February 13: No intrigues, please

The Tzohar rabbis have brought much needed status to the rabbinic role.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
No intrigues, please
Sir, – Shalom Hammer wrote an intriguing column (“Next election: Israel’s chief rabbi,” Comment & Features, February 11). He discussed how important it is to make the Chief Rabbinate relevant to the ever-growing religious population.
The haredi population barely accepts the Chief Rabbinate, whose purpose is to bridge the gap in knowledge among the various Israeli sectors, to command the respect of all to carry on their Jewish identity and practice, to give religious values in the best sense to the State of Israel, and to deal with other faiths to try to make the world a better place.
The Tzohar rabbis have brought much needed status to the rabbinic role. They will continue to reach out and influence most of the population because they understand the problems of the average person and have the ability to mingle and talk one-on-one with the average Israeli.
In this modern age, with its moral questions and cultural diversity, the Chief Rabbinate is too important to be left to the intrigues of modern political maneuverings. The religious Zionist aspect of the state is too important to be left to chance.
Hammer’s article is too valuable to merely read without acting upon it.
Hang your heads
Sir, – Under the heading “OCHA clarifies” (February 11) you published a letter from Amanda Pitt, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In it Pitt insisted that Khulood Badawi, who on Twitter fraudulently blamed Israel for the death of a child whose death had been accidental and totally unrelated to any Israeli action, was not “de facto fired.”
If in fact Badawi was not fired for lying in such a blatant and biased manner, the staff of OCHA, an organ of the United Nations, ought to be hanging their heads in shame.
Sir, – When will our government stop pussyfooting around with the EU about Hezbollah (“The EU and Hezbollah,” Editorial, February 10)? It’s past time to tell the EU to stop trying to insert itself between us and the Palestinians until Hezbollah is declared a terrorist entity and proactive action is taken against it.
STEVE KRAMER Alfei Menashe
Some ‘improvement’
Sir, – Reading Naomi Tsur’s “The road not taken: Why Israel’s transportation policy is a contradiction in terms” (Comment & features, February 10), I was surprised to discover that she considers Jerusalem’s public transportation system to be “rapidly improving” and “impressive.” Commuters would beg to differ.
My daily commute, for example, used to take 45 minutes to an hour; now it regularly takes close to an hour and a half. On every bus ride, people around me are making similar complaints.
Bus lines have been shortened so that a traveler must wait for a first bus, get off and wait for a second bus, and often proceed to a third bus or train as well. The average waiting time for each vehicle is 12- 20 minutes. How can that possibly shorten a trip? And in my neighborhood, several bus lines begin their routes at the same time, so if you miss one you’ve missed alternative lines as well.
Some essential lines in the city run only every 20 or 30 minutes, causing long waits.
Ticket processing also takes an inordinate amount of time.
Why did Egged install such slow, inefficient card-processing machines? The light rail indeed looks very nice and offers a smooth ride, but I’m afraid that’s all that can be said in its favor. It is slow. During much of the day its frequency (or lack thereof) causes long waits. It is usually overcrowded and it always entails additional bus rides (and waiting times) to get to most destinations.
Please do not boast of an efficient public transportation system unless the next changes really are improvements.
Them, not us
Sir, – When as smart and sympathetic an observer as Yossi Klein Halevi (“The Anxieties of American Jews,” Observations, February 8) can fall into the trap of “occupation,” you know we have a problem. However, the problem is far more self-fulfilling due more to semantics than actual geopolitics.
Klein Halevi would have Zionist Orthodox Jews lamenting the “consequences to Israel’s soul of occupying another people against its will.” Wow, what a loaded confession! The image conjured up is that of a bedraggled people, chafing under the yoke of persecution, yearning for nothing more than to be free and autonomous, seeking nothing more than their own self-determination without designs on the national integrity of those from whom they seek relief.
As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “Who are these people?” Perhaps the Kurds, the Armenians, certainly the Jewish residents of the pre-state Yishuv. But the Palestinians? How many Israelis truly believe that this depiction fits the Palestinians? Maybe 10? Maybe fewer? The whole reason for the bifurcated reality that Klein Halevi correctly depicts is because the Palestinian idea of self-determination leaves no room for Jewish self-determination.
We are therefore in a state of combat, not occupation.
The territories are classically in dispute, as has been the case of all territorial disputes between warring entities.
If a Palestinian Nelson Mandela were to emerge and preach the kind of self-determination that Yishuv leaders showed in 1947 by accepting half a loaf of territory in the name of gaining a state, there would be peace here in a week and a half. Until then, we live with the grim realization that we have no choice but to hold our ground, hoping for a different future – but not falling into the trap of believing that that future is ours to effectuate.
Sir, – Yossi Klein Halevi writes that “most Israelis have internalized the Left-Right divide and agree with the Left’s anxiety over the occupation and with the Right’s anxiety over a delusional peace.” Yet, in the absence of a credible peace partner, Israelis are not, as the writer states, “moving on with our lives.”
Instead, we continue to obsess over the Palestinians while we wait for them to return the negotiating table, when we know, given the “red-lines” of each side, that no agreement is possible. They won’t recognize us in any borders, let alone those that might include some of the Israeli communities beyond the Green Line.
I’d like to make a suggestion.
Let us out-Palestinian the Palestinians.
Let’s change our intractable situation – which is one of existence – into a border dispute! Let us recognize a Palestinian state in Area A and Area B.
However, in return we state explicitly that as part of this recognition we are keeping the Jordan Valley, annexing all the areas inside the security barrier (with a few adjustments) and offer – if the Palestinians ever wish – to negotiate their border over what’s left.
The Palestinians won’t agree, but they will be forced to argue with us over their border rather than our existence. In fact, the international community won’t agree either, but through consistent actions on our part (continued building and a respect for the new border), the “State of Palestine” eventually will come into being just about where we say it is.
And we’ll know where our state is, too.