December 4: Gifts and loot

The large picture accompanying “Netanyahu in Rome: Western sanctions regime against Iranians already unraveling” (December 3) causes so much frustration and anger that one can explode!

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Gifts and loot
Sir, – The large picture accompanying “Netanyahu in Rome: Western sanctions regime against Iranians already unraveling” (December 3) causes so much frustration and anger that one can explode! Here is the prime minister of the State of Israel (supposedly a Jewish state) smiling while handing over to the pope a silver hanukkia as a present. The pope smiles back.
I can understand why the pope is smiling. He’s probably saying to himself, “Stupid Jew! You’re giving me a tiny silver menorah while I have the huge, gold original somewhere in our vaults!” How far away from them is the Arch of Titus, which Titus’s brother built to commemorate the victory over the Jews and the destruction of the temple, with the pictures of the looting engraved on them for eternity? Their victory and our defeat! And how many millions of Jewish artifacts – silver ornaments, paintings, manuscripts, books – were later looted by the pope’s predecessors in the Inquisition, the Crusades, and throughout the centuries? Where is it all, if not stored away in the Vatican’s warehouses (unless earlier popes took things for themselves)?
Sir, – The photo of our prime minister at his meeting with the pope does not serve the just needs of history.
The roles should have been reversed. Mr. Netanyahu should have been wearing the kippa, and the pope should have returned to the Jewish people the Temple menorah stolen by Titus and kept for 2,000 years in the Vatican catacombs.
NACHMAN KAHANAJerusalemThe writer is a rabbi
Don’t forget
Sir, – Each day after my morning prayers, the first thing I read is The Jerusalem Post. However, the moment I see a picture of Ehud Olmert, my day is spoiled.
Why all the coverage of this inept statesman and shrewd politician who seemingly doesn’t like to be forgotten? Didn’t we have enough of him?
Why we fought
Sir, – We have been celebrating Hanukka, commemorating our victory over the Greeks both physically and, more importantly, spiritually.
Our right to practice Judaism was reaffirmed. So why does it seem lately that we are fighting those wars again? MK Adi Kol’s proposal (Ministers approve tax break for gay couples with children,” December 2) may be very good for those children economically, although recognition of the couples goes against the very values we were fighting for all those years ago. The Greeks felt homosexual love was the highest form – and this totally conflicts with Judaism’s laws and philosophy.
It is not for me or any human to judge what people do in private; that is in God’s hands. But public, and certainly government, recognition is definitely not what the Land of Israel needs.
Neolog’s leaning
Sir, – Your very interesting article about Rabbi Tomas Vero (“In Budapest, rabbi makes house calls,” December 2) speaks of the Neolog movement in Hungary as “a moderate Reform movement... that lies somewhere between Modern Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism....”
Neolog for many years has been affiliated with the worldwide Masorti/ Conservative Movement. Its rabbis, including the very talented Rabbi Vero, are members of the International Rabbinical Assembly, the organization of Masorti/Conservative rabbis.
Its rabbinical school, the Jewish Theological Seminary of Budapest, is one of the seminaries that ordains Masorti/Conservative rabbis.
The Conservative Movement has synagogues that are more traditional and some that are more liberal.
Neolog synagogues are more traditional, but they are not the only ones and they are very much identified with Conservative Judaism.
The writer is a rabbi, Jerusalem Post Magazine columnist and past-president of the International Rabbinical Assembly
Sad story
Sir, – With regard to “The unsettling story of settling the Beduin” (Comment & Features, December 2), a great deal of harsh criticism has been expressed in the media at home and abroad about the expropriation of land in the Negev and the unfair treatment of the Beduin.
Favorable comments on progress and development are conspicuously absent.
There are other aspects of the problem that have not been publicized.
As a pediatrician who has worked for many years for and among the Beduin, I was distressed to find, on entering the clinic at Kuseifa several years ago, that the marble plaque commemorating Dr.
Benjamin Ben-Assa had been smashed in two parts. A few days later, the plaque was completely destroyed.
The clinic had been named after Dr. Ben-Assa, known as “Abu Assa,” a devoted doctor and faithful friend of the Beduin. It is worthwhile to recall that he was awarded the Schweitzer Prize in Amsterdam in 1967 for his work on behalf of the Beduin.
The pleasant entrance ground of the clinic, with shaded seats, saplings and a playground for children, had been donated by family, friends and admirers of Dr. Ben-Assa as a fitting memorial to his work and ideals. It is a sad commentary that there was no reaction or expression of regret by Beduin leaders who have been so vocal on other occasions.
Every effort should be made to improve and promote understanding and good relations with the Beduin, but this should be on a mutual basis.
Get involved
Sir, – As a very passionate and committed volunteer for TIKVOT, the non-profit group that helps disabled IDF veterans participate in sports to encourage their recovery, I was so excited and proud to read “Running down a dream one kilometer at a time” (Sports, November 29) by Benji Rosen, and about my very special friend and inspiration, Eitan Hermon.
As exceptional as Eitan is, he is only one of the many hundreds of individuals and families that TIKVOT helps. I can only hope that the publication of Eitan’s ambitions, despite his physical challenges and pain, will catalyze many more people in the community to become more aware and give themselves an invaluable gift by getting involved in the TIKVOT family.
ORA ROV Tel Aviv
Lautman inspired
Sir, – It would be decades before I understood my good fortune, but in 1989 a business associate of my father’s and close family friend, Sara Lee Corp.
CEO John Bryan, invited me to join him in several meetings on his first visit to Israel.
There were meetings with Shimon Peres, Teddy Kollek, Ariel Sharon and others. But the one that was most memorable was with his business counterpart, Dov Lautman (“Dov Lautman, titan of Israeli entrepreneurship, dies at 77,” November 24).
At the time, Israel did not loom as large in my consciousness as it would come to do in future years, and neither did the business world. But I can still recall that meeting and the feeling of deep caring and authenticity that Dov projected.
He could not have made a very green, college-aged interloper feel more comfortable.
We developed an occasional correspondence and in subsequent years he invited me several times to his office by the Tel Aviv shore, where he would offer sage and sound advice on both business and political endeavors that I contemplated. In recent years I had the chance to see him at the launch of Better Place and in the company of our mutual friend, Gordy Zacks, and he had more to teach about courage and perseverance in the face of great adversity.
Despite his family tragedies and his own terrible illness, he never lost his optimistic disposition and never failed to inspire others to be their best and to think beyond themselves.
May his memory be for a blessing.
MICHAEL J. GRANOFFRa’anana The writer is a tech investor