April 30: Haredi contribution

The founders of the State of Israel knew that without Torah study in the Land of Israel the state had no merit to exist.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Haredi contribution
Sir, – Every time I hear an overpaid Knesset member or useless radio talk show host whine about how “we can’t support the haredim anymore,” it makes me feel sick. This is because the biggest schnorrer (freeloader) in the history of mankind is the State of Israel, which happily receives over three and a half billion US taxpayer dollars every single year! The continued flow of US funds to Israel is in no small part due to the powerful Christian lobby of millions of Americans who agree that the Jews are God’s chosen nation. These people want the Jews to serve God in Israel and have no problem at all with haredi Jews learning Torah in yeshivot.
And this is only US military aid! There isn’t a hospital in the whole of Israel that hasn’t been largely paid for by foreign donors. If you look on the walls of every university or library you’ll come across a plaque declaring that it was built by a donor. So for Israelis to raise their heads high and declare that they cannot support haredim anymore, it would be humorous if it weren’t so sad! But these political fat cats and radio hosts also bemoan the fact that haredim don’t contribute to the defense of the state since they don’t serve in the army.
Allow me to relate a story my father, a rabbi, told me.
During the Six Day War he volunteered to come to Israel and was sent to teach in the north of the country while regular teachers were serving on the front lines. On the eve of the Shavuot holiday he went to visit his rebbe, Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna, head of the Hevron Yeshiva.
Rabbi Sarna told him that when Jewish soldiers captured Hebron, an armored car was sent to bring him to the city to join in the celebrations. He was greeted there by non other than David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion said to him in Yiddish: “Eirah bochurim hot dos gemacht – The Torah study of your students achieved the victory!” The founders of the State of Israel knew that without Torah study in the Land of Israel the state had no merit to exist.
How ironic that there are people who want to close down yeshivot and other houses of ultra-Orthodox study and remove the very protection that enables them to live in the land.DONIEL HOOL Jerusalem
The writer is an ultra-Orthodox student at a yeshiva
Soothing sound
Sir, – I almost could have written the essay by Helen Schary Motro (“Saved by the BBC,” Comment & Features, April 28) myself.
The BBC World Service was part of my life – at home, in the car, on trips where I was always accompanied by a short-wave radio. It had another very important function – to help me to fall asleep at night. Not because it was boring, but those voices with a British accent had a very calming effect.RUTH SCHUELER Jerusalem
Sir, – In describing her frustration at the BBC’s discontinuation of its daily World Service broadcasts, Helen Schary Motro writes with anguish. I, too, felt betrayed long ago in New York when the classical station WNCN abruptly gave me gangsta rap instead of Mozart. But that was only music.
The BBC is known to promote all manner of anti-Israel commentary in its newscasts. One does not stop abiding by one’s loyalties and attachments simply because of nostalgia for the English language. Yes, comfortable memories do soothe us, but the realities of the BBC’s insidious defamation of Israel far outweigh such naive romanticisms.
I hear Motro’s pain. I hope that her loss will be filled one day by another English network, one with a more justified agenda of fairness and an absence of pro- Arab hatreds.
Sir, – I have just returned from a family visit to Manchester, UK, and read Helen Schary Motro’s article.
Similarly, I felt bereft when the BBC closed down its World Service to the Middle East. However, the solution is hinted at in her article. What she needs is an Internet radio; this would enable her to tune in to any radio station in the world.
While in Manchester I treated myself to an Internet radio and will now be spending several hours setting it up. Maybe we can start an Internet radio club.MOISHE VEEDER Netanya A Thatcher needed
Sir, – With regard to “Eini threatens general strike over planned budget cuts” (April 25), the Histadrut chairman is flexing his muscles although he represents only one sector of the population and we have no idea how many of his members really want to strike.
Even if the coalition does not lose its nerve and defeats a strike, the damage to the country would be enormous. Worse still, there is nothing to stop a repeat in a few years’ time.
Those of us who lived through the months of industrial strikes in Britain during the days before Margaret Thatcher cannot forget the piles of rubbish in the streets, unburied bodies in cemeteries, limited ambulance and nursing services, transport disruptions, electricity rations and shortages of supplies. Thatcher brought in a new era in industrial relations by introducing three pieces of vital legislation that returned the unions to their rightful role in society, but without the ability to dictate to the government.
First, she banned the phenomenon of the closed shop so that workers could refuse to join a union and therefore not have to obey strike orders. Second, a strike now could be declared only if the majority of a union’s members voted for it in a secret ballot, making it impossible for small groups of activists to impose their will. Third, secondary strikes were made illegal, thus preventing the type of situation we recently had here with the airline strikes.
To this day strikes are exceedingly rare in Britain.
The government’s determination to withstand a threatened strike without Thatcher-style legislation will at best mean that all this suffering is doomed to repeat itself.ALAN HALIBARD Beit Shemesh
Instruction, education
Sir, – The letter from reader Yosef Tucker (“Blasting Lapid,” April 25), although full of vitriolic diatribes, contains a very important discussion – the difference between religious instruction and religious education.
Children in all Israeli schools should learn the Shema and about Shabbat. Not as religious instruction, but as religious education.
Not to be told what to think or what to believe, but as part of the cultural background of the country in which they live.
This background should include knowledge of other religions.
What is religion for? What are the plusses and minuses? I grew up in England and learned The Lord’s Prayer. It did not make me a Christian, but it gave me an insight into the culture of the country in which I lived.RENEE BRAVO London
Pooling votes
Sir, – I second Daniel Tauber’s objection to raising the electoral threshold at this stage of Israel’s development (“Should Jordan be Palestine?,’” Comment & Features, April 24).
The current system has allowed a safety valve as the population melds from ingathered exiles to a nation at home in its skin. However, the last two elections had over a quarter of a million “wasted votes” for parties that did not cross the threshold. That equals eight, maybe 10 seats.
Voters should be allowed to write on the back of their ballot slip the letter of the party to which they would transfer their vote if their first choice did not reach the required vote threshold.
This option would come at no cost to the election budget and do away with the electioneve deals for pooling votes that are now in the hands of faction leaders.FRANK ADAM Prestwich, UK