June 21: Let gays serve

As a religious Jewish IDF veteran I was saddened to read the remarks deprecating homosexual Jewish IDF soldiers.

Let gays serve
Sir, – As a religious Jewish IDF veteran I was saddened to read the remarks deprecating homosexual Jewish IDF soldiers (“MK Ariel says IDF should not draft gays, cites Torah,” June 19).
As a junior officer I have served with IDF soldiers of many sexual and personal persuasions, and in my 14 years of service found the gay soldiers to be just as patriotic, morally decent and dedicated as their heterosexual counterparts – in some cases even more so.
I would ask the MKs who believe that gay Israelis should not be permitted to serve in the IDF to reexamine their position with greater compassion. They should take into greater account Israel’s security needs and try to balance these with the Torah’s halachic strictures. I believe that if they do they will moderate their harsh conclusions regarding IDF service for gays and, hopefully, realize that all Jews are in this together and that we are one big family.
Sir, – MK Uri Ariel says of homosexuality: “The Torah comes out against this phenomenon harshly and levels very heavy penalties.”
There are also very heavy penalties in the Torah for Sabbath- breaking, blasphemy and adultery. Does Ariel think that those who are guilty of these regrettable sins should also be exempt from army service? If so, perhaps any shortfall in IDF personnel could be made up by more righteous souls who at present are not called up for army service.
Where credit is due
Sir, – Your article on Judy Feld Carr and the supposed rescue of Syrian Jewry (“Canadian rescuer of Syrian Jews: It was the biggest secret in the Jewish world,” June 19) is an insult to former US president Bill Clinton and his entire administration.
Carr did admirable work rescuing numbers of individual Jews from Syria. However, the successful effort to extricate the entire Syrian Jewish community was undertaken and achieved by the US government and the Council for the Rescue of Syrian Jews, composed by members of America’s Syrian Jewish community.
The mass exoduses were achieved via a very intense international and diplomatic human rights campaign and with enormous work, great pressure and finesse by the US. It was not a secret mission and did not occur over 30 years. It was achieved in just under five years, from 1989 to 1994, and was very public, involving large-scale demonstrations, congressional resolutions, delegations to Syria and many heads of state, as well as the cooperation and involvement of US diplomats in Syria and members of the American and international Jewish community.
This is only a very brief description of a very complicated and involved campaign.
Much of the documentation is public record.
The writer is president of the Council for the Rescue of Syrian Jews
So be it
Sir, – In “The good fence?” (Comment & Features, June 19), Nachman Shai says that “fences by definition separate and divide.” So be it, given our neighbors.
Robert Frost once said, “Good fences make good neighbors,” and he didn’t live in the Middle East.
Faith and adoption
Sir, – As an adoptive mother I find it crucial for the adopted children to have as much as possible in common with their parents (“Adoption and faith,” Editorial, June 18). This makes their search for identity, already complicated, easier.
Therefore, I would like to see the possibility of converting adoptees to Judaism without the imposition of raising them in a religious environment. Throwing one’s fate with Israel and the Jewish people is quite enough!
Sir, – You conclude your editorial by saying, “The time has come to separate religion from the adoption process.”
We Jews have survived for thousands of years because of tradition more than religion.
Religion has brought wars all over the world. Religion should be a private option.
We are running out of time on separating religion from state in every facet of life, not only adoption.
Animals, environment
Sir, – Kol hakavod to Israel for its many positive efforts toward a more sustainable future (Solving the world’s environmental problems,” Environmental Affairs, June 15). However, I want to stress what many generally overlook: the major negative impact that animal-based agriculture has on the environment.
The production of meat and animal products is a major contributor to climate change due to the large amounts of methane emitted by farmed animals. Animal- based agriculture is also a major contributor to deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, rapid species extinction, air and water pollution, and other environmental problems, and uses massive amounts of water, energy and other increasingly scarce resources.
I urge my fellow Jews to help fulfill our role as a “light unto the nations” by increasing awareness and activism in order to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.
The writer is president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America Sake of heaven
Sir, – A not inconsiderable number of our brethren, many of whom are Holocaust survivors, feel that the public playing of Wagner is intolerable (“Who’s afraid of Richard Wagner?,” Comment & Features, June 11). Why cannot we respect this, if just for the sake of heaven? Lovingkindness, respect and desisting from our own wishes is not derisory, weak or surrendering.
Just for once, cannot we put the feelings of others first? Wagner can be played in many situations in Israel, just not publicly.
Ring of fire
Sir, – Well, it’s happening a lot quicker than I thought it would when this inexperienced rookie somehow was elected president of the United States.
In Egypt, Barack Obama caused Hosni Mubarak to fall by not supporting him. Now we have to face the Muslim Brotherhood along our very long and porous border.
In Turkey, Obama just can’t imagine that the present regime is no longer a friend of the West.
Its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has even prevented Israel from taking part in NATO exercises. Every Turkish act is calculated to draw that country away from the West and toward Iran.
In Syria, for over a year President Bashar Assad has been brutally slaughtering his own citizens.
The world yawns. The UN pulls out its “peace-keeping force” because it is too dangerous for them to be there.
Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton misjudged Assad right from the start and thought he was a Western-educated reformer! The Iranians, of course, are working flat out to get an atom bomb with which to blow us all to smithereens. Obama still thinks he can negotiate with them and that they will keep their promises.
Iraq is still exploding. Pakistan and Afghanistan are furious with the Americans for repeated mistaken drone attacks on their civilians. The Russians, through all this, are stirring the broth like the USSR of old.
Of course, Obama didn’t create this awful situation all by himself. But he has failed over and over to differentiate between friend and foe.
Look at the map. This failure has created all around us a ring of fire.