Letters to the editor, March 8, 2021: Citizen Pain

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Letters
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
Citizen pain

Chutzpa is too mild a term to describe the effrontery of the haredim in their demand to be the arbiters of who should be allowed to become a citizen of the State of Israel (“Non-Orthodox conversions performed in Israel to be recognized for citizenship,” March 2). Haredim are a small minority of the population, and – more importantly – their loyalty to the state and adherence to its laws are often sorely wanting. 
How can the definition of qualification for citizenship be left to them? Many haredim do not even accept the legitimacy of the state’s existence and many more rank the validity of the state’s laws as inferior to the opinions of haredi rabbis. 
I don’t know who is more culpable for the current state of affairs, the haredim for forcing their unjust control on the country, or the rest of us for allowing them to do so.
MAYER BASSAN 
Jerusalem
Too frequently some MKs say things that stress and alienate Israel’s supporters in the Diaspora as well as causing upset in Israel. The repugnant depiction by United Torah Judaism MK Yithak Pindrus of female soldiers who convert through the IDF conversion system deserves to be awarded the golden globe for repugnant alienating rhetoric. His disgusting outburst has nothing to do with Torah, Judaism or Jewish unity. It displays a level of ignorance and intolerance that cannot be dismissed as mere election rhetoric. 
From someone privileged to be an MK, a great deal more decency, humanity and tolerance is expected. He has totally undermined the credibility of the party he represents. He should withdraw his comments and publicly apologize.
ALAN SHATTER
Dublin, Ireland
I find it interesting that the people that claim the destruction of the second Temple was caused by sinat chinam (unjust hatred) are the ones that are the biggest propagators of sinat chinam.
JOE SIMON
Kfar Aviv‭‮
The High Court’s decision on non-Orthodox conversion really raises two points: 
1) Citizenship of the State of Israel and 
2) Jewishness. 
Citizens of the State of Israel are of many religions or none. Being a member of the Jewish people or Jewishness, however, is another matter. It is generally recognized that the Jewish religion is an acceptance of the authority of the Torah and the commandments therein, of which the one could say that if these three main things are kept –
• Keeping and sanctifying the Shabbat and festivals
• Kashrut 
• Taharat hamishpacha (which is concerned with marital relations) – then generally speaking most of the rest are possibly observed. 
The Jewish people is also composed of many who do not keep the commandments but are descended from the Jewish people on their mother’s side.
From what I understand, the Reform Movement and to a lesser degree the Masorti Movement have abrogated the Torah commandments and I have never been able to find out what they do believe and to what extent the commandments are kept and what their conversions demand. The question is therefore, why anyone wants to be a Jew. Is it to keep the commandments or to be a citizen of Israel?
The High Court has therefore not said that Reform converts are Jews but that their conversion is a method of gaining citizenship of Israel. Regretfully, that may open the doors for all sorts of undesirables who wish to become citizens of the “Start-up Nation.” 
CYRIL ATKINS
Beit Shemesh
Regarding “A deplorable ad” (March 4), what is deplorable is not the ad, but the fact that “bark mitzvas” actually take place. It is an insult to and a mockery of Judaism, the religion handed down to us by God that the liberal streams of “Judaism” want to change. I also regard it as a form of animal cruelty that should be looked into by the relevant organizations. 
The ad did not make fun of the so-called “religious convictions” of others (what is religious about dressing up a dog in a kippa and tallit and giving it a bar mitzvah?) They did that by themselves. In quoting Hillel, “That which is hateful to you, you do not do to your fellow,” I would submit that it goes both ways and that this aberration is hateful in the extreme to those of us who prefer our children to mark bar mitzvas – not our animals.
EDITH OGNALL
Netanya
The Jerusalem Post’s columnist failed to ask the most important question to the heads of the Reform movement: Do your rabbis officiate at bark mitzvahs for dogs? 
The answer must be a resounding yes, as I googled “bark mitzvah” and almost a half million sites were found. 
I can imagine that they won’t perform a bark mitzvah on a pet snake because the tefillin have to be put on the left arm. Those dogs are lucky that the Reform don’t require circumcision (neither for dogs nor for humans) before the bark mitzvah. 
But why do they discriminate against cats? (Could be that “cats” sounds too Jewish…)
YOSEF TUCKER
Jerusalem
Once again a huge mistake in interpretation is being made. In the State of Israel, there is a division of “church and state.”
The state defines who may be a citizen – and the more supporters and lovers of Israel the better.
The rabbinate of Israel defines who is a Jew for religious matters.
The rules of Judaism have been with us for millennia. We have a rule book called the Torah. While modifications and adjustments in  interpretation can be made by qualified and acknowledged rabbinic decisors, no changes in the basic principles will ever be acceptable to Orthodox Judaism: Judaism is matrilineal, pig meat will never be kosher, Shabbat (the day of rest) is the seventh day of the week, etc.
SAM ROSENBLUM
Beit Shemesh
Why Biden bonks the Saudis
My thanks go to Lahav Harkov and her analysis of US President Joe Biden’s attempt to realign ties with Saudi Arabia (“What Biden’s performative rap means for Israel,” February 28). One sentence there is quite telling: “Israeli officials are concerned that the increased pressure on the Saudis will weaken the regional alliance against Iran.” As a retired US Foreign Service officer, I can tell those “Israeli officials” that in all likelihood this is exactly the intention of the Biden administration.
Biden may indeed be determined to assert human rights in his foreign policy, but there is a clear geopolitical dimension to his actions. Otherwise, one could reasonably question why it would lean upfront on Riyadh when there are such blood-drenched wolves as Iran and Syria in the neighborhood.
Reform-minded Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman is a linchpin in the new Abraham Alliance of Gulf States and Israel. This alliance is on the frontline of opposition to compromise with Ayatollah Iran and to the new US administration’s hope to rejoin the nuclear accord with it.
Washington, therefore, probably finds it most convenient to put Bin Salman on the defensive over the Khashoggi murder report, if not actually encourage his removal from power. This is probably the full sense of Biden’s warning phone call to the 85-year old Saudi king over the head of the crown prince. Washington would do well to reflect on the unintended though dangerous message such tactics send to Tehran. Even more so, any Biden-inspired rehabilitation of Iran will play into the hands of the aggressive leaders of Russia and China. So much for a policy supposedly based pristinely on human rights.
AARON BRAUNSTEIN 
Jerusalem 
Marx my words
For Cody Levine to write a lengthy article entitled “Why the Left struggles on the Israel question” (March 1) and only mention the word “antisemitism” once and even then call it an “unseen experience” is a tribute to 21st century far Left academic myopia. 
From Karl Marx (“On the Jewish Question”) to Stalin’s “plans for his own ‘final solution’ to the ‘Jewish question’ by deporting Soviet Jews to Siberia where they would perish”(Edward Drachman’s review of Stalin Against the Jews by Arkady Vaksberg) to Paul Robeson’s enthusiastic support of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and his “denial” of Stalin’s murder of his Jewish “friends,” antisemitism has been foundational for the Left. Today Judith Butler, the far-Left BDS theorist, declares Hamas, whose Charter in Article 7 which has never been revoked, and which demands the murder of every jew on earth, a “progressive social movement” that is “part of the global Left.” 
Clearly there is a direct left-wing line of antisemitism from Karl Marx to Article 7 of the Hamas Charter, whether Levine and his colleagues mention it not or can even see it. Old Left or New Left – antisemitism is a foundational theme of both.
RICHARD SHERMAN
Margate, Florida

Chewing on Che’s jab: No joke
Regarding “Make ‘em laugh: Cancel cancel culture by laughing” (March 3), I can’t stop laughing – sorry, I mean crying – at Gil Troy’s suggestion that we turn the other cheek and laugh off the anti-Israel/antisemitic comment voiced by Michael Che on Saturday Night Live.
Yes, Chaplin hit the spot along with Mel Brooks when they lampooned Hitler and the Nazi Party, clearly defining through comedy the evil of the person and the regime.
However, Che’s joke was in itself evil and in turn demonized a nation and its people to extract comedy from nothing less than a statement of untruth.
Yes, like many others we do have foibles, but we should also have pride in who we are and when our integrity is sorely questioned, our cheeks should be kept firmly in place.
STEPHEN VISHNICK
Tel Aviv
Gil Troy minimizes the potential damage from Michael Che’s antisemitic joke on SNL. He says comedy is “edgy” and “the best jokes punch quickly, speaking shorthand, deploying stereotypes.” 
The best jokes are edgy precisely because they magnify an uncomfortable grain of truth. Golda Meir’s quip (which Troy cites with approval) – “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.” – was brutally effective because our enemies were, in fact, using their own children as both weapons and human shields. Similarly, an SNL joke quoted by Troy demonstrated the absurdity of the UN’s “Zionism = racism” declaration. 
Che’s joke did just the opposite. There is no truth at all to the libel that Israel is withholding the COVID vaccine from its Arab citizens. That charge is made up out of whole cloth. The joke reinforced for the viewers the totally false stereotype of Jews wantonly killing non-Jews. 
Troy cites several reasons why “it’s ridiculous to claim that only Jews received the vaccine.” He says that Che’s joke “didn’t sound antisemitic because he mocked the Jews’ national-religious anomaly” and “exploited Americans’ confusion over how a ‘Jewish state’ would also protect Arabs.” 
This all presupposes a level of sophistication and knowledge about Israel that the vast majority of SNL viewers do not possess. Rather than appearing absurd when compared with their (nonexistent) wealth of understanding of Zionist ideals and Israeli history, the joke confirmed the many slanders against Israel to which they had already been exposed. 
This is by no means a “harmless joke,” as Troy would have us believe. It has the potential to cause serious injury to Israel and to individual Jews. 
Troy concludes, “As a Zionist, I am comfortable enough with the truth to laugh off Che’s quip.” Better he had said, “As a Zionist, I am strong enough to stand up and say ‘Enough!’ when my country is falsely accused, by means of a joke, of committing genocide.” 
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Zichron Yaakov
I enjoyed the article from Gil Troy exposing the idea of the Israel Indignance Industry, preferring laughter to whining. 
As I read on, though, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the examples he cited to justify a lightening up towards “Disparaging Jews” jokes were in fact Israelis or Jews themselves, such as Mel Brooks, Golda Meir, Gilda Ratner, Sigmund Freud. 
It’s another thing to hear these same jokes from someone outside the fold because the possibility remains that another less harmless intention could be at work (also unfortunately applies to Jews too!)
RICHARD WINOCOUR
Jerusalem
Regarding the recent Jerusalem Post editorial and the op-ed by Gil Troy taking issue with those upset about Michael Che’s antisemitic comment on Saturday Night Live. I agree that the fact that he falsely accused Israel of only vaccinating Jews is no big deal – after all, as implied in both missives, what’s the problem with a little antisemitism among friends?
I mean it’s not as though in the United States they are throwing Jewish students out of student governments at American universities because they identify as Zionists, or firebombing Chabad Houses, or major newspapers are printing op-ed pieces calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, or they are (can you imagine?) banning Dr. Seuss books written ions ago because they are viewed as insensitive on race matters.
Besides, as Che himself might say, it’s not all comedians who are ignorant antisemites – it’s only half of them – the black half.
Just joking of course.
ANDERSON D. HARKOV
Modi’in, Israel
Out in Left field
We are all well aware that The Jerusalem Post likes to publish articles from far-Left writers, but the piece pushing an extremist pro-Palestinian position by Nadav Tamir reached a nadir, a new low (“Israel received a wake-up call from The Hague,” March 5).
Almost every sentence contained an adjective that was either extremely negative toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former US president Donald Trump, or the positions of the State of Israel, and threw around inflammatory words like “occupation” and “settlements” which the writer knows are nothing more than provocative inaccuracies.
Ariel is not a “settlement,” Ma’aleh Adumim is not a “settlement,” they are Israeli towns, and the only “occupation” – a word the author uses repeatedly – is the unrealistic fantasy in the writer’s head of the two-state delusion.
His brief bio indicates that the author ticks off some of the major check-boxes that most of us associate with extreme-Left anti-Israel positions. He is an example of the well-known belief that if you repeat a lie often enough, eventually some gullible ignorant people will come to believe it. 
JOSEPH BERGER
Netanya
Bounced check
Regarding “US: Allies don’t get a blank check to oppose our interests” (March 7), I would respond to the US that they also do not get a blank cheque to oppose our interests.
Appeasing an enemy who threatens our destruction (been there, Chamberlain did that) will not lead to peace in our time – or in any time.
FREYA BINENFELD
Petah Tikva