Why leave him out?Sir, – Why isn’t Noam Chomsky on your list for the vote on who is the world’s most influential Jew (“Jerusalem Post’s list of world’s 50 most influential Jews – in our Shavuot supplement,” May 16)? There’s no question anywhere else in the world that it’s he.LYNDA KEENLondonBiting the hand that feeds themSir, – Three cheers to Maurice Ostroff for writing such an instructive letter on the explosive subject of tenure of university professors (“Academic freedom and tenure,” Letters, May 17). Three cheers to Mark Tanenbaum, who resigned as a board member of Tel Aviv University over failed efforts to get its president to investigate TAU professors’ anti-Israel activities.Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions are what these tenured university professors advocate. The university pays their salaries. There must be something in their contracts against harming the university. Action must be taken.Wake up, academia! The people in this country will not stand for this.BARBARA OBERMANHerzliya PituahSir, – I fully agree with the letter from Maurice Ostroff regarding what is being called academic freedom.I therefore want to express my opinion of the professors and teachers at a number of universities in Israel who are abusing their positions and their professions by calling upon various organizations in the Western world not only to boycott Israel and prevent the Jewish state from having intercourse with trade, academic and scientific international bodies, but in effect to call for the delegitimization of the State of Israel itself. As a man of 93, I have had the distinction and the honor to serve in the newly formed Israel army (IDF) during the War of Independence in 1948-1949, and as a member of Machal (Overseas Volunteers) in Hativah Sheva in the battles for Latrun against the heavily armed Arab Legion (from Transjordan). I have been a Zionist for the last 80 years.I cannot understand how otherwise intelligent and educated individuals are happy to bite the hands that feed them, and willingly throw in their lot with the enemy when the country is in a state of war. They are indeed fortunate that the government of Israel, which they so abhor and despise, is so lenient in regard to their activities.Do they realize, I wonder, that they are following the well-known fable of “The Fox and the Scorpion”? If they are successful, the scorpion will eventually sting the fox, and both will drown.MICHAEL SHERBOURNELondon
Tragic riotsSir, – Riots over the movement of graves in Ashkelon are tragic and misplaced (“Damage due to Barzilai-related haredi riots in Jerusalem estimated at NIS 1 million,” May 18). It is true: Care and honor for the dead is a central tenet of our faith. But so is care and honor for the living.Even if one were to subscribe to the idea that kavod hamet (giving honor to the dead) overrides the necessity of a sheltered, protected emergency room, does that – can that – supersede the great, paramount principles of derech eretz and kavod habriyot (common decency and respect for a person’s dignity)? Don’t the heroes of the police force and other security agencies – not to mention innocent citizens of Jerusalem – deserve at least the same dignity as do the deceased for whom these protesters claim to be fighting?The demonstrators’ passion – and violence – centers on the feasibility and permissibility of excavations of graves, and not on a more central issue: Why does a civilized, peace-loving city such as Ashkelon require a bomb-proof Emergency Room in the first place?
YAMIN GOLDSMITHBeit ShemeshSir, – In the 1950s there was an issue in New Orleans concerning an abandoned Jewish cemetery upon which the city decided to build. My father, Rabbi Goldberg, took upon himself to deal with this.He consulted with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who was the recognized halachic authority at that time for the majority of the haredi world. Rabbi Feinstein ruled that the graves should be removed and reburied in an existing Jewish cemetery.Apparently, for some members of the haredi community, probable pagan graves are more holy than definite Jewish ones (“Barzilai grave relocation met with haredi demonstrations,” May 17).
MARK GOLDBERGJerusalemPress for road solutionsSir, – It was difficult to read about yet another scene of carnage on Israel’s highways (“5 killed, 56 hurt in Galilee bus crash,” May 14), this time involving a large number of dead and wounded.While I appreciate the effort that was placed on reporting to us the details of the accident so we could understand the why of the situation, I couldn't help but wonder if it would be of societal benefit for reporters to delve more deeply and report more regularly on what solutions are being developed – and more importantly, implemented – by the powers that be to improve driver behavior, road conditions, signage and the presence and actions of law enforcement.As it is said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”Perhaps if reporters were asking government representatives, “What is being done?!” and their commitments and solutions were being filed in the newspapers, greater pressure would be felt to implement positive, lasting change to turn this disastrous trend around.
K. BRONSTEINPetah Tikva
Standing before GodSir, – Tradition has it that the Akeida (the sacrifice of Isaac) was Abraham’s most difficult test. If so, how can David Hartman say that “the Akeida is not constitutive of Judaism” (“Shavuot and the meaning of the covenant,” May 17)? To the contrary, the Akeida is Abraham’s standing before God in maximal empowerment, not in submission and silence.Abraham’s test was not whether or not to sacrifice his beloved son, according to the Ramban. His test was whether to listen to God (Elokim), who told him to sacrifice Isaac, or to listen to the angel/messenger from Hashem who told him not to sacrifice Isaac (see Ibn Kaspi) – i.e., to change his mind at the very last moment.The test was his understanding of the very God he had discovered.Abraham’s thinking about God as Elokim (knowledge of good and evil)told him that he would get blessing (a good thing) if he gave upsomething very dear to himself. Abraham’s thinking about God as Hashem(life – i.e., the other tree in the Garden of Eden) made him realizethat sometimes a person’s intuition and gut feeling of something beingvery wrong should be the basis of one’s actions.Abraham, in effect, felt with intuitive certainty that the God he haddiscovered could not – did not – want him to sacrifice Isaac. To do sowould be murder, the ultimate anti-life action.Doesn’t this constitute standing before God with the maximal empowerment that is the human mind and life experience?
PROF. JOSEPH DAVIDJerusalem