Letters to the Editor March 22 2021: The edge of the wedge

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have their say

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
 The edge of the wedge
In “Unbounded Jewish: Who decides?” (March 16), Prof. Gad Barzilai misses the point. He notes that a Jew can get citizenship in Israel [when immigrating] on production of evidence to prove his Jewishness, but complains that the same privilege is not extended to non-Jews. I am puzzled why he implies that it is wrong for the immigration laws here to be based on national and religious motivation. He knows that Israel is the only Jewish state among 22 Arab states, and that we cannot afford to rapidly dilute its population. I have great respect for the highly qualified professor of law, but has he not lost the plot? Was the modern Israel not established as a homeland for the Jewish people? 
In the second part of his article, Barzilai asks who is empowered to decide who is a Jew. He cites the recent Supreme Court decision to recognize conversions by the Reform Movement and consequent entitlement to aliyah and citizenship, but fails to address the significant problems that flow from this decision.
I would like to refer him to my recent article in this paper (March 14) entitled “The danger from within,” which spells out the official requirements (or rather non-requirements) for Reform conversions: no circumcision, no mikveh immersion and no necessity to be familiar with any Jewish laws. Should the power to convert really be left to the discretion of any local Reform rabbi? No wonder the Orthodox establishment is up in arms. 
We cannot allow the secular court to decide who is a Jew.
In “Orthodox rabbis support conversion decision” (March 14), Rabbis Avi Weiss and Marc Angel support the Supreme Court’s decision validating Conservative and Reform conversions done in Israel for Israeli citizenship. 
On one hand, I completely agree with their underlying sentiment, that “we survive and thrive as a people together.” But then they continue, “Our teacher Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik wrote not only about the covenant of Sinai (brit yeod, destiny) but also the covenant of Egypt (brit goral, fate).” 
This might lead a reader to think that Rabbi Soloveitchik would agree with their support of Conservative and Reform conversion. However, Rabbi Soloveitchik wrote in 1954 the following response to a young man who asked if he could hear shofar on Rosh Hashanah if a Conservative synagogue was the only one in town: 
“I hesitated not for a moment, but directed him to remain at home. It would be better not to hear the shofar than to enter a synagogue whose sanctity has been profaned.” In 1956 the rabbi wrote, “A synagogue with mixed seating arrangement forfeits its sanctity and is unfit for prayer. I would still advise every Orthodox Jew to forgo tefillah betzibur (minyan) even on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur rather than enter a synagogue with mixed pews.” 
As an individual, every Jew – Reform, Conservative, non-observant, Reconstructionist – is cherished. But as non-halachic movements or synagogues, there are severe problems.
Not smitten by Britain
In “British anti-Americanism is exposed as well” (March 16), it is a pity that Rabbi Shmuely Boteach attempted to justify what he was arguing by referring to complex history that is debatable. Three examples:
1) The argument about the divine right of kings was settled in 1649 when the British Parliament under Oliver Cromwell beheaded King Charles I. Although the next two monarchs were his sons, they were too sensible to open the argument again and subsequent monarchs were essentially appointed by Parliament. Apart from carrying Tudor genes, they were required to agree to the conditions dictated by the landed aristocracy. This raises other issues, but in the British constitutional monarchy there is no divine right. I would suggest that it is now a workable right of good business.
2) In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith explains why absence of representation was the trigger for the revolution of the American colonies and not taxation. The absence of representation was the result of holding property. Both membership of the British Parliament and the right to vote depended on owning property. Since it was relatively easy for an American to become a property holder, usually by stealing land originally the property of Native Americans, there was a real risk that American representatives would outnumber the native Brits. 
Obviously, it was undesirable to have Britain ruled by the expatriate English on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Incidentally, taxation was required to resource the forces necessary to protect the colonists from enemies, mainly the French.
3) Boteach should also read Thomas Piketty’s two large volumes on capital. Piketty, alarmed by ever-increasing inequality, demonstrates that meritocracy is a myth. In a nutshell, the accumulation of wealth depends on the ratios of the return on various aspects of wealth, such as income, stocks, property and the growth of GDP.
Guilt built to the hilt
In “Turning a blind eye” (March 16). Zaka founder Yehuda Meshi Zahav has been judged guilty and sentenced by the correspondent with the intention of inculcating into the subconscious of the unsuspecting reader the certain guilt in the yet-untried case against this man.
This is not an isolated article but just another in a string of similar mind-bending pieces of journalism that, instead of straight reporting of news, actually set about to “make the news” itself. This is totally in line with The Jerusalem Post’s so-called “coverage” and the constant hammering away and pre-judging of the yet untried case against the prime minister. 
In both cases, the reader is left in no doubt of the outcome and, meanwhile a man’s life is totally ruined.
Before passing judgment in sexual abuse accusation cases, one must bear in mind the absolute power that a woman holds in her hands to destroy a man by simply suggesting in the public media that he had behaved in an improper fashion toward her. Let us not forget the idiom “Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.” Few men emerge unscathed from baseless accusations of sexual harassment.
Young men, beware! No more courting of a lady-friend – it may be used as “evidence” against you. What has this world come to?
Wham! A sham ham scam
The “Silly rabbinate” editorial (March 17), criticizes the rabbinate for refusing to certify Crave Restaurant as kosher unless they expunge the word “bacon” from their menu. 
It is interesting to note that the US Food and Drug Administration would also not allow Crave to use the word “bacon” on their menu. Just as pareve ice cream cannot be called “ice cream” because it is not made with cream, similarly, “lamb bacon” cannot be called bacon because, by definition, bacon must come from a hog.
So the rabbinate is consistent with the USFDA: it’s not kosher to call “Lamb Bacon” bacon. They were right, though perhaps for the wrong reason!
Contrary to your assertion in “Silly rabbinate” that words don’t have meaning in Judaism, the word “bacon” does have a negative kashrut connotation and it’s not “silly” if people feel uncomfortable eating at a restaurant where words like “bacon” are bandied about. 
How do we explain to our children that “some bacon” is kosher and other bacon is not? Most people don’t know the other definitions of the word “bacon.” They believe that bacon is what we’ve always been taught it means: pig meat. I suppose if you’re not kosher it doesn’t really matter, but there are plenty of technically non-kosher people who won’t eat in a restaurant that serves bacon; for some it’s the last stronghold of their Jewish upbringing.
 So, while I’m not a big fan of the Jerusalem rabbinate, I think they’re absolutely right to include the word “bacon” in their list of kashrut prohibitions.
The editorial “Silly Rabbinate” (March 17 Editorial) took the Jerusalem Rabbinate to task for involving themselves in the names of dishes (Lamb Bacon) appearing on Crave’s menu. How did they miss the fact that HAMburgers have been on menus in restaurants under the rabbinates certification since the beginning of their existence?
Tense tents and common sense
Now that the elections are upon us (“Tens of thousands anti-Netanyahu activists gather for pre-election protest,” March 21), will the demonstrations cease?
If the protesters and their leaders truly believe in democracy, they will dismantle their protest tents, clean up the sites in Rechov Aza, Jerusalem and return to their salubrious homes in the suburbs, accepting the will of the people – whatever that turns out to be. 
On the other hand, if they do not dismantle their tents and stop the protests after the election, then they will have shown themselves to despise democracy and everything that it stands for in the Jewish state.
On your mark, get reset, go
If the Biden administration is truly serious about a “Palestinian reset,” they should first demand that the Palestinian Authority revoke the “annihilation of the Jews” clauses in its enabling document, the PLO Charter. (“US Memo details Biden Administration Palestinian ‘reset,’” March 17). 
Article 29 of the PLO Charter requires a ²⁄3 vote at a meeting specifically called to revoke the annihilation clauses. Such a meeting has never occurred. The annihilation clauses cannot be revoked verbally, not by Yasser Arafat nor by anyone else. No rational person would believe that the Palestinian Authority could negotiate peace of any kind with Israel as long as they are committed by virtue of their enabling document to the murder of every Jew there. 
A “reset” that results in the revocation of the annihilation clauses is the only “reset” that makes any sense.
In a similar vein, Robert Wexler (“Getting a win-win for Israelis and Palestinians,” March 15) writes about the US having to “cultivate a foundation of trust between Israelis and Palestinians” and “repair relations with Palestinians” as if the last 73 years of Mideast history had not occurred. 
On November 30, 1947, the Palestinian Arabs rejected an independent state of Palestine when it was offered to them by the United Nations General Assembly. Their leader, Nazi war criminal the Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini, when he rejected Palestine simultaneously issued his infamous seven-word command to the Palestinian Arabs “Murder the Jews; murder all of them.” 
In 1964 the PLO Charter mandated the murder of every Jew in Israel. Those annihilation clauses have never been revoked as per the requirements of Article 29 of the PLO Charter. The enabling document of the Palestinian Authority is the PLO Charter with those annihilation clauses fully intact. Article 7 of the Hamas Charter, which has never been revoked, mandates the murder of every Jew on earth.
Before worrying in a Pollyanna fashion about “trust” and “repairing relations,” the Biden administration and Wexler should be focusing on getting the PLO and Hamas to formally revoke the annihilation of the Jews clauses in their enabling documents so that when they talk of “peace” it might possibly be believable.
Margate, Florida
The issue is not only that the “Palestinian Authority attempts to conceal terrorist stipends” (March 20). The issue is more lethal: The PA has enacted an unprecedented law that provides an automatic salary for life for anyone who murders a Jew, a salary for the killer and a salary for the family of the murderer – in perpetuity. 
The time has come for the 75 nations who recognize the PA to suspend any all aid to it until it cancels that law. The first nation to act in this respect must be the state of Israel. What nation on earth would tolerate a neighboring entity providing a lifetime award to anyone who will murder one of their citizens?
Director, Near East Policy Research Center
Robert Wexler touted the benefits of the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act signed into US law in 2020, which appropriated $250 million to “cultivate peace” between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis. Wexler went on to frame the task as one of teaching both sides to live in peace with each other. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
In order to address a problem effectively, it is important to identify it correctly. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is not caused by mutual hostilities, as Wexler would have it. Instead the prime cause is the 100-year jihad waged by the Palestinian Arabs to eliminate or drive out all Jews from the land of Israel. 
Israel and Israelis, on the other hand, have jumped at any reasonable chances to make peace, and to live in peace with their Arab neighbors.
Any chance for peace to prevail rests on a sea change in the Palestinian Arab culture and mindset dictating their campaign against Israel’s existence. The responsibility for the conflict and the responsibility for ending it rest entirely with them.
 This reality will not be altered by mislabeling it as a conflict between two equivalent, warring parties – and it won’t be alleviated by throwing money at it.
Williamsville, New York
Robert Wexler suggests that the US should “cultivate a foundation of trust between Israelis and Palestinians” and “repair relations with Palestinians.” 
Where has Wexler been? Trust has nothing to do with the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians do not accept the existence of Israel. Decades of statements referring to Israel – the indigenous nation in the land – as an “occupier” territory confirm this. 
In English, the Palestinians talk about negotiations, but in Arabic they talk about the destruction of the Zionist entity.
That is what needs to be repaired.
Calgary, Alberta Canada