December 24: It’s legal, period

I would like to know is why the Prime Minister never tells the world that settlements are legal.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It’s legal, period Sir, – Israel declares that it will build more homes in Judea and Samaria, and of course the whole world screams (“France: Settlement projects call into question Israel’s commitment to peace,” December 21).
There have been numerous articles and letters in Israel by very distinguished authors providing very strong evidence that all the construction is perfectly legal. The problem is that most of the world does not read them.
What the world does see and hear is our prime minister speaking.
What I would like to know is why he never tells the world that they are legal. When the world hears our senior officials answer that this is the way we always do it, it is not sufficient.
Sir, – Rather than harping on Israel’s settlement building, the international leadership would do well to turn its concern to the Palestinians: Stop the indoctrination and incitement to hatred and murder, and return the the negotiating table. There you can discuss settlements and any other issues you wish.
Sir, – You report that France, Britain, Germany and Portugal issued a joint statement saying they were “extremely concerned by, and strongly opposed, the plans by Israel to expand settlement construction in the West Bank, including in east Jerusalem” (“14 of 15 Security Council members condemn J’lem, West Bank building plans,” December 20). But you don’t report it for what it is: a sectarian dispute.
Just as Sunnis and other Muslims have been slugging it out for centuries, so too those sectarians on the other side of the river, the Jews and Christians.
Pity is, the Security Council members seem more determined to reinforce sectarian disputes than resolve them.
PAUL BROWN Kfar Havradim
Not just rabbis Sir, – Jeremy Sharon (“High Court suspends Chief Rabbinate’s provision of rabbinic ordination without written exam,” December 21) quotes Rabbi Haim Sassi as saying “It’s absolutely crazy that a rabbi can get a job as a rabbi through his personal connections.”
Use of the fast track should be restricted to well qualified and experienced rabbis who have immigrated from overseas, like the late Dayan Yechezkel Abramsky or Dayan Yitzchak Weisz, and not as a way of providing “jobs for the boys.”
I always thought protektzia was fairly typical of the way the job market works in Israel and was not restricted to the rabbinate.
Using it as a stick to beat only the religious establishment therefore is not entirely fair.
We’re all alright Sir, – I should like to reassure former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin (“What worries Diskin is that Israel is falling apart,” Observations, December 21).
Institutions such as the family, community and volunteer organizations are strong and dynamic.
There are many charities, social action, self-help and support groups. Combat units of the IDF must turn away young people because of the high number of applicants. The country is holding elections next month without the prospect of violence at the polls.
While our leadership could be better, our social fabric is stable and we are not falling apart.
Read me! Sir, – I have not yet reached the age of Judy Montagu’s friend of 97 (“About keeping your balance, In My Own Write, December 19), but I fully agree that life is too short. I find this every day when, for lack of time, I don’t get around to reading The Jerusalem Post.
However, Montagu’s face kept looking up at me from the kitchen table, begging me to read her article, which I finally got round to doing between jobs, two days later. The content hit the nail on the head so hard that I had to write a thank you, Judy, for reminding readers how important proportion and perspective are in our lives.
Wall of inaccuracies Sir, – Seth J. Frantzman’s “Liberating the Wall from whom?” (Terra Incognita, December 19) is full of inaccuracies.
Frantzman states that prayer shawls are worn only by men, but they are worn by both women and men in many places, and this has been true for many years. He also states that Women of the Wall is a Reform organization. To the contrary, our members and supporters include Conservative/ Masorti, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Renewal, as well as Reform Jews.
He claims that we bring a Torah scroll into the women’s section of the Kotel plaza. We have not done so for over a year now.
Women of the Wall was not founded at a Hadassah conference, as he writes. And our attendance has been more than a dozen women for the past three years.
Most importantly, Frantzman writes that we come to the Kotel to protest. We come to pray and we follow the same practice we have followed since 2003. That is, we pray morning prayers and Hallel in the women’s section and then move to Robinson’s Arch for Torah reading and Musaf.
Our prayer does not interfere with other women’s prayer. Most don’t even notice we are there.
And we are there for less than an hour, most of that time in complete silence, as is true for most of the morning service. And of course we only come on Rosh Hodesh, 10-11 times a year. We don’t come on Rosh Hashana, which is also a Rosh Hodesh, and we don’t come on a Rosh Hodesh that falls on a Shabbat.
Rabbi Elyse Frishman joined us last week on her own. She was not with the group from Netzer.
As for Frantzman’s charge that we would leave the Kotel if we arrived one morning to find it empty, the truth is that we would pray as usual. There is no way we would abandon the Kotel. It is our holy site.
We are not motivated against the “Orthodox Jewish manner of worship.” In fact, we welcome it.
For years we worshipped only in that way. Our Orthodox members still do.
I don’t believe that any of the women who prayed with us most recently would agree with much of what was written in Frantzman’s article. It’s hard to imagine where he got his information.
CHERYL BIRKNER MACK Jerusalem The writer is a member of the board of Women of the Wall
Seth J. Frantzman responds: I received my information from op-eds, such as one by Elyse Frishman, and news reports and interviews in Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post and The Jerusalem Report, in addition to interviews and information posted on Women of the Wall’s Facebook page. As for the Women of the Wall being closely connected to Reform Judaism, Anat Hoffman, its chairwoman , is executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel. I stand by my rendering of the sources employed.
Same game Sir, – As one who lived through and well remembers Munich 1938 and the betrayal of Czechoslovakia, it was interesting to read “Czech envoy: While parallels between Israel and 1938 Czechoslovakia are not exact, there are similarities” (December 14).
Britain and France had an agreement to come to the aid of Czechoslovakia in the event of military conflict. However, Britain’s Chamberlain and France’s Daladier went to Munich and agreed that Czechoslovakia would cede the Sudetenland to Germany. This forced Czechoslovakia to give up the areas that were its most important security barriers, thus making possible the German annexation of the rest of the country.
It seems Britain and France are once again playing the same game with Israel.