February 27: Where’s the line?

Surely, hatred against Jewish State fueled by lies and false premises is exactly the same as irrational hatred toward the Jewish people itself.

Sir, – Alan M. Dershowitz deserves full support (“NY Friends seminary plays bait-andswitch on anti-Semitism,” February 24). However, I am at a loss to understand his statement that the seminary “crossed the line from preaching anti-Zionism to tolerating anti-Semitism.”
Where is this line drawn, I wonder? How any Jew can see much difference between the two concepts is a mystery to me. Surely, hatred against the Jewish State fueled by lies and false premises is exactly the same as irrational hatred toward the Jewish people itself.
More on Tal Law
Sir, – I am in full agreement with your editorial “Change without coercion” (February 24).
It is indeed unfair to continue allowing young haredi men to avoid being called up for military service or doing something in its place. Surely, even the most flagrant of these duty-avoiders should be forced to do something to help their nation.
The excuse that these young men are busy learning is just too much! If it’s that important to them, let them pursue it later in life. It’s high time we put an end to this nonsense.
Sir, – The controversy regarding the Tal Law and its invalidation threatens to do violence against the unity of our society that is so vital for our security and survival.
The necessity for all citizens to contribute to their country’s well-being in equal measure should be beyond dispute.
There is a real problem, however, in being able to measure or quantify the contributions of the different segments of our nation. Which carry greater weight? Which are more dangerous? Which are most important in helping forge the type of social structure we all aspire to? While it behooves the Jewish state to recognize the role of Torah learning as a vital element in achieving that desired society, the yeshiva world must at the same time unbegrudgingly recognize the absolute importance of military service.
The hesder program of Torah study combined with army service provides an almost ideal vehicle for serving both God and country. It produces great achievement in Torah studies and some of the finest, idealistic and dedicated army officers.
Would it not be a wonderful solution to some of the dilemmas plaguing our country?
Petah Tikva
Sir, – Regarding your February 22 editorial (“The status quo”), the wholesale exemption of many tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of men in yeshivot constitutes a major change in the original status quo agreement that has gone largely unchallenged over the years, as has the setting of limits for “religious encroachment into civil public life.”
The High Court decision that the Tal Law is unconstitutional finally provides an opportunity for rectifying the many inequities that have crept into Israeli life as a result of these changes.
LEO TAUBES Jerusalem
Sir, – One of the ways of solving the problem of yeshiva boys and the army is to give them a proper external exam on Torah, Bible and Talmud. Only those who can prove they are exceptional students should be exempt from the army. I believe this number is very small.
Calling Sharansky
Sir, – As a new oleh from the US, I was quite disturbed to read “Jewish Agency under fire” (Social Affairs, February 24).
I, as a young Zionist growing up in America, always thought the Jewish Agency was responsible for bringing Jews together in the Jewish homeland. Now that Nefesh B’nefesh is responsible for bringing Jews from North America and England, what exactly is the role of the Jewish Agency? Of course, the State of Israel is responsible for new immigrants, but isn’t the Jewish Agency supposed to work in conjunction with it? New olim from around the world, whether they immigrate by choice or to escape persecution, need as much assistance as possible.
As for the ad program to promote repatriating former Israelis, the content of the ads hit home strongly.The response reflected the truths that Jews in the Diaspora, including Israelis, are facing with regard to assimilation.
People don’t wish to face reality.
Please, please, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, you are one of our greatest modern Jewish heroes. Don’t destroy our dream!
Family ties
Sir, – In “Justice Eliezer Rivlin to run against Likud-Kadima pick for state comptroller” (February 22), it is claimed that Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin are not related.
This is untrue. They most certainly are related, as are all Rivlins, in this case fourth cousins once removed.
All relative
Sir, – Daniel Friedmann refers to Israel’s Supreme Court as highly “activist” (“On the road to recovery from Israel’s legal revolution,” Comment & Features, February 20). He describes in fine detail the “rules” the court has adopted as “greatly extending” its power in a manner that involves “overseeing and taking part in the governance of the country.” He also points to a great many other difficulties that come about as result of this excessive activism.
I would like to offer the idea that the judicial branch of this country, as well as that of all other democracies, should not be judged in isolation from its place in the relationship to other branches of government.
A democracy functions well or not so well depending to a great extent on the balance among these branches, which is never static but always evolving, hopefully for the benefit of the people. In our three-cornered system we have to ask: How are the legislative and executive branches carrying out their responsibilities? In the case of Israel I believe that what has evolved is what some people may regard as a too strong a judicial branch.
Judicial strength or “overactivism” can be appreciated as emerging due to a somewhat defective legislative branch. I believe that there is among Israelis a wide appreciation that the Knesset is seriously flawed in its role of representing the people.
Until the manner in which the Knesset is elected is somehow remedied to produce a more equitable legislature, the court must carry on in its remedial functioning “activism” in supporting a workable democratic system.
Sir, – In answer to reader Michael Partem’s comments (“Lamentable regression,” Letters, February 22) regarding Daniel Friedmann’s excellent article, I suggest that Partem read Article III of the US Constitution regarding the establishment of a supreme court, which in part states: “The judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity (concerning) the laws of the United States....”
The judicial power of the US Supreme Court is thus limited to judging the legitimacy of a given law brought before the court in terms of its constitutionality.
The recent decision regarding the Tal Law fits this pattern perfectly.
The quote attributed to John Adams pertains to the concept that laws affecting government are only established by legislation and not by fiat or dictatorial decree.
It should also be noted that the US Constitution is very strong in defining the legislative powers of government.
Thus, the president has the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court only “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”