November 20, 2017: Western Wall conundrum

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Western Wall conundrum
With regard to “Violence breaks out at Kotel days after PM vows Wall for all” (November 17), most US Jews who, on paper, make up the rank and file of the American Conservative and Reform movements have never come to Israel, and never will.
They have little or no interest in offering prayers at the Western Wall. They have little to no actual interest in the conversion issue. (These controversies are actually being driven by the movements’ professionals, whose livelihoods depend on the continuation of the organizations that employ them.)
They argue that the Western Wall belongs to all Jews, thereby giving them the right to pray there in the manner they choose. They are wrong. The Western Wall does not belong to all Jews; it belongs to the sovereign State of Israel. Governance processes within the State of Israel determine what may and what may not be done at this site.
Jews throughout the world may revere the Western Wall, but they cannot rightly claim ownership. I might revere the ark that contains the Torah scrolls in hundreds of Reform and Conservative Jewish houses of worship throughout the United States, but I, a Jew, cannot claim ownership, nor would it be appropriate for me to enter these houses of worship with a group of people and demand the right to organize an Orthodox prayer service.
Claiming that any and all Jewish groups have an intrinsic right to organize any form of prayer service at the Western Wall denies the sovereignty of the State of Israel. It appears that the American Jews who are involved in this controversy look upon the Jewish state more like their local Jewish community center rather than an independent nation with its own system of laws.
These laws are subject to change and reform, but to have any chance of bringing about a change, you have at least to be a citizen of the country and active in the political process. The American Jewish contribution to the State of Israel over many decades is appreciated, however it was never made, and should never be made, contingent upon any form of quid pro quo.
Reader Cyril Atkins (“A little annoyed...” Letters, November 17) makes a case for ignoring the views of American Jews and Diaspora Jews. He is upset that a US Conservative leader felt that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments on the Western Wall issue were not truthful and not respectful. He goes on to chastise Diaspora Jews for seeking to modify Israeli policies they don’t agree with.
I have always felt a bond with Jews, wherever they live and however they do or do not observe religious rituals. President Reuven Rivlin, addressing the Jewish Federations of North America last week in Los Angeles (“Rivlin does his best to placate US Jews at GA in LA,” November 15), expressed my feelings better than I can formulate them.
Let me quote just two of his comments: “The State of Israel was and will always be the home of every Jew: Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, secular, traditional, Ashkenazi, Sephardi.” “We thank you for this sense of family – for your unconditional support and love, for your consistent message that ‘we Jews stick together,’ that ‘all Jews are responsible for one another.’ In this we have a lot to learn from you – that is the truth.”
Well said, Mr. President.
Long term, short term
Amotz Asa-El most probably is correct in his historical approach to the expansion of Russia and Iran into territories where they don’t belong (“The great Arab retreat,” Middle Israel, November 17). In the long term they are doomed to failure, but as history has also shown, in the short term they can be very successful and wreak havoc, murdering and displacing millions before the tide turns.
We are now witnessing the short term. We must hope, pray and be proactive that we in Israel do not get caught up in mindless Sunni/ Shi’ite, Russia/West and Turkey/Kurd short-term interests.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Maniacs in Tehran
Jack Rosen (“Trump is a true friend of Israel,” Observations, November 17) discusses future US plans, but the highest priority should be blunting the steady growth of Iranian power. Saudi Arabia is sounding the alarm, which explains the uncharacteristic activism from a normally reserved regime.
Riyadh’s mores might be somewhat antediluvian, but when it comes to understanding the region, it is leading-edge and we need to pay attention. The sacking of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri for being too soft on Hezbollah; the anger at Qatar for being too cozy with Iran; and the Saudi intervention in Yemen are symptoms that the doyens of Sunni Central are feeling hemmed in by the Shi’ite axis and are starting to panic.
Much of the blame rests with Washington: the misguided Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPOA), the nuclear deal enriching Iran; the vacuum filled by Iran after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein; the knee-jerk arming of Iranian-influenced Iraq, whose weapons were used against the Kurds; and the mindless arming of Iran-dominated Lebanon are symptoms of the malaise.
We need to stop wasting energy on the Israel- Palestinian peace process – it is but a hangnail in a cancerous region. Trump’s refusal to certify the JPOA was a step in the right direction, but we should follow up with an Israeli-Saudi- American strike on Iran’s military and nuclear infrastructure.
The maniacs in Tehran must be stopped.
Charleston, South Carolina
Common sense and decency
Praise is due Isi Leibler for “Recent sexual controversies and upheavals” (Candidly Speaking, November 13).
What consenting adults do in private is no one’s business but their own. Mrs. Patrick Campbell famously said it around 1910: “Does it really matter what these affectionate people do – so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses?”
Homosexuals do not need a Gay Pride Parade any more than heterosexuals need a Normal Pride Parade, and a lot less than the elderly need a Gray Pride Parade. Homosexuality is being promoted as a cool, fashionable and desirable way of life, influencing many youngsters too young to know where their gender is heading.
The crocodile tears being shed by media personalities over the allegations of sexual misconduct are ironic, considering that the media, in particular the stage, screen and TV industries, have become a breeding ground of not-so-soft porn. Scarcely a film is produced that doesn’t have a sex and/or nudity scene that often has nothing to add to the plot – although, one supposes, it adds to the ratings.
I do not advocate a return to the censorship and prudery of bygone times, but a little common decency and common sense is called for. As Cole Porter put it so succinctly in “Anything Goes”: “Authors who once wrote better words, now only use four letter words writing prose.”
If children are bombarded by foul language, violence, nudity and sexual license on TV and screen, then what do the media gurus expect? A bit of respect and good taste are long overdue.
With the explosion of misconduct accusations against politicians, does this spell the end of hugs and kisses for babies during election campaigns?
New York