October 13: Rav Ovadia

Let us be balanced and realistic about Rabbi Yosef's legacy.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Rav Ovadia
Sir, – Shmuel Rabinowitz (“Rabbi Yosef: Not for him, but for ourselves,” Comment & Features, October 10) beautifies the Maran, our master, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and validates the Hebrew adage acharei mot kedushim (after death they are holy).
Baruch dayan ha’emet.
Blessed is the True Judge.
Sir, – Your appraisal of Ovadia Yosef (“Rabbi Yosef’s legacy,” Editorial, October 8) was unbalanced.
In democracies, the politicization of religion and establishment of narrow sectoral (and even sectarian parties) are retrogressive phenomena.
Yosef was guilty of both and of greatly strengthening them.
In the process he legitimized the divisive politics of race without any clear political aims. He led a movement that caused huge damage to his own people by denying generations of Sephardi children the blessings of modern, progressive education, and thus damaged Israel as a whole while Shas became a symbol of corruption.
The filthy language Yosef employed against opponents and enemies could never have emanated from the mouths of great scholars of the past, to whom he falsely has been compared. He had a photographic memory, but no true wisdom or humility.
Let us be balanced and realistic about his legacy.
Sir, – The late, great and revered former Sephardi chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef committed at least one monstrous gaffe in publicly proclaiming that the victims of the Holocaust were reincarnations of people who had sinned during their supposed previous lifetimes.
Such an attitude should not be tolerated or ignored in the Jewish State of Israel.
Sir, – Your article “Thousands of police officers successfully oversee largest funeral procession in Israel’s history” (October 9) left me rather puzzled.
It opens with the following: “Following a week of extensive preparations....” The implication is that everything passed smoothly and the funeral took place peacefully and without disturbance! That might be the case, but hundreds of thousands of people were seriously affected by the traffic chaos that gripped not only the city, but all its approaches. A friend who went to a wedding said that hardly anyone turned up because parts of the city were closed off. It took me hours longer than usual to get home.
If the police had time to plan the funeral – and honestly, they really should have plans in place for events like this – why was there such utter chaos? Roads closed unnecessarily.
Buses cancelled. The light rail only partially operating. People parking anywhere, with cars and buses unable to pass.
Why did they not set up park-and-ride stations to bus people in from outside the city? Why not ensure that bus and train service would be free for a few hours to encourage mourners not to bring cars into the city? There was time to publicize this. If they say that helicopters and 4,000 police officers were used, why did it seem that Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was almost brought to a standstill? At the next large event, whether it be in times of rejoicing or sadness, the police need to be much more innovative in their planning so as to ensure the absolute minimum disruption to citizens.
AVI SCHRYBER Givat Ze’ev Complex ideas
Sir, – Howard Jacobsen put together some complex ideas in his lecture at the B’nai B’rith World Center, and from your report (“Author Jacobson unravels ‘logic’ behind Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism,” October 9) it seems to have gone over the heads of some of the audience.
This would take away from the wisdom of some of his statements, such as “We are told to learn from the boy who cried wolf. Cry it too often and at last no one will come out to assist. But what if we aren’t crying wolf? Anyway, who came to our assistance the last time?” Certainly, British Jews could benefit from understanding this concept and stop being concerned about the term “anti-Semitism” being used as often as is justifiably necessary.
J Street no friend
Sir, – In his well documented “J Street is not a ‘pro-Israel’ organization” (Candidly Speaking, October 8), Isi Leibler explicitly enumerates unjustified positions, statements and proposals advocated by J Street that are blatantly anti-Israel.
Although J Street claims to be both pro-Israel and pro-peace, it demonstrated at its recent conference that it is unequivocally opposed to both. If it is anti-Israel and opposes peace, whom is it for? The answer is obvious: J Street.
Its mission is its own existence.
Its very founding was able to raise persons from oblivion to prominence. Such an organization could be (and has been) employed by the Obama administration to take stances that are detrimental to Israel, with the claim that such options have the support of a respected Jewish organization.
I believe it is improper for Israeli officials and representatives, as well as prominent Jewish leaders, to take part in J Street’s activities – even if their purpose is to convince the group that its positions are in error. The best way to react to an entity whose raison d’etre is its own self-aggrandizement is to ignore it and not give it credence.
TUVIA MUSKIN Rehovot Sir, – With all due respect to Aaron Magid (“Feeling uncomfortable at J Street,” Comment & Features, October 6), J Street did not emerge in a vacuum.
The history of left-wing American Jewish groups dedicated to “saving Israel through her soul” dates back to Breira, followed by the New Jewish Agenda, Americans for Peace Now and now J Street. What they have had in common is some form of peace at any price for Israel.
As observed by writer Cynthia Ozik, “the result of hallucinating moderation in one’s most deadly enemies is, especially in the Middle East, like the result of hallucinating an oasis in the midst of a desert; one ends up choking to death on sand.”
Magid need not feel bad.
After all, numerous political luminaries could not see through Yasser Arafat. May the Almighty protect us from ourselves.
Magna Carta
Sir, – Praise is due Moshe Dann (“Expulsions threaten Israeli democracy,” Comment & Features, October 8) for saying that Justice and Defense officials violated the basic rights of an individual when an expulsion order was executed without a trial and due process. He is due even more praise for quoting the Magna Carta, which limited the powers of the king.
Academically, it is easy to select and emphasize the paragraph upon which he based his piece. Let’s not overlook the serious matter of the Magna Carta having two articles that violated the democratic rights of Jews. These articles nullified and reduced debts owed to Jews by the nobility and clergy.
Without their inclusion, the bishops flatly refused to sign.
Those “very interested peers” who demanded that King John sign this historic document represented about five percent of the population. In those days, the democratic rights of 95% of the population were not at all represented or considered.