November 14: A ruinous rabbinate

Both the Chief Rabbinate and the Ministry of Religious Affairs seem to be controlled by people for whom the State of Israel is an anachronism.

A ruinous rabbinate
Sir, – The Chief Rabbinate can be very useful in the further development of the Jewish character of the State of Israel if only it were staffed by individuals who firmly believe in the validity of the state (“Has the Chief Rabbinate outlived its usefulness?” Shlomo Riskin, November 13). Unfortunately, this is not the case! Both the Chief Rabbinate and the Ministry of Religious Affairs seem to be controlled by people for whom the State of Israel is an anachronism and contradicts their view of not being independent until the actual coming of the Messiah.
These non-Zionist (and sometimes anti-Zionist) rabbis seem to do all they can to drive a wedge between observant and nonobservant Jews. On the other hand, organizations such as Tzohar are doing everything possible to keep the Jewish people as one nation, indivisible, under God, with liberty, justice and tolerance for all. They are to be supported and commended!
HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva
Defining a state
Sir, – The report “NGOs duel over proposed Basic Law to define Israel as Jewish state” (November 11) tells us of squabbles about the exact status of Arabic if the Basic Law is passed (the status of English, incidentally, is not even mentioned), but it all seems irrelevant to the main issue.
If the Palestinian Authority can seek to have Palestine, within the old 1967 borders, declared a sovereign state by the United Nations, there can surely be few objections in principle to Israel passing a Basic Law declaring the country to be “the national home of the Jewish people.”
Indeed, this is how Israel is perceived by large parts of the world, and would simply be restating the basis on which the League of Nations granted a mandate to Britain after the First World War. The mandate was to implement the Balfour Declaration, in which the British Government had stated that it viewed with favor the establishment in Palestine of “a national home for the Jewish people.”
This was also the assumption underlying the UN’s resolution in 1947 which called for the establishment of a Jewish state.
The preamble to Israel’s Declaration of Independence is also unequivocal on this point: “This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their independent state is irrevocable.”
The PA in general, and its President Mahmoud Abbas in particular, have consistently refused to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. Well what is sauce for the Palestinian goose, is sauce for the Israeli gander. If unilateral declarations are the order of the day, why should it not be Israel's turn?
NEVILLE TELLER Ramat Beit Shemesh
Ticking clock
Sir, – Despite being slowed by sanctions and a computer virus, Iran’s nuclear progress is steady, and no package of incentives, which only improve with time and misbehavior, could match the deterrence capability and international clout afforded to nuclear regimes (“UN chief urges diplomatic solution on Iran to avert military strike,” November 11).
Only with a credible military threat would Iran seriously consider terminating its program, and it has become increasingly clear that preemptive military action is unpalatable to most UN member states, some of whom are already planning containment strategies to address what they view as an inevitability.
The US, with its current military obligations, cannot be expected to act unilaterally in this case. Yet the time for a definitive gesture to answer the Iranian situation is approaching.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad advocates for the destruction of Israel, denies the holocaust and supplies Hezbollah and Hamas with arms. Though all of the world should be concerned with the most powerful terrorist state gaining a nuclear capability, Israelis would be the first victims.
An important lesson that the civilized world taught us over 60 years ago is that the Jewish people cannot depend on others for our protection. There are more than 30 Holocaust museums throughout Europe which testify to this reality.
We do not want more museums.
No ‘futures’
Sir, – In regards to the November 11 article, “Israeli firm says cost of Iran strike too high,” presumably this investment firm and Amir Kahanovich believe the cost of letting Iran get a nuclear bomb would be less than a strike, should it be necessary.
He indeed would not have to worry if Iran got the bomb beyond the mushroom cloud over his office; for him and the rest of the country there would be no tomorrow.
I believe in finance they could also refer to such things as no “futures.”
Apparently in such a “financial box,” thinking in terms of common sense and reality is impossible.
I. KEMP Nahariya
No big deal
Sir, – “We don’t like him!” intimated the leaders of France and America referring to the leader of Israel (“With friends like these,” Column One, Caroline B. Glick, November 11).
Who cares? What's the big deal? It’s politics! Politicians don’t need to like each other to do the right thing for their countries and we all know that very well. Probably even news reporters know it too.
So grow up press people.
Stop being “shocked” and trying to shock the public over nothing at all. All we Israelis care about is that our politicians are doing the best they can for our country internally and on the word stage.
Try to return the “yellow press” closer to the black and white press it once may have been!
Examining apartheid
Sir, – Rolene Marks, ex-South African, claimed in “Kangaroos in South Africa” (Comment & Features, November 10) that the use of the term apartheid “to describe Israel... makes a mockery and cheapens the tremendous suffering endured by South Africa’s black citizens.” She concludes: “Jurists of the tribunal, under the laws of balanced, democratic jurisprudence, I find you guilty of racism.”
However the Russell Tribunal’s focus was not apartheid crimes in Israel as Marks assumes. The question the tribunal posed was: Is Israel guilty of apartheid crimes in Palestine? Not once did Marks refer to Israel’s conduct in Palestine, thus in the West Bank and in Gaza.
It also seems as if she is unaware of public declarations by black South Africans in support of the Russell Tribunal’s findings.
Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, for example said: “Black South African workers – especially a mineworker like myself – who bore the brunt of South African racial capitalism, and understood the purposes and mechanisms of apartheid, know that when we talk about the conditions faced by our Palestinian comrades we are talking about apartheid.”
In her own words, Marks is a “proud Zionist Israeli.”
Her underlying message is “We are right and they are wrong.”
Such a position of exclusivity contributes to a divide between people. For peace based on human rights and for a society that rejects apartheid, we need to face the facts and deal with them within applicable international law.
This was the agenda of the Russell Tribunal.
MARTHIE MOMBERG Stellenbosch, South Africa
Words of praise
Sir, – It is high time that a few words of praise should be sent in the direction of your sports correspondent, Allon Sinai. His reporting – always of an unparalleled standard – never fails to capture the essence of the game at hand. His phraseology, vocabulary and composition, always a pleasure to read, place him in a league of his own.
Long may he continue to grace the pages of your newspaper.
DAVID S. ADDLEMAN Mevaseret Zion