December 26: Own petard

Killing Israelis and killing Israel is Hamas’s raison d’etre. It is the objective inscribed in its charter.

Own petard
Sir, – Regarding “Hamas and other radical groups to join PLO” (December 23), the Palestinian Authority won’t be walking away from peace if it integrates Hamas as a partner in its mission – it will be walking away from itself, and worse.
The 1993 Oslo Accords established the PA as the Palestinian representative for negotiating a viable settlement of outstanding political issues with Israel. Bilateral negotiations for a political settlement with Israel were the raison d’etre of the accords.
Killing Israelis and killing Israel is Hamas’s raison d’etre. It is the objective inscribed in its charter.
Integrating Hamas is an act of suicide on the part of the PA. It will essentially be hoisting itself on its own petard.
Taxing issues
Sir, – The need for those who owe money to the underworld to flee the country for the fear of very creative debt collection methods should turn on a red light for the government and Bank of Israel (“Israel’s top hairdresser closes up shop due to huge debts, then flees the country,” December 23).
The government’s cancellation of the 12-percent interest limit some years back has resulted in huge growth for the completely unregulated “gray market.” In an economy where the middle class has great difficulty raising capital, it is not surprising that these events occur.
Another major failure is the Treasury’s inability to collect taxes on the super-profits made in the gray market, presumably because of the trepidation of tax inspectors to endanger their lives. One does not have to have a good imagination to guess how much tax is being lost when inspectors devote all their energies to collecting from the middle and lower classes, and the super-wealthy have succeeded in cutting their tax liabilities to a minimum.
Find the lesson
Sir, – Regarding “Hanukka and Christmas – it’s not all relative” (December 23), I have been musing over the use of “acceptable” holiday greetings in different parts of the world.
Here we are, living in this tiny Jewish state of about seven million inhabitants, where the main religion is Judaism and there is no objection to other religions greeting each other in any way they like. Contrast this with the US, the mightiest country in the world and mainly Christian, which is afraid to use such expressions as “Merry Christmas” so as not to offend minorities.
There must be a lesson here somewhere.
M. VEEDER Netanya
Grinding wheels
Sir, – “Wheels of justice” (December 22) discussed the disgraceful problems endured by litigants in their dealings with secular courts and lazy judges. Cases are dragged out for years for no obvious reason. Why can’t they be heard day after day until they are resolved? The problem is just as bad in the rabbinical courts, where one has no choice when applying for a religious divorce decree. In the middle of a hearing it is not uncommon for the judges to close the session in order to go to afternoon prayers – and that is the end of the day’s hearing.
Then every few weeks they have a day off in case they overwork themselves.
This state of affairs should be corrected forthwith by the government authorities so that people are not held to ransom.
Sir, – “Wheels of justice” brings up an interesting problem. You mention two judges, one from the Jerusalem District Court, the other the Labor Court deputy president. Both are married to Supreme Court justices.
If decisions by either of these two judges are appealed to the Supreme Court, the spouse would have to disqualify himself from hearing the case. Married couples in which both spouses are judges could also indicate “in-breeding,” a lack of judicial independence and conflicts of interest.
More on Friedman
Sir, – Thomas L. Friedman should go down in history as one of Israel’s greatest admirers. After all, he credits it with an amazing feat, namely the “engineering” of more than 400 congressmen and -women to give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a standing ovation despite their inner convictions and the efforts of a well-funded petrodollar lobby (“Friedman responds to criticism over ‘Israel lobby’ comment,” December 22).
Sir, – Gil Troy (“Sloppy but not self-hating,” Center Field, December 21) demeans himself with his attempt to defend the indefensible. He pleads that labeling Thomas L. Friedman as anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew is simplistic and offensive.
What utter claptrap! Troy’s arguments are not only specious, but indeed simplistic and offensive.
Friedman’s malicious and gross attack upon the ovations for Prime Minister Netanyahu before Congress, as having been bought by an all-powerful Israel lobby, is nothing short of an anti-Semitic obscenity.
In truth I am not at all concerned whether Friedman is a self-hating Jew. I am, however, very much concerned about his apparent hatred for other Jews and the state we have built. His willingness to commit us to a return to the indefensible pre- 1967 borders and other suicidal concessions in order to appease Palestinian aggression is completely unacceptable to the majority of Israel’s citizens and to its democratically elected government.
Sir, – I suppose Gil Troy would also not regard Thomas L. Friedman as being a self-hating American, despite the latter’s belief that almost all members of Congress have allowed themselves to be influenced by the Israel lobby.
Friedman’s comments are clearly insulting to the legislators, and it is they who deserve the apology that Troy recommends (although I would venture that he should not hold his breath).
Haredim and women
Sir, – Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi is right (“Metzger: Haredim have no right to force bus segregation,” December 19). But reports on the case, in which Tanya Rosenblit was asked to move to the back of a bus and refused to do so, were based solely on an interview with her, and not with other passengers or the driver.
Route 451, on which the incident occurred, was set up by Egged primarily for the convenience of the haredi communities in Ashdod and Jerusalem. It would appear that Rosenblit was determined to make a point and had specifically selected a bus on this route in order to do so. That she recorded the whole affair might suggest that anti-haredi propaganda was her real purpose.
While I would not wish to justify anyone acting in an intimidating manner to force a woman to move to the back of a bus, I see no objection to a polite request. In my experience on such “mehadrin” lines, this is almost invariably what happens.
Sir, – The separation of men and women on buses is bad.
However, it pales in comparison to the horrors of trafficking in women, in which Israel is a leader. It is minor compared to the blatant and constant turning of women into sex objects on television and in advertising, the too-common violence against women by boyfriends, husbands and ex-husbands (and police ineptness in dealing with it), and the wholly unfair and degrading differential in wages between men and women.
Yet all of these are ignored and haredi sins suddenly become Israel’s biggest problem for the status of women. How are we to explain this?