December 25: Gutter fighting

There must be a better way to live together than gutter fighting in the name of religion.

Letters 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Letters 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Gutter fighting
Sir, – Isi Leibler feels “impelled to express anger, frustration and pain concerning the primitive behavior displayed by our religious zealots and their frenetic efforts to reject modernism” (“Confront unbridled religious zealotry now,” Candidly Speaking, December 22). He goes on to attack ultra-religious Jews’ objectives in plain, strong language in a half-page column.
As a non-religious Jew I feel impelled to remark on the vitriolic way Leibler expresses his views. He takes no account of Israel being a democratic country with free speech, where the public can express itself at the ballot box, with a vote for each adult.
He is acting in precisely the same manner as the people he is denigrating.
He is right and they are wrong! Leibler should understand that any and every organism, whether an individual or group, is unalterably designed to act in its own best interests and will always do so, just as he does in his column.
I am sure Leibler believes he is doing the right thing – he just ignores the fact that the “religious zealots” also believe this way. Surely, there must be a better way to live together than gutter fighting in the name of religion! If not, the solution will be as it was previously, in biblical times: an Israel divided in mind and land.
Evolving with time Sir, – The problem with the eloquent op-ed piece by my teacher, Rabbi Hanan Alexander (“Pluralism and postmodernism in Masorti-Conservative higher education,” Comment & Features, December 22), is that it sees advocates for Jewish gay inclusion as arguing for autonomy. This is a misrepresentation of progressive advocacy, which argues for Halacha to continue evolving in response to a growing understanding of ethics and science, including human biology.
Framing the conversation as post-modernism is not helpful.
This continuation of the modern critique of Judaism has been the hallmark of Conservative/Masorti Judaism since its birth in the 19th century.
Berkeley, California The writer is a rabbi
Refreshing read Sir, – It was refreshing to read Aaron Katsman’s “An open question to Netanyahu, Steinitz and Daphni Leef: How about a right to rise?” (Business & Finance, December 22). Nowhere in the local media had I found a defense of capitalism and the role of limited government intervention until now. All we see is a continued push for more and more state intervention, and less and less individual freedom.
Israel needs to get back on track. After all, doesn’t it say in “Hatikva,” our national anthem, “to be a free people in our land?”
Beitar Illit
Exacting a price Sir, – I’m happy to see our prime minister and his underlings taking seriously the unhappy events that took place at the Ephraim Brigade headquarters (“PM at Ephraim Brigade: What happened here has left a stain on Israeli democracy,” December 21). It’s about time! If we continue to laugh off these events as childish pranks, nothing will be bettered.
The characters who took part in these events may be only teenagers, but the rocks they threw hurt and do damage. It’s obvious they grew up in an atmosphere where such things are acceptable. They probably received a pat on the back for being so brave.
Unless and until youngsters like these (and those who back them) are made to understand that their actions are not acceptable, they will continue behaving the same way. Now is the time to stop them.
Sir, – The violence portrayed as “price-tag” attacks is an extraordinarily serious matter, but one that is blurred by careless platitudes.
“Indefensible actions...” and “...but understandable” (Letters, December 21) are good examples.
Democracy is the unrestrained rule of the majority, which was one of the causes of the downfall of Athens: Acting upon popular will at a critical instant – contrived, thoughtless, evil – can easily cause catastrophe.
The Israeli government, as it is presently constituted, functions somehow in barely controlled chaos only by unacknowledged heavenly grace. The situation is eruditely presented in the news pages of the same issue of your paper (“Likud’s Rivlin, Meridor, Eitan call on Knesset to legislate constitution”). The rampant reach for unlimited power by the Supreme Court is another expression of what the youth see.
Youth, by definition, do not have experience or wisdom.
Young people can be hormone-charged and impetuous. Here, however, these attributes are relatively irrelevant. The idealistic among them seem to see only one form of expression that might have any effect.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that there are times when a revolution is a good thing.
Telz Stone
Sir, – “Even the smallest stain tarnishes the whitest shirt,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu as he lit the first Hanukka candle with the Ephraim Brigade.
While those who carried out the “price-tag” attacks should have acted with restraint – and I would like to see concrete proof that they were all carried out by Jews – doing nothing on their part only brought on more demolitions, with the humiliation of being made homeless in our own land.
At every turn, Netanyahu has disappointed with his weakness and failure to stand up for Jewish rights in the Land of Israel. That is a stain on Israel and the Jewish people.
Sir, – What really leaves a stain on Israeli democracy is the authorities’ failure to deal with the perpetrators.
Ramat Hasharon
Shocking disgrace Sir, – Regarding “Netanyahu, let our people come!” (Comment & Features, December 21), the fact that the government keeps dragging its feet with regard to those Ethiopian Jews stuck in Gondar and Addis Ababa is not only shocking, it’s a disgrace of criminal proportions. How can a Zionist Jewish State so completely ignore is existential mission of rescuing Jews in peril? Immediate action must be taken to bring these people here now! If there are halachic problems as to their Jewish legitimacy, they pale compared to the humane necessity of reuniting broken families. The problem is exacerbated ten-fold since these people are living under unacceptable economic conditions and in constant danger of physical harm due to anti-Semitic pogroms.
We must not dare to allow this shameful situation to continue for even one more day.
Ganei Tikva
Bad advice Sir, – US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made a comment recently that Israeli women were being discriminated against and could be compared to how women are treated in Iran.
Let’s see: In Israel, a women heads the Supreme Court. Two important political parties are led by women. The National Labor Court is headed by Judge Nili Arad. There is a female with the rank of major-general on the IDF General Staff. We have a woman Noble Prize recipient. We have many women running international businesses, like Ofra Strauss, and women are very high-up in two of our major banks.
Maybe Clinton should be upset that her advisers allowed her to look so out of touch with what’s going on in Israel.
Moshav Avichail