June 28: Time to crack down

There is only one solution to the phenomenon of haredim refusing to serve in the military or undertake some form of national service.

Time to crack down
Sir, – There is only one solution to the phenomenon of haredim refusing to serve in the military or undertake some form of national service (“5,000 haredim protest against proposed draft with sackcloth and ashes,” June 26).
The first step would be to confiscate their blue identity cards.
Second, their state-supported benefits, such as health care, income supplements and child support should be terminated immediately.
Their rabbis should be held in contempt of court and be liable to severe fines and, in the most egregious cases, imprisonment.
It is these rabbis who live in absolute maniacal paranoia of their students being integrated into modern, mainstream Israeli society.
Withholding the core curriculum from their educational institutions should also make the rabbis subject to severe legal penalties, with continuing refusal resulting in all state funding being terminated. The sad part is that when ultra-Orthodox young people are introduced to core subject material they tend to do quite well and, if allowed to, could easily find a place in Israel’s burgeoning hi-tech economy.
A sleeping giant has now been awakened and that giant is secular Israel, the vast majority of the population that is entirely fed up with ultra-Orthodox coercion and won’t take it anymore.
Change is on the horizon whether the haredim like it or not.
Sir, – The article and accompanying photo noted that the demonstrators were wearing sackcloth and ashes, traditional garb worn as a sign of mourning throughout the centuries.
How sad it is that they do not realize that without the IDF many more people would be sitting (God forbid!) in sackcloth and ashes as well.
ZE’EV M. SHANDALOV Ma’aleh Adumim
The writer is a rabbi
Sir, – The requirement for the honor of living in Israel, the land of the Torah, is to protect its environment, its economy and its security. The distribution of large amounts of funds for health, education, synagogues and large families to those who refuse to bear these responsibilities needs to be stopped.
Mixed review
Sir, – As one who has frequently stressed the importance of understanding the context of the Mah Tovu prayer, I am grateful to Jacob Gross for his thoughtful analysis (“Mah Tovu and ‘Tannhauser’ – separating the masterpiece from its creator,” Comment & Features, June 26). I respectfully disagree, though, with Gross’s conclusion.
Wagner’s venality and Jew hatred are accurately described and unequivocal. Balaam, by contrast, receives mixed reviews – some quite positive – in our tradition. In the biblical story he makes it clear that he can and will only do what God tells him even if he forsakes great reward from Balak, the Moabite king, who hired him to put a curse on the Israelites. His poem becomes our liturgy’s opening prayer because no matter what it cost him he blessed Israel instead of cursing us.
Even if we accept that the preponderance of rabbinic opinion that views Balaam as wicked, the use of Mah Tovu in our prayer book sends a vital message across the millennia to Jews as we begin to pray: No outside force – not Hitler, not Haman, not Pharaoh, not Balak – could destroy our people. Only we, through apathy and neglect of our tradition and its teachings, can destroy ourselves.
Mah Tovu, then, is not simply a lovely poetic line. It is a call to Jewish responsibility.
Wagner’s Tannheuser, however beautiful it may be as a piece of music, sends no such compelling message to Jews, and Wagner never blessed us. Therefore it remains inappropriate for Israeli orchestras to play the work of its Jew-hating composer in the Jewish state.
The writer is a rabbi and president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism
On whose doorstep?
Sir, – Menachem Z. Rosensaft (“The ‘Polish death camps’ uproar,” Comment & Features, June 26) factually pointed out that others, too, have made the mistake of calling the death camps “Polish.” Any person with a laptop can Google the same information. Nevertheless, from the president of the United States one must expect more accuracy.
Anyone who knows the absolutely condemnable enormity of the German death camps in Poland will agree that Prime Minister Donald Tusk and others did by no means engage in an unwarranted outrage against Barack Obama’s gaffe.
One can hardly react loudly enough against getting mankind’s cruelest mass crime placed, even if by mistake, at his doorsteps – so much more today when others try to deny the Holocaust.
For me, as a Holocaust survivor from Poland, the death of family members was not a matter of geographical location but of planned genocide against Jews committed by the SS in German death camps in occupied Poland. My loved ones were Polish citizens and civilians murdered by occupation storm troopers.
Sir, – The uber-righteous indignation evinced by the media, and particularly by Polish leaders, may be not unconnected with the virulent anti-Semitism that was rife in Poland over many hundreds of years and which they now are enthusiastically attempting to sweep under the historical carpet.
Human relations
Sir, – Your issue of June 26 includes two letters referring to the lack of compassion shown by so many hospital staff to patients and their families (“Hospital experiences”).
In the years I worked as chief of cardiology at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem I was proud of our tradition as “the hospital with a heart.”
While there were some exceptions, most of the medical and nursing staff showed appropriate compassion. The following anecdote is an example of a lack of compassion by others.
The family of a patient under our care requested the opinion of a professor from another hospital.
On arrival the professor obtained the medical details in the doctors’ room, entered the ward and examined the patient, following which he returned to the doctors’ room to give his opinion. In all this time he did not say a single word to the patient or his family, despite the fact that he received payment for his services.
As letter writer Jo Milgrom so rightly stated, something is missing in human relations training for medical personnel.
Tel Mond
Blessed headlines
Sir, – Despite the continued Israel-bashing from abroad as well as from our own midst, we have every right to be heartened and proud about two projects that were reported in the June 26 Jerusalem Post. Both describe assiduous scientific and creative world-leading achievements that will be of great benefit to mankind.
The first, on Page 3, is “Hadassah experts produce human embryonic stem cell lines without animal contamination.”
These stem cell lines can eventually be used to treat a wide range of degenerative diseases, such as AMD, type 1 diabetes, heart failure and Parkinson’s by serving as an infinite source of replacement.
The second article, on Page 7, is “New online network to link Israeli agricultural experts, farmers in India.” This network will provide instant contact and allow the launch of centers of agricultural excellence in India, thus enhancing that nation’s food production for its vast population.
Let these continue to be the headlines we are blessed with.