August 14: Chickening out

The laws of marriage and divorce have been modified by Halacha many times since Genesis.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Chickening out Sir, - Jacob Chinitz offers us a strange choice in "Dominant husband" (Letters, August 12): "Either the law of marriage and divorce has to be amended, or the idea of a halachic state has to be given up." I, and thousands of others who pray daily for the restoration of a halachic state, may freely disregard this choice. We know full well that the laws of marriage and divorce have been modified by Halacha many times since Genesis. In fact, in the case involved, it was a halachically empowered rabbinical court that ordered the errant husband to grant his wife a bill of divorce. Halacha considers the man described as "uncontrollably randy" totally sick, and no longer grants such men the right to dominate their wives. Some 900 years ago, Maimonides already spoke of halachic laws enacted to prevent men from behaving like chickens who were constantly with their mates. RABBI SHLOMO WEXLER Jerusalem ICRC: a response Sir, - Pierre Wettach, head of the ICRC Delegation in Israel, in rebutting my July 24 op-ed, misrepresents the Geneva Convention and denies ICRC's public statements that "Israeli settlements violate the Geneva Convention" ("ICRC clarifies," August 11). Article 49 of GC IV prohibits "Individual or mass forcible transfers as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country… [and] The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Israel has not engaged in "individual or forced transfers." Article 49 obviously refers to the territory of another country, or sovereign power; Judea, Samaria and Gaza don't fit this definition. The ICRC differs. The ICRC was the first international organization to charge that "the presence of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is contrary to the Geneva Convention." For nearly four decades it has insisted that Jews are forbidden to live in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha), east Jerusalem and the Golan - areas conquered by Israel in 1967. The ICRC declared IDF actions to stop terrorism in Jenin, Lebanon and Gaza "massacres." It has consistently condemned Israel for "violations of Palestinian civil and human rights." And the world listens, because the ICRC isn't just another NGO, but the official recognized authority on the GC. Its decisions, therefore, were and are crucial in determining international law - and in vilifying Israel. This explains why the international community and courts have accepted ICRC's decisions that "Israeli (Jewish) settlements violate international law" without question. Such a position violates various international agreements, the British Mandate, which was the only other recognized sovereign power in the area, and, of course, human rights. Because the ICRC lacks transparency, there's no way to find out how and why it makes its decisions, or who makes them. If it has nothing to hide, why the secrecy? MOSHE DANN Jerusalem Two cheers Sir, - I enjoyed Judy Montagu's tribute to Leonard Cohen ("'That's how the light gets in,'" August 12). Too bad she didn't bother to get the facts right. She goes into great detail about her adolescence in London in the '60s. "Ask me what songs I listened to during those adolescent years," she says, "and 'Suzanne,' 'The Sisters of Mercy,' 'Hallelujah' and 'So long, Marianne' will be among the first to come to mind." Well, sorry, Ms. Montagu. Not true. "Hallelujah" was first released in 1984 on the studio album Various Positions. When it comes to memories, fact or fantasy must be checked. MIRIAM SAMERSAW Netanya/Oslo