September 12: Why wait?

Why do we wait for an attack and only then retaliate by bombing a few tunnels?

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Why wait?
Sir, – We have got used to hearing that Israel has struck the tunnels of the Gaza Strip after every terrorist attack (“IAF bombs Gaza tunnels in retaliation for last week’s attacks,” September 6).
The tunnels are used to smuggle in weapons to the Gaza Strip – at best they are used to bring in contraband by profiteers. We know that there is no shortage of goods in Gaza, so the tunnels are used only for illegal and nefarious purposes.
It may be a simple and naïve question, but why do we wait for an attack and only then retaliate by bombing a few tunnels? We know they exist, and if their locations are known, why are we not bombing all of them in one go? Surely, the tunnels are an indisputable and legal military target.
Tell it like it is
Sir, – Regarding “Lieberman: We won’t have peace for generations” (September 6): At last! A substantive, truthful headline!
Telz Stone
Sir, – It would be much better if Foreign Minister Lieberman conducted the peace negotiations with the Palestinians. His realistic outlook would lower the expectations of the Palestinians. Therefore, PA President Mahmoud Abbas would not pressure him too much.
In contradiction, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s repetitive declaration that peace will be achieved within one year is just an invitation to Abbas to raise his demands and pressure us on all fronts. The first such test will come during the next round of talks, when the PA president presents our prime minister with an ultimatum to continue the construction freeze until the negotiations are completed.
Everyone who knows Netanyahu knows the outcome. This would only be the beginning of his “concession process” in order to save the “peace process.”
Hawking makes waves
Sir, – While I evidently share Uri Hirsch’s and Gerald Schroeder’s acceptance of the central role of God in the eternal debate between those who deny or affirm His existence (“Faith and fact,” Letters, September 6), there is a radical difference in the degree of certainty of our faith.
Mine is completely unconditional and does not depend on empirical proof of His existence. It is not a hypothesis depending on its verification, as is the case in the work of scientists.
Indeed, the Torah records a dialogue between Moses and God on this very matter.
When he asked to actually know God, the answer came that the only thing you can know of God are the virtues He represents of justice, compassion and truthfulness, as outlined in the 13 attributes the people of Israel undertook to follow in their daily lives, and which similarly underlie the seven Noahide laws. Or, as one of my mentors, the Torah authority Rabbi Abramsky, never tired of emphasizing in quoting the last paragraph of the book of Esther: “King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land and islands of the sea and all the acts of his power... and a history of Mordecai’s greatness, are they not recorded in the archives of the kings of Media and Persia.”
If you are looking for history, anthropology, biology, etc., you will only find it in the universities and science institutes. Not in the Torah, which is a timeless ethical guide on how to behave.
Prof. Stephen Hawking (“Israeli scientists blast off at Hawking’s view that ‘God was not needed’ to create the universe,” September 3), to whom the letter writers were referring, is right in the sense that God is not a scientific fact. Indeed, it is much more. It is an essential part of our humanity for each individual to feel in his very being to reinforce the practice of the virtues that He represents.
Sir, – As a scientist and an Orthodox Jew, I would like to comment on the extensive publicity given to the new book and the accompanying claims of Stephen Hawking.
The Jerusalem Post headline expressed the scientific findings correctly, that God was not needed.
By contrast, the headline of the Wall Street Journal was “Stephen Hawking: God Did Not Create the Universe.”
The difference between these two headlines is profound. For example, it is correct to state that a real estate agent was not needed to locate my new apartment, but it is incorrect to state that a real estate agent did not locate my new apartment for me. I did use an agent and paid him a large fee.
The Torah view is that God intervenes in the physical world within the laws of nature (olam k’minhago holech).
For example, as recorded in Exodus 14:21: “God ordered a powerful east wind to pass over the sea all that night, causing the seabed to become dry land; and thus the waters split.” In other words, a sort of hurricane struck the Red Sea, producing a natural event that has been observed to occur on occasion in various bodies of water. The miraculous aspect of splitting the Red Sea lies in the purpose and timing.
Returning now to Hawking, God did create the universe, as Genesis reports, but He did it within the laws of nature, by means of the Big Bang, as Hawking has discovered.
Petah Tikva
Supplemental thinkin’
Sir, – On one of the two holiest days of the Jewish year, there is nothing I would rather read about than the 50 richest Jews in the world (Rosh Hashana holiday supplement).
To quote Dr. Phil, “What were you thinkin” (or rather, not thinkin’)? Besides being utterly off-key, the article reeks of laziness. It comes across as a piece that can be researched by computer within a few hours and be factually sound with no real hard thought involved.
Almost any other idea would have been better: “50 outstanding young Jewish leaders,” “50 outstanding Jewish teachers,””50 outstanding Jewish inventions,” “50 best Jewish chefs.” Anything. Even the number 50 isn’t engraved in stone.
You have a whole year to brainstorm.
Please do better in 2011.
Hotovely on to something
Sir, – The current peace talks are doomed (“Government offers Palestinians gestures instead of settlement freeze extension,” September 5) not because of Israeli intransigence or settlements, but because, as things stand now, the Palestinian leadership has no logical reason to agree to a small state.
With so many people, including Israelis, saying the Israeli government needs to hurry up in light of the demographic threat, it is very rational for the Palestinians to simply block any two-state solution via their own intransigence and terrorism.
The more people preach that the clock is ticking to Israel’s detriment, the more the Palestinians will be all too happy to sit back and watch.
So how do we get out of the above conundrum? As uncomfortable as it may be to hear, the real choice lies in the options of how to foster a successful one-state solution that ensures the existence of the Jewish state. Therefore, MK Tzipi Hotovely’s proposal (“Meanwhile, on the Right,” September 3) is very much a step in the right direction.
I would adjust Hotovely’s plan to grant Palestinian residents of the territories the same voting rights that the citizens of Puerto Rico have – i.e., they can send delegates to the Knesset who can participate in plenum discussions, vote against bills and serve on committees.
A bicameral legislature, with only one house allowed to make decisions relating to the identity of the state, might also afford a solution that allows for maximal democracy while preserving the country’s Jewish character.
The one-state solution might look odd, but it’s high time for Israelis to start thinking outside the box – because the box we’re in now is nothing more than a very ornate and way-too-expensive coffin.