June 12: It's their turn

Regarding “PA sets conditions for informal talks with Israel” (June 10): So what else is new?

It’s their turn
Sir, – Regarding “PA sets conditions for informal talks with Israel” (June 10): So what else is new? The Palestinians want a settlement freeze, the release of more prisoners and the right to import weapons. What about all the things we already agreed to do for building confidence, such as the recent release of hundreds of bodies of dead terrorists for burial in the Palestinian Authority? The PA buried these terrorists with military honors.
Isn’t it time the PA showed us some of its own confidence-building measures? We tried a settlement freeze for 10 months and what good did it do? It’s time the US, EU, UN and others demanded some concessions from the PA.
Apartheid state
Sir, – “Al-Zarnog and Beit El: A tale of two settlements” (Comment & Features, June 10) is proof that Israel is really an apartheid state. Its legal system discriminates against Jews and grants privileges to Beduin and Palestinians.
No charade
Sir, – On reading Hirsh Goodman’s column “Ulpana, shmulpana – get real!” (PostScript, June 8) I was offended by the insensitivity of the writing style and astounded that The Jerusalem Post allowed the piece to be printed.
Goodman starts by calling the Ulpana issue a “charade,” and continues with unsubstantiated innuendo without any attempt to base his biases on facts. In my opinion, the Ulpana issue is extremely complex and raises a number of substantive issues that are significant even to me as a layman in the field of law.
Did the rulings of the top court and the behavior of the state prosecution serve justice? It appears not. According to my understanding, the District Court did not establish that the land was privately owned. The affidavit presented to the High Court of Justice during the original petition and signed by a Palestinian claiming to own the land may indeed have been executed falsely. Under these circumstances it would appear that the court should have a mechanism to reverse or suspend its final ruling pending a decision by the District Court based on evidence regarding ownership.
Moreover, the role of the state prosecution needs to be investigated. It has the means to verify land ownership.
The apparent lack of justice in this case is ultimately what motivates the public uproar and lack of faith in the court system. Witness the recent attempt to serve justice outside the court system through new legislation in the Knesset.
The Ulpana episode is hardly a “charade.”
Sickening betrayal
Sir, – Many years ago I became a member of the Likud thinking it was the best way to ensure that my voice would count.
I voted for Ariel Sharon, secure in the knowledge that he would put an end to Arab violence and bring order to Gaza, as he had done previously. But when Sharon surprisingly changed his position, my vote was hijacked and 8,000 innocent law-abiding Jews were expelled from their homes, all under the umbrella of the law.
Now, once again my vote is being violated. I voted for Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud, not for Kadima, which I have always seen as opportunistic and morally bankrupt. Sure enough, the Jewish residents of Ulpana have not been allowed to have their legitimate claims of ownership addressed legally, so once again innocent, law-abiding, army-serving Jews who have legally paid for their homes are about to be expelled in the name of the law.
I am sick to my stomach at the bitter fruit the betrayal of my vote has sown.
Reform and assimilation
Sir, – Statements like that of Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi, that Reform Judaism is responsible for hundreds of years of assimilation (“Gal-On calls to fire religious services minister,” June 3), are not only unhelpful in the continuing discussions Israel and the entire Jewish world must have about Judaism, they are inflammatory.
For decades we in the Reform movement have had to deal with such accusations from the right-wing of Jewish practice and belief. Whether this sort of blame game has any grounding in reality or not is as debatable as the claim that many Jews have decided to leave Judaism’s ranks because much of ultra- Orthodoxy is stuck in the 15th and 16th centuries and cannot theologically stand up to the demands and challenges of the 21st.
The truth is that Jews and others have been headed in and out the doors of Judaism for centuries. This could as much be due to the endless power plays and bickering that belie the righteousness of those of us who are adherents as it could be to any other factor.
Margi can point fingers all he wants. Some of his constituency always will believe his claim.
Others will understand how simplistic his charge is and what lies behind it.
That expressions of progressive Judaism are gaining strength and growing in Israel is a fact. I would contend that such a development is long overdue. That this aggravates and disturbs Margi must be understood through the lens of the threat this represents to him and his interpretation of Judaism.
I would suggest that when the good minister finds solutions to the current problems of converting to Judaism, perhaps he can aid in the ongoing efforts to stanch the flow of Jews out of Jewish life and even reverse the trend. And while he is at it, he may also choose to open the door to non-Orthodox rabbis performing weddings and funerals in Israel because, given time, this will be the next barrier to fall.
Acerbic finger-pointing notwithstanding, I would contend that many Israelis are searching for a Judaism that helps them both express and live Jewish values, that captures and expresses the essence of our holy day observances and celebrates Jewish liturgical music and language, all in the context of a caring and socially conscious community. It is to this quest that Reform Judaism is aptly suited.
This is hardly a road to assimilation.
Rather, it is a pathway to a meaningful expression of Jewish life.
JOEL R. SCHWARTZMAN Lone Tree, Colorado The writer is a Reform rabbi
Forgetting to remember
Sir, – My favorite line in Liat Collins’s “War and peace; war and peace” (My Word, June 3) is: “One lesson is that the existence of the Jewish state is what ensures the safety of the Jewish people wherever they might be.”
Although many tend to forget, the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War are the history of every Jew all over the world, as are the other wars: WWII, 1948, the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the first Lebanon war in 1982, Operation Cast Lead.... Too many numbers, too many wars.
Jews in the Diaspora may tend to forget, perhaps more than Israelis. We want to remember; we really do. But there is a logical disconnect. We do not live in Israel and only read about it as if we were students boning up for a final exam. Yet it remains our duty, it behooves us as Jews, to become as familiar with all the history of Israel, including the wars, and to become as familiar with them as Israelis are.
As Collins reminds us, Israel’s safety is linked to our own.
Though we may live outside Israel and enjoy every visit we make, the stones and streets tell as many tales as the guides. The books we read remind us, and we are never too old to read and remember. Once a year I reread Forever My Jerusalem by Puah Shteiner. It’s got all the facts I need to remember. The year 1948 is not just a date.