July 13: Civil unions

The very least we need is civil marriage as a possibility for all who desire it.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Civil unions
Your editorial “Civil unions” (July 10) is correct in advocating such unions as a possible alternative to marriage under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate.
As you write: “The least a modern state owes all its citizens is a choice.” However, the solution you recommend does not offer a choice to all its citizens, only “to those whom the rabbinate turns away.”
What we need is something much more comprehensive, namely, civil unions for all who want them. This would also solve the other problem you mention – marriages performed by Masorti (Conservative) or Reform rabbis require couples to go out of the country in order for their union to be recognized by the state. Even better, of course, would be to privatize the rabbinate so that the Chief Rabbinate is no longer a state-recognized monopoly.
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 If that is not possible now, the very least we need is civil marriage as a possibility for all who desire it. Permitting it only for the those the Chief Rabbinate turns away is not sufficient.
The writer is a rabbi, a founder of Israel’s Masorti Movement and a columnist in The Jerusalem Post Magazine.
Having read about the passing of a bill in the Knesset on Wednesday evening regarding debt collection (“Opposition celebrates ‘beginning of coalition’s end’ after first legislative win,” July 9), I wondered if the Knesset was really a kindergarten.
Our elected representatives are supposed to act like responsible individuals running our country, yet two of the coalition MKs managed not to vote, and opposition MKs left the plenum and then returned quickly to vote so they could claim a victory by deceit.
If this is the best that this set of MKs can manage, perhaps they all ought to resign and we should have a fresh set of people who can act responsibly. I am very disappointed.
It upsets me greatly that subterfuge is used in the Knesset! This puts persons like Meretz party leader Zehava Gal-On, Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and many others in the same bracket as former prime minister Ehud Olmert, former president Moshe Katsav and Economy Minister Arye. These are criminal acts! That these so-called lawmakers can stoop so low as to use tricks to get their laws approved makes me wonder: Who do I trust to lead my country?
Tel Aviv
Those blasted bikes
Regarding “Bicycle accident victims sue Tel Aviv municipality” (July 8), do we only wake up when people are seriously injured? I have lost count of the letters I have written since bicycles became suddenly popular in Israel. Nobody was interested.
“This is Israel,” I was told. (I am from Europe.) “Things are different here.” It was already bad enough before the introduction of electric bikes.
No rules, no controls, a free-for- all. I do hope our authorities find a way to make it safer for everyone involved.
The increasing onslaught of sidewalk bicycles has led to increasing pedestrian peril.
I risk my life daily. Silent cyclists speed down the pavement from behind me, unaware whether the (legal) walker ahead is planning to move right or left. In several such collisions so far, only my clothes have suffered rigor mortis. Cyclists approaching from the front irritably bell-ring or wave one aside, as though the pedestrian – for whom the pavement was created – merely impedes twowheeled “me-first-ism.”
Until there’s an instant fine imposable on these dangerous folks, pavements will increasingly be scenarios of (mostly unpublicized) public assaults.
Abu Ghosh
Journalists’ spat
I write to correct several inaccuracies in the July column by Liat Collins (“The United Nations and the fall,” My Word).
In referring to the relations between the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate in Israel, the National Federation of Israeli Journalists (NFIJ), Ms. Collins should have used a fact checker. The NFIJ was never “ousted” by the IFJ, but was suspended because it refused to pay its annual affiliation fee for three years, during which the IFJ sought by any means possible to find an arrangement. The IFJ ended up being forced to apply its rules, which are binding on all member unions wordwide.
Since Ms. Collins is a member of the Jerusalem branch of the NFIJ, shouldn’t she be asking her leaders for the real reasons as to why the NFIJ “forced” its own suspension? As for the Mediterranean branch of the IFJ, it simply does not exist. The IFJ is a global organization of journalists, including 160 unions worldwide.
It has not countries or governments in membership, from which Ms. Collins cited Iraq, Iran and Yemen, but trade unions of journalists. In fact, she could have found out easily that the Association of Iranian Journalists, an IFJ affiliate, was disbanded by the Ahmadinejad government and its leaders jailed or exiled.
As for the claim by Haim Shibi that I opposed the setting up of a hotline between Palestinian and Israeli journalists, this is, sadly, a mere figment of his imagination. The motion, which he said was defeated at a European annual meeting of journalists’ union, had a huge majority in favor (56 votes for and 36 against). However, it needed a two-thirds majority to make it an “urgent motion” so it could be put to the meeting for discussion. It was not, therefore, discussed.
The writer is president of IFJ.
Liat Collins responds: Unfortunately, relations between the NFIJ (comprising the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv associations) and the IFJ reached a low point partly because of what seems to be the politicization of the international body under Jim Boumelha.
Boumelha has found the time to travel from Europe to visit the Palestinian union and offer it support and solidarity, but has never been able to make the short journey from Ramallah to Jerusalem to meet the Israeli union to discuss any of the issues he raises in his letter, from the Jerusalem Association’s oft-repeated offer to establish a hotline and other concrete suggestions to solve professional problems of Palestinian journalists (and the safety of Israeli journalists also working in dangerous conditions) to the matter of membership fees.
It should be noted, moreover, that the expulsion/suspension from the IFJ came at a time when the jobs of hundreds of NFIJ members were in imminent danger due to the impending planned closure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. This should have been the time when a professional body offered more support to journalists, not less, and definitely not make itself be seen to be governed by personal political preferences.
As for the European Federation of Journalists meeting, Haim Shibi noted that the Palestinian version of the motion was not accepted as urgent, and thus that it failed. In addition, far from being a figment of anyone’s imagination, I have seen the correspondence from July 2014 in which Shibi asked Boumelha for his assistance in setting up the hotline and was rejected as not “credible” because “most importantly, they [the Israeli Federation] have never expressed any solidarity with their Palestinian colleagues at their time of need.”
Sadly, far from the IFJ uniting journalists in the Middle East and serving as a bridge of goodwill, Boumelha’s response indicates a divisive approach at a time of particular need.