Letters: April fools

Readers share their opinion on the recent articles and news.

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
April fools
With regard to “Seven downtown Jerusalem grocery stores to shut on Shabbat” (January 22), how can the Jerusalem City Council say that closing shops on Shabbat is not a political move, rather just law enforcement? Surely, if that is the case, the closing of shops should take immediate effect.
Why wait until April 1? A fool is anybody who believes that explanation.
Lesson to learn
Regarding “Love letter to my soldier son” (No Holds Barred, January 22), Shmuley Boteach hopes to attend the ceremony when his son Mendy completes his basic training in the IDF. He’ll join entire families in support of the new soldiers he rightly calls “heroes.”
No one views life here as a picnic, but it is startling for Boteach to say: “I have not been prepared to stand between [my people] and their physical adversaries who have sought to harm them so that small Jewish children might live and breathe as with every other nation.”
His column, contacts and efforts are very good for us Jews.
But another of Boteach’s self-revelations ignores the value of aliya for his entire family.
Perhaps the very proud Shmuley will learn this lesson from Mendy.
Put in context
David M. Weinberg’s broadside against the Obama administration’s incomprehensible failure to ever castigate the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas (“Ratcheting up the pressure on Israel,” Know Comment, January 22), is entirely valid. But it also has to be said that the majority of those in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition (including, apparently, the prime minister himself) do not embrace the concept of two states, and instead hanker for a “Greater Israel” solution.
Whether it is biblically, historically, legally or morally, they repeatedly articulate and act upon the view that Jews have an inalienable right to all the territory between the river and the sea.
It is in this context that Israel faces international opprobrium and enables the PA to deflect criticism of its own conduct, however inexcusable.
Call it ‘Jew hatred’
In “With all due respect, Mr. Ambassador: A letter to Dan Shapiro” (Into the Fray, January 22), Martin Sherman mentions “Judeophobia (a.k.a. anti-Semitism).”
The usual meaning of “phobia” is fear of something, for example spiders, heights and the like.
Islamophobia is used when speaking of Muslims and Islam because non-Muslims are actually afraid of Muslims, and with good reason. From Salman Rushdie, who wrote a book that gained him death threats against which he hid for years, to 9/11 and Islamic State, there is a real fear that threats by Muslims are not empty. Is there a mainstream newspaper in the whole world that would dare print a picture of Mohammed? As such, the equation of Islamophobia with anti-Semitism is completely false. Anti-Semitism does not mention Jews or Judaism.
It is an almost innocuous cover for the hatred of Jews. And while there is an actual fear of Muslims, Jews are fair game, as Jew haters know that Jews will not go on murder sprees and that attacking Jews and Israel is acceptable – to governments, politicians, newspapers, churches, trade unions and the man in the street.
It is about time that we stopped using circumlocutions such as “anti-Semitism” and used the straight-forward “Jew hatred” to express the feelings and actions of those who hate us.
Beit Shemesh
I was shocked at the remarks of US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, criticizing Israel for its supposed double standards, with one rule of law for Israelis and another for Palestinians (“Netanyahu, Shapiro trade jabs over ‘two standards’ of law in West Bank,” January 19).
How dare we be lectured by the United States, a country being torn apart for its treatment of African Americans? Is Shapiro unaware of the common practice throughout the US, where African Americans are routinely stopped by police for being in the wrong neighborhood, for driving too nice a car? The US criminal justice system is known for its unequal treatment of African Americans.
For a representative of a country with a history of lynchings, disproportionate sentences for minorities and similar injustices to lecture Israel is a new level of chutzpah. Shame on you, Ambassador Shapiro!
Beit Shemesh
Admit it, Mr. Baskin
In “Sooner or later” (Encountering Peace, January 21), Gershon Baskin, as usual, places the onus, blame and responsibility on Israel.
As usual, he has a very short memory or prefers to live in denial.
Where was Mr. Baskin in 2000 and 2008, when the Palestinian leadership turned down very generous deals for peace? Maybe he should finally admit that there isn’t a solution to this conflict.
Petah Tikva
Dream on
Recently, the Jews of Marseille were cautioned to not wear a kippa in public (“Call for French Jews to hide kippot sparks harsh debate,” January 14). This is one year after the terrorist attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and the kosher supermarket in Paris.
Remember the huge demonstrations after those attacks? French citizens were joined by delegates from around the world who marched in sympathy with them and the rallying cry of Je suis Charlie! (We are Charlie!).
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Jews of France set up booths on main streets, supermarkets and malls from which they could hand out free kippot, and all French males, once a week, once a month or other designated days, might wear them in solidarity with their fellow (Jewish) citizens? Dream on....
Admires Rabbi Riskin
In “The Chief Rabbinate: Who is its constituency?” (Observations, December 18), Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, whom I greatly admire, stated: “I view Conservative rabbis in America as my partners, not as my enemies. My enemy is assimilation, the tragic loss of American Jewry to assimilation and intermarriage....”
He made this comment after Chief Rabbi David Lau said he would have forbidden Naftali Bennett from visiting one of the Conservative Movement’s Solomon Schechter Schools during a trip the education minister made to the US.
Rabbi Riskin courageously wrote that “not only did the Chief Rabbinate head demonstrate his lack of knowledge of the Conservative Movement in America, he also exposed how far the present chief rabbis of Israel have wandered from the inclusive vision of our first chief rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Hacohen Kook.” And thank you very much, rabbi, for saying that “anyone bringing Jews closer to the majestic, world-redeeming enterprise of Judaism is my partner.”
Rabbi Riskin reminds us that in those days, Rabbi Kook took the time, patience and initiative to visit even secular kibbutzim. What a difference between then and now.
Isn’t this what the Chief Rabbinate’s vision ought to be focused on – if there needs to be such a position? The focus should be on Judaism for all of us.
Rabbi Riskin reminds us in his article that “the chief rabbi of Israel ought to see himself as the shepherd of every single Jew, including everyone and excluding no one....” I refer to his use of the word “shepherd” and respectfully add: Catholicism has a “shepherd” in the person of the pope. Judaism does not have, need or desire a single pope – nor perhaps, does it require a chief rabbinate in place of one.
Plainview, New York