Rabbi Ovadia Yosef does not believe his own words

It seems Rabbi Ovadia Yosef does not really believe his own words.

ovadia yosef 88 (photo credit: )
ovadia yosef 88
(photo credit: )
What R. Yosef said... Sir, - It seems Rabbi Ovadia Yosef does not really believe his own words - that soldiers died in Lebanon because they did not keep the mitzvot. If he did, he would have phrased his viewpoint thus: "All haredim are required to serve in combat positions in the army. Only they can be relied upon to don tefillin daily. Haredim must do everything in their power to prohibit secular Jews from serving in such positions, for one of the 613 commandments in the Torah is: Do not stand by while your friend's life is endangered (Leviticus 19:16); whereupon Rashi comments: 'To allow his death when you can save him, for example, one who is drowning in a river or one who is being attacked by a wild beast or a bandit.' "The clear implication is that we must not allow secular Jews to endanger their lives by serving in combat positions in the army" ("Ovadia Yosef's comments anger bereaved parents," August 28). ABBA ENGELBERG Jerusalem ...and what he didn't Sir, - I'm pained about how Rav Ovadia's words have been turned around to imply him saying something he could never say, and the hurt this has done to family and friends of our holy soldiers, who brave our murderous enemies day in day out and have permitted us to live in relative peace for almost 60 years now in the Holy Land. Many prominent rabbis have stated that Israeli soldiers who fall in battle, or even just on duty, are to be considered complete saints. They gave their name for God's glory on earth, protecting Jews. The rabbi was preaching something well-known: that being meticulous about mitzvot can save life on the battlefield because the soldier is then not distracted by fear of heavenly punishment. "Sin can lead to death in battle" does not mean "all death in combat is caused by sin." M. NIEWEG Jerusalem Muslim hearts & minds Sir, - Barry Rubin and David Horovitz have both recently written wise pieces on our not learning from the failure of various peace processes and hopes, and our not being able to get it together in the Middle East ("Come and let us reason together," August 27, and "Wishful thinking," August 17). But still I think both pieces are ultimately unsatisfactory. I agree with the writers' frustrations but see no alternative to trying for peace and reasonableness, however long it may take. The enemy is not like in World War II. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were each compact, insular, isolated, centralized states that were unpopular, even despised, on their respective continents. This enabled us to try to defeat them militarily and unconditionally, using any means, and to do what we wanted to them afterward. So to win we used atomic bombs and indiscriminate urban firebombing; and afterwards, the changing of Japan's state Shinto religion and the denazification of Germany. Today could not be more different. There are a billion Muslims worldwide, whose (often irrational and extremist) anger is decentralized, amorphous and comes from the street. They are not in small, centralized, isolated states but represent a worldwide and popular state of mind. Muslim groups could become increasingly more militant, and want nuclear weapons. In any war we fought Israel would be the first target. If there was ever a situation in which a people's "hearts and minds" must be won over, skillfully and with determination, this seems to be it - however frustrating the process, however much time it takes. JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts Hamas's unkind offer Sir, - Re "Schalit's birthday" (Editorial, August 27): Hamas spokesman Ahmed Youssef says that if Israel releases Palestinians from Israeli jails, Hamas will reciprocate by releasing a video tape of kidnapped and illegally incarcerated Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. Hopefully Israel will respond to the Hamas invite in kind, by agreeing to release video tapes of Palestinians held in Israeli jails - where they have full access to the International Red Cross and to legal representation. By contrast, Schalit still hasn't been seen by a living soul besides his terror organization captors, in violation of a whole raft of international conventions and legislation. Hamas needs to be dragged out of its barbaric medieval mindset into the 21st century and persuaded via financial thumbscrews that modern society does not condone abduction, human trafficking or the use of human beings for the purpose of barter. ILYA MEYER Gothenburg, Sweden Thesis of the absurd Sir, - Whether or not the Walt and Mearsheimer book The Israel Lobby is anti-Semitic is irrelevant. The focus must be on the crux of their argument - that absent the "Israel Lobby," US foreign policy with respect to Iran and other Mideastern countries would be substantially different. Iranian Islamists (as well as their Sunni counterparts) represent not merely a political party but a way of life based on values that are the direct antithesis of everything Americans believe in: theocracy based on Allah's sovereignty instead of democracy based on popular sovereignty; gender inequality in place of equality; religious intolerance in place of pluralism. The notion that in the absence of the "Israel Lobby" the US could engage in peaceful dialogue and achieve detente with a fanatical, revolutionary regime with apocalyptic goals is laughably absurd. It is doubly ironic that the book appears at a time when the Quartet unanimously agree that it is Palestinian, not Israeli, institutions that need reform. Islamic fundamentalists worldwide must be gloating over a book which suggests that the US abandon a strategic ally with shared values and make common cause with those committed openly and irrevocably to America's destruction ("Israel, AIPAC plan no counteroffensive to Walt-Mearsheimer book," August 27). KIM EZRA SHIENBAUM Rutgers-Camden, New Jersey Durban I, again Sir, - Your editorial's and Gerald Steinberg's plea to boycott the upcoming parley in Brussels of the "United Nations International Conference of Civil Societies in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace" notwithstanding, there is not the slightest doubt that this parley too will degenerate into a replication of the Durban I anti-Israel hate-fest ("Stop Durban II" and "Europe to host NGO attack on Israel," both August 23). The duplicity and collusion of the UN Secretariat and countries that have agreed to participate in this egregious dissemination of undeserved venom and excoriation against a member of the world of nations must be vociferously and unequivocally condemned. Poland should be applauded for its courageous decision not to attend this mockery of a "peace" conference. It is to be fervently hoped that Poland will not stand alone. FAY DICKER Lakewood, New Jersey Sir, - Sadly, Israel Rubin's letter "Europe's odium" (August 27) missed the point in claiming that the forthcoming racist conference "is a mockery of all the United Nations and the European Parliament stand for." It's a mockery of what they used to stand for, but it perfectly represents what those bodies are today: forums in which anti-Semitism is the cause celebre. DAVID TEICH Rehovot User-friendly Sir, - Congratulations on the attractive new format of The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition. The ads are still noticeable but not annoying, and the news items are readily identified. R. KROPF Amherst, Massachusetts