May 30: Unkosher behavior

Once again haredi rabbis have shown their lack of respect for the Zionist state.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Unkosher behavior Sir, - Bravo to Rabbi Haim Druckman for his courageous stand on conversions and on the scandalous behavior of Rabbi Atia of the Ashdod Rabbinical Court ("Conversion Authority head Druckman berates 'closed haredi clique,'" May 29). A conversion by Rabbi Druckman is certainly more than kosher for the Zionist rabbis; once again, however, the haredi rabbis have shown their lack of respect for the Zionist state. It's about time Zionists and the Modern Orthodox ceased to take account of haredi rulings, which should be limited to the haredi community. Rabbi Atia deserves to be removed from his position after such scandalous conduct - yet there is little chance of this happening, given the Chief Rabbinate's weakness in confronting haredi leaders. In this context, "Rethink Israel's Chief Rabbinate" in the same issue by Rabbi Marc Angel of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York is well worth reading. HENRY WEIL Jerusalem Weak dictator Sir, - Your excellent editorial "Call Assad's bluff" (May 29) hit the nail on the head in its conclusive observation that "the irony is Olmert, even with an approval rating of less than 3 percent, is more legitimate than '99 percent' Assad. This dictator, as strong as he may wish to seem, is too weak to make peace." RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne/Lapid Blueprint... Sir, - If there is ever to be any meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians there must be leaders present on both sides who are able to admit guilt, where appropriate. It is clear that in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, mistakes have been made by both sides. As long as both parties are willing to move forward, it is trivial who is responsible for making either more or bigger mistakes, since there are no outstanding problems that cannot be solved. Until both Israel and the Palestinians elect leaders willing to admit the mistakes of the past and present, there will be no peace in the future ("Ya'alon: No peace until Arabs recognize Israel's right to exist," May 29). MATTHEW BERMAN Herzliya ...for peace Sir, - Your paraphrasing the former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon as saying that "The refusal of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel's basic right to exist as an independent Jewish state is the main obstacle to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" does not fully express the depths of the fundamental problem the Arab/Muslim world has with us. I think it is more accurate to think in terms of the essential need by that world to recognize the Jewish people's legitimate historical calm to any of the land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea. That recognition might lead to reconciliation by the Arab/Muslim world to the presence of an independent Jewish state in its midst. After that everything could finally be negotiated from a place of true mutual acceptance to actual reconciliation. YORAM GETZLER Moshav Aminadav How Israeli! Sir, - "Wild leopard pays late-night cat-call" (May 29) reminded me of Israel's approach to terrorists. In the incident, the nature guide grabbed the leopard around the neck and pinned it down for 20 minutes until the authorities arrived. Once the leopard was in captivity, the nature officials were assessing its health and planning to feed it sufficiently to help it "put on some weight" and then, once it was in good shape, "to release him back into the wild." In our jails we have 10,000 "beasts" who make every effort to destroy innocent Jewish lives. Our special IDF units capture and incarcerate these murderers with great daring and risk to their own lives. During their sojourn the terrorists are provided with exemplary medical treatment to restore their health. But then, in short order, the unrepentant assassins are released so they can have still one more opportunity to accomplish their nefarious missions. Give me patience! ROBERT DUBLIN Jerusalem Pooh-poohing the press Sir, - Anshel Pfeffer's thesis of "The pooh-poohing of Jerusalem by the press" (May 18) may well be correct regarding the Israeli media, but it certainly is not as far as the foreign press corps is concerned. While until the 1970s the majority of foreign correspondents were based in Tel Aviv, this is not true today, and Jerusalem is overwhelmingly the base for most foreign news organizations. This reflects an initiative in 1977 by the then newly elected Begin government to move the Government Press Office to Jerusalem in order that the country's capital should also be the dateline on foreign correspondents' reports from Israel. It also reflects the trend by many foreign news organizations since 1967 to post full-time staff journalists from abroad for periods of a couple of years. These journalists have invariably based themselves in the country's capital city - in contrast to the previous trend, prior to the 1967 war, of using local Israeli stringers, many of whom lived in the Gush Dan region and also worked in the Israeli media in Tel Aviv. YOEL COHEN Jerusalem What good PR is worth Sir, - Before boarding an El Al non-stop Toronto-Tel Aviv flight on April 19, I met a group of 25 Christian tourists to Israel. Some had visited Israel five times. We hit it off after I told them the joke about the chief rabbi of Israel and the pope visiting each other's countries. On the return trip, May 10, I happened to meet the two leaders of the group. They told me that they had had a fabulous trip, except for one incident on their last day. While they were gone - for 10 minutes! - their rental car was broken into in Ashdod, near a location called the Sea Fortress, and cameras and other paraphernalia worth $1,200 (Canadian) were stolen. As an Israeli I feel somewhat responsible and want to compensate the group with a contribution. Bob Rennie is the one whose car was broken into. He's a project manager at ManuLife, and his e-mail is The good PR generated for these tourists by most Israelis should not be ruined by thieves. ISAAC JUDAH Arad 'Lester Skwair,' etc. Sir - If we are to accept M.M. Van Zuiden's argument that street signs in English are provided for the purpose of giving the correct phonetic transliteration of the original name, then really the English also should add a transliteration of their street names ("'Y's and wherefores," Letter, May 22). London's Leicester Square could, for example, have a sign underneath the present one reading "Lester Skwair" so foreigners won't be tempted to pronounce it as "Lye-sester Skoo-ehr." Surely if there is an accepted international spelling of a place or street name, that spelling should be used whether it is a true reflection of the original Hebrew, or not. If "Caesar" (pronounced "seezer") is the accepted English spelling for the famous Roman leader, it follows that "Caesarea" should denote the city rather than "Kaysariyya" or whatever weird transliteration is currently on display at its entrance. Were they to see "Yerushalayyim" on the signs rather than "Jerusalem," visitors would probably think they had come to the wrong place! GEORGINA YACOBI Tel Aviv