May 27: Presuming too much

Please be purely journalistic in your approach, rather than mouth your government's foreign policies.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Presuming too much Sir, - Re "Pyongyang lesson" (May 26): This editorial presumed the export of Pakistani nuclear centrifuges to North Korea, and again that Iranian scientists were present in North Korea when the nuclear test happened. You are pointing directly at Pakistan and Iran, their nuclear facilities and the "mullah phenomenon." But nothing has been proved about Pakistan selling anything nuclear to North Korea, while Russian scientists are quite openly helping Iran go nuclear. Only the US, to date, has dropped a nuclear bomb - on Japan. Why is the US not held responsible? Pakistan herself went nuclear only after India started its own project. Please be purely journalistic in your approach, rather than mouth your government's foreign policies. SYED ALI IMRAN Incharge International News Waqt TV Lahore, Pakistan Sir, - I think I mastered just about enough Korean this week to write a song about North Korea's latest exploit. Here's the first verse: "Nyah, nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah!" Rough translation: "We have the bomb, and the means of delivery. Put that in your pipe, and smoke it!" HENRY KAYE Mazkeret Batya Realist & dreamer Sir, - David Katcoff offered us a glimpse of a realistic process which should be followed ("The counter-jihad," Letters, May 26). But James Adler lives in cloud-cuckoo-land ("More optimism, hope than a year ago," Letters, same date). Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have little idea about the Middle East or the Arabs. Perhaps the secretary of state should consult her husband, Bill, who was "burned" enough times and must be able to give her a few tips. We want peace, and have got a thick ear instead - for 60 years. If the Palestinians really want peace, now is the time to come to us. But can they do it, with their internecine fighting? No chance. So let us look for some politicians with the gumption to tell them that they must first put their own house in order. With all the money they have been given by the international community, the Arabs who were displaced, and their descendants, could by now have their own villas and been accepted in the lands where they sojourn. We, the infidel, have no chance in the foreseeable future of making any progress with them. PHILIP FRYDMAN Netanya No cure, maybe but prevention Sir, - I wish to rebut, point by point, Dan Izenberg's "You can't legislate people's thoughts" (Comment, May 26); • The "anti-nakba bill" will not prevent secret commemorations, but it will prevent public demonstrations against the establishment of Israel. • The Arabs who mark the nakba today are already "Marranos," or consider themselves such. • The Arab population may continue mourning, if it really considers the establishment of Israel something to mourn. • Benny Morris's books on the 1948 war do not prove Jewish crimes against Arabs - who chose to oppose the duly sanctioned establishment of a Jewish state by vote of the UN General Assembly. • Preventing public observance of the "Nakba Day" is a matter of security, and of discouraging violence against Jewish Israelis. • America would consider observance of a nakba by American Indians on July 4 a threat to national security. • The existing laws against sedition have not prevented the observance of the nakba. If the proposed legislation is unconstitutional, then the laws against sedition are also unconstitutional. • To consider Israeli Arabs as victims and Israeli Jews as the persecutor is indeed taking a leaf out of Orwell's 1984. • Freedom of thought that leads to subversive speech and subversive assembly may not be legislated out of existence, but the speech and assembly can be prevented; just as libel and incitement to riot are prevented. JACOB CHINITZ Jerusalem Who's this 'employee'? Sir, - "Rejection of novel on Gaza disengagement for English curriculum was a 'mistake,' says Education Ministry" (May 26) illustrated one of Israel's major problems: lack of responsibility by an all-knowing, all-controlling bureaucracy. Abe Selig twice noted that the decision was made by a "ministry employee." But who is this employee? Why is he or she not being called to account for an important decision affecting thousands of students? I can respect a bureaucrat's privacy when he is merely pushing papers. However, someone who takes it upon himself to make a policy decision that exceeds his authority should not be allowed to hide behind a veil of anonymity. It leads to the lack of accountability in the public sector that prevents open discussion of important issues and paralyzes progress. If bureaucrats knew they were publicly accountable for their policy decisions, maybe those decisions would be better thought-out, and in the public interest. DAVID GLEICHER Jerusalem Devaluing Torah Sir, - United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni's recent ugly attack on Reform Judaism and our Supreme Court rendered Torah despicable in the eyes of many of his fellow Jews, and non-Jews. As Knesset Finance Committee chairman, Gafni, though ordered by the court, refused to transfer money to the Reform movement, thereby abusing his position to force the religious beliefs of the UTJ's leaders upon the rest of Israel. Israel is both a Jewish and a democratic state, otherwise it could not exist. I too find most non-traditional rabbis inauthentic, without clear religious laws and beliefs and morally incapable of "converting" anyone to a religion whose Divinity they themselves deny; but that does not mean they do not do a lot of good, for which they deserve respect and gratitude. Is gratitude only a Jewish, and not a haredi trait? Rabbi David Hartman notes that Reform rabbis, many of whom are also his disciples, are out there on the front lines, keeping many Jews who would not go near UTJ connected to the Jewish people ("Gafni: I will not transfer funds for Reform conversions. 'They are a bunch of treacherous backstabbers,' and 'the Supreme Court doesn't care about the future of the Jewish people,'" May 21). YAAKOV FOGELMAN Jerusalem Telling slip Sir, - A typographical error in "Conversions down by 20 percent in 2009" (May 26) - "The report... also calls for Israel's chief rabbis to take a greater role in the issue and to be appointed the soul (sic) decision-makers in all conversion annulments" - was perhaps more telling than intended. According to my understanding of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Regulations of Illicit Relations 13:17), a Jew by virtue of conversion, even if he or she returns to idolatry, remains a Jew; a renegade Jew, maybe, but a Jew nonetheless. How, then, can any human being - chief rabbi or not - presume to know what is in another's soul and annul a previously legitimate conversion? EPHRAIM I. ZIMAND Jerusalem Jumping the gun Sir, - Why did you give away the winner of American Idol in Friday's paper, ahead of the Saturday night (in Israel) results show? Thousands of us had been watching the show for four months, all leading up to the final, and you ruined it for us. I write in anger. SHARON BAR-LEV Kfar Saba The Editor responds: Our apologies to those readers whose viewing pleasure was disrupted by our publication.