December 5: Not for sale

Should we have gone to Uganda, as Herzl wanted us to do so many years ago?

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Not for sale
Sir, – After an interminable wait of many, many years we finally made aliya seven years ago with the help of the Jewish Agency. Now Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is suggesting that Israel should not be called a Jewish state (“Livni enlists Diaspora to fight bill defining Israel as ‘Jewish state,’” December 3).
Are we living in the wrong country? Should we have gone to Uganda, as Herzl wanted us to do so many years ago? I hope we didn’t make a mistake, since we have generations of family living here, and all are happy to be living in the State of Israel.
Ms. Livni, this is our land and our country. It is not for sale
The Jewish prenup
Sir, – Regarding”For many agunot,halachic prenups won’t break their chains” (December 3), it is always such a disappointment to me when rabbis, purveyors of Judaism, make public statements in the name of Judaism that reflect not Halacha or the spirit of Judaism, but rather their own personal agenda. In fact, when the two conflict, it seems it acceptable to ignore what Judaism says in favor of one’s opinion.
Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, is quoted as saying: “There is a concern that introducing and focusing on the possible dissolution of a marriage when it is just beginning is not conducive to the health of the marriage.” From this statement I would have to assume that rabbis of Agudath Israel either do not use a ketuba (ritual prenuptial agreement) to marry their congregants or simply have never paid attention to the wording of the ketuba, which they read aloud at each ceremony.
A ketuba is a contractual obligation for marriage that specifies damages to be paid upon dissolution of the marriage. In other words, it is a document that introduces and focuses on possible dissolution when the marriage is just beginning. I cannot help but think that the original authors of the ketuba document would be delighted to find it still in use, and even updated to be truly relevant in modern times while being consistent with Halacha and tradition.
Far-off concerns
Sir, – America again is concerned about territory far from its shores that could potentially threaten world stability. I am not talking about “occupied” Judea and Samaria, but a few rocky islands in the East China Sea, the ownership of which is causing a dispute between China and Japan (“Biden faces delicate mission to defuse tensions in east Asia,” December 3).
Like the situation here, it should be resolved without intervention from another country.
Whose land?
Sir, – In “Beduin land rights and the Prawer Committee recommendations” (Borderline Views, December 3), David Newman says that the groups in the government that are against the “continuing ‘creeping annexation’ of state lands” by the Beduin “support the creeping annexation of the West Bank by the establishment of illegal settlements on Palestinian land,” and that this is an “irony which seems lost on them.”
I would like to pose a few questions to Mr. Newman: A. When was there ever a Palestinian nation that owned this land? B. According to international law, does not that land belong to the Jewish state on three counts: 1) because it was internationally recognized as Jewish land by both the League of Nations and the United Nations; b) because it was won back in 1967 against an aggressor; and c) because no other nation had title to it? C. If that is the case, how can Israeli settlement on that land be considered illegal? I do not blame Mr. Newman for expressing these views because our prime minister and his government have not formally recognized our sovereignty over the land. They refer to it as “disputed territory.”
Our sovereignty over Judea and Samaria does not preclude another state for the Palestinian Arabs within West bank lands – if they want it, but that’s another subject. In fact, when sovereignty is definitely established as ours, it will be easier to negotiate a separate state.
EDMUND JONAH Rishon Lezion
Male guardianship
Sir, – Regarding Ahmed Abdel-Raheem’s “Perhaps some Arab women want male guardianship” (Comment & Features, December 3), it would appear that he has complicated a very simple problem.
If, as he suggests, men in general and Arab men in particular are indeed sexual predators, why not insist that men be accompanied by a chaperon when venturing out of their homes, perhaps by a mother, auntie, sister, etc. A curfew after dark might also help. This way, women could go about their business unmolested and men would be protected from their baser instincts and remain on the path of virtue and purity.
Voila! A win-win situation for all.
Sir, – Good grief! I could understand the explanation that it has been part of Arab culture since time immemorial, but Ahmed Abdel-Raheem explains that absent such a system, even more Arab women and girls could be raped, kidnapped and murdered by Arab men, perhaps themselves the guardians of Arab women.
I don’t know in what discipline the writer a PhD candidate, but I suggest it would help if he first learned to think.
Truth about migrants
Sir, – Your November 29 editorial “The truth about African migrants” incorrectly suggests that these are economic migrants, given that they stopped arriving when harsh sanctions were imposed.
Facing three years in detention did deter some. Other factors have included: the fence along the Sinai border, from which the IDF illegally pushed some migrants back into Egypt; increased torture and extortion by Sinai Beduin traffickers; and accessibility of the route to Italy and Europe via boat from Libya.
You tout the announcement of an open detention center. “Open” is a misnomer. The center is enclosed by a barbed wire fence far from any population center. It is closed for 14 hours at night, and residents must report in three times during the remaining 10 hours, which effectively makes this a prison.
Israel is not assessing the refugee claims of Eritreans and Sudanese (91 percent of asylum seekers here). The claims that are assessed are processed in a politically controlled mechanism.
Israel must comply with its responsibilities under international law and Jewish ethics by establishing a fair and transparent asylum system. Then and only then will we know the truth about African migrants.YOSEF JOEL MOSS Tel Aviv
The writer is director of the Israeli branch of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)
Honor for money
Sir, – The EU linked Israel’s acknowledgment of the EU’s definition of its borders to receiving financial and cooperation benefits from its Horizon 2020 research fund (“Israel, EU reach agreement on Horizon 2020 program,” November 27).
The EU recognizes Israel only with exclusion of any part of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. The Israeli government rejected this insulting offer. However, there was very vociferous lobbying from anti-settlement university professors and politicians who claimed that not siding with the agreement would lead to the doom of science in Israel.
This became the background to further talks and negotiations with the EU led by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. The Israelis inserted an addendum that opened the borders and was followed by a final EU addendum again closing them. On this basis, Horizon 2020 was signed by Israel with the original limited Israeli sovereignty terms.
Israel sold its honor for money.RAPHAEL BEN-YOSEF Ramat Gan
CORRECTION Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States in 1917, and not as stated in “Roosevelt and Obama” (Comment & Features, December 3).