquemada as columnist
I was pleased to read that Amnesty International has fearlessly exposed that Israel is “killing” and “torturing” Palestinian children (“Amnesty claims Israel ‘kills,’ ‘tortures’ Palestinian children,” February 23). But I was disappointed that its report neglected to mention that we also kill Christian children to use their blood in baking our matzot for Passover.
I am also pleased that Amnesty International’s Israel director, Yonatan Gehr, writes a regular column for The Jerusalem Post (The Fifth Column). His most recent column, “A Purim to remember” (February 23), courageously reports that “Israel ... killed 2,000 people in the last Gaza conflict.” These 2,000 peace-loving men, women and children were cruelly struck down without any cause whatsoever by Israel’s brutal war machine.
Finally, the Post is to be commended for publishing opinion columns covering a wide spectrum of views. To encourage this enlightened policy, I would be happy to supply the email address of Torquemada, whom you might wish to add to your illustrious list of columnists.
Petah Tikva
Mixed-gender combat units
Dr. Idit Shafran Gittleman’s attack on national-religious rabbis for opposing mixed combat units in the IDF (“Co-ed army service in Israel,” Observations, February 23) does little to address the issues and a great deal to vilify the rabbis. Mind you, rabbis in the national-religious camp, unlike Haredim, do serve in the IDF and hold opinions based on their knowledge of Torah as well as army experience.
Dr. Gittleman seems to suggest that a society that embraces gender equality should by definition embrace military service for women, including mixed-gender combat units. But gender equality is not the same as gender identity. In democracies, men and women are regarded as equals, but not identical. There are pronounced physiological, chemical and emotional differences; this makes romantic love, marriage and family possible.
My understanding of the rabbis’ objections has not to do with being restrictive, but rather with protective. Putting young men and women in close quarters with questionable sanitary conditions, limited privacy and stressful battlefield conditions can lead young people to lose control and violate codes of behavior that under normal conditions would not occur and which they would later regret.
Yes, the United States has opened all units to women soldiers. With what results? I suggest that Dr. Gittleman contact the Columbia Veterans Research Center in New York, specifically the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Research and Treatment Program, part of the Columbia University College of Physicians. While I do not have statistics readily available, I do know from my contacts with the faculty that women serving in mixed units, especially combat units, report verbal, physical and, especially, sexual abuse such as molestation and rape from fellow servicemen and the military hierarchy. It comes as no surprise.
Another factor left out of Dr. Gittleman’s equation is vulnerability. Soldiers in combat units are always in danger of being attacked and taken prisoner. Our enemies do not respect humane international codes for the treatment of captives. However horrid the fate of a male soldier might be under such circumstances, it would be much worse for a female captive who would be subjected to all sorts of depredations, humiliations and tortures.
As a woman, I was pleased to read that there has been a 10% increase in women’s enlistment in the IDF. There are many contributions women can make in mixed-gender units dealing with such spheres as medicine and education. But I am totally opposed to women in mixed-gender combat units. The challenges to the integrity of our young men and women in uniform are too overpowering and the risk of capture by a barbaric enemy are simply too great.
It behooves us all to take measures against such an enactment in order to protect these selfless young men and women who are already risking so much of themselves on our behalf.
And now, the legal side
With regard to “Netiv Ha’avot and Israeli sovereignty” (Comment & Opinion, February 22) by Shlomo Ne’eman, who heads the Gush Etzion Regional Council, our position in international law is incontrovertible as a result of the following:
• The Balfour Declaration of November 1917
• The resolutions passed at San Remo, Italy, on April 24-25, 1920.
The above were unanimously adopted by all 52 members of the League of Nations in July 1922. They were enacted as US domestic law by the Anglo-American Convention of 1924. Article 80 of the United Nations Charter protects all of the above.
The writer is an attorney.