July 3: Handling flotillas

Handling flotillas; Lior and rights; Battle was worth it; Getting Gilad...; ...or an education.

letters (photo credit: JP)
(photo credit: JP)
Handling flotillas
Sir, – Although the Israeli government is bad at public relations, we do have some very good advocates. We should send them to meet the Gaza flotilla on our own “peace ships,” accompanied by journalists, to try to engage in debate in mid-ocean (“Israel hopes flotilla delay will reduce number of participants,” June 30).
Although those members of the flotilla seeking confrontation will never change their minds, I believe that the majority of them are honest – if misinformed and misguided – and good advocacy would at least show them that the issues are not black and white.
The possibility of benefits will remain long after the flotilla is forgotten.
Sir, – By sending journalists to join the Gaza flotilla, The New York Times and other organizations are acting as human shields for known terrorists, and possibly facilitating the murder of Israeli citizens.
If al-Qaida sailed a flotilla to resupply its followers and troops, it wouldn’t matter if the vessels were carrying Tek9s, teddy bears or Tom Friedman – they would be blown out of the water, as they should be.
New York
Lior and rights
Sir, – In “Religious extremism and the democratic Jewish state” (Candidly Speaking, June 30), Isi Leibler is technically correct with most of his criticism of Rabbi Dov Lior’s behavior. But when I read about Lior, I do not see a religious extremist. Instead, I see the consequence of a total breakdown, an absolute collapse of the ability of the police, government and media to treat the religious Jewish Israeli as a citizen who deserves equal rights.
Right now, Arabs and the Israel-hating Jewish Left have such complete freedom of speech that they can advocate the violent overthrow of Israel with impunity.
Arabs can also demand with impunity that Jews be barred from living in their neighborhoods.
But the religious Jew has no such freedom.
The Arab threatens or attacks a West Bank religious Jew, and when that Jew goes to the police it is he who is arrested. Every month – sometimes every week – we see what seems to be yet another example of this.
The police, the legal system and the trendsetters of Israel have aggressively treated the religious as classless untouchables whose rights generally do not exist – and the anti-religious within our institutions seem to take full advantage of this apparent loophole.
Yes, Lior was wrong to disobey the police. But he was also right, just as Martin Luther King, Jr. was right, to use civil disobedience in order to object to institutionalized injustice.
I respect Isi Leibler. I am a fan.
But I think he missed the real point here: Rev. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Dov Lior may not live in the same world or use the same tactics, but their struggle is the same.
The problem is not Lior. The problem is Israel’s institutions.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – I guess it’s the “thing” to do: Ignore any summons from any legal authority. Just take your choice.
Whoever tells you to appear before any sort of non-religious body for a possible scolding, just ignore it! After all, you’re a rabbi (“Second rabbi ignores police summons over book controversy,” June 30). What does it matter that you have been summoned before a judge or a police board? After all, they’re not religious like you are! How long are we, the general public, going to accept this sort of behavior? Both of these rabbis (I call them ultra-Orthodox mouthpieces) have no respect for the authorities, so why should we respect them?
Sir, – I have not read Torat Hamelech, but it seems to me to be gathering an unnecessary hullabaloo – or rather the support given to it by some rabbis.
This support has led to the ignominious arrest of at least one rabbi, with more in the pipeline.
But if incitement to racism and/or murder is the alleged crime, why are the police restricting themselves to rabbis? Surely there are dozens, if not hundreds, involved in the publishing, printing and selling of the book.
Why pick on a rabbi who presumably has more knowledge of its contents and is merely expressing his opinions?
Sir, – Without going into the merits of the anti-boycott legislation (“Knesset committee approves bill outlawing boycotts on Israel,” June 29), many of the people quoted as being against it expressed outrage that it would restrict freedom of speech.
It seems to me that all over the world it is the Left that claims free speech for itself, yet denies it to others. A case in point is the treatment of Rabbi Dov Lior. He endorsed a halachic argument in a book – which surely he was entitled to do – and was accused of incitement. Can he not claim freedom of speech? When does freedom of speech become incitement? Only when it is claimed by those not on the Left.
Beit Shemesh
Battle was worth it
Sir, – The gift horse mouthcheckers who complained that the National Library giveaway of 24,000 books wasn’t organized to their satisfaction (“Not by the book,” Letters, June 29) should demand their money back.
I would like to thank the organizers.
I’m especially pleased by my find of a soft-bound 1937 article by the philosopher Felix Kaufmann, signed by the author.
Getting Gilad...
Sir, – The ineptitude of our government boggles the mind.
According to numerous reports, Israel is ready to release 1,000 terrorists – many with blood on their hands – in exchange for Gilad Schalit (“Noam Schalit to Netanyahu: You do not have the right to sentence Gilad to death,” June 27). Yielding to Hamas’s demands will only result in more terrorists launching their grisly deeds, knowing that if captured they will be released in a prisoner exchange.
Demonstrations, camp-ins, mass-marches, pleas to foreign governments, petitions and media denunciations exhorting Hamas to release the young soldier have all proved futile during the five years of his captivity, and will continue to prove futile. The only way to release Schalit is to make life so difficult for Hamas that Hamas will be forced to let him go.
Three methods suggest themselves: 1. For every day Schalit is imprisoned, the air force should destroy three or four tunnels crossing between Egypt and Gaza. Hamas is dependent upon them for supplies (and for taxes from the tunnel operators) and would barely survive their destruction.
2. Stop sending supplies from Israel to Hamas. Cut off all shipments of food, fuel and other essentials. Stop allowing UNWRA, foreign funds and aid in Israel to reach Gaza. Our aim should be to weaken Hamas, not strengthen it! 3. Impose on captured terrorists the same conditions that Hamas has imposed on Schalit. This would cause the Palestinian prisoners’ families to riot.
The harder we make life for Hamas, the earlier will be Gilad’s release!

...or an education
Sir, – If one is thinking of studying for a higher degree but cannot afford it right now, what kind of crime does he or she need to commit in order to be put in jail and have taxpayers like me pay the bill? Can it be a simple white collar crime, or does one have to be a security risk?
Ma’aleh Adumim