January 26: Harper’s visit

I hope the positive momentum between our countries will continue long after Harper leaves office.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Troubling questions
Sir, – “Two sisters dead after Jerusalem family of 6 poisoned by pesticides” (January 23) leaves some troubling questions.
Was this the exterminator’s first job? If not, why did he cause no such tragedies in the past? Did he use the same pesticide before, and if so, what government enforcement has there been to ensure that this pesticide, which apparently is the same chemical used to take 1,000 Syrian lives, is being applied safely? As in the case of the recent tragic gas leak in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, there seems to be a general lack of attention to detail in Israeli culture that unnecessarily puts the lives of citizens at risk. We should do better.


Sir, – The new European Union envoy to Israel does not seem to be aware that in his “double- speak” he only proves Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the EU’s double standard toward Israel (“EU envoy denies European bias toward Palestinians,” January 23).
Lars Faaborg-Andersen claims that if the present talks fail, Israel will find itself more isolated and boycotted, and that the EU wants to expand relations with Israel “within the 1967 lines.” Is this not pre-judging the results of the negotiations? Is this not encouraging Palestinian intransigence? Faaborg-Andersen also says that the Palestinians have been told that “the option of just sitting around waiting is not an option.” So could the kind EU envoy tell us what sanctions or boycotts are going to be imposed on the PA if the negotiations fail? You report that “on several occasions [the envoy] has personally condemned Palestinian violence.” So why were there no press reports? One has to assume that if such condemnations were made they were not done publicly.



Vivid imagination
Sir, – In his column “The ‘price tag’ crimes must be dealt with now” (Candidly Speaking, January 23), Isi Leibler assumes that it is Jews who have been perpetrating these acts against Arabs.
How does he know? Maybe it is an Arab or leftist Jewish group or government agency. The possibility exists. Use your imagination!
Ma’aleh Adumim
Attacks on rabbinate
Sir, – I feel impelled to respond to the various attacks on the Chief Rabbinate that have appeared in The Jerusalem Post.
Your editorial “Rabbi Weiss and the Chief Rabbinate” (January 10) was extremely disappointing.
It showed a complete lack of familiarity with the religious structure of the American Orthodox community. I don’t know if Avi Weiss is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, but it would be prudent to ask why the RCA will not accept for membership any graduates of Weiss’s school, and why, indeed, the Chicago Rabbinical Council will not accept them, either.
Why has the modern Orthodox religious establishment refused to recognize or applaud Weiss’s efforts to promote an “open” Orthodoxy? Why, then, should the Chief Rabbinate open up its heart and soul to Weiss when his colleagues in America reject him? To read of the attack by Natan Sharansky (“Sharansky: Rejection of Rabbi Avi Weiss’s credentials ‘absurd,’” January 9) is ludicrous.
How can a man who went to prison to maintain his Jewish identity attack a rabbinate that is doing just that for all of us? Concerning “Lapid expresses outrage over chief rabbis’ objection to IDF service for religious women” (January 12), it is no wonder that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid’s poll numbers are falling.
This is a man who, instead of using his good office to promote the well-being of the poor and needy, has only one cause: to attack religious people and institutions.
He is a poor reflection of his father and will undoubtedly follow his father’s fall from grace.
The rabbinate since its inception has been against girls serving in the army. That’s why there is alternative national service, a structure everyone is happy with. Since the Chief Rabbinate will be there long after Lapid, perhaps he should choose another cause to get his face in the paper.
And then there is Rabbi Uri Regev, who last summer penned “It’s time to retire the Chief Rabbinate” (Comment & Features, July 23).
As I reflect on the results of the recent Pew study, I can’t help but laugh. Rabbi Regev seems to feel that once the rabbinate is eliminated the troubles of the Reform movement will be over.
In his view, the decrease in numbers in the Reform movement, the lack of the young identifying with the movement, the need to bolster their number by counting non-Jewish spouses – all of this is the fault of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.
May I suggest that the rabbi wake up and smell the coffee.
How unfortunate it is that we have two new chief rabbis who appear to be reaching out to the community and working for our people, yet the bigots won’t give them a chance to succeed.


The writer is a retired rabbi and educator
Sir, – For daring to push and extend the envelope for women` s participation in Judaism, Rabbi Avi Weiss is sanctioned.
But a convicted child molester, Rabbi Mordechai Elon, not only goes unsanctioned, he receives job offers from recognized institutions and rabbis.
As an observant Jew I am proud to stand with Avi Weiss and repulsed by those who continue to stand with Elon.
Suiting his agenda
Sir, – David Newman (“What secret does Kerry have in store for us?” Borderline Views, January 21) asserts that US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel was an overwhelming success among Israelis, but offers no evidence whatsoever for this bold and unwarranted assertion.
After all, nobody from the Israeli public beyond the hand-selected young people chosen from universities (deliberately excluding Ariel University) was allowed anywhere near him to demonstrate whether they were indeed appreciative.
I would assert that last week’s visit by Canadian Prime Minister Harper (in particular his Knesset address) was an overwhelming success among Israelis, yet I fully expect Newman and others to deny this.
Perhaps the writer would do better to examine the views of Robert Gates on his ex-boss Obama than make unwarranted assertions purely because they suit his political agenda.


Tel Aviv

Harper’s visit
Sir, – As someone who was present at the Knesset to hear Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s address, I want to thank The Jerusalem Post for its coverage of this historic visit. It did my heart good to read all your editorials and articles pertaining to this exceptional leader.
As a Canadian and Israeli who was one of 50 people invited to attend the Knesset session, I couldn’t be more proud of my Canadian heritage. I hope the positive momentum between our countries will continue long after Harper leaves office.
Thank you for sharing the “good news” of a man who is the leader of one the largest and richest countries in the world, who stands behind us, one of the smallest but no less rich in our history and vast potential. It is heartening to know that we both benefit from our strong economic ties and that Harper applies the same standard of judgment to himself as he does to us here in Israel.
May we continue our friendship with this wonderful man and the country he represents, and may we live up to the Canadian tradition of “to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.”