Wailing at the Wall
I was shocked at the degree of exposure your front-page article “Women of Wall forced to hold service in egalitarian section” (March 10) and editorial gave to the incident.
I arrived at the Kotel at about 8 a.m. for Rosh Hodesh prayers. The area was crowded with men, women, girls from ulpanot and yeshiva boys praying – maybe about 20,000 people. The pious atmosphere of prayer was suddenly disturbed by some 20 ladies in strange costumes crying out. They tried to force themselves through the crowd to the women’s section but did not succeed, as the public was holding them back. After some 30 to 40 minutes, the border police escorted them out from the Kotel area, as they were not interested in praying at the Kotel section allocated for their rituals.
Once they left, the pious and holy atmosphere returned to the Kotel, and the 20,000 visitors could continue their prayers as usual. The action of these 20 or so ladies making a lot of noise was simple provocation, dishonoring this holy place with a kind of provocative manner of show, for which the Kotel is too precious a place.
In my judgment as an eyewitness, coverage for such a marginal incident by a small fringe group should not be more than a few lines in the middle of your paper.
What occurred at the Kotel was a disgrace to Israel, to religion, to the police and to the government.
Regardless of the Halacha, there is no justification for the actions of rabbis who encouraged their students to riot and physically attack the women who were praying on Rosh Hodesh as they are halachically and legally entitled to do.
The police failed in their duty to retain order and decorum. Also at fault is the government, which has dismally failed to implement its pledge to provide a space for WoW, bowing to the threats of the ultra-Orthodox. History has shown that yielding to threats to buy peace has never been a success. As Churchill proclaimed, “Appeasement is a policy of feeding the crocodiles in the hope that they will eat you last.”
A prime culprit in this long drama is Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz, who has done his best to inflame the situation, thus incidentally ensuring that financial and political aid to WoW from Jews abroad has increased immensely. Furthermore, he has exacerbated the division of the Jewish people. Causeless hatred is said to have destroyed the Second Temple; it certainly will not bring about the rebuilding of the third one.
As an immediate practical step, The Jerusalem Post should remove Rabinovitz’s column from the weekly magazine.
Women were demeaned and heckled at the Western Wall. The Kotel plaza was filled with approximately 10,000 ultra-Orthodox and haredi men women and teenagers, many of whom were bused to Jerusalem to disrupt and prevent the Women of the Wall prayer service from taking place.
We were met with screaming, curses, jeers calling for nothing less than our death, spitting, stamping on toes, elbowing and pushing with the intent to throw women down to the ground.
The High Court has ruled that in the women’s section we have the right to pray, read from a Sefer Torah and wear a prayer shawl and phylacteries. Apparently, the government of Israel has abdicated the rule of the Western Wall to the extreme religious Orthodox establishment. Israel claims that it protects the rights of all religions in the country. Sadly, this does not include enforcement of the law as it pertains to Women of the Wall.
At a time when antisemitism is on the rise in the world, we would hope that in Israel, Jews would be free and safe to practice Judaism. If not here, where? The government should protect the religious rights of all Jews.
New York City
Passing the torch
Regarding “Regev: No Diaspora Jew to be torchlighter” (March 12) – Why?
Why does she want to alienate Jews in the Diaspora? On the contrary, they should be given that honor to show how much we respect them and include them in national events. These are our people, the true allies of Israel. There are many people out there who deserve the honor of being torchlighters. There are communal workers totally devoted to Israel who keep the light of Israel shining wherever they live.
Miri Regev only makes relationships bad and causes baseless hatred, which we should strive to put an end to.
Ilhan Omar unleashed
The juxtaposition of two articles: “Why the Ilhan Omar problem is not going away for US Democrats” and “Anne Frank Center comparison of Jews fleeing Nazis to ISIS terrorists” March 11) is not a coincidence: they are part and parcel of the same phenomenon.
By comparing innocent victims of the Nazis, of whom Anne Frank was a prime example, to known murderers and terrorists, the Center is not only distorting the facts of the Holocaust, but giving grist to the Holocaust deniers, enabling them to promote their brand of antisemitism.
The case of the blatant stereotypical antisemitic remarks of US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is not a partisan matter; the fact that such words could be repeated by anyone on the floor of one if the most democratic forums in the world without immediate and universal condemnation is in itself an example of the growing acceptability of antisemitic diatribe in public places.
Both forms of antisemitism need to be vigorously addressed; if anything is to be learned from the Holocaust, it is that we cannot ignore the ‘baby steps” of antisemitism in the hope that they will “go away.” Vigilance remains the price of liberty.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempts to explain away Representative Ilhan Omar’s offensive and extreme antisemitic comments by saying that perhaps she doesn’t fully appreciate how they are heard by other people. (“Why Ilhan Omar problem is not going way for US Democrats,” March 11). On one hand, Pelosi seems to suggest some sort of stupidity on the freshman’s part, which does not come across when hearing her speak; on the other, she treats the average listener as stupid, hoping that they will accept this nonsense. Her comments echo Omar’s so-called apologies in their use of the passive voice. They blame how people hear them rather than putting the blame on the one issuing the centuries’ old tropes.
The resolution goes far beyond condemning antisemitism, thereby greatly diluting its impact. It goes into extensive detail on a range of hate crimes, including, incredulously, the Dreyfus Affair, from another century and another country, but fails to detail the reason for its creation. The 9/11 attack killing thousands of Americans is mentioned only as a trigger for Islamophobia – not the attacks themselves. Islamic terrorism, as in the Obama years, gets a free pass.
The fact that the one intended for censure voted for the resolution tells it all.
Pelosi says that she spoke with the congresswoman, but I doubt this will have a meaningful impact on her worldview. Pelosi has now cast herself as appeaser-in-chief. The good news is that there is enough detail in the resolution as to what constitutes antisemitism that when Omar continues, as expected, there will be enough to hang her and her retinue in the extreme Left of the Democratic Party.
For much too long, we have allowed Israel’s detractors to provide the vocabulary and frame the conversations with which they attack Israel. This is just another example.
Chaim Friedman (Letters, March 11) says that the existence of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem should be treated as a fact, much the same as the events of the Holocaust. There’s much empirical proof for the existence of the Temples in Jerusalem, although that type of evidence does not match the strength of documented reports of Holocaust eye witnesses. Still, that does not stop Holocaust deniers from asserting their own misconstruction of recent history.
I agree with Friedman that The Jerusalem Post need not have referred to the temples as a “Jewish belief,” since outside of Muslim claims, the temples are commonly accepted facts supported by empirical archeological evidence. It’s impossible to fabricate a story and spring it on millions of Jews and somehow convince them that it was always part of their tradition, yet sometimes outlandish fabrications can be regarded as facts if they are repeated often enough. Take, for instance, the wild claim that Israeli soldiers target and slaughter innocent Palestinians in Gaza. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As Israeli citizens know, IDF soldiers are frequently exposed to mortal danger unnecessarily to spare casualties of innocent bystanders – including the human shields used by Hamas. Jewish/Israeli education places high value on all human life. Yet UN condemnations abound, many people are happy to believe these lies because they fit in with their worldview of Jews as evildoers.
Although facts can be a little slippery, always seek truth.
Young Israel politics
The rabbis named in connection with the “small scale rebellion” taking place in the Young Israel Synagogue Movement (“Politics dividing US Orthodox synagogue movement,” March 10) are being disingenuous when they claim that the underlying issues are “The Council’s statements are made without consultation with the member synagogues” or that “Synagogue organizations should not be making deeply divisive political statements.” These are organizational problems and can be handled internally.
Why come out with a public announcement – and just when the Council’s statement is in defense of a move made by the elected Israeli prime minister that was heavily criticized by mainline Jewish organizations in the US? Are these rabbis so devoted to an outdated liberal bias that it justifies interfering with the election process of another country?
The Council was never just a service organization but a mechanism to bring to bear the united power and influence of a cohesive group of educated modern Orthodox Jews into the arena of national and international affairs. As such, the Council had to be a few steps ahead of the leadership of the local member synagogues, as they were primarily taken up with local needs.
The coming general election in Israel, like the last US presidential election, promises to bring about rapid radical changes and unprecedented polarization so as to make it difficult to identify the Jewish interest. As in the past however, in connection with the Vaad Hatzalah after World War II, the problem of Soviet Jewry, the arms embargo of Israel during the War of Independence, the National Council has retained its clear and steady vision of the trend, the players and the policy to be followed.
I would think that Young Israel rabbis in the US at this time would be more involved in educating their congregations as to the worrying changes in the Democratic Party regarding antisemitism and anti-Zionism than to entangle in the thickets of an Israeli election.
Rabbi emeritus, Young Israel of Cleveland
My sincere thanks for Edwin Black’s “A ballad in the key of 4G” (March 7) – a moving and memorable Holocaust story of the courage of his mother and grandmother that is especially meaningful and timely now in the face of the worldwide resurgence of blatant antisemitism .
For Jerusalem Post readers and others who missed this incredible article, I strongly recommend googling “JPost” and “A ballad in the key of 4G.”
I recently visited Jerusalem and was dismayed to see huge numbers of stray cats all over the city. As a world traveler, I haven’t seen anything like it in any other world-class city. This is a shameful and heartbreaking situation. I have read that Israel has one of the highest densities of feral cats in the world.
I understand that the Jerusalem Municipality has announced a program to feed the city’s thousands of stray cats and that there is a debate about whether this will resolve the situation or make it worse.
While feeding these poor creatures is certainly a humane thing to do, clearly, it is only through a systematic and concerted effort to spay and neuter the feral cat population that this untenable situation will be resolved. I urge your mayor and city officials to do something to alleviate the suffering of these innocent creatures.
Shiver me timbers
Regarding “The Pirate Party wants you to vote for diarrhea” (March 12) – Aargh! Those scoundrels elevate (or drag down) the concept of a “waste of a vote” to a whole new level. They should be made to swab the poop deck and then walk the plank.