August 5: Don't mention it

If our defense minister is endorsing Obama, my vote is definitely going to Mitt Romney.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Don’t mention it
Sir, – “Say anything you want about me as long as you spell my name right,” advised the American showman P.T. Barnum.
Rather than editorialize and publicize MK Haneen Zoabi, let her rumblings stay in the gutter where they properly belong – they are certainly not news. Better for Israel-bashers to wallow in indifference rather than be rewarded with publicity.
Sir, – After reading “Finance minister puts off VAT increase by one month” (August 1), I have a plan to both increase our nation’s assets and, more importantly, make us a healthier group of people: 1. Quadruple the taxes on cigarettes 2. Double the taxes on liquor and beer 3. Fine anyone driving at over 120 kph 4. Add a tax on stays at hotels rated four stars or more (the guests can afford it).
Telling endorsement
Sir, – As a long-time independent voter not affiliated with either major American political party and a voter conflicted about her choice in November, I would like to express my profound appreciation for Ehud Barak’s endorsement of US President Barack Obama (“Barak endorses Barack,” August 1).
If our defense minister is endorsing Obama, my vote is definitely going to Mitt Romney.
Perversion of truth
Sir, – In “A city divided” (Comment & Features, August 1), Betty Herschman is guilty of a number of inaccuracies.
She writes, “Israel never granted collective citizenship” to east Jerusalem residents, thereby denying them “fundamental civil and legal rights.”
This is a perversion of the truth. What really occurred was that Israel, on many occasions, offered the Arabs of Jerusalem full citizenship, which they refused. In July 1988, when Jordan’s King Hussein ceded all claims on Judea and Samaria (including Jerusalem) to the PLO, the Arabs preferred a status of limbo rather than full citizenship in a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. As a consequence, all normal cooperation in city affairs such as water and sewage, building permits, electric power, police and transportation, and the judicial system remain hostage to constant political and anti-Israel rejectionism.
Furthermore, Herschman insults her readers’ intelligence by stating that “the BBC has the informal authority to exert significant influence over public opinion.” With regret, one wonders whether she identifies with the old saying: “If you tell a lie often enough people will begin to believe it.”
The issue of civil and legal rights for all of Jerusalem’s citizens will be solved only when Jews and Arabs put tolerance and respect before hatred and violence.
Sir, – Betty Herschman relies on the same fallacious premise of those who deny that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
She ignores four critical and indisputable historical facts: 1. In the history of the world there has never been an independent Arab country called Palestine 2. In the history of the world Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab country 3. In 1948 the Palestinian Arabs rejected the United Nations partition plan, choosing to try to destroy the only Jewish state rather than create the first Palestinian state 4. The UN’s plan did not give the Palestinians any part of Jerusalem; instead, it envisioned Jerusalem as an international city.
Thus, we can see that the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem is both illegitimate and runs contrary to history.
Sir, – Betty Herschman seems to forget just why the dividing wall was erected in Jerusalem in the first place: to put a stop to the intifada and terrorism that had been inflicted upon us by the Arabs.
It seems to me that the only reason the Palestinians claim Jerusalem is because we Jews claim it. It’s not like they pray toward the city as we do, or even that Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran (it isn’t), although it is mentioned over 600 times in the Torah.
Here in Israel we have had a “peace industry” for decades.
Our Arab neighbors have had an “intifada industry,” what with all the suicide bombings, terrorism and absolute hate.
There are some Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem that even Israeli police dare not venture into, for example, Mt. Zion.
Sir, – There are areas in east Jerusalem that are totally Arab and were never historically part of the city, but were included in the unification. In the final account it will most probably be necessary to separate them and enable their residents to enjoy the full democratic status they yearn for under the Palestinian Authority.
The PA can at that point declare those areas as “East Jerusalem” and make them its capital.
Keeping it short
Sir, – It would seem that reader J.J. Gross has got it wrong about the Daf Yomi experience (“Slow is better,” Letters, August 1). His offer of pity to the 300,000 (or maybe more) who have religiously (his word) struggled through more than 2,700 pages of Talmud is rejected – we are really happy and proud of our achievements.
If Gross had searched Dirshu’s website he would have discovered that it offers regular Daf Yomi programs attended by thousands. So much for its “recognizing the futility of the Daf Yomi program.”
I have been attending Daf Yomi lessons since 1991 and am fully aware that I have not absorbed it all. I wonder what Gross intends to do about the remainder after he has studied another 5 pages.
M. VEEDER Netanya
Sir, – There are two types of Talmud study – iyun (indepth), as at J.J. Gross’s kollel, and bekiut (wide-ranging but inevitably more superficial), as in the Daf Yomi program. Both have their place and it is simply untrue that the latter “disrespects the text and defrauds the learner.”
I have now completed four cycles and am surprised how much material I remember despite, I must regrettably admit, not preparing or revising the daily lesson. Of course, “we’ve barely scratched the surface of the text’s meaning and nuances,” but we have acquired a familiarity with the whole Talmud and can often recall references to more recondite parts we would never have known about otherwise.
While “a line a day is challenging enough,” I must deplore Gross’s intellectual elitism and his refusal to see the virtue of other formats of Talmud study.
Sir, – During my ministry in the United Synagogue in London many years ago I inaugurated a program called LIFE – Learn in Four Evenings, and was able to teach nearly 100 people how to read Hebrew in that amount of time.
Starting on Monday they could not read a letter, but to see the joy on their faces when by Thursday they could pick up a prayer book and read on any page was just incredible.
In like manner, I see the same joy in Daf Yomi. I give the lesson in Young Israel Synagogue of North Netanya.
Having gone through the Talmud at least once there is more enthusiasm to delve into it once again. It is human nature to try to achieve something in the shortest possible time.