July 11: Bottom lines

The costs of our vigilance in light of the flotilla and fly-in should be borne by the PA.

Bottom lines
Sir, – The naval and air flotillas have placed additional burdens on our security services (“Interior Ministry: Airlines must keep activists off planes,” “Flotilla to Gaza founders as Greece stays the course,” July 8). Nobody is talking about the cost to the Israeli taxpayer.
For the past several years, Israel has been forwarding monies to the Palestinian Authority without regard to hostile actions, including the continual brainwashing of the young by way of educational material that demonizes and delegitimizes Israel in violation of prior agreements.
The costs of our vigilance in light of the flotilla and fly-in should be borne by the PA, and deducted from the monies forwarded to it. Its ongoing and relentless propaganda has resulted in these misguided “humanitarian” activities. Let’s let the PA pay.
Sir, – Larry Derfner says the participants in the Gaza flotilla are non-violent, even though they willingly accepted participation by the undeniably violent IHH organization (“Support the flotilla, with all its faults,” Rattling the Cage, July 7).
His characterization ignores the inevitable result of lifting the blockade – more deaths of innocent Israelis. Deadly cargo found on the Karine-A, Hansa India and Victoria is proof positive of the weapons that would surely be delivered to Gaza for Hamas’s use.
Derfner says he dislikes the flotilla less than he dislikes the status quo with the Palestinians.
But that is a false choice. In supporting the flotilla, he is opting for marginal improvement of living conditions in Gaza at the expense of Israeli lives.
Zichron Ya’acov

Had it coming

Sir, – Stoking the fire of Arab resentment, MK Taleb a-Sanaa claims: “I find it outrageous that the Foreign Ministry did not lift a finger to help” after Sheikh Raed Salah’s arrest in the UK. “If he was a Jew, they would have done something – but he’s an Arab” (“UAL’s Taleb a-Sanaa visits Salah in UK prison with legal team,” July 8).
The member of Knesset has it wrong. If the Foreign Ministry did nothing or not enough to aid Salah, it was because he incites the Arab population in Israel to hate the country and is a danger to the state.
A-Sanna loses the little credibility he still retains among the general population when he defends the likes of Salah. He should stick to fighting for the cause of the Beduin, who suffer real problems at the hands of Israeli governments.
That extra day off
Sir, – I was disappointed to read your editorial advocating that Sunday should be part of a two-day weekend (“The Sunday imperative,” July 8).
The advocates of Sunday as a weekend day are your advertisers, the sports entrepreneurs, resort owners and hoteliers.
They are major contributors to the political coffers of those parliamentarians who advocated that position, and not to your readers.
Sunday is also a day to go to church, and there are relatively few Christians in Israel. Friday is a far more preferable day off, as it is the Sabbath for Muslims, who comprise one in five persons in our land. It would also give Jews the opportunity to prepare for Shabbat.
Sir, – Your editorial states that “Israelis... work many more hours on the average than citizens of most industrialized countries.” It should have said: “Israelis spend more time at work....”
I regularly travel on the main road that passes the Petah Tikva central bus station. Half of the road has been closed for the past year to prepare the way for the Petah Tikva-Bat Yam light rail. The picture that I usually see is one man working with a shovel at a leisurely pace, and a team of five watching. If this team of watchers were to be reduced by one, it would cover the cost of a Sunday day of rest.
Naturally, this would mean the remaining four would have to watch 25 percent harder.
The Histadrut would call this a capitalist plot and point out that the increased strain could cause severe and irreversible damage – unless, of course, the workers were given a 30% raise. The Treasury would refuse, saying one must take into account that preparing the ground for the Petah Tikva-Bat Yam light rail is a job for life.
A compromise might then be reached in which the watchers are given a 15% raise and everyone is happy – except for the man with the shovel. But he doesn’t count as most probably he is a foreign worker who doesn’t need the money anyway.
Petah Tikva
Limits even in Torah
Sir, – In defense of the stand by Rabbi Dov Lior and Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef in the recent “secular versus Jewish” law controversy, a Rabbi Yehuda Amar says: “You must understand that Jews learn Torah, and that cannot be limited in any way” (“Choosing between the law and the Torah,” Religious Affairs, July 8).
True in an absolute sense, perhaps, but Amar chooses to conveniently forget that throughout Jewish history, sages have often limited, if not totally forbidden, the learning of certain Torah topics because the subjects were too complex, delicate or powerful for the average Jew to truly understand and not misuse.
And what about the famous four Talmudic sages who entered the “Pardes,” a figurative expression for studying the “secrets” and most mystical depths of the Torah, with only one, Rabbi Akiva, emerging unscathed spiritually and mentally? This story is often used to illustrate the necessity of maturity to enter certain arenas of Torah. Likewise, a Talmudic adage discourages those lacking “life experience” from delving into Jewish mysticism lest they get carried away by Kabbalistic terminology and allegories that can easily be misinterpreted.
Finally, after the horrible assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by the very mitzva-observant Yigal Amir, many rabbis commented that certain halachic topics, although well within the definition of studying Torah, should not necessarily be studied in the average yeshiva because of the same idea of misusing and misinterpreting very complex and intricate topics.
Certainly, the ideas and topics broached by Torat Hamelech fall into these categories. Regardless of Amar’s very “democratic” stance on a Jew’s unlimited right to learn Torah, it is obvious that historically our sages have taken the exact opposite approach.
Hatzor Haglilit
Sir, – Prof. Yedidia Stern states correctly that the “criterion for when freedom of speech is challenged is when it poses a clear and immediate danger to others.”
This has always been interpreted to mean the danger coming from the words, as in the classic example of falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater.
But Stern prefers to look at the speaker, not the speech. He explains why Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell was not prosecuted or even investigated for what Stern admitted were “outrageous” remarks – i.e., that it would be wise of the Palestinians to concentrate their terror solely against the settlers.
According to Stern, “If somebody from the Left were arrested for investigation, I don’t think that within two hours their supporters would stop traffic and storm a court. The practical force of professors is smaller than that of rabbis.”
To base enforcement of this sensitive law on speculation about the response of a speaker’s supporters clearly eradicates any expectation of equality before the law. Unfortunately, Stern’s approach probably accurately describes the process by which the Israeli legal system determines whose freedom of speech should be limited.