April 25: Beyond belief

As if we don't have enough problems here, a fallen soldier's father is denied the right to recite the memorial day prayer.

letters pink 88 (photo credit: )
letters pink 88
(photo credit: )
Beyond belief Sir, - As if we don't have enough problems here, a fallen soldier's father is denied the right to recite the El Malei Rachamim prayer - because "his belief in God is questionable"! Is this why we created a Jewish homeland? To question one another's beliefs? Hillel said, what is hateful to you, do not do unto others. Let's work toward this goal for next Memorial Day ("Father of fallen soldier stripped of position at memorial ceremony for being Reform rabbi," April 23). STUART PILICHOWSKI Mevaseret Zion Sir, - As a Masorti Jew, it offends me that my own rabbi cannot officiate at weddings or serve on a religious council. However, this story trumps my own feelings. On such a sorrowful day, Rabbi Boyden's plight represented all that is perverted about the current state of Orthodox control in this country. Need one be reminded why the Second Temple fell? STEVEN TOLTZ Jerusalem Others' beliefs Sir, - Reader Abe Krieger of Philadelphia (the "city of brotherly love") uses expressions like "bastardized" and "gutted" practice1 to describe non-Orthodox Jews. Well, he may not believe that he hates these Jews, and perhaps he really doesn't, but these vulgar expressions and disturbing comparisons strike me as rather hateful ("Nope, not serious," April 22). KENNETH BESIG Kiryat Arba Sir, - The letter claiming that non-Orthodox streams of Judaism "are silly" and "bastardized" was itself, well, silly. I will let the Reform and Conservative abroad speak for themselves, but the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel has a high percentage of members who are observant Jews. Rather than "sleep in" on Shabbat they go, primarily on foot, to their synagogues, observe kashrut strictly, and may well be living a more authentic Judaism than a great number of Jews who call themselves "Orthodox" abroad. There are, to be sure, some very real issues between Masorti and even liberal Orthodox Jews in Israel. However, these could be addressed by dialogue rather than by mudslinging. JAC FRIEDGUT Jerusalem The writer is current vice president of Masorti Israel. Getting away... Sir, - I do not underestimate the suffering of the missing soldiers' families. I have enormous sympathy for them. The beloved son of close friends was one of the first prisoners of the barbarians who threaten all our lives; over 10 years passed before his remains were brought to burial. But we cannot be blind to reality. This week Palestine Media Watch published the latest Hamas call to kidnap more Israeli soldiers to secure the release of 10,000 Arab prisoners - a clear portent of what lies ahead if we surrender to blackmail again. It is almost 1,000 years since the Anglo-Saxons declared: If once you pay the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane. Indeed, those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it ("Egypt cracks down on visiting Hamas officials," April 23). LESLIE PORTNOY Netanya ...with murder? Sir, - "We will never release terrorists with blood on their hands," politicians once assured us. That has been replaced by the mantra of "painful concessions." Again we can look forward to busloads of smiling killers making "V" signs with their bloodied hands. The people who manufacture these mantras insist that Israel is a democracy where Arab and Jew enjoy equal treatment under the law. If so, shouldn't we release all Jews who murder Arabs - and also all Jews who murder Jews? The end justifies the means? Prior prisoner exchanges have proved that this appeasement leads only to further one-sided Israeli concessions, sending the clear message that future Arab crimes will go unpunished. Now they can even get away with murder ("'Freed terrorists would pose an immediate threat," April 22). STEVE BERGER Ramat Gan We'd all love... Sir, - Palestinians demand the right to return to their ancestral homes anywhere in the country of Israel ("Debating the 'right of return,'" March 11). But the "right of return" is in the eye of the beholder. I'm fourth-generation Irish-Canadian-American. I have no right to return to Ireland and assume ownership of my great-grandparents' home and property. I'm sure German-speaking Czechoslovakians would love a right to return to the Sudetenland in the Czech Republic. Despite their ancestors living there for hundreds of years, those German speakers were driven out after WWII. Germans would return in a New York minute if they could regain control of their homes and property in East Prussia, from which they were forced to flee by Russia and Poland. Cherokee Indians farmed and organized schools in Georgia; but when gold was discovered in their territory they were driven out along the "Trail of Tears" to Oklahoma. They too would love to go back. The "Right of Return" is a joke dreamed up to encourage perpetually continuing hostilities. We Irish still recognize our roots, even hundreds of years after our ancestors left, but that memory does not confer any "Right of Return." MICHAEL MACAULAY Davison, Michigan ...to return Sir, - Here's a fair plan for a right-of-return deal: For each of the million Jews driven out of Arab lands in '48 with only the clothes on their backs who safely return to their Arab homeland, one of the million Arab refugees - ordered from Israel by the invading Arab armies ("Leave now and return for the spoils!") and then held for 60 years in poverty as refugee pawns by their Arab brothers - may return to his or her Israeli environs. JOHN LIGHTSTONE Flushing, New York Where delusion reigns Sir, - Margaretta D'Arcy thinks that being a Jewish woman and having visited Israel gives her the right to propose boycotting Israel ("My right to criticize," Letters, April 17). Sitting safe and far away in her cozy Irish home she presumes to lecture Israel on its security issues. If Israel's actions bother her so much, she should take advantage of her Right of Return as a Jew and make aliya in order to take part in our democratic process. Boycotts never achieve what they intend. In fact, they tend to rebound. Moreover, she and her boycott proposal make no mention of Arab terrorism against Israel; nor is there any condemnation of the kidnappings and rocket fire by Palestinians, nor even their kidnapping and possible murder of BBC journalist Alan Johnston. Ms. D'Arcy also condemns Israel, the US and the EU for their boycott of the "democratically elected" Hamas. She seems blind to the fact that the boycott is not because we "didn't like the way people had voted," but because Hamas is a terror organization dedicated to destroying Israel and killing Jews - a people to which Ms D'Arcy belongs. She should remove the beam from between her eyes. ANNE KLAUSNER Petah Tikva Mais oui! Sir, - Ever since I saw Nicolas Sarkozy put Tariq Ramadan in his place on the live France 2 program in November 2003, it became obvious who the next president of France would be. What the West now needs is for the US to elect Rudy Giuliani so that, together, they can get serious about defending our civilization ("Polls: Sarkozy, Royal get to 2nd round," April 23 ). MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC Beersheba