Democrazy Sir, - Your reader quotes Moshe Arens as saying: "In a democratic state one cannot condone laws that discriminate between citizens on ethnic grounds ("Who's out of touch?" Letters, September 3). Your August 30 headline "Abbas's new Jerusalem adviser wants to reopen Orient House along with other Palestinian institutions" is a case in point. Surely any such discussion should be immediately preceded by implementing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, the holiest site of the Jewish people. (While not all rabbis agree with this, there is sufficient halachic precedent to make it permissible for many Jews.) The fact that such prayer is now forbidden by the government, and that the ban is enforced by Israeli police on the site, is a prime example of democracy gone awry. SIMCHA RUDMAN Jerusalem Wrong ways to be pro-Israel... Sir, - On my blog, Yidwithlid, I posted a response to "There's no single, correct way to be pro-Israel" (August 29) by Jeff Halper, head of the Israel Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD), an Israel-based, anti-Israel NGO. Halper described an unpleasant airport encounter he had with Prof. Steinberg of NGO Monitor, and used it to point out that there is more than one correct way to be pro-Israel. I pointed out that there are also wrong ways to be pro-Israel, and commented that Halper's version of events didn't sound like the Steinberg who spent a few Shabbosim at my shul. I also pointed out that Halper's article attacked Steinberg, but didn't answer any of the facts NGO Monitor had published about him or the ICAHD - things like partnerships with anti-Israel organizations, calling Israel an apartheid state, blaming Israel for the break up of Oslo, etc. To my surprise, I received a return e-mail from Halper; and just as with Prof. Steinberg, he attacked me, but again did not refute any of the facts I had laid out. SAMMY BENOIT New York Sir, - Jeff Halper mocks the accusation that he is a "Jewish anti-Semite." If anti-Semitism is not instigating baseless hatred of Jews among non-Jews, then I don't know what is. A case in point: On the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, Halper's group, the ICAHD, published two full-page ads in The New York Times and the UK Guardian (June 3 and 6), 2007, aimed at arousing the reader's animosity toward Israeli Jews. In the Times ad, emotive words such as "traumatic and devastating" described the effect of Israeli actions on the Palestinians, and a photo was printed of a lone Palestinian woman with uplifted hands confronting an Israeli bulldozer. In the Guardian ad - appealing to many Brits predisposed to dislike Israel - the tone was even harsher. Beyond impassioned words such as "most cruel expression" and "horror" to characterize Israeli actions (the photo was of a Palestinian child amid the rubble of her demolished home), the ad also related "the Occupation's first killing," the apparent death of an elderly Palestinian woman whose home was destroyed on top of her - an accident which Halper must know happened during the chaos of the 1967 war. JACOB MENDLOVIC Toronto ...right ways to interpret reality Sir, - In "Misinterpreting the Mideast" (August 31) Moshe Ya'alon wrote one of the best, most clear-minded opinion pieces I have seen in the mainstream media, one that can compete with the best on the Internet. It is worth repeating Ya'alon's main points, which should be considered a mantra for any sane politician living in today's world. (These points are rarely seen in print, showing how delusional other politicians tend to be):
The Mideast conflict is not territorial, but ideological. And ideology cannot be defeated by concessions.
Arabs use "occupation" to refer to all of Israel.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not the most significant one today. It's the battle between jihadist Islam and the West, in which our conflict is merely one theater.
Sir, - Mr. Ya'alon: Your insights and presentation were first-class. May you continue with your voice of reason.
ALAN J. BAUER
Sir, - Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has apparently fallen into the CNN-Christiane Amanpour trap of believing that Jewish extremists pose as much danger to the world as Muslim extremists ("At American Muslim meeting, Reform leader urges joint fight against extremism in both faiths," September 2).
It would be helpful to know which Jewish extremists the rabbi considers as dangerous to the world as the Muslim extremists. His naming names would dispel the impression that he is merely making blanket statements to ingratiate himself to his Muslim audience.
MILTON H. POLIN
No lullabies in Sderot
Sir, - A Kassam rocket fell in Sderot yesterday afternoon, near a day care center. Thank God the babies were not physically hurt, but they were traumatized and in shock. The prime minister has an opportunity to make his concern for the people of the town crystal-clear by moving there immediately with members of his family, and declaring that from now on his cabinet will meet only in Sderot ("Sderot kids to stay away from schools following morning's rocket salvo," Online Edition, September 3).
Sir, - Larry Derfner's charge that HonestReporting and other "Israel advocates" want no criticism of Israel whatsoever insults the intelligence of our 150,000 subscribers. Why does Derfner label anyone who defends Israel against a hostile media as being part of the "Jewish Right"?
Our readership spans the full political and religious spectrum. Irrespective of one's opinions on settlements and issues that do not command a consensus view, our readers are united in the belief that Israel should be judged by the same standards as any other country, free from the constant demonization to which she is subjected.
Derfner contradicts himself by acknowledging the main thing CNN didn't make clear: that in Israel, unlike in the Muslim world, religious terrorists are the exception rather than the rule. Why shouldn't Israel advocacy organizations flag CNN on this?
Derfner's attack echoes the flawed pseudo-academia of Walt and Mearsheimer, who claim their voices are being silenced by an "Israel Lobby" while branding anyone who speaks up for Israel intolerant and an enemy of open debate.
On the contrary, while Israel is certainly not infallible, the efforts of our subscribers and other Israel advocates ensure that media outlets' letters pages and comment boxes are not the sole domain of the anti-Israel brigade ("2.5 Cheers for CNN," August 30) .
Sir, - I am doing some research for the International Journal of Meteorology into the severe hailstorm that hit Jerusalem on May 16-17 this year. I would be most interested to hear from any reader who has memories of this storm, and am particularly interested in color photocopies of hailstones or damage. Please write to 112 High St., Macclesfield, SK11 7QQ, UK; or email email@example.com
Against the tide
Sir, - Shmuley Boteach does "not know of a single important female voice decrying the tsunami of porn and the denigration of women in our time" and is "astonished at the deafening silence" ("Why women dress skimpily in the cold," September 2). Author Wendy Shalit has recently published a bestseller, Girls Gone Mild, which not only decries the degeneration of social norms today but offers alternative role models of young women who, as described in the book's subtitle, "Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to be Good." Although she herself is a young, Orthodox mother, she promotes modesty as a virtue that need not necessarily be religiously based.
Take a look at the book's Web site (www.girlsgonemild.com) and you'll hear the voices of young women who are empowered, dress and act modestly, uphold virtue as a virtue and swim against the tide of porn... in old-fashioned, one-piece bathing suits.
SHIRA LEIBOWITZ SCHMIDT