June 21: Confront the rabbis

The haredi rabbinic leadership must publicly be denounced for encouraging violence by its followers.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Confront the rabbis Sir, - In "Shabbat shalom" (Editorial, June 18) you correctly criticized as a desecration of God's name the dangerous, shameful and sinful haredi rioting which took place on Shabbat a couple of weeks ago to protest the opening of a parking lot in Jerusalem for use on Shabbat. While it is imperative that the individual haredi rioters and lawbreakers be brought to justice and held accountable for their detestable and illegal violence on Shabbat, it is of far greater importance that the haredi rabbinic leadership be publicly denounced for spiritually encouraging and even halachically justifying this violence by its followers. I realize that its self-imposed isolation makes the haredi community badly socialized, intellectually impoverished and emotionally insensitive to the non-haredi community, but withal its members would not dare to act with such abandon were it not for the free rein granted by their rabbinic leadership. KENNETH BESIG Kiryat Arba Holier than thou? Sir, - Last week, I went with a group to visit the Western Wall tunnels. I was standing outside the toilet area, wearing a cap-sleeved blouse and jeans, when I was accosted by a "modesty enforcer," who demanded I cover up. I pointed out that I was next to the toilets and not the Kotel, which was a long way away; but she insisted. I felt she was being unreasonable, and refused. Once it was enough to cover up on entering the Western Wall enclosure, which I agree with. But this excess piety regarding the whole area is an unwelcome innovation. GLORIA DEUTSCH Kfar Saba Leopards cannot change their spots... Sir, - I truly admire Larry Derfner's talent to forget history, deny reality and live in a world of his own. In "Look who's preaching disarmament" (June 18), he asked: "If the Palestinians were free of occupation and had a sovereign state at peace with Israel, why would they throw it away for the privilege of getting mauled by the IDF?" I have no firm answer to his question. I might perhaps reply that a leopard cannot change its spots. But I would urge him go to the archives of The Jerusalem Post and open up some past issues of the newspaper. He might be surprised to read about how the Palestinians in Gaza reacted in 2005, when Israel unilaterally withdrew from that region; and about the rain of missiles into Israel from that time on until now. DAVID MANDEL Savyon ...can the Palestinians? Sir, - Larry Derfner tries to understand why the State of Israel should be armed to the teeth and a new State of Palestine should be without heavy weapons. The justification for a well-armed Israel is the fact that Iran, a regional neighbor of Israel's, has as one of its major goals the destruction of the Jewish state. Its proxy, Hamas, which will dominate any new Palestinian entity, supports the Iranian position. A new Palestinian state, on the other hand, will not have any sworn enemies. Think of the money that would be wasted on armaments when it could be used for building a viable economy, for education and health. The best insurance for peace between our two entities is a strong economic partnership. And the best example of how something like this could work is the municipality of Monaco and its relationship with France. At this point in time, a heavily armed Palestinian state might tempt its leaders to do something foolish; and then the situation in Gaza would look like a walk in the park. P. YONAH Shoham Sir, - Whilst acknowledging that there is practically "wall-to-wall" agreement among Israelis that a future Palestinian state must be disarmed, Larry Derfner believes it must have full sovereignty. It may be his job to create debate with his sometimes naive and woolly-headed ideas, but he has gone too far this time. After pulling out of Gaza, what did we get? Living in the middle of the country, he may not know; but as a resident of Ashkelon, I know very well what we went through - and the missiles still keep coming. After pulling out of Lebanon, what did our northern citizens get? An unprecedented barrage of missiles that caused destruction and forced them to virtually live in shelters and safe rooms. It is quite clear what the Palestinian leadership wants, and what it doesn't want. It doesn't accept Israel being a Jewish state, and it wants a "one-state" solution where, within a very short period, Arabs would overwhelm us and have a majority. The only solution is two states for two peoples, with the Palestinians demilitarized except for a police force to maintain law and order. Otherwise the West bank will become another "Gazastan," and the whole of central Israel, including Larry Derfner, will be subject to terrorist and missile attack. MIKE AYL Ashkelon Sir, - Larry Derfner notes our national egocentrism, our ridiculously superior military power, and our being the colossus of the Middle East. Nice to know. ESTER ZEITLIN Jerusalem Humus vs lives Sir, - Oxfam spokesman Mike Bailey defiantly got his point across to the international community, displaying as an example of Palestinian suffering a can of humus ("Rights group decries restrictions on Gaza trade," June 18). If I understand him correctly, Israel should open the Gaza border, risking its security and the lives of its citizens; all for a people who are still firing rockets at Israel - to be able to sell a can of humus outside Gaza. The logic eludes me, as I'm sure it does many. ADAM LEVINE Jerusalem Let's hope valor is contagious Sir, - I remember being amazed at the courage of the people who made the revolution of 1989, the rebellious wave that overthrew the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in a matter of months. We are now seeing this bravery again in Iran - for example, among the Iranian soccer players who wore green Mousavi armbands for all to see during last week's match in Korea ("Despite crackdown, Mousavi supporters intensify protests," and "How Twitterers have spread the news from Iran's street," both June 18). May their influence spread throughout the region. If only the Palestinians had the valor to stand up against their callous leaders - who know how to fill their pockets and organize war and murder, but in decades have never shown any interest in building toward prosperity and a free society for the masses. M. VAN THIJN Jerusalem Jews just aren't an imperial people Sir, - Eli Kavon's "The myth of Zionist imperialism" (June 18) was an extremely valuable correction of Jewish history against a background of steady falsification going back far in time. To the several examples Kavon cites might be added one, from about 2,000 years ago, documented by the Jewish historian Josephus. Josephus reminds his readers that in his day, Jews were not well-known to foreigners because they lacked an imperial background (Against Apion, 1, 58-78). Where they were known, it was often because they had been forcibly inducted into imperial cultural affairs. NIEL HIRSCHSON Tel Aviv Sir, - As a Christian reading the Bible, I find God repeating, through the prophets, that the land you now dwell in is yours and belongs to no-one else. Please trust Him and do not be pressured by any outside government, including my own USA. WILLIAM CHERRY Shelby Township, Michigan