July 18: Sacks: Pro and con

At last, someone has had the courage to say what many current and former constituents have been thinking for years.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Sacks: Pro and con
Sir, – At last, someone has had the courage to say what many current and former constituents have been thinking for years – that outgoing British Commonwealth Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks failed dismally in his primary task of standing up for Jews and the State of Israel against their detractors.
In “The chief rabbi who would not fight Israel’s enemies” (No Holds Barred, July 16), Shmuley Boteach, who served as rabbi at Oxford University from 1988 to 1999, points out the disconnect between the Jewish leader who asked at his farewell dinner, “If there is anti-Semitism or anti- Zionism in the future, who is going to fight it?,” and the leader who failed to do so during his 22-year tenure as chief rabbi.
However, while he correctly points to Rabbi Sacks’s feeble responses in the face of the alarming increase in anti-Semitism and the vicious attacks against the State of Israel in the UK and Europe, Rabbi Boteach, who was “awed by his writings,” did not go far enough. He could have asked why the chief rabbi was spending so much time increasing his fame through his writings on theology and philosophy.
Instead, Rabbi Sacks could have been flooding the media with writings slamming the aforesaid rising anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and challenging the British establishment for its weakness in tackling the former and, by omission, encouraging the latter.
As a gifted orator and writer, with unfettered entry to the highest levels of British society and government, the highly respected Rabbi Sacks had an unparalleled opportunity to confront the movements that seek to besmirch and delegitimize Jews and the Jewish state. It is to our everlasting detriment that he failed to do so.
Sir, – Shmuley Boteach gets it absolutely right in describing the absence of outgoing British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s public stand against anti-Semitism in Britain and the anti-Israel attitude of the BBC.
Applauded by segments of the Anglo community, sadly among some he will be remembered for not attending the funeral of Reform Rabbi Hugo Gryn.
Sir, – Shmuley Boteach has continued his ill-judged and incorrect attacks on the outgoing chief rabbi, Lord Sacks. Had he been properly informed, he would have known that Lord Sacks has been one of the most vocal and active supporters of the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti- Semitism, which I chair.
Both before his ennoblement and after, the Lord Sacks has given sage counsel and full throated support to MPs of all parties about fighting anti-Semitism and, through it, other forms of race hate. His effect has been felt in parliament, to the top levels of government and beyond Westminster.
He worked with us to take student concerns to parliamentarians and vice-chancellors, and by doing so has helped to engender a more tolerant atmosphere on campus far from Boteach’s hysterical portrayal.
If the central quality of leadership is “moral courage,” then Jonathan Sacks has that quality ad infinitum. I am certain he will continue to be an asset to our parliamentary group.
JOHN MANN Bassetlaw, UK
The writer is a Labor MP
Sir, – I have seen with my own eyes the ultimate literary obscenity – Shmuley Boteach, a friend of Michael Jackson, bad-mouths Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in public, in print, and on Tisha Be’av.
The story of Kamsa and Bar Kamsa comes to mind in this gratuitous display of sinat hinam (baseless hatred).STANLEY COHEN Jerusalem Poor job in Florida
Sir, – With regard to “Zimmerman acquitted of Trayvon Martin killing” (July 15), were the prosecutors and police in Florida trained by the prosecutors and police who failed to bring a conviction against O.J. Simpson in Los Angeles almost two decades ago? Not even a manslaughter conviction! They did a really poor job.
Time to toss the “Stand Your Ground” law. This was a miscarriage of justice – and we’re not talking abortion here.HERB STARK Mooresville, North Carolina
Color and adoption
Sir, – I hope that everyone who reads “Should skin color affect adoption?” (Comment & Features, July 15) feels the pain, outrage and impotence of the Ethiopian Jewish family that lost their baby to adoption.
Here is a mother who realized she was unfit to raise her son but that she had an accomplished, competent and willing sister to raise him within his native family.
From birth onwards, the sister attempted adoption but was deflected, deluded and denied by Israel’s social workers.
The infant was relegated to an orphanage, and at the age of one was given to strangers who had no apparent advantage other than being white.
These social workers must have known about the crucial need for mothering in early infancy. Without it, babies do not have normal development intellectually, emotionally or socially. Being in an orphanage actual harms a child, often irreparably.
The coup de grace by the bureaucratic poobahs was to permanently remove the child from his biological family with the nausea-inducing argument that he would be better off remaining with his adoptive parents.
This is the opposite of what is legal and compassionate. This is a tragic and shameful account of the actual vicious decisions of Israel’s oxymoronically- termed social service and judicial systems.ROCHELLE EISSENSTAT Jerusalem
Oily dreams
Sir, – Drilling the Shemen well off Ashdod is badly planned and unlikely to yield oil at commercial flow rates (“Beyond natural gas: Does Israel have oil in its future?,” July 5).
The large volumes of oil are irrelevant because the well-flow rates are likely to be no better than the failures of the earlier exploration wells drilled nearby many years ago. The risk is not just the enormous well cost – the failure of the third successive offshore oil exploration will most likely doom such activity for years to come.
But it’s not too late if the operator acts in a technically competent way. The well is planned to be drilled vertically, but should be changed to high-angle-inclined; this would give the best chance to cross as many of the productive vertical fractures as possible to achieve commercial flow rates.
This is what Adira correctly planned in its exploration well for the similar Gabriella structure nearby. While funding problems unfortunately have stalled Gabriella, it would likely demonstrate the correct way forward.
All this is a result of our dependence on local oil companies having little experience and low technical competence.
Worst of all, they do not listen.
The result has been two exploration well failures on the Sara and Myra licenses. And now we have Gabi Ashkenazi, whose ex-chief of staff credentials supposedly qualify him to run an oil company.
There is a desperate need to attract major international petroleum exploration and production companies in the face of prohibition by our neighbors – a major political challenge!
JONATHAN M. COHEN Zichron Ya’acov The writer is a retired petroleum geologist
CORRECTION In “Outrage after hundreds of Jews and Christians denied entry to Temple Mount following worries over Muslim rioting” (July 17), the quotes attributed to Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin were actually said by Chaim Richman, director of the Temple Institute.