August 2: Where all are welcome?

One of the reasons we Jews mourn the loss of the Temple is that its destruction seemed to abolish our central mission to be "a light unto the nations."

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Where all are welcome? Sir, - One of the reasons we Jews mourn the loss of the Temple is that its destruction seemed to abolish our central mission to be "a light unto the nations." While the Temple stood, non-Jews from all over the known world would also come up to Jerusalem to sacrifice there. Today the Western Wall is all that remains of the Temple. But since June 1967, the Temple is again carrying out its mission. Almost any day one goes there, one sees groups of visitors from all over the world - American Christians, Africans, Asians - sometimes wearing their national dress. They all feel welcome to pray at the Wall, caress its stones and slip their prayer notes into its cracks. I know of no other religious place like it, where the "others" come; not just to stare and admire, but to join in by right ("A lesson for Tisha Be'av," Danny Ayalon, July 30). CAROL CLAPSADDLE Jerusalem Haredi home truths Sir, - Your editorial of July 30 "Unity in tough times," which appealed for unity among the Jewish people despite the atmosphere of disrespect caused by the misdeeds of a few in the haredi community, was misdirected. Obviously not all haredim deal in illegal body organs, launder money, abuse wives and children or try to run over parking attendants. However, haredi communities are by nature insular and separate. This tends to breed fear, ignorance, arrogance and contempt for the host country. Nowhere in the world does a haredi yeshiva show respect for the country by the simple act of flying a flag. Having taught in haredi yeshivas in America, I observed how the the law of the land was circumvented and disrespected. The haredi community has succeeded until now in sweeping all this under the rug in order to promote the notion that Torah-observant Jews are morally superior. Obviously this is no longer the case. MATTIAS ROTENBERG Petah Tikva Sir, - Just to set the record straight: I do not think that Bernard Madoff is a modern Orthodox Jew. He is not Orthodox at all. MENACHEM EPSTEIN Har Nof Count me out Sir, - I am a wife and mother of four, very Orthodox, living in a very Orthodox community, Golders Green. I would like to say: Please do not include me in your view of haredim based on these hooligans and their attacks and rock-throwing incidents. They are not my spokesmen, never have been and never will be, as Rabbi Yakov Horowitz so aptly said in "American rabbi urges haredi leaders to condemn violence in Jerusalem" (July 8). Please add me to your list of haredim who have respect for others, live their lives bettering themselves and looking after their families, and awaiting the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh - which will not happen as long as incidents like these hooligans have perpetrated occur. ZISI SCHLEIDER London Good man Sir, - I too praise, and may our Creator bless Beduin Sheikh Salam al-Hoziel, who is busy daily collecting signatures for Gilad Schalit's release ("Praise, death threats for Schalit's Beduin champion," July 30). His act of conscience is a beacon of light among us. I hope someone reading this in Beersheba will offer this good man a job. REIDA MISHORY-ISSEROFF Kfar Yona Why give more land for peace? Sir, - I would like to ask Larry Derfner: Why must Israel be pressured to give more land for peace? ("Tit for tat, Mr. President," July 30). When we left Lebanon, we got Hizbullah - that's peace? When we "disengaged" from Gaza, ruining 10,000 people's lives, we got Hamas - that's peace? The only reason we have quiet in the disputed territories is not Fatah and Abbas playing at being nice, it is because the IDF is there to stop terrorism. Every day we hear of arrests there of actual and potential terrorists. Derfner makes fun of our insistence on stopping Arab incitement in schoolbooks and the media, but these hate messages drummed into Arab minds from birth onwards will never lead to true peace. Finally, we are not holding tightly to Arab lands; we are clinging to and populating our own land, which the Arabs have tried to pry away from us in five wars, each of which they started and lost. What other country has returned every last inch it won in defensive wars? JUDY PRAGER Petah Tikva Sir, - I was struck by the fact that Larry Derfner seems to have a very short and selective memory. It certainly was not that long ago that Israel withdrew from the settlements bordering the Gaza Strip and, for its compliance with the demands of the Americans, received in return rockets and mortars falling on southern cities up to and including Ashkelon. When Israel was forced to go into Gaza in order to protect its citizens, it got in return commissions of inquiry and condemnation because, in the eyes of the world, its attack was too brutal and not enough Jews died when compared to Palestinians. What is clear to me is that the crackdown in the West Bank has nothing to do with keeping the area safe for the Jewish population, but is an attempt by the PLO to wrest some kind of control back from Hamas and not be eliminated from the peace process completely. Let's hope that sooner rather than later, President Obama will turn his attention to where the real problem lies and force the Arabs to make some tangible gesture to Israel so we can get on with the peace process. PAUL BERMAN Shoham Alarm bells Sir, - Many in the US are alarmed at our president's policies. His approval ratings, now under 50 percent, are quickly falling because the American people see that he has a far-sweeping agenda that is radically changing our freedoms and the core of what we fought for. We believe he is a Trojan horse. Please tell the people of Israel that many here are still your friends, and that we are awakening from our slumber and beginning to fight ("Obama and Israel, into the abyss," Daniel Pipes, July 23). MICHELE DUGAR REDDING California Sir, - There is little doubt that US President Obama forfeited the respect and trust of Israelis and, indeed, Jews throughout the world when in his Cairo speech he unashamedly embraced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's narrative that Israeli was established as a consequence of the Holocaust. Until he publicly corrects this grotesquely false account of both Jewish and modern history, his motives will justifiably continue to be treated with suspicion. I expressed these sentiments to the US ambassador to Israel, who hasn't even bothered to reply. RAYMOND CANNON Netanya Roots of Muslim anti-Semitism Sir, - Foreign Minister Lieberman's directive to circulate a 1941 photograph of Hitler sitting with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, should be repeated again and again ("Why Lieberman is invoking Hitler in Shepherd's Hotel spat," July 24). As Kenneth Timmerman states in Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America (2003): "The Mufti's close ties with Hitler and his total embrace of Hitler's Final Solution provides a common thread linking past to present. If today's Muslim anti-Semitism is like a tree with many branches, its roots feed directly off Hitler's Third Reich." RICHARD SHERMAN New York