May 20: Same-sex marriage

Unfortunately, the public is not yet sick of the rabbinate, as MK Nitzan Horowitz stated. If they were, the bill would have passed.

Same-sex marriage
Sir, – Once again our Knesset showed that it fears the religious parties and its members (“Knesset rejects marriage equality bill,” May 17.) Why can’t people who do not pass the strict regimen of the present-day situation in marriage get married any way they wish?
Unfortunately, the public is not yet sick of the rabbinate, as MK Nitzan Horowitz stated. If they were, the bill would have passed, as it should have.
As long as the majority of political parties seem not to care about those left behind, there will be no possibility of a truly fair law on marriage. It’s high time the majority in the Knesset stopped being afraid of the religious parties and did what it ought to do.
Sir, – We are always being told that Jews are “a light upon the nations,” usually when discussing human rights. But somehow, human rights have gotten confused with an “anything goes” mentality.
Yes, we are supposed to show others the good and moral way to live. Codifying homosexuality into law is not the way. And who said marriage is a “right?” In my mind it’s a responsibility and it goes along with the concept of building the world.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On thinks the laws of the Torah are “anachronistic, chauvinistic, racist and discriminatory....” Yes, they are not politically correct, but they reflect an awareness of how society was living and a statement of how society is supposed to live. Jews are supposed to guide the world and not just fall in with how the world thinks. We are to set the proper example and not just go with the flow. We are supposed to be different.
I suggest that Gal-On study the Torah, delve into its intricacies and perhaps enlighten herself as to the true nature of these laws she obviously does not fully understand.
Cartoon says it all
Sir, – All my letters, published and unpublished, could not say more clearly what the cartoon in the May 17 Comment & Features section said. It depicts a prisoner in his cell with his diploma on the wall, having a manicure and haircut, smoking with his feet resting on a young man and of course with a television. The Israeli guard is humbly asking him, “Anything else we can do for you, sir?,” and the reply, “Nah, I’ll just hunger strike if I need anything.”
How did we allow ourselves to sink so low? How did we allow our Likud government to take us so low?
Hail Krauthammer
Sir, – I find it intriguing that a political commentator in the US is better able to analyze the reasons for the new Israeli coalition than our own left-wing politicians (“Echoes of 1967: Israel unites,” Comment & features, May 17).
Charles Krauthammer is able to present evidence explaining the urgent necessity for a coalition, showing the similarity to the national unity government formed before the Six Day War.
His message should be received with acclaim by all Israelis.
Climate migrants
Sir, – As one of the lead-experts and authors of the October 2011 Migration and Global Environmental Change report by Foresight, the notion of fences to prevent movement of climate migrants (“Defending Israel’s borders from ‘climate refugees’ – with fences,” May 16) is alarming.
After two years of global analysis the report concluded that future environmental change is more likely to trap vulnerable groups than promote their migration; that population growth and movement trends in recent decades have seen the growth of populations in at-risk areas, notably low-lying coastal cities; and that informed movements and planning can be a form of adaptation, preventing future humanitarian disasters. Further, the overwhelming majority of migrations are within, not across, international borders.
In fact, the concept of climate migrants is largely outmoded.
People move for a variety of reasons, mainly economic, and usually prefer not to move in the face of environmental changes, with migration being a last resort. The overwhelming body of analysis suggests that climate change will largely inhibit, rather than promote, movement, as migration costs money. People are more likely to be trapped, and it is the better off, rather than the majority, who will have the resources to move.
Scare-mongering about hoards of climate refugees is misplaced. Indeed, reference in the article to drought migrants in the Sahel region is erroneous: Far more people did not or were not able to move, and the vast majority of movements were short-distance and short-term.
Fence-building, even in this region, is not the way to think about future migration. Planning to adapt and deal with those likely to be trapped and unable to move during negative environmental conditions is a far more appropriate way to proceed, even in this region.
Oxford, UK
The writer is on the staff of the School of Geography and Environment at Oxford University
Haredim and Zionism
Sir, – It’s amazing how revealing a single word can be.
Martin Stern, in “Why haredim should not be Zionists” (Comment & Features, May 15), writes, “It also explains why they are so ambivalent when it comes to secular celebrations such as ‘Israel’s Memorial Day, Israel’s Independence Day, or Jerusalem Day’ and why ‘no prayers were said for the state or on behalf of the IDF soldiers’ in their circles.”
The revealing word is “secular.”
Is expressing gratitude to nearly 23,000 people who gave their lives so we can live here a “secular” exercise? Is thanking God for the great gift of the Land of Israel only three short years after the Shoah a “secular” ceremony? Is celebrating the day that we were granted Jerusalem, the great prize of all, a “secular” celebration? We have been doing quite well, thank God, without haredi prayers for the state and our soldiers.
Let’s keep it that way. But on the Day of Judgment, when God thunders, “Why didn’t you thank Me?,” I don’t think it will be wise to say, “Well, it was secular.”
Sir, – Memorial day for our fallen heroes is not a “celebration.”
Regarding Independence Day and Jerusalem Day, can Martin Stern name any other “secular” celebration days on which religious Zionists recite the Hallel?
Sir, – In contrast to Martin Stern, I would have proposed the following title: “Why every Jew must be a Zionist.”
Stern himself adopts the secular Zionist narrative that relates its beginning, with Theodor Herzl in the 19th century. I posit that Jews have “yearned” for and dreamed of Zion for well over 2,000 years.
Religious Jews were at the forefront of the moves to return to Zion, and many individual luminaries, Hassidic groups as well as followers of the Vilna Gaon, made their way to the Holy Land despite its desolation and depopulation.
The grievances cited by Stern about the army or the Supreme Court pale in significance when one understands the meaning and challenges of Jewish sovereignty in our own homeland.
God works in mysterious ways and the fact that secular Jews were the prime movers of the return to Zion in the 20th century should disturb us no more than His choice of Gideon or Yiftah to come to the aid of His people in time of need.
The Jew must recognize that miracles take place for Israel every day. The miracle of our army; our achievements in the in-gathering of the exiles while maintaining a robust economy; our hi-tech world leadership; our yeshivot and our universities all serve to glorify and enhance His name.