September 6: Taking issue

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Taking issue
Gershon Baskin’s long-standing and close relationship with Palestinian leaders enables him to present his ideas on who might succeed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (“After Abbas,” Encountering Peace, September 3).
However, I take issue with two of his comments.
First, Baskin declares that Abbas is a man of peace and has dedicated the last decades of his life to achieving peace, liberation and independence for his people. How, then, does the writer explain Abbas’s refusal to accept the offer made to him by former prime minister Ehud Olmert, which would have provided all this for his people? My second criticism is of his likening the situation here to that which preceded the fall of apartheid in South Africa, while commenting that Marwan Barghouti is no Nelson Mandela, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is no F.W. de Klerk.
As one who grew up and spent 53 years of his life in South Africa, I can assure Baskin that his comparisons are totally irrelevant. Israel does not even approximate being an apartheid state. His comments suggest that he believes otherwise.
Tel Mond
Disturbing account
In “Losing the war of ideas” (Our World, September 2), Caroline B. Glick gives a disturbing account of the consequences of the West’s laissez faire attitude toward ideas. The destruction of the ancient temples at Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides a timely example.
The West cannot comprehend any reason for this act. For us, ideas and ideologies have their time – which might last centuries – before they go, to be replaced by other ideologies that are more relevant and current.
Those ideas might have produced great engineering feats and works of art, such as Palmyra, but, other than aesthetic pleasure, they have no power over our beliefs. Is there a single follower of Bel worshiping at Palmyra today? With ISIS and other extremist Muslims, however, ideas and ideologies are eternal. Idolatry, especially, is forever present and forever evil. Even if not a single actual follower can be found today, Palmyra might seduce us back again tomorrow. So the fight must continue for all time.
Unless we defeat extremist Islam, the consequences will be a far greater destruction of heritage sites and unremitting war against the “evil West.”
The King note
It was with some amazement that I read the last segment of the September 2 Grapevine feature (“Between Jerusalem and Rome”).
I was under the impression that any notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall were sacrosanct. Wondering how many people would remove US television personality Larry King’s note to read what he had asked of his Creator was inappropriate, and should not have been given space, even in a gossip column.
SALLY SHAW Kfar Saba Letters about letters Reader Ester Zeitlin’s sarcastic response (“Righteous response,” Letters, September 3) to David Newman’s proposal regarding migrants (“The global migration crisis,” Borderline Views, September 1) ignores the horrific conditions from which these people are fleeing.
I assume she would equally have opposed the British acceptance of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis.
I agree 100 percent with reader Linda Silverstone (“Partners in worry,” Letters, September 3). And to make matters even worse, the crossword puzzles in The Jerusalem Post are getting harder.
It is all too depressing.
I agree with reader David Waintraub (“Change from without?” Letters, September 2).
Compared to the police force in my country of origin, the Israel Police is a static force – no patrols, no police in the street. If something goes wrong and you call the station or the emergency number, it takes a while for an officer to come. If you need to make a statement or issue a complaint, you are told to came to the station house.
A major change is necessary.
Go to a station house. You’ll see a lot of cars with red license plates in the parking lot. Send them all out into the streets.
Make policemen more friendly.
Teach them to help citizens, especially children and the elderly.
Make the police more local, like in many other countries, where there is no central law enforcement authority overseeing them. Open the doors to more volunteers.
Of course, there is already very good police personnel.
Look after them, but bring in outsiders with plenty of determination to make the necessary changes. If someone already on the force doesn’t like it, send that person home with a good retirement package, and make space for someone new.
I am pleased that reader Dani Jacobowitz, all of 17 (“Open and closed,” Letters, August 30), is already living his life in a way that satisfies his personal needs and desires. But to say that others who feel differently about their Judaism should do so indoors on Shabbat indicates a certain lack of tolerance.
While Israel might be “a Jewish state,” it is first and foremost a state for the Jews – meaning all Jews, no matter what their background, worldview or extent of religious practice. We all have a right to live our lives without needing to cower behind closed doors, as we often had to do while in exile.
I want to make sure that I fully understand the message in reader Uri Hirsch’s August 30 letter (“Open and closed”). My understanding is that since Ofer Liperman, franchisee of the Henris café at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, does not “keep Shabbat” according to traditional Orthodox guidelines, it is appropriate to force him to keep his store open that day of the week.
If this is the correct reading of the letter (and I fear that it is), I would like to ask Mr. Hirsch for substantiation of this position in the writings and halachic rulings of the sages at any point in history. I am afraid his search will be in vain! Much evidence can adduce just the opposite approach in this same vast body of literature.
As the High Holy Days rapidly approach, allow me to retell an anecdote that makes the point clearly and unequivocally.
It is told that during one summer in Brisk, a very rich, but secular, member of the Jewish community appeared on Shabbat in the synagogue where Reb Chaim Brisker (Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, of blessed memory) prayed. The man begged the congregants to help him raise the money necessary to pay a ransom for the return of his son, who had been kidnapped. He was a man of means, but the amount being demanded was exorbitant.
Time went by and the response from the community was paltry. On the eve of Yom Kippur, everyone rushed to shul to make sure Kol Nidre could be said in a timely fashion.
But Reb Chaim wasn’t there! They waited and waited, and it got later and later. At some point, a messenger was sent to his house to determine the cause of the delay. Perhaps he was not well.
After the messenger asked about the rabbi’s well-being, he asked, with utmost humility, why he had not yet come to shul. Reb Chaim answered that he could not bring himself to pray in a congregation that ignored the needs of a Jewish soul – regardless of the nature of that person’s religious observance.