August 17: Red lines

I remember when the EC decided to treat areas outside of the Green Line as non-Israel for custom-duty purposes.

Red lines
Sir, – I clearly remember when the European Commission (EC) decided to treat the areas outside of the Green Line as non-Israel for custom-duty purposes.
Ehud Olmert, a minister at that time, agreed rather meekly to acquiesce in this decision.
Now, The Jerusalem Post is reporting that even some areas inside the old Green Line will now be treated like those areas without (“Parts of Modi’in, Maccabim, Re’ut appear on EU settlement list,” August 15).
One can imagine that the Palestinian representatives will now move to have any areas beyond the 1947 UN partition line relabeled “non-Israeli” as well.
I’d like to suggest the following steps to fight this: Identify areas within the EU that were at one point under dispute and set them outside our trade agreement; annex Area C, putting any Palestinian businesses under the EU-Israel (non) agreement; and amend the recent Israeli- Palestinian agreement so that Palestinian businesses exporting to Europe have to pay a commensurate customs tax to Israeli businesses in the West Bank.
While West Bank Palestinians have largely abandoned their terrorist war, their negative diplomacy is simple a war by other means and we need to respond.
Sir, – It never fails to amaze me, and now more than ever, how the world views tiny “inconsequential” Israel. Do zip codes really a country make? If so, then why just boycott products made in the only democracy in the Middle East, why not the murderous zip codes of our neighbors to the north, south, east and west? We made aliya in 2008 and settled immediately in Modi’in, to be near our daughter and grandchildren but also because it offered us the suburban lifestyle we were accustomed to in the US. There might have been some hesitation at the beginning had Modi’in been in the settlement areas, but now, I don’t care if “lines” are red, green, purple, or polka dotted, this is my country and I would not only live anywhere, I would be proud and happy to do so.
Growing rifts
Sir, – As one who has profound respect for Torah learning, in addition to being a citizen who is also quite concerned about the growing rifts among our people, I was deeply disappointed when reading the article by Avi Schwartz (“Studying Torah can be a national service,” Comment and Features, August 14). Since the challenges that we face are of the utmost gravity, they warrant responses that are serious and respectful of both sides and not based on either naivete or flippancy.
To propose a program that places men in army uniforms for them to undergo a daily one hour training session with the rest of the day devoted to Torah learning is simply making a mockery of the uniform and unfortunately reveals a lack of basic understanding of the nature of the present haredi- secular schism.
While a Jewish state must recognize the vital contribution of Torah learning to the well-being of its people, it is also incumbent on the Torah world to recognize and respect the contributions that other groups make to the nation. Perhaps Avi Schwartz can answer why his designated “Guardians of our Security” cannot find the justification to include in their rituals, prayers on behalf of the State of Israel and for IDF soldiers.
Sir, – As a religious Jew, who appreciates the importance of Torah study and the need for Jewish ethical values to permeate our daily lives, I have a few issues with the suggestion that haredim join the army and form a partnership with regular soldiers, whereby the former will study Torah to protect our soul and the latter will protect our physical bodies.
Foremost, surely any spiritual benefits that could be gained from such a partnership would be more than offset by the negative effects of the massive chillul Hashem, profaning of God’s name, that would be caused by the perception that many of these “soldiers” are simply using the study of Torah to get out of doing regular service.
And what about that those in the haredi community who, while saying they are studying in yeshiva are actually working? Perhaps we would have to put them on trial for being AWOL for working on the side instead of learning.