Letters: July 16, 2017: Fear of haggling

Many of your articles and opinion pieces on the Western Wall issue have included the threat of withholding contributions to Israeli charities.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Fear of haggling
With regard to “Netanyahu lawyer Shimron a suspect in submarine probe” (July 13), I confess: I almost accepted a bribe.
I was sitting with the salesman at a company providing second- hand submarines... I’m sorry, I mean cars. Seeing my hesitation, the salesman offered me an incentive: Take our submarine... I’m sorry, I mean car... and we’ll give you a month’s free insurance. I was tempted but could hear the police knock at my door – bribery, corruption, who knows what else I might be charged with.
Of course, a car is not a submarine, but as George Bernard Shaw once said: “We have established what you are. We are now merely haggling over the price.”
Why always us?
I read Elie Podeh’s “A new Middle East” (Comment & Features, July 12), including his closing lines: “Most Sunni Arab states have abandoned ideology in favor of political realism. It is time for the Israeli government to do so too, and make progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
It caused me to say here we go again. It’s always what Israel needs to do to “make progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
We never hear what the Palestinians need to do.
The piece would have been far more meaningful and relevant if it had ended this way: “Most Sunni Arab states have abandoned ideology in favor of political realism. It is time for the Palestinians to do so too, and make progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
Religion and state
I refer to Shmuley Boteach’s “Divided at the Wall” (No Holds Barred, July 11). His statement that Israel is a sovereign democracy and its decisions must reflect the will of its citizens is an untrue truism.
Many decisions thrust on those citizens to whom he refers are brought about by heavy pressure from a political minority that is far removed from democracy and often at odds with the will of the majority. Shmuley knows better than to boost his thesis on questionable notions.
What has the government of Israel done? A ruling influenced by the ultra-Orthodox parties has created a rift. It has caused the Jewish community in the Diaspora to reconsider its support.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a grave mistake in allowing these factions to influence the decisions of his government.
He bowed to parties whose voters generally do not recognize the State of Israel and will not do their duty to protect the country by joining the armed forces. He should find a way to bring liberal parties into his government to finally end this influence.
Although I am a strong supporter of Israel and have visited the country on many occasions, I cannot in good conscience support a government relying on parties that treat women as second- class citizens and put restrictions on them that are not put on males. The government has also allowed the ultra-Orthodox to delegitimize the great work that Conservative and Reform rabbis – and even Orthodox rabbis – have done and continue to do.
Shame on the government of Israel.
Thornhill, Ontario
Amidst the controversy over egalitarian prayers at the Western Wall and the conversion bill, the leaders of the Anti-Defamation League in the United States and Israel argue that somehow Israel has betrayed the trust between it and the Diaspora (“Time to rebuild trust between Israel and US Jewry,” Observations, July 7). Assuming that there is merit to their arguments, I would like to suggest that building trust is a two-way street.
Many of your articles and opinion pieces on the Western Wall issue have included the threat of withholding contributions to Israeli charities. This has been American Jewry’s reaction to so many other “disagreements” over the years. But neither Israel’s government nor its citizens are children who need to have their “parents” cut off their allowance.
Of course, we are all grateful for such support. Just walk through the halls of our hospitals, universities, museums and other institutions and you can see the enormous benefits we enjoy from Diaspora largesse.
But how can we trust people who are willing to cut funding for our hospitals whenever we take a position that they do not agree with? Building trust requires effective dialogue, not a relationship based on monetary threats. Israel’s accomplishments over its 69-year history surely indicate that it has earned such respect.
Beit Shemesh
Reader Miriam Adahan (“Kotel, conversions,” Letters, July 10) is concerned lest the unity of the Jewish people be undermined by “those people” who seemingly do not share her views. She further denigrates them by making comparisons with nudists and “those who cannot pray without their favorite pet next to them.”
She rails against their “idiotic belief.”
Where in this, I wonder, is she promoting the unity she claims they undermine?
We made aliya from South Africa in 1977 with three children.
The two younger ones were educated at the Tali school in Hod Hasharon. They got the education we thought was important.
Rosh Hodesh had a meaning.
The Hallel service. The Jewish holidays. How to lay tefillin and recite the blessing after meals.
After quite a few years, along came sibling number four. To our joy and delight, as he matured, he chose to become national-religious. My prized possession is a photo of him on a school trip to Poland to learn about the Holocaust – he is leading the afternoon prayer service in a congregation made up of boys and girls.
Hop, skip and jump to the present. Four siblings – one Orthodox, three secular. They spend one Shabbat a month together, each respecting the other.
TALI schools and institutions like them could flourish and help build a unified nation of Israelis – Reform, Conservative and Orthodox – that can and should stand up to the extremist haredim who don’t understand. We have to unite and invest in building our strength as a Jewish nation, accepting all the different Jewish ways.
More on Maccabiah
This is our fifth Maccabiah Games – each time we have had a family member as part of the delegation (squash, gymnastics and tennis). But this year’s opening event was the worst ever.
The announcers were inaudible.
The standard of entertainment was weak, and as for the “wedding ceremony,” well, that just topped the height of kitsch.
The venue was run down. The chairs were filthy, covered in bird droppings; backs and seats had to be cleaned by us in order to sit down without getting all the filth on our clothes. The toilets were appalling – no toilet paper and toilets did not flush.
Surely there should have been attendants to keep the washrooms clean and empty the garbage from time to time.
I have spoken to a number of people who attended or watched the event on TV. There was 100% agreement that this was the poorest ever. Please return the venue to Ramat Gan.
Ganei Tikva
Missing the ‘NYT’
Why have you stopped publishing New York Times columns by Frank Bruni, Nicholas Kristof, Ross Douthat and others? They gave us something interesting and relevant to think about.
Articles about commuter problems (“New York suburban commuters gear up for ‘summer of hell,’” July 9) aren’t very interesting.