June 3, 2015: Haredi violence

Readers respond to the latest 'Jerusalem Post' articles.

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Haredi violence
The article “Beit Shemesh residents debate whether ultra-Orthodox must stand up to violence” (June 1) saddened me greatly. I would like to provide a totally different perspective.
I have had the privilege to talk to some of the refined and intelligent hassidic ladies of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet. They have explained to me that the men in hassidic garb who perpetrate this desecration of God’s name by harming the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces tragically are the same people who do terrible damage within their own hassidic community.
They have set fire to their playgrounds, destroyed trees and done other damage from within.
The women explained that they are as disgusted as the rest of us are by these deviant individuals, who harm their fellow residents and destroy the image of Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Ninety-nine percent of the people in Beit Shemesh, Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef and Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet want to live in peace and security, and do not support the abhorrent actions of these few deranged individuals. If the police can locate and arrest these few men who are doing so much damage, they would be doing a great service to all the residents of our wonderful and peace-loving community.
Beit Shemesh
When haredi Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz declined to condemn violent haredi extremists by asking rhetorically whether one asks “all Jews to condemn Bernard Madoff” or “all Italians to condemn Mafia murder,” he was being either foolish or disingenuous. Unfortunately, he is not known as a foolish man.
When Mafia hit men murder, they do not do so while proclaiming that this is what true Italian culture demands. And when Bernie Madoff stole, he did not do so while claiming that his crime was mandated by the Jewish religion. There was no need for Madoff’s co-religionists to condemn his actions, and to have asked them to do so would have smacked of racism.
But haredi extremists in Beit Shemesh attack while declaring that this is what the God of Israel desires, that this is the face of true Judaism. This behavior, therefore, demands of every one of us who cares about God and about Judaism to proclaim, as publicly and as forcefully as our prominence enables, that this is not Judaism, but rather a desecration of God’s name.
This is something Rabbi Malinowitz publicly and forcefully refused to do, therefore making himself complicit in the sin of desecrating God’s name in public. Shame on him.
Beit Shemesh
Begin for FM
With regard to “Bennie’s bad break” (Analysis, June 1), why is it that our best-qualified prime minister keeps making political blunders, one after another? His electorate forgave him for the Rivlin fiasco; it won’t forgive him if he makes a coalition with the Left.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s voters want a rightwing government, even if it’s only 61 MKs. Give Bennie Begin the Foreign Ministry. He is the most qualified. He will be accepted by all the Zionist parties.
Even the opposition loves him. This would ensure another term for Bibi. Sad to say, but there isn’t anyone else who can lead the country at the present time.
Tel Aviv
Fluoridated water
With regard to “Litzman seeks to return fluoride to drinking water after German ban” (June 1), where are the protests? The public is just going to quietly accept this? In a chapter from the book Suppressed Inventions and Other Discoveries, Dr. Ronald S. Laura, a professor of education at the University of Newcastle and a PERC Fellow in Health Education at Harvard University, and John F. Ashton, who teaches in the department of education at the University of Newcastle, write: “The fluorides we now, in the name of health, add to our drinking water were for nearly four decades used as stomach poison, insecticides and rodenticides.
Fluorides are believed to exert their toxic action on pests by combining with and inhibiting many enzymes that contain elements such as iron, calcium and magnesium. For similar reasons fluorides are also highly toxic to plants, disrupting the delicate biochemical balance in respect of which photosynthesis takes place.... The fluoridation controversy becomes even more interesting when we realize that industrial fluorine wastes have since the early 1900s been one of the main pollutants of our lakes, streams and aquifers, causing untold losses to farmers in regard to the poisoning of stock and crops.”
Is this what we want here in Israel?
Most American municipalities fluoridate their water. This reduces dental decay greatly. The previous health minister, Yael German, eliminated this protection for children. Why? And who agreed to this? Thanks to the person now in charge of the Health Ministry, fluoridation will again be available to the Israeli public.
The writer is a retired dentist.
The Riskin affair
“Dissolve the scandal-ridden Chief Rabbinate now!” (Candidly Speaking, June 1), Isi Leibler does it again. He never lets us down. You can be sure that his readers (I myself never miss his columns) will be told the truth exactly as it is. Hats off to the Efrat municipal council for unanimously voting to extend Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s tenure and to condemn the intervention. Rabbi Riskin is held in great esteem throughout Israel and, indeed, the Diaspora as a role model of the religious-Zionist community.
As Isi Leibler says, dissolve the Chief Rabbinate now!
I personally agree that Rabbi Shlomo Riskin has done wonderful work both in Israel and the US. That, however, is not the question at hand. It is whether the Chief Rabbinate has the right and even obligation to expect those who are part of the rabbinate to adhere to its policies, at least in public. No group or organization can function otherwise.
In my 33 years as a municipal chief rabbi, I have aired my opinions with the nation’s chief rabbis – and humbly accepted theirs in my public capacity while usually maintaining my own opinions privately. I don’t think Rabbi David Stav, the head of Tzohar, or anyone else would conduct the affairs of the Chief Rabbinate in a different manner. None of this makes the Chief Rabbinate corrupt.
I would also point out to Isi Leibler that the haredim have not hijacked the Chief Rabbinate, whose chief rabbis are elected within the same framework that has elected all chief rabbis since the creation of the state.
The writer is chief rabbi of Dimona.
Of balls and pucks
With regard to “Netanyahu: Kicking Israel out of FIFA will ruin world soccer” (May 29), I’m sure the Israel Football Association is breathing a sigh of relief following the withdrawal of the Palestinian proposal to ban Israel from the world soccer body. However, for the many North Americans like me who find soccer incredibly boring to watch, kicking Israel out of FIFA might not have been all gloom and doom.
Had the Palestinian proposal passed, we would have been spared watching meaningless 0-0 draws (what is the point in playing a game in which no goals are scored?) or wincing as Israel’s finest disintegrate yet again against European powerhouses.
Now that we’re in FIFA’s good graces until the next crisis, I’ll be cheering for someone, anyone, to put the puck (sorry, soccer ball) in the net.