July 29: Ill-advised statement

I am both amused and amazed by the partiality and insularity of the Arab specialists in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall who advise Prime Minister David Cameron.

letters pink 88 (photo credit: )
letters pink 88
(photo credit: )
Ill-advised statement
Sir, – I am both amused and amazed by the partiality and insularity of the Arab specialists in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall who advise Prime Minister David Cameron (“In Ankara, Cameron slams Israel for flotilla raid, conditions in Gaza,” July 28).
Speaking in Turkey, Cameron referred to Gaza as a “prison camp.” Had he been better informed, he would have been shown photographs of the large new shopping mall in Gaza City boasting all the luxury goods available in the UK.
It remains to be seen whether this will endear him to other Middle Eastern states and assist with Turkey’s entry into the EU.
Flippant and outrageous
Sir, – Naftali Wagschal flippantly equates Anat Hoffman’s dancing with the Torah with donning tefillin on Shabbat (“Kotel and frivolity,” Letters, July 28). This is an outrageous denial of thousands of years of contributions and sacrifices by Jewish women. It makes a mockery of the oft-repeated assertion that the role of women in Judaism, though different, is every bit as important as that of men.
We should celebrate the fact that women such as Hoffman wish to express their dedication to the Torah openly and joyfully at Judaism’s holiest site.
The Torah is not the domain solely of men, with access by women prohibited. (Indeed, the same should be said about male domination of the Kotel itself.) Jewish women are not slaves who serve at the sufferance of their male masters.
Sadly, Wagschal demonstrates the type of thinking that forces women to the back of the bus and to the other side of the street so that “superior” men may function more “freely.” Rather than protecting the Torah, it represents nothing more than the deep-seated insecurities of Wagschal and others like him.
These views, not Hoffman’s, should be shunned as antithetical to true Torah values.
Zichron Ya’akov
Who’s obsolete?
Sir, – One wonders what leads Judah Anschauer to term the Orthodox an “obsolete clique of Medieval pietists” (”Ben-Gurion was wrong,” Letters, July 28).
Their numbers are certainly not dwindling, and it is with their piety that they have ensured the continued existence of the Jewish people from ancient through modern times.
The very fact that Anschauer “threatens” us with the fact that most Diaspora Jews would “abandon Judaism and Israel” rather than make aliya puts the lie to any claim such Jews have on being “authentic.” They are, in fact, assimilated practitioners of a culture- only version of our religion, having removed all ideology from the equation.
Who’s obsolete now?
Ramat Beit Shemesh
Right, and wrong
Sir, – Many will sympathize with Shmuley Boteach’s gut instinct in deriding the Time magazine article on one-child families (“The bizarre assault on large families,” No holds barred, July 27). There is something truly nauseating about the selfishness and decadence this trend exemplifies, not to mention its demographic irresponsibility.
Boteach is only too aware that large parts of fashionable Western salon society, in which one-child families are common, have long since lost all connection with such out-of-style notions as patriotic values, responsibility to a nation and loyalty to others. This phenomenon is reflected in myriad ways by the hypocrisy and slavish commitment to shallow “correctness” so frequently expressed in Western media.
However, Boteach goes too far when he ignores the equally irresponsible culture of over-large families (like his own), which poses an intolerable ecological threat while in many cases fostering a “welfare mentality.” The solution is, as in most things, moderation. Families of two to four children combine the love and intimacy of a warm and bustling home while being able to sustain themselves economically without causing disastrous population growth.
Rosh Pina
Punish the leakers
Sir, – Those responsible for posting the sensitive military reports concerning the war in Afghanistan should be arrested and jailed for aiding and abetting al-Qaeda and the Taliban (“Leaked Afghan war files ‘only scratch the surface,’” July 27) They say they’re doing the world a favor by posting this classified information when indeed they mean favoring our sworn enemies.
Those responsible are nothing more than enemy combatants, plain and simple.
I’m for freedom of speech and the press, but I draw the line when it puts our brave men and women directly in the line of fire.
Take down WikiLeaks ASAP!
Massapequa, New York
As for the perpetrators...
Sir, – In the wake of the leak of hundreds of top-secret intelligence documents in the US and their subsequent appearance on the Internet, I am awaiting calls from the United Nations for full international inquiries. These inquiries should delve into the documentation of hundreds of innocent civilian deaths in Afghanistan, and NATO’s bombing of civilian targets where insurgents were hiding out.
But being a realist, and knowing that Israel wasn’t involved, I won’t hold my breath.
Petah Tikva
Good luck, Natan
Sir, – Kol Hakavod to Natan Sharansky for writing “The conversion stalemate may be a gift” (July 26).
He is the ideal person to head a special committee to look into the whole question of conversions in Israel, and I wish him success in trying to bring the parties together in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.
The basic problem, however, is that talking to the haredim is little different from talking to Hamas, as all religious fundamentalists see only their own point of view and are therefore unwilling/unable to come to any compromise.
If the matter is not resolved through this special committee – in which the haredim are presently unwilling to participate – there can only be one solution, and that is to finally separate religion from politics and allow each form of Judaism to operate independently in Israel, as they do in other countries.
We dare not alienate Diaspora Jewry, and only in this manner can we, once and for all, preserve the unity of all Jews, of all denominations, for our common good and for the good of Israel.
Which side is it?
Sir, – The paramount danger of failed negotiations and a one-state solution makes Isi Leibler’s intemperate attacks on J Street incomprehensible (“J Street disingenuous,” Letters, July 22; “J Street’s outrageous new initiative,” Opinion, July 19).
J Street is a stalwart opponent of the one-state solution, which would cause Israel to disappear, and a staunch supporter of a Jewish, democratic Israel. It takes the side of “those who argue that the one-state solution spells death by demography for the democratic Jewish state.” That is why it calls for strict observance of American law to stop further entanglement of Israeli and Palestinian populations on the West Bank that would seal Israel’s “death by demography.”
Leibler’s column and letter doubtless cause J Street members to wonder which side – one state or two – he’s on.
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Not just smart bombs
Sir, – Technology finds stolen cars.
GPS – even on your mobile phone – can locate them and thus the individuals in possession of them.
I can’t understand how in 2010 soldiers can go missing. It’s certainly time for us to catch up to available technology.
Mevaseret Zion