March 23: Bones of contention

Gov't cave-in to Litzman and waste of millions of tax shekels is a national disgrace.

Bones of contention
Sir, – The decision of this government to cave in to Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s demand to waste millions of our tax shekels so as not to build where graves have been found is a national disgrace (“State comptroller to probe gov’t decision to relocate Ashkelon emergency room,” March 22).
There is absolutely no halachic justification for this. Even if they are Jewish graves, Jewish law allows for the removal of graves under conditions like this. For too long we have bought into the misrepresentation of Halacha that some groups have tried to force upon us. Is there no integrity left in this government?
When we cannot provide the medications needed because of budget problems, when we cannot finance education as we should, when poverty is rampant and people are going hungry, Jewish law demands that we not waste our resources on nonsense. The answer to Litzman’s threat to resign should have been: Good-bye. Those from Labor and the Likud who voted against him deserve credit – but one wonders why none of them threatened to resign rather than participate in this farce.
    RABBI REUVEN HAMMER    Jerusalem
Sir, – Prime Minister Netanyahu should announce that a team of archeologists has dug up ancient Jewish bones at the proposed building site in Ramat Shlomo. In view of the Barzilai Hospital imbroglio, such an announcement would allow the prime minister to scrap the Ramat Shlomo building plans, thereby placating the US State Department while confirming (yet again, as if it were necessary) our connection to and sovereignty over Jerusalem.
Of course, there's the minor problem of actually finding such bones at that particular site, but as Obama and co. don’t allow themselves to be confused by facts, making the announcement before the bones have actually been found shouldn’t be cause for consternation.
Group worship at the Wall
Sir, – On Friday, an editorial in The Jerusalem Post correctly called for the punishment of those who resort to violence against the Women of the Wall (“The right message at the Wall,” March 19). The editorial did not venture any opinion as to what action ought to be taken against any persons who might engage in non-Orthodox prayer. In other words, the editorial did not call for any change in the current practice that denies freedom of worship for all Jewish religious denominations.
While every decent person should approve the Post’s call for nonviolence, it seems to me that the message of the Wall should extend far beyond shalom bayit (domestic peace).
Liberals often fight the wrong battles. We are swamped these days with the efforts of the Conservative Movement, the Women of the Wall and their supporters to guarantee free and equal opportunities for all Jews to conduct group worship at the Western Wall. All of us liberals, of course, agree that the Orthodox monopoly is a violation of democracy and should never have been authorized. However, is the Wall a proper locale for traditional prayer or multi-denominational Jewish worship?
I believe that the Wall should be open to all Jews and non-Jews who want to reflect on the significance of this holy place for an understanding of Jewish history and the role of the Jewish people in human civilization. Of course, everyone should be free to express himself or herself in meditation, personal prayer or quiet conversation.
However, the current battle to foster group worship on an equal basis for all is nonsensical. Meanwhile, the proper strategy for liberals is to fight against the current system of authority. This is a fight that should engage the secular majority in Israel as well as those who want to deal with the crisis in Jewish prayer in a serious way. The real aim of democratic-minded Jews should be to prevent the distortion of holiness that is manifest in the current battle for the possession and use of the Wall.
    RABBI DR. JACK J. COHEN    Jerusalem
The sins of a few
Sir, – Attempts by the media and others to undermine the Catholic Church due to the recent sex-scandal is unjust to the vast majority by innocent priests who are faithful to their vows (“Pope slams Irish church, no Vatican blame in abuse,” March 21). While the scandal is sickening and disheartening, it must be put in its proper perspective.
A very small percentage of priests are actually sex abusers. Statistics show that within the general population, priests are among those least likely to be abusers; 80-90 percent of the cases happen in families. Even Jesus had his Judas.
In addition, people should bear in mind that priests have to respect the special nature of secrecy involved in the act of confession entrusted to the church by Christ.
The church will weather this storm as it has weathered every other storm and come out victorious. People should not condemn the church for the sins of a few.
    PAUL KOKOSKI    Hamilton, Ontario
Obama’s strategy
Sir, – It is difficult to make sense of President Obama’s policies, but we would be mistaken to think that he is inept or foolish (“Obama has crossed the line,” March 16). Obama’s successful White House campaign illustrated his extraordinary ability to focus on a goal and relentlessly pursue a long-term strategy to achieve it. We have seen, in this past week, another illustration of that process. One of the ideological goals Obama has set himself is the achievement, on his terms, of a settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict. What we have witnessed is the apparent unveiling of a further stage of his strategy.
Let us be clear: Obama’s aim is not to facilitate meaningful negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas, leading if possible to a reasonable solution acceptable to both sides. If that were indeed his aim, then his policy would be incomprehensible, and every action counterproductive. His strategy, it appears, is to sabotage any possibility of such negotiations. The American administration’s initial demand for a full construction freeze in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem as a prerequisite to the commencement of talks was the first step in a consistent campaign to put stumbling blocks in the path of any real progress towards a negotiated settlement.
The latest event was the high-drama production of condemnation, shock, and public admonition that greeted a bureaucrat’s slip-up in timing over Ramat Shlomo. Biden was offended, Hillary Clinton’s feelings were hurt, poor Abbas (busy commemorating a past Palestinian confidence-building measure, the massacre of Jews on the coast road) has lost confidence in Israel, and the lives of American soldiers are threatened? Oh, come on! The administration’s strident, over-the-top demarches and ultimatums to Israel only makes sense if Obama has already decided the outcome of the final-status issues, and is preparing the ground for imposing his decision upon Israel.
Thank you, Caroline
Sir, – Thank you so much for Caroline Glick’s columns, especially her latest (“Obama’s war on Israel,” March 19). It’s about time the Left was called to task for its role in encouraging the jihadists.
Keep up your brilliant work, Ms. Glick!
And may we really clean out our hametz so we can all celebrate Pessah together!
    LEAH WOLF    Metar
Picture-perfect hasbara
Sir, – You have found the perfect picture and caption for hasbara: “Anearly Seder” (March 22) on Page 4 of the paper. What better way tocounter the “apartheid” argument than by showing Jewish and Arabchildren not only being treated in the same Israeli hospital, butparticipating in a Seder. Noting that some of the Arab kids live in thePalestinian Authority, and that Arab 8women teachers helped is icing onthe cake.
My question is, why wasn’t this on the front page, where it would get much more attention?