February 24: Been hornswoggled

How did it came to pass that someone like Rabbi Elyashiv should have even a vote, let alone a veto, regarding which conversions to validate.

Been hornswoggled
Sir, – The core, and rhetorical, question is how it came to pass that someone like Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv should have even a vote, let alone a veto, regarding which conversions to validate (“A place among the Jews,” Editorial February 23).
Elyashiv leads a community that cynically feeds off the literacy, productivity and defense sacrifices of real taxpayers while avowedly rejecting the political validity of a Jewish state. Endorsing a lifestyle of dependence on others and the eschewing of honest work is a prima facie violation of the Torah’s commandment to labor six days a week, and of myriad rabbinic injunctions.
Indeed, Maimonides presciently declared that those who make their money through Torah study “will end up embezzling the public” (Hilkhot Talmud Torah) – assuming they are even engaged in Torah study. This alone should render Elyashiv’s decisions ipso facto halachically invalid.
So the question remains how normal Israelis have allowed themselves to be hornswoggled via political horse trading and outright pork-barreling into enabling Israel-rejectionists to hijack our rabbinic courts and rabbinic rulings.
There are sophisticated, compassionate, brilliant and halachically eminent rabbis within the religious Zionist community who should be occupying every government-sponsored rabbinic position. Anti- Zionists like Elyashiv should direct their points of view to the ultra- Orthodox in the Diaspora, where their minds and hearts are already permanently situated.
Sir, – My signature on the letter sent to Interior Minister Eli Yishai (“Jewish Agency wants more converts to be eligible to immigrate to Israel, February 22) was not because of any personal problem with the recognition of converts who underwent conversion through the rabbinical court I served on. I object in principle to the Interior Ministry deciding which Orthodox converts from other countries are acceptable.
It is absurd that the ministry does not judge the validity of non-Orthodox conversions, but assumes the right to determine which Orthodox rabbis it approves.
New York
Where are they now?
Sir, – It’s time for the world to judge whether the international press and United Nations are biased or not.
With the treatment the Libyans are showing their own people (“Gaddafi regime imperiled as chaos engulfs Tripoli,” February 22), there must be condemnation from all UN organizations and all media to the same extent as occurs against Israel.
If no resolutions condemning the actions in Libya are passed by the Human Rights Council, or if the Security Council takes no action, we can conclude that they are biased against Israel. The press should be calling for a UNstyle investigation, as it always does against Israel; again, failure to do would show its anti-Israel bias.
Rishon Lezion
Barack Nero Obama
Sir, – Isi Leibler (“Avoiding euphoria over Obama,” Candidly Speaking, February 22) is right about the White House’s capacity to add more Israel bashing on top of its failed policy over settlements.
In this regard, IBA English News recently interviewed pundit and former ambassador Yoram Ettinger about the US statement in the UN Security Council that was critical of Israel, although it vetoed a resolution on this issue.
Notable among his comments was the insightful statement, “The Middle East burns while President Obama fiddles for Palestine.”
Get real, America.
Human rights and pizza
Sir, – In his latest essay (“Mirror, mirror on the wall,” Encountering Peace, February 22), Gershon Baskin expresses concern for the future of human rights in Israel after encounters with a Jewish cab driver and a Jewish pizza shop. Such delicate and precise sensitivity to human rights is noteworthy.
But if Baskin is so concerned about a pizza shop that he is motivated to write about it, what does he have to say about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas making repeated hostile statements not about pizza shop employees, but about a total population, based on that population’s religion, in declaring that his new state will be judenrein? Abbas’s requirement for a Jew-free state demands the forced transfer of an entire resident population because of its religion.
This is not only racist but a crime against humanity.
Baskin’s column is about racism, and that’s serious – so serious that UN Security Council Resolution 1674 affirms the UN’s responsibility to protect populations against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Why isn’t he demanding to know how the same UN can support the creation of a state that vows to commit a crime against humanity? Baskin identifies himself as a leftist.
He seems to be proud of his affiliation. He seems to have a delicate and deep concern for humanity.
So with our next-door neighbors declaring that they will commit crimes against humanity, and a UN that seems to be ignoring its own code of justice, the only thing he can write about is what he heard from a Jewish cab driver or saw in a Jewish pizza shop?
Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – Rabbi Meir Kahane did not preach racism, as Gershon Baskin arrogantly writes. He simply told the truth, and everything he foretold has come true. We are surrounded by enemies that swear to destroy us. We have lost faith in the justness of our cause to live in the Land of Israel. We have reached the lowest point, where we are willing to compromise the needs of the Jewish people by giving up our heartland to an enemy that we know without any doubt will attack and destroy us.
We have already given over our holy sites to the Wakf, where Jews have to ask permission of Muslims to enter so long as they don’t move their lips in what could be construed as prayer, only to be forcibly escorted away by the Wakf and – to our shame – the Israel Police if the former decides we have overstepped its rules.
Baskin says he writes his article with rage in his heart and a deep sense of pain. I can tell him that his rage is nothing compared to the rage and disgust that I feel at his comments. This is the sole Jewish State, a state for which our people have fought hard and died in the process, and yet he has no problem with it being overrun by Muslims.
Had I wanted to live in such a country I would have stayed in Britain.
Sir, – Your story “Italy’s first Holocaust museum to be built in Rome” (February 22) makes the erroneous statement that Father Patrick Desbois “has uncovered and dug up previously unknown and hidden mass graves.” This is not what Yahad–In Unum does.
The organization conducts research trips to eastern Europe to identify the location of mass graves and interview witnesses to the shooting of Jews, Roma and other victims of the Nazis and their allies. Yahad does not uncover or dig up the graves, or take any other action that would disturb the remains of the victims.
It conducts its work under the oversight of rabbinical authorities, who provide guidance to ensure that Jewish laws are fully respected during its research.
Yahad recently announced an agreement with the American Jewish Committee and other groups to provide the precise location of the hundreds of mass graves identified through its research so that they can take steps to protect and memorialize the graves.
The writer is spokesman for Yahad–In Unum