April 9: Down on Friedman

Friedman ignores what happened when the Gaza Strip was returned to the Palestinians.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Down on Friedman
Sir, –
Thomas L. Friedman (“Sheldon: Iran’s best friend,” Comment & Features, April 7) is using Western values in order to comprehend the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to these values, the return of territories taken in the 1967 war will lead to a peaceful solution of the conflict.
However, Friedman ignores what happened when the Gaza Strip was returned to the Palestinians.
There are two major opinions concerning the Jewish State that divide the Palestinian public.
Hamas believes that only the use of force can achieve the destruction of the State of Israel.
The so-called moderates share Hamas’s view but believe that this can be achieved gradually.
They compare the fate of the Crusaders who conquered the Holy Land and eventually were defeated to the fate of Israel.
The refusal of Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is a confirmation of their way of thinking.
Applying Western values to a the non-Western world has been a mistake committed by many scholars. It is surprising to me that Mr. Friedman, who spent time in the Arab world, does not recognize this important lesson.
ARI CHAPLIN Orangeburg, New York
Sir, –
On the one hand you have a newspaper columnist who has absolutely never been right on his prescriptions for peace in the Middle East but never fails to steer a hard course to the Left. Without The New York Times’s leftist editorial patronage he would be only a little-known leftist hack.
On the other hand you have a self-made billionaire, a true friend of the Jewish people and a stalwart champion of the State of Israel. He, unlike the columnist, realizes that playing Chamberlain to Iran is dallying with disaster.
Too bad we don’t have way more Sheldon Adelsons and way fewer Thomas L. Friedmans.
Sir, –
He’s gone too far this time.
Thomas L. Friedman’s arrogance has been on display for many years now. Some time ago he came to my Connecticut synagogue as a paid, featured speaker, and after speaking and collecting his money he walked out before anyone could ask him any questions. He couldn’t be bothered. He’s just gotten worse over time. Apparently he thinks he can say anything and get away with it.
But why does The Jerusalem Post have to give him that opportunity? Does he come with a New York Times “package?” And why do we need that package at all when there are so many other balanced newspapers in the States? There’s only one way to stop Friedman’s abusive columns.
Don’t print them, please! JAN GAINES Netanya Sir, – Whether or not Sheldon Adelson is Iran’s best friend is open for debate. What is laughable about this article, among other things, is that when billionaires give big bucks to conservative politicians it is for tainted causes. When Democratic politicians are given trunks of cash, guess what? They also have tainted causes on their agenda.
So stop with the name-calling.
It makes me ashamed to be an American citizen.
Feel-bad story
Sir, – Maybe the story of the aguna who finally got her divorce (“‘Aguna’ freed after 14 years of suffering,” April 7) was supposed to make us feel good, but for me it did the opposite.
Why did this woman have to use fraudulent passports, private detectives and a safe house, and suffer years of tribulation in order to enjoy the fundamental human right of being unchained from an incompatible mate? Throughout our history there have been cases of well-intended Jewish laws that proved unworkable or even harmful in practice.
A creative rabbinate was able to find solutions to the problems while still maintaining respect for the law.
If Hillel could devise the Prozbul, enabling the poor to obtain loans near the shmita year in which fields lie fallow, and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, mandate- era Palestine’s first chief rabbi, could institute the heter mehira so that farmers and the whole agricultural enterprise in the Land of Israel would not be devastated during the shmita year, then today’s Israeli rabbinate can certainly formulate a method for divorce that doesn’t demand the consent of both parties.
Ruthless industry
Sir, –
Instead of focusing on scrupulously adhering to an archaic – and pointless – law demanding that grains be eliminated from the diet of dairy cows prior to Passover (“Why Israeli dairy cows eat kosher for Passover,” April 7), wouldn’t it be more relevant to the 21st century for dairy farmers to reflect on whether or not they should be milking cows in the first place? Each year dairy cows are forced to give birth to a calf and each year their newborns are cruelly wrenched from their side and either slaughtered, raised in small crates for veal or, if female, kept for herd replacement. The grieving mother then has her milk forcibly pumped from her udder so it can be sold for profit to humans who have absolutely no need for it.
Could any industry be more ruthless and despicable that this?
JENNY MOXHAM Monbulk, Australia
Remove the slaveries
Sir, –
Yehuda Hakohen “Progressing beyond Zionism,” Comment & Features, April 3) fails to recognize Zionism’s very limited revolutionary aspirations and its subordination to the real revolution – Torah and service to God, two items noticeably missing from his article.
His and my Lehi (Stern Group) friends stopped fighting once the state and Jerusalem were achieved. As they told me on several occasions, they couldn’t cope with what to do next or even conceive of a plan forward. Thus, Yair Stern’s brilliant ideology withered (and, unfortunately, led the vegetarians to Canaanism and some of the meat eaters to mysticism).
That’s because as Yeshayahu Leibowitz, our mutual old friend, says, Zionism is really only about not wanting to be ruled by the gentiles. Good enough for me, and I suspect for Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Stern as well – once, of course, the garden has been cleaned out and planted, and the dirty work of Zionism completed.
Mr. Hakohen presents us with a Stockholm Syndrome, except his captors aren’t real. The captors were manipulated by semipro ideologues looking for an unclaimed nationality to call their own. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there is no “there” there, but he has bought their sales pitch and is paying the full price. In his search for Hebrew identity he has imbibed old Diaspora Jew-guilt, fashionably peppered by the boycott, divestment and sanctions crew. These villagers are no more ruled over than any other minority population in every democracy.
But he unknowingly hints at the real problem faced by the Jewish people 66 years after the revolution ended. The Jew has become the slave again. He endures the imposition of military service (literal slavery), the outrageously high costs of maintaining the military-security state (financial confiscation through taxes) and a subtle but devastating Chinese water torture, like the psychological bombardment of everyday life in Israel – the constant fear of both hazy-imagined and vivid provocations and threats that the Zionist leaders haven’t been able to end once and for all (mental slavery).
By removing these slaveries, the Jew can finally be free to pursue unhampered his ancient mission to follow the Torah in the service of God.
DAVID J. STRACHMAN Providence, Rhode Island