In response to the anger generated by “Vizhnitz grand rabbi: We’re opening schools” (January 24), MK Moshe Gafni predictably engages in his usual whataboutism by complaining about secular Tel Avivians who also flout the rules en masse without getting the same kind of police response as the haredim.
Well, Mr. Gafni, while such conduct is most certainly equally deserving of condemnation, the perpetrators are being bloody-minded individualists, as opposed to the flocks of glassy-eyed sheep who dance to the tune of their bloody-handed masters, all of whom have lost the right to be called talmidei chachamim, given that they neither learn from experience nor are capable of transmuting their vast Torah knowledge into actual wisdom. If these blinkered fools would wake up to reality and command their followers to obey the Health Ministry’s directives, their unconscionably high infection rates would drop dramatically to match the rest of the population, saving hundreds if not thousands of lives.
There are those who would say that responses like mine only fan the flames of sin’at chinam (baseless hatred). To which I say: We have employed this cliché for so long we have forgotten its actual meaning. There is nothing chinam about giving the strongest opprobrium to those responsible for so much death and suffering in the face of both science and Halacha.
MENACHEM G. JERENBERG
Ramat Beit Shemesh
We are at a brink. I will state at the outset that most haredim are law-abiding and I do not wish to generalize. Yet haredi society as a whole has for decades become a state within a state, ignoring or disobeying the civil authority at will; demonstrating violently at the drop of a hat; employing a black-market economy that leads to false claims of poverty and an endless drain on tax-payers; a welfare mentality that regards enormous subsidies and particular budgets as a right; a refusal to fight shoulder to shoulder with their brothers in the armed forces; an “education” system that deliberately keeps most of their youth ignorant of sciences and humanities; a monopoly dictatorship over all issues of personal status kashrut and Shabbat; and much more.
In the pandemic we see flagrant haredi disregard for regulations, abroad and in Israel, which has led to a huge discrepancy in morbidity and mortality to their disadvantage. Yet venal and cowardly politicians consistently protect and cover for these multiple abuses. For the sake of respectable haredi society as well as everyone else, the time is long overdue to crush this insidious revolt and uncivil war. Leaders who raise rebellion and flagrantly break the law and regulations must be arrested and charged, their institutions closed and sealed, and their power destroyed, whatever the cost. We must vote for politicians who will not be dependent on haredi political influence.
In recent Torah portions, we read about the liberation of the Jewish people from Egypt. Moses tells the Children of Israel to teach their children through the generations about the Exodus of their ancestors.
On Thursday, throughout the world, it will be Holocaust Day where people remember the terrible events that took place in World War II and remember precious family members who were murdered.
Above all, education is an important tenet of our religion.
However, what is happening today in places such as Bnei Brak, meant to be the epitome of learning of the Torah? What are the youth of today being taught? How to riot, how to stone, how to burn. Is this the example we really want to give our future? This is not what Judaism is about and must be brought to a stop. This is not education.
Everybody must obey the laws of the Torah, which state that one obeys the laws of the state. What is happening does not tally with the idea of the Jewish people being “a light unto the nations.”
Forget about the “me.” Forget about politics and votes. Think about “we” and stop this senseless destruction now. Don’t pass the blame. Just stop it now.
Regarding “Haredi crackdown” (January 24), I think the time has come for us to clearly say that those who defy both rabbinical leadership as well as accepted health standards are not haredim. A haredi is one who fears God and keeps the Torah and not one who behaves otherwise. Not everyone whose outside appearance is haredi is really haredi.
The threat of denying state budget support is meaningless since these fringe groups don’t want and won’t accept state support.
In addition, I would make two more points. If we look at Europe in general and let’s say Germany in particular, we see a very serious COVID situation even though there are few if any haredim in Germany. It seems the problem is more serious and complicated than just cracking down on a specific group. I have 33 haredi grandchildren in Jerusalem (bli ayin horah) and not one of them is going to school – but of course this isn’t news.
Chief Rabbi of Dimona
It was hard to discern in Mary Dawood Catlin’s article (“Will Generation Z remember the Holocaust,” January 26) whether she was in fact deploring the politicization and lack of knowledge about the Holocaust among “Generation Z,” or actually promoting the very same thing.
Her viewpoint became clear in her statement that “the past must be evoked... in what concerns the sociopolitical events of the past few years... as a measure of comparison.” She proceeds to compare the eugenics policies of Hitler’s Third Reich with current public health measures of hand sanitizing and vaccination passports.
Hitler’s ideology was meant to create a super race that would conquer Europe and the world; to that end he murdered anyone he deemed inferior, including disabled children, and ultimately all the Jews, who he believed would contaminate the pure German Aryans.
Hitler’s eugenic theories were used to kill; the exact opposite of public health measures and vaccinations that are meant save lives. For Catlin to insert her own political theories in an article purportedly designed to promote the memory of the Holocaust, is a distortion of history, a desecration of the memory of the Holocaust victims and a disservice to her readers.
As ever, constant vigilance remains the price of truth.
Kind of blind
It never ceases to amaze me how blind and deaf some of us can be.
In “The downside of Blinken’s encouraging confirmation hearing” (January 26) Avi Gil states, “A clear political horizon will give the Palestinians a credible rationale to make the painful decisions required of them, including disarming Hamas. The Israeli temptation to establish facts on the ground will dissipate once binding borders are set and the battle for territory ends.’
Been there, done that.
UN General Assembly Resolution 181 called for the partition of the British-ruled Palestine Mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state. It was approved on November 29, 1947. This was accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs, who subsequently went to war against the fledgling Jewish state.
What makes Gil suppose the Arabs will treat the firm borders for which he calls with any less disdain?
According to the UN Mandate for Palestine, the whole of the “West Bank” is legally Jewish land upon which now sits an apartheid Palestinian Authority that won’t permit a single Jew to live on its territory and is making life for the Christians so impossible that those who can, leave for calmer lands overseas. Furthermore, the mantra “From the river to the sea’ makes it clear they will accept nothing less than all of Israel.
Gil restates the same argument heard since 1967 or perhaps even 1948 that has yet to work: Give the Arab - Palestinians what they want and start negotiations from there. Negotiations require face-to-face dialogue and the realization that what is possible today is not what was possible yesterday and what will probably not be possible tomorrow.
A two-state solution is possible, peace is possible, only when reality sets in.
I strongly object to the wording of the article “Armenians unite in prayer across the Israeli-Jordanian divide (January 25). Calling Area C part of the West Bank “captured” in the Six Day War is wrong. It should say “liberated.”
It was Jordanian aggression in 1948 that captured the area; Israeli defensive action in 1967 liberated it.
If we want the world to acknowledge our right to our homeland, let’s begin by using correct terminology.
In “Everything Sheldon Adelson loved about Israel I hate” (January 22), Ehud Olmert writes that “Most of the people who offered public condolences… were shedding crocodile tears… to impress Adelson’s heirs” and thus ensure that “generous contributions” will continue.
Accusations that Jews will do anything for money have been made throughout the ages, most recently by US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who declared that with Jews, “it’s all about the Benjamins ($100 bills).” Her accusation was so outrageous that her fellow members of Congress, Democrats as well as Republicans, demanded that she apologize.
Olmert’s article contains charges against Israel that are so derogatory that Congresswoman Omar could easily have ghostwritten this article. Of course, Olmert ends with the obligatory statement that he really loves Israel. Similarly, Omar often declares that she really loves the Jews.
PROFESSOR NATHAN AVIEZER
Wrongly criticizing Israel
Nadav Tamir (“New antisemitism hates Jews, loves Israel,” January 21) tells us that Israel has an obligation to see to it that Palestinians are vaccinated against COVID-19 because “international law obliges the occupier to take care of the occupied.”
He conveniently dismisses the fact that, under the 1995 Oslo Accords (Annex III, Article 17), the Palestinian Authority is required to provide for the health care of its citizens, including providing vaccinations as needed. The Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and the PA, surely fit into the corpus of agreements between states and governing bodies (a definition of “international law”). Therefore, the PA and not Israel is, indeed, responsible for the health care of the people under its administration.
I will not stoop to name-calling. However, I firmly believe that anyone who would like to see improvements in the lives of the Palestinian people in the street should stop wrongly criticizing Israel and, instead, call out the Palestinian leaders for prioritizing their efforts to destroy Israel over working to build a state in which their people (including those classified as refugees by UNRWA) could become productive citizens.
TOBY F. BLOCK
The Reali thing
Education Minister Yoav Gallant is being criticized for not allowing B’Tselem to preach the lie that Israel is an apartheid state to students (“The Reali school scandal,” January 26).
B’Tselem should be allowed to say whatever they please – it’s all in the interests of free speech. How about inviting an even more obvious antisemite who will claim that Jews kill Christian kids before Passover and use their blood to make matzos? After all, it’s all in the interest of free speech.
Which statement is more dangerous: apartheid or blood libel? Actually the first, since even schoolkids will probably recognize the blatant and false hatred in the blood libel.
However, even the author of the article, Susan Hattis Rolef, admits that she occasionally falls into the “apartheid pit” when she is outraged by some of Israel’s actions. If an experienced pundit/lecturer like Rolef can fall into the pit, how much easier for impressionable students?
But no matter, in the interest of free speech and democracy, everything and anything goes, right?
Flights and rights
The cabinet’s mismanagement of the corona situation continues. The present “lockdown” is practiced primarily in the breach: many shops remain open and travel, even between cities, continues largely without hindrance. Sometimes the police give out tickets or stop vehicles, but most of us understand this is only k’ilu (for show), so that the politicians can pretend they’re doing something.
Now we have the latest bit of posturing: a shutdown of Ben-Gurion Airport (“Government grounds incoming and outgoing flights,” January 25). Ostensibly this is to stem the influx of mutant strains of the Wuhan virus, but the British mutant is already here. No, this is the brilliant response of a group of self-absorbed geniuses to the fact that for months controls weren’t being put in place on people arriving in Israel, so now those same geniuses want to cover their tracks by yet again appearing to do something without actually doing anything, while messing up people’s lives in the process. This, while these same politicians and the police lollygag as certain groups continue blatantly and publicly to flout the rules – against opening schools, against large gatherings, etc.
If the arrival of infected persons is a real concern, there are ways to deal with this that are less heavy-handed than shutting the airport altogether. I have elderly family members who were supposed to arrive this week on an aliyah flight. They already paid several hundred dollars for corona tests to allow them to fly. Now their flight won’t leave, but they have no place to stay in the USA, as they’ve sold their apartment. They have an empty apartment waiting for them when they arrive in Israel in which they can quarantine, but no, that’s not good enough. After the quarantine period here, they will be able to get vaccinated, something that they may not be able to do in the US for a while.
Will the prime minister and his ministers dig into their pockets (not our tax money) to reimburse my relatives and people similarly situated for the additional expense and inconvenience? Will they meet these olim when they finally come and greet them with an apology? I’m not counting on either.
How extraordinary to have a prime minister who can shut down Ben-Gurion Airport in an attempt hermetically to seal the country from the virus but still is incapable of shutting down yeshivot with the same objective.