June 9: Danger - Mines ahead

We really can’t afford to turn away people who could enhance our Jewish way of living.

Danger: Mines ahead
Sir, – The concept of conversions has always been a hot potato, and J.J. Gross writes a logical article (“IDF conversions and the Book of Ruth,” Comment & Features, June 7).
The situation is exacerbated by the attitude of the Chief Rabbinate, which sees itself as the Jewish equivalent of the pope.
The Talmud states a very straightforward way of dealing with this situation, and while it may be too simplistic as written, there is no reason to surround the ruling with a minefield so that even the most resolute person wishing to convert is put off completely.
Admittedly, we are not an evangelical religion, heaven forefend. But we really can’t afford to turn away people who could enhance our Jewish way of living. I was involved in conversions and there were some real pearls among the applicants.
It is interesting to note that in London, the Masorti and Reform movements approached the United Synagogue – which seems to hold everyone in a nutcracker – and were quite prepared to add content to their preparatory courses so that the three mainstreams could have a joint conversion process.
The beit din of United Synagogue condemned every idea out of hand. Even today, there is an official forum for the movements to meet, and most often the United Synagogue absents itself or is unwilling to move one inch.
I am not suggesting that we try to find another six million, but we shouldn’t exclude people because the Orthodox want to keep a tight grip on their power.
Capture, don’t shoot
Sir, – Regarding “IDF preparing for Al-Quds Day riots along borders, in West Bank” (June 7), if I understand correctly, the basic sticking point in the liberation of Gilad Schalit is the number of Arab prisoners to be released in exchange. So instead of shooting, why not capture the Naksa protesters, create a fenced encampment near the border and offer their liberation in exchange for Schalit? As their number is conspicuous, keeping them in view of the border would be humiliating and could be an efficient method for putting pressure on Schalit’s captors.
Torino, Italy
Why the deference?
Sir, – I was very heartened when Prime Minister Netanyahu was brave enough to publicly tell US President Barack Obama that Israel cannot return to the indefensible pre-1967 borders or negotiate with a government that includes Hamas, whose charter calls for the killing of Jews wherever they are.
Therefore, I am curious as to why, when France’s foreign minister proposed a conference based exactly on what Netanyahu told Obama he was against, Israel responded that it would “study” the matter (“Netanyahu tells cabinet he is weighing French proposal for international conference,” June 6).
Is Israel more afraid of offending France, which more often than not is on the Palestinian side, than it is the United States?
New York
Sir, – Prime Minister Netanyahu said he “made clear” to French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe that “for Israel to engage with a unified Palestinian government, Hamas would have to accept the three conditions set by the Quartet....”
I am begging the prime minister to make a stand just as he did when President Obama outrageously called for us to retreat to undefensible borders. The sky did not fall in – Obama had to backtrack.
It would make no difference whether or not Hamas decides to accept any conditions; it would last only until we were in such a position as to be totally defenseless, just as would happen if there were ever, heaven forbid, another terrorist state in our land.
We have no obligation to go along with all our so-called friends who come to us with their solutions, which are only to satisfy their own egos. We must take back what is ours, including all our holy sites. We must show that we mean business and will never again be the one to be sacrificed.
So go for it, Mr. Netanyahu, and see how good you will feel as the prime minister of a nation that finally stands up to its tormentors.
Lacking basic values
Sir, – “Teen stabbed dead at Beersheba party” (News in Brief, June 5) is so sad. Perhaps if these 16-year-olds had learned the basic values of human life, one of Philip Geller’s friends might have stayed behind and called for immediate help, and he would have survived.
Petah Tikva
Added anticipation
Sir, – Liat Collins’s June 5 column (“Conquering Masada,” My Word) heightened my excitement.
I was going to Masada to a performance of Aida. Nothing prepared me for the majesty and grandeur I experienced. Such a fantastic performance, full of pomp, power and grace. And all this in Israel.
Looking forward to next year and Carmen.
Pro-LNG plant here
Sir, – At a recent conference (“Energy leaders advocate export plan for country’s liquefied natural gas and shale oil,” Business & Finance, May 23), I was amazed to read that a participant claiming to be an energy specialist stated with reference to the Leviathan gas field: “It would’ve been great to link the field to Israel – to do it in Ashkelon or Eilat – but the Israeli public will not allow construction of a major LNG plant here.”
There is no logic in such a statement, given that Israel is dotted with major refineries, petrochemical installations, electrical generating stations and chemical plants that are far more polluting than a facility to liquefy natural gas. The Israeli public knows nothing about this type of facility, and thus is unable to make a valid judgment.
There has been a lot of scaremongering by the green lobby to sway public opinion regarding an LNG plant, but there have not been any arguments made to promote the virtually pollutant-free facility to liquefy and possibly purify the gas.
Talk about building such a facility in Cyprus takes away construction jobs and subsequent operational employment from this country to benefit another country. And then there are the security aspects. I doubt there is any place in the world where such a scheme operates.
As a professional engineer who has designed and engineered major oil and gas projects, as well as refineries and LNG facilities world-wide, I can unequivocally state that siting such LNG plants in Israel will not give rise to any major pollution or the release of greenhouse or toxic gases.

Not much of a spring
Sir, – We keep hearing from media and government spokesmen the world over about the “Arab Spring.” Correspondents ecstatically report how the people have taken to the streets to demand freedom and democracy after decades, if not centuries, of autocratic and tyrannical regimes. Really? Ya think? What makes anyone think that the Arab street has a clue as to the meaning of democracy, freedom, human rights and religious tolerance? To compare this unrest to the “Prague Spring” of more than four decades ago is absurd. There are no guarantees, but it is disingenuous to expect anything other than new autocratic and repressive regimes to replace the old ones, and the continuation of the religious hatred for non-Muslims as well as other Muslims.
If this is spring, I’m not looking forward to summer.
Baltimore, Maryland