August 19: Ulterior motives

Ankara allied itself with Israel not out of love for Jewish democracy, but out of a need for American support.

Ulterior motives
Sir, – Ankara allied itself with Israel not out of love for Jewish democracy, but out of a need for American support. And now that it feels it no longer needs the US, it no longer needs to put on airs.
Greece’s past displeasure with Israel was not because of the latter’s military ties with Turkey, but because those ties gave Turkey credibility. Ties with the only democracy in the Middle East helped Ankara’s advocates propagate the idea that Turkey was a secular democracy, flying in the face of the fact that a Christian or a Jew cannot even become a police officer there.
Turkey will rediscover its need of a patron and will try to improve ties with Israel (“Turkey could face opposition from Congress on US arms sales,” August 17). When that time comes it should be asked if a country has good intentions in its relations with a Christian or a Jewish state when it abuses its own Christians and Jews.
GERASIMOS BOZIKIS Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Threads on ‘David’
Sir, – Are you so clueless that you don’t realize that frontal nudity, even if it is Michelangelo’s statue of David (“Florence spars with Italian gov’t over ownership of ‘David,’” August 17), is inappropriate for your front page and offensive to many of your more traditional readers? Or are you simply so insensitive that you don’t care?
ASHER RESNICK Ramat Beit Shemesh
Sir, – I’m not an art expert, but while reading the Post, I noticed that the king wasn’t wearing any clothes.
I’m not kidding. ‘David’ actually appeared on the front page of the Post in the altogether, as naked as the day he was born.
I urge Italy to check all its statues for wardrobe malfunctions (I pray no popes are inadvertently being displayed in a similar fashion) and to arrange for suitable royal attire as soon as possible.
Look to the Book
Sir, – In his op-ed piece (August 17), Prof. Hillel Shuval argues, as the headline states, that “the tragic mistake was settling Gaza in the first place.”
Perhaps the good professor should communicate this sober thought to members of the ancient tribe of Judah, who did precisely that, as related in the Book of Joshua (10:40-41): “Thus Joshua conquered the whole country: the hill country, the Negev, the Shfela and the slopes, from Kadesh-Barnea to Gaza, all the land of Goshen and up to Gibeon.”
Later, in Chapter 15, there is a detailed inventory of towns and regions, as these were divided among the 12 tribes. In Judah’s list we find (Josh. 15:47) “Gaza, its dependencies and its villages, all the way to the Wadi of Egypt and the edge of the Great Sea.”
One has to wonder how all this squares with the writer’s offhand observation that, “according to Halachic authorities, Gush Katif was never considered part of historic Eretz Yisrael.”
Sir, – Hillel Shuval seems unaware of the irony of his article on Gush Katif or the facts.
Gush Katif was a microcosm of Israel’s place in a sea of genocidal Islamic hatred. Would he therefore be among the many who claim the founding of Israel was a tragic mistake? Arguably, Israel is the most dangerous place for Jews. When Shuval speaks of the supremacy of security, does he intend to suggest that all values be based on military/security considerations? The facts are clear. The destruction of Gush Katif led to the bombardment of southern Israel and Ashkelon, which led to the Gaza War, which led to the Goldstone Report, which led to the virulent isolation of Israel.
With no end in sight.
Bones long dry
Sir, – Irrespective of size and wealth, the day-to-day municipal administration of the shtetl was democratic, in the spirit of emerging world democracy. But unlike in other democracies, where decisions were made and people got on with their lives, after a decision had been reached in a shtetl and everyone was abiding by the decision, the different sides continued to argue their points of view.
In this respect, the Comment & Features section of The Jerusalem Post is much in line with that of a shtetl newspaper, with the Glicks and Baskins rehashing and rebashing voided viewpoints.
This is all too evident in the August 17 issue: “The tragic mistake was settling Gaza in the first place, ” by Hillel Shuval, versus “Why Gush Katif still matters,” by Moshe Dann.
This bitter argument was decided democratically five years ago. The bones of contention are long dry. Let’s get on with our lives.
Rabbi wannabe
Sir, – The very headline “A young rabbi wannabe struggles for recognition” (August 12) explains so much to me about the problems of Israel’s rabbinate.
That this young boy knows the laws seems to be the only qualification required for the role of rabbi. Wisdom, compassion and a desire and ability to solve problems rather than pass judgement are never mentioned.
No wonder so many of us suffer at the hands of our rabbinate – agunot, aspiring converts, young people seeking to be married in the country of their birth, to mention just a few.
As long as being a rabbi recognized in Israel is based on “knowing the laws” alone, we will widen the gap that already exists between the rabbinate and so may of our citizens.
Sir, – The article about 14-yearold Moshe Sharify happened to appear just one day after the English-language weekly Hamodia profiled a boy named Menachem Mendel Pfeiffer, whose death in 1990 at age 13 was a tragedy of huge proportions.
Pfeiffer was also a brilliant, incredibly learned and devoted student who was an intellectual peer of many learned adults. His character was sterling, his spiritual attributes were exemplary, and he had a loving heart. In spite of his brilliance and accomplishments, nowhere is there any indication that he strove to become a rabbi at a tender age, even though there is no question he was capable of acing any exam. What the article depicted was a budding gaon (genius), but with the traits of humility, modesty, generosity, kindness, consideration of others and love of Hashem.
While The Jerusalem Post described Sharify as a boy of surpassing intellect from highly accomplished and high-achieving parents, his character is not depicted at all. He is described as enjoying soccer and swimming.
That’s it! He is not shown as a giving person, as someone who empathizes with others or volunteers in any way.
In the annals of Jewish history, the biographies of countless rabbis show the great modesty and reluctance of the most gifted and brilliant scholars to push themselves forward. They did not feel worthy of the great honor that others insisted on bestowing.
The article begs the question: At 14, how much could Sharify offer as a rabbi, other than regurgitating texts, since there is so much living he has yet to do?
Sir, – More power to Moshe Sharify! In an age where Michael Jackson, superheros, rap singers and Aviv Gefen are the heros of the day, isn’t it refreshing to hear about a boy who loves to learn Torah and by all accounts is a great kid? A kid with his head in his books, and not with a Playstation or plugged into an mp3? What is all the fuss? Although I wish it were so, are 10 more kids going to ask for smicha (rabbinical ordination) because of him? Are the rabbis worried that he’s going to want to lead a shul? Run for chief rabbi? I wish Moshe and his entire family every success, and hope to hear great things about him in the near future.