March 14: Jumping the gun

Why apologize before starting the joint investigation with Jordan? Israel has already admitted guilt.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Jumping the gun
Sir, – With regard to “Israel apologizes for killing of Jordanian at Allenby crossing” (March 12), why apologize before starting the joint investigation with Jordan? Israel has already admitted guilt.
Hold it responsible
Sir, – In “Setting the record straight on EU funding” (Comment & Features, March 12), EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Anderse engages in the same “intentional inaccuracies” of which he accuses Prof. Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor.
The ambassador surely recognizes that any European Union funding that goes to NGOs promoting the image of Israel as an oppressor of Palestinians inherently implies support for those NGO and all their activities. Money is fungible, and though the EU might attempt to ensure that its grants do not go to efforts to undermine Israel, it really cannot control the ultimate use of such funds.
The EU should indeed “be held responsible for other activities in which these NGOs are engaged....”
New threshold
Sir, – The idea that the new law raising the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent will make any difference in the government’s ability to govern or the degree of democracy in Israel is without foundation (“The electoral threshold: Why the rush?” Comment & Features, March 11).
There are only two parties in the current Knesset with fewer than the new threshold of four seats: Balad has three and Kadima has two. Under the new system, Balad is expected to join one of the other Arab parties, while Kadima supporters will easily find an ideologically similar party for which to vote.
The impact of the new law will be negligible on the big parties’ numbers and on the Knesset’s ideological diversity.
Haredi draft
Sir, – Reader Yitzchak Ben-Shmuel (“Stark Juxtaposition,” Letters, March 10) responded with pride to the video of IDF commandos singing and welcoming the Sabbath on their way to intercept the Iranian vessel, while comparing it to the haredi protesters who, in his opinion, have caused a rift in Israeli society.
Although my family serves proudly in the IDF, I would posit that the rift is due mainly to the populist politicians who insisted on criminal sanctions for the radical change in haredi lifestyle that MK Ayelet Shaked wanted to apply gradually, with understanding and care.
But the real divide was evident in that beautiful video because it seemed to have been filmed on the Sabbath. That should be juxtaposed with the fears of haredi parents that their sons will become less observant due to IDF service.
Haredi (and national- religious) families would shudder at the thought that their sons might be part of a non-combat situation where Jewish law is ignored, no matter how moving the video.
Sir, – David Statman (“What the debate with the haredim is really about,” iEngage, March 9) could have quoted from Ethics of the Fathers, in which Rabban Gamaliel, son of Rabbi Judah the Prince, said: “An excellent thing is the study of the Torah combined with some worldly occupation, for the labor demanded by them both makes sin to be forgotten. All study of the Torah without work must in the end be futile and become the cause of sin.... Be on your guard against the ruling power....”
Shemayah said: “Seek no intimacy with the ruling power,” to which could be added Hillel’s saying: “He who makes a worldly use of the crown of the Torah shall waste away.”
I would be interested to read the haredi argument against these admonishments and learn if there are reasonable grounds for ignoring the sages. Perhaps one of your haredi readers would oblige.
Kiryat Tivon