Letters: April 4

Readers share their opinions.

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Fallen low
With regard to “Graft limbo” (Editorial, April 1), there are 10 green bottles hanging on the wall, and if one green bottle should accidentally fall, there would be no green bottles left to cloud our minds with the corruption going on in every sphere of our beloved, beleaguered little country. How low we have fallen! I came to Israel in 1952, having seen and read everything without ever despairing. Now, at the age of 90, I am almost ready to leave the morass we are in. I deeply fear for my precious children and great-grandchildren, but remain true to my faith in our Zionist cause.
Tel Aviv
Jewish ‘unity’
As a founder of the Original Women of the Wall, a group committed to the original and ongoing purpose of women’s group prayer at the Western Wall, I have had many occasions to encounter Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz (“A rallying cry for Jewish unity,” Editor’s Notes, April 1).
Most have been through his expressions about us in print, though I also spent time in the Kishle prison, at his behest, for the act of donning a prayer shawl in daily prayer.
I have often heard Rabbi Rabinowitz’s calls for Jewish unity. I find this a most perplexing calling card from someone who regularly defames Jewish women in terms that would rightly be termed anti-Semitic if they were uttered about men. My organization has a whole file of such comments, compiled over the years. His misogyny is as profound as it is unconscious. Condemning as “blasphemy” and “desecration” the same acts which, when performed by men, are called a mitzva is one salient example.
Rabbi Rabinowitz’s notion of unity at the Kotel is male hegemony – his and that of his shadowy organization, the “Western Wall Heritage Foundation.” In his view, they should be given carte blanche to rule, imposing their beliefs and customs on everyone, women and men, carting violators off to the Kishle. Then, voila! Unity! Further, he regularly terms himself “rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites,” a title Steve Linde repeats. But there is no such office and he is nothing of the sort. There is, by law, an administrator – that is, a bureaucrat – whose state-funded job is to provide a service by making the site available and welcoming, not to exclude and foist religious coercion upon visitors.
I was raised Orthodox and sent to yeshivot from kindergarten to college. The religion I was taught forbids misrepresentation.
And self-aggrandizement.
Imagine if the pope were to start issuing diktats about the Protestants or the Methodists in Italy, telling them where and how to pray! There must be other streams of Christianity that happily follow their faith and thrive in an atmosphere of religious tolerance and mutual respect both there and all over the world.
The Reform Jews of Israel are an extremely tolerant congregation.
They don’t really know how to deal with the forceful statements being issued without compassion or sensitivity by the rigid Jewish leaders who have held sway in the (democratic!) State of Israel for far too long. The Reform do not wish to be drawn into an ugly brawl, and therefore they are waiting with patience for their brethren to calm down and start dealing rationally with them.
We are brethren! We come from the same families, and that is why we are so patient and forbearing with the horrific atmosphere that has been irrationally allowed to hold sway.
Judaism is not a static religion.
It would never have survived all the vicissitudes it has endured over the millennia if it had allowed rigor mortis to set in. It has always been creative and inclusive to people and ideas – it is like a mature parent who watches over and protects its progeny with patience, humor and understanding.
This is why the Reform refuse to be drawn downward to a level of infantile wrestling.
The reasonableness of Reform attitudes and requests are about to be recognized, and if all that is required is a little more patience, so be it! As Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz says: “Standing in front of the stones of the Western Wall, all are equal.”
The minyans at the Western Wall have been a constant topic of conversation. The truth is, the Kotel is a place for individual prayer. It makes no difference what group you belong to – it is the place to pour your heart out to the Almighty in a private way.
People who want to pray in a minyan should go to their own place of worship. This is how the Western Wall was years ago, and this is how it should continue to be.
Freedom of speech
Much has been made of proposals to curb hateful and inciting speech. Frequently, these proposals have been attacked as anti-democratic because they are allegedly protected under free speech legislation.
In the latest example (“Tibi warns of ‘declaration of war’ if illegal Beduin village is destroyed,” March 31), you quote Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi as saying: “Destroying Umm al-Hiran would be a declaration of war against Arabs of the Negev.” This statement is an unambiguous call to arms against what the Supreme Court of Israel has judged to be an entirely legal action to demolish illegal construction in an unauthorized Beduin town.
In a unanimous decision of the US Supreme Court, justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (Schenck v. United States) wrote: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.” By maliciously claiming that a legal decision is a declaration of war, Tibi is falsely encouraging a violent response, which constitutes a clear and present danger. The free speech defense does not apply.
The abuse of this privilege is not restricted to Tibi. Other prominent leaders who should know better, including Jews and non-Jews, right-wing and left-wing, should be prosecuted accordingly. Failure to do so has created an environment of lawlessness that is intolerable in a democratic state.
No coverage
I am wondering why your newspaper failed to report on the arrest in the Netherlands of French journalist Florence Hartmann, the former spokeswoman of the international criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, as reported recently in the Guardian.
The Guardian states: “Hartmann served at the tribunal as spokeswoman for and adviser to its prosecutor’s office. In her 2007 book Paix et Châtiment (Peace and Punishment), she revealed that documents that proved Serbian complicity in the Srebrenica massacre had been sealed by the tribunal....
Her lawyer... described her situation as a disgrace....
"Florence is in solitary isolation, totally segregated on what is called suicide watch, which in practice means that the light is on 24 hours a day and she is checked on every 15 minutes.” I am sure that if an arrest of this sort happened in Israel, the ICC, the United Nations and the world press would be screaming from the rooftops about our barbaric behavior.
Why do we let them get a free pass and accept their slander? Do you not feel some sense of responsibility for delivering the “sauce for the gander?”