Letters to the Editor, November 10, 2021: Greek ban is wrong

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Regarding “Europeans, let us practice ‘shechita’” (November 9), as president emeritus of Jewish Veg, I want to point out that, while Jewish Veg opposes all slaughter of animals, we protest when Jewish ritual slaughter is singled out for criticism or banned. The Greek ban is wrong for many reasons, including:

1. It ignores the many problems related to stunning, their preferred method of slaughter. These are thoroughly covered in the book, Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the US Meat Industry, by Gail Eisnitz. She documents in gut-wrenching, chilling detail the widespread, unspeakable torture at US slaughterhouses where animals are stunned prior to slaughter. 

2. It ignores the many factors in the shechita process designed to minimize pain. Animals are killed by a shochet (ritual slaughterer), a religious Jew who is especially trained and certified. He kills the animal with a single stroke, using a very sharp knife that is inspected frequently to make sure there are no imperfections, causing a rapid loss of consciousness and a minimum of pain.

3. It fails to extend its commendable, though misguided, concern for animal welfare during the final minutes prior to slaughter to the many abuses that occur for months on factory farms.

If the Greek government wants to improve conditions for as many animals as possible, they should take steps to reduce the consumption of meat and other animal products. Besides reducing the number of animals suffering on factory farms, this would have additional benefits, including significantly reducing the current epidemic of life-threatening diseases, climate change and other environmental threats to humanity, the wasteful use of land, energy, water, and other scarce resources, and chances for future pandemics.

Since Greece was complicit in the Holocaust, they should be especially ashamed about banning an ancient Jewish practice, especially when there are so many problems with the alternative methods.



Flagrant breach

I refer to your editorial “The consulate and the construction” (November 8) and congratulate the writer on the conclusion that “Israel must continue to stand strong in its opposition to reopening the US consulate in Jerusalem.”

The basic and immutable premise in the field of international relations is that the policy and actions of each individual nation are dictated exclusively by its need to look after its own interests. Even when it appears that one nation is offering voluntary assistance to another, or being extremely generous, one does not need an in-depth examination to reveal that such action, in the long-run, benefits that country. I do not believe that there are any exceptions in history where this is not corroborated.

And so it is with the United States and their seemingly extreme generosity to our nation. The leverage which they achieve by their beneficence is enormous and we are now feeling the pressure of that leverage.

The “demand” that Israel allow the creation of a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem is nothing less than a flagrant breach of Israel’s sovereignty. The “demand” that Israel freeze construction in Judea and Samaria is impudent and preposterous and again challenges the sovereign rights of our nation.

There is a limit to the extent that the US can exploit its leverage and it is this government’s duty to its people to ensure that this limit is not surpassed, not even by our “best friend.” The definition of “best friend” is a person who has the benefit of the other at heart, sometimes even to the detriment of himself.



We need Russians

On any given day you can trust an ultra-orthodox rabbi to spew some poisonous nonsense – hate messages – against Russians, LGBTs, Reform Jews and just about everybody else who isn’t a haredi. This time around its Shas Rabbi Meir Mazuz who rants that Russians are heretics (“Shas rabbi: Liberman, ‘Russians’ are heretics,” November 8). He claims that while in Russia they are professors, in Israel they know nothing. Mazuz couldn’t be more wrong. At the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering in Beersheba, Professor Leonid Oster and I lead a research group of 12 scientists, PhDs, graduate students on their way to higher degrees, lecturers, retiree scientists. Of the twelve, Professor Oster himself and four others are Russian immigrants. We desperately need more Russian immigration. 


Professor Emeritus of Physics


Criminalized prayer

Yochi Rappeport writes (“The Kotel agreement must be implemented,” November 4) that the agreement between the government, the Reform and Conservative movements and Women of the Wall will allow “Ezrat Yisrael” (Robinson’s Arch) to be used by those “who prefer not to be forced to pray in an ultra-Orthodox synagogue.” Perhaps, Ms. Rappeport is not aware that currently no one at the women’s section of the Kotel is forced to pray in an ultra-Orthodox synagogue. In fact Original Women of the Wall have been praying there with little disturbance or interruption for years. Since she was not with Women of the Wall when the agreement was worked out perhaps Rappeport isn’t aware that the “agreement” does call for the two sections of the Kotel prayer plaza to be turned into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue where women and men who do not adhere to the requirements of the ultra-Orthodox authorities will be guilty of committing a crime. Original Women of the Wall ask Yochi Rappeport and the board of Women of the Wall to remove this stipulation from the “agreement.” Original Women of the Wall intend to continue praying in the women’s section of the Kotel, even if that prayer is criminalized, but we prefer not to face that option.


Chairperson of Original Women of the Wall


Snarky statements

While I may agree with some of the points raised by Ophir Falk regarding the current coalition government (“Bennett’s Moral Bankruptcy,” October 31), I do take exception to its overly nasty tone and downright disingenuousness.

Firstly, the author engages in “guilt by association” by somehow trying to link the alleged sins of Rabin and the flaws of the Oslo Accords with Bennett. Whatever the criticisms of Rabin at how he handled the opposition to Oslo – it is not relevant when discussing the merits or flaws of the current government.

The author castigates Rabin for “initiating efforts” to cut a deal with Hafez Assad on the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, but conveniently forgets to mention that Bibi Netanyahu continued those efforts a few years later. In 1998 Netanyahu was ready to return to the approximate lines of June 4, 1967. This is when the popular Ha’am Im Hagolan (The People Are with The Golan) movement arose in response. I clearly remember contemporary news reports stating that the negotiations were down to where to draw the border within a few hundred meters.  Assad died shortly afterward and (thankfully) the Golan remains part of Israel. Since then Netanyahu has portrayed himself as the champion of forever keeping the Golan as part of Israel.

As to Bennett’s going back on declarations as to what would be acceptable in an Israeli government – I’m sure the author does not need to be reminded of Bibi’s statements concerning Ehud Olmert not being suited to remain prime minister while under investigation. To then attack the passage of a law preventing someone under indictment from forming a government is truly disingenuous.

Lastly, snarky statements about Bennett’s religious observance are downright low – but ultimately reflect the overt political biases and nastiness of this opinion piece. Whatever the flaws of the current government, its creation is a clear reflection of Israelis’ disgust with the tone and cynical tactics reflected in this article.



Climate crisis?

In addition to the editorial (“Climate in crisis,” October 27), the Post printed a state comptroller’s report claiming a lack of preparation for the “climate crisis.” Helpfully there was a picture of a bird perched on a charred tree. There is of course no proof or even statistical correlation between temperature and forest fires, in spite of the frequent implications in the press and other media that such is the case. Nor is there evidence that extreme weather events are caused by the slight increase in world temperatures that have been happening since the end of the mini ice age in the 18th century 

However, there are a few things that can be definitely attributed to higher CO2 and slightly warmer temperatures, and they are all beneficial. Plants grow more vigorously as CO2 increases, and incidentally need less water, and higher temperatures are also positive for plant growth. This explains why the tree line in subarctic areas in Canada and Russia is moving north at about 5 km per year. Also, people prefer warmth to cold. This is why Canadians retire to Florida, and the Irish buy second homes in Spain.

There is no climate crisis. A crisis is something both dangerous and immediate. Even the suggestion that rising sea levels will submerge low-lying land is predicated on the shaky projection that all land ice will melt, but under the worst-case scenario, this will take about 1000 years! Some crisis! So far the only ice that has melted is the sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic; this, of course, has zero effect on sea levels.

However, some negative effects have actually happened. These, like rapidly rising electricity prices in the western world, higher taxes and grid power failures in America have been caused by overly zealous attempts to reduce CO2 emissions; a path that Israel should not follow.

Politicians and bureaucrats love a crisis; it gives them an excuse to grab more power. It should also be noted that there are a huge number of climate scientists who would all be out of their cushy jobs if there was no “climate crisis”; they also have a vested interest in promoting the myth. Sensible people should worry about real problems and leave apocalyptic scenarios to writers of science fiction. 


Ma’aleh Adumim

The editorial was timely and, of course, well-written. I hope that I don’t sound unappreciative, but there was no mention – not one – of the single most important thing that individuals can do, and that is to adopt a vegan diet.

The Post has published several articles by the erudite Dr. Richard Schwartz if readers want to look up the litany of reasons why going vegan is a moral imperative to save our world, but I would just like to pass along one additional thought for readers’ consideration.

By continuing to subsidize animal industries just for a momentary gustatory pleasure, we are literally stealing the earth’s resources from the next generation(s), leaving them an inhospitable world.

And for what?

I can only think that a large chunk of people must suffer from necrophagia if they can continue on with their meat-centered diets even after they have received all the facts. 

It is most sad.



Pure sacrilege

The article by David Stav “‘Shmita’ demands respect for the land and its people” (October 26) outlined the three options basically available, and detailed the “problematic issues” of the first two. As expected he wholeheartedly endorsed the third option of ‘heter mechira’ without mentioning any criticism or problematic issue whatsoever. The Torah’s commandments rule supreme. However, in an imperfect society, some people may be challenged to fulfill them in their entirety. Chazal (the sages) found the need to enact different ordinances in order to help these people to fully obey the Torah’s mitzvot.

The closest ordinance to ‘heter mechira’ is the sale of hametz (leavened food) before Passover to a non-Jew. The Torah requires that no one may own hametz on Passover. Each person is given the option of physically destroying the hametz he has or to declare, completely and truthfully, that any hametz he may have is nullified and valueless to him like the dust of the earth. However if one owns storehouses full of hametz (pastries, pasta, whiskey, etc), he definitely will not destroy them.

He will choose the second option of nullifying them. However, truth be told, his ‘nullification’ is only lip service with no true intent. The result will be that he will transgress the Torah’s command. Chazal enacted the sale of hametz to a non-Jew through a legally valid contract that will ensure, through different safeguards, that the hametz will return to his ownership after Passover. Several years ago, the Arabs who bought the hametz in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem came with a truck and hauled away the various items they bought in the sale of hametz. The residents were powerless to stop them because they signed valid contracts.

After the holiday, the rabbis of the neighborhood met with them and warned them that they will be taken to court and forced to comply with all of the paragraphs in the contract. Realizing it wasn’t worth it to them to keep everything that they took, they returned all of the property, however if they wanted to, they could have kept all of the merchandise they took and pay the hefty prices and fines imposed by the contract. They were legally binding contracts. In this way Chazal helped Jews throughout the ages to fulfill the Torah’s command and not own any hametz during Passover.

About a hundred years ago, the ‘leading rabbis of the time’ (there were many opposed) enacted a ‘heter mechira’ before shmita. They were worried about the fledgling agricultural situation in Israel. These Zionists enacted the supreme ant-Zionist ordinance of selling the Land of Israel to non-Jews. The rationale was that since the land will belong to non-Jews, the land can be worked as usual during the shmita year. The Torah commands that the land lie fallow during the shmita year and not be worked at all: no plowing, no planting, minimum watering, etc. Instead of helping Jews fulfill the Torah’s commands, the ordinance was to enable Jews to ignore entirely the Torah’s commands. A symbolic sale of the Land of Israel takes place thereby giving ownership of the country to Arabs. If they were smart they would not return the land and would live up to the contract with all of its clauses and retain ownership of the land.

This is something that of course the government would not agree to. It is only a virtual sale with no true value to it. It is a complete farce. Perhaps in the beginning of the state, the agricultural situation was serious enough for them to feel the necessity to enact such a thing because of hora’at sha’ah – a ruling necessary for that specific time, however in today’s day and age such an act is absolutely ridiculous – a complete farce. How can Zionists cause the Land of Israel to be sold and become the land of Ishmael, if even for a year? A pure sacrilege.