February 21: Crack the book

Ashton desperately needs to reread the EU book on proportionality as her silence seems to tolerate the recent upsurge of Gaza rocket attacks.

Mournful ring
Sir, – A stream of important officials is coming to warn Israel that any military action it might take against Iran would destabilize the Middle East (“Top White House official arrives for talks on Iran,” February 19).
I can hardly see that the Middle East is presently stabilized. It is so volatile, and the West refuses to open its eyes. This is cowardly beyond comprehension.
The United States under President Barack Obama is not the leader of the free world at all. It has become part of the cowardly pack that refuses to do battle for freedom and democracy.
Perhaps the leaders of the US and what is left of the West should read John Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions: “...never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
Crack the book
Sir, – While EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton calls on Israel to “preserve” the health of Khader Adnan, an Islamic Jihad hunger striker who has been admitted to Safed’s Rebecca Sieff Hospital (“Ashton calls on Israel to save Palestinian on hunger strike,” February 19), her silence seems to tolerate the recent upsurge of Gaza rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population.
Ashton desperately needs to reread the EU book on proportionality.
Straighter priorities
Sir, – Your editorial “The Iron Dome” (February 19) completely misses the point, that many of our larger population areas can very effectively be protected by Iron Dome. Of course, there is never a 100-percent guarantee, but 75% is a very high degree of protection indeed.
As is usual, it appears that the periphery (as long as it is not Tel Aviv or Jerusalem) is not of utmost importance to the editorial writer, who does not have to live through the constant trauma of alarms and missiles strikes.
While it may be necessary to cut the expenditures of most government ministries, it must not be forgotten that we are fighting an existential war against very large enemy forces with enormous financial and other resources available to them.
Instead of kowtowing to the demands of the haredim, who do not work or contribute to the national economy, or increasing the salaries of our members of Knesset, the needs of the IDF must be sacrosanct and not made subject to the whims and self-interests of the prime minister and his cronies in a ridiculously over-large cabinet.
MIKE AYL Ashkelon
Sir, – Your editorial correctly discusses the high cost of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, given its relative ineffectiveness in defending against the crude rockets and missiles Israel faces from Gaza’s Palestinian terrorists.
You imply that Iron Dome could be canceled without seriously affecting Israel’s defense posture in order to help finance the higher social spending demanded by the Israeli public.
I agree that this is an idea worth considering.
I would also suggest that the IDF and Defense Ministry consider saving both money and manpower by eliminating what is laughingly referred to as army radio (“The future of army radio,” Media Comment February 9).
Army radio serves no military purpose whatsoever and has not for decades. It is largely staffed by non-military personnel, most if not all of whom are on the political Left in the extreme and miss no chance to express their opinions to all and sundry.
It is hard for me to understand why this station still exists. Certainly, there are enough private and public Israeli radio outlets to satisfy both civilian and military listeners of every political persuasion.

Broadcasting bias
Sir, – Yisrael Medad and Eli Pollak are to be commended for their informative and well researched report on the composure and staffing of the IDF’s radio station (“The future of army radio,” Media Comment, February 9).
One the cornerstones of a democracy is that it should be completely apolitical. One would presume that the radio station, being part of the army, would also be apolitical. But as an element of the media in Israel, where even the weather is a subject for political discourse, this might be too much to expect. At least it should be completely balanced.
In addition, any publicly held corporation is required to have transparency, including the compensation given to its highest-paid employees. How much more so that should this be required of an entity that is completely funded by the taxpayer.
Perhaps under army radio’s new management, this will be corrected.
A great sport
Sir, – Many thanks to reader H. Messinger for highlighting weekly hockey in Israel (“Holy hockey,” Letters, February 19). As a regular of the games for over two years, I’d like to add some points the writer missed.
We are far more than “Jerusalem, Ra’anana and Efrat,” and we are hardly limited to olim. Our tireless volunteer coordinator and head of the Israel Recreational Hockey Association (IRHA), Danny Spodek, and his wonderful wife, Ornat, come from Zichron Ya’acov.
Our world-class player/photographer Nimrod Gluckman drives in from Netanya. Native-born Israelis Ziv and Gal drive from Tel Aviv, a mixed Canadian-American group comes from Ginot Shomron, and the largest regular group of all is from my city, Modi’in.
Many of us bring our children several times a year to clinics and kids’ games. Our oldest player is in his 60s. Our youngest regular in his early teens. They’re much younger than that in the kids’ games.
Sports can unite people across ages, religions and nationalities.
The annual IRHA tournament has led to hasbara (public diplomacy) far beyond anything the Foreign Ministry has done, with excellent pieces on both YouTube and CTV in Canada, as well as on US and European news outlets.
Hockey is fun, healthy, fast-paced, uniting and great for all of us. All of Israel stands to benefit from investments in accessible hockey facilities in the center of the country.
Double standard
Sir, – I was taken aback by Shmuley Boteach’s decision to seek the Republican nomination for Congress from his home district in New Jersey (“Why I want to be the values-voice in the US Congress,” No Holds Barred, February 7). He writes: “Separation of church and state is key in our nation. But that means not imposing a religious creed on any citizen.....”
Boteach has criticized many things in his columns in your newspaper, but he has never once lifted his voice to protest the government-tolerated discrimination against Conservative and Reform Jews in Israel that is led by the religious services minister, the interior minister, the minister of construction and housing, the Chief Rabbinate and municipal religious councils. These people and bodies have publicly declared that non-Orthodox Jews are “inauthentic” Jews and have refused to recognize marriages, divorces and conversions performed by non-Orthodox rabbis.
What’s more, the leaders of the country’s modern-Orthodox sector have never publicly denounced this blatant abuse of freedom of religion promised in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
Some time ago I wrote to Rabbi Boteach urging him to condemn this discrimination. I have not received a reply.
I ask again: Why the double standard? Freedom of religion is okay for America, but not for Israel?